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What are the most dangerous, but useful, cuts on a table saw--and how do you make them safer?

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Forum topic by Rob posted 03-14-2014 05:46 AM 1334 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rob

704 posts in 2532 days


03-14-2014 05:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw safety

As I mentioned in another thread, I’m trying to get a better understanding about a table saw’s standard safety equipment. I know a lot of woodworkers don’t use certain safety devices for various reasons. I know it might be a somewhat lofty goal (and maybe a little less practical at times), but I want to make every cut as safely as possible.

Assuming your saw is equipped with the latest standard safety equipment and you’re trying to use good safety practices, what are some dangerous cuts you can make on a table saw? What safety equipment needs to be removed and what equipment can you still use to make the cut as safely as possible? How would you rate the danger of that cut on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being most dangerous?

-- Ask an expert or be the expert - http://woodworking.stackexchange.com


14 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4024 posts in 1812 days


#1 posted 03-14-2014 05:54 AM

For me I’ve had the most problems when I try rip short pieces. Now I never rip anything shorter than 14” on the table saw because of kickbacks.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Rob

704 posts in 2532 days


#2 posted 03-14-2014 06:56 AM

Thanks Bondo, what do you use to rip shorter pieces? A bandsaw?

Would you be able to solve the short rip table saw problem by clamping both sides into a crosscut sled, or would that create a new safety issue?

-- Ask an expert or be the expert - http://woodworking.stackexchange.com

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

7209 posts in 2837 days


#3 posted 03-14-2014 09:05 AM

Making long tapered rips (like tapered legs) with one of those lightweight $10 aluminum jigs that follows the fence was always pretty hairy for me. I added some mass to it by putting a piece of wood inside both arms of the jig to help keep it from bouncing….that was an improvement, but later a friend gave me a nice taper sled with hold down clamps that works much better.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 1531 days


#4 posted 03-14-2014 10:34 AM

As stated, this rips and small rips are a little hairy. I tend to put the small rips on my mini table saw, and the gripper helps with the thin ones.

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

View MrFid's profile

MrFid

804 posts in 1365 days


#5 posted 03-14-2014 10:38 AM

I agree with Knotscott that tapering cuts can be dangerous. To avoid danger, build and use a tapering jig (search LJ for ‘tapering jig’, there’s lots of suggestions on here).

Personally, I used to find dado cuts to be a tad intimidating. Here are some things that I find help me feel comfortable about them, though:

1. Using a stacked dado set rather than a wobble blade.
2. Using a sacrificial fence if planning on using your dado blade for rabbeting.
3. Taking two or more passes for deeper dadoes so as to not remove too much material at once.
4. Making the cut slowly (slower than a normal blade) but not too slow as to encourage binding or kickback.
5. Using a sacrificial piece attached to a miter gauge or whatever you’re guiding the wood with. This also has the benefit of reducing tearout on the back of the cut.
6. Using a zero clearance insert for the table saw. I have ZCIs for every common dado width, and I always keep a few blank ZCIs around so that I could make a new one in case I need a new dado width.

Good topic I’ll be following along!

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

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CharlesA

3019 posts in 1259 days


#6 posted 03-14-2014 10:40 AM

Thin rips, 1/2-1/4” are very dangerous, and easy as heck with a Grr-ripper. i don’t hesitate to make short or thin rips with it.

I, too, find the aluminum taper jig to feel dangerous. Although I will probably build a slick adjustable taper jig some day, I’ve found using a plywood board (sled) with a piece screwed in that where I just unscrew one screw, change the angle, and screw it in again to work pretty well and it feels safer than the aluminum thing.

Bottom line: if there’s no way for me to do it in a way that I feel is as safe as a regular cut, I’ll find another way to do it. If the bandsaw can do it, that seems like a safer option.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Minorhero's profile

Minorhero

372 posts in 2066 days


#7 posted 03-14-2014 10:45 AM

Cove cuts and raised panel cuts. Both require jigs to work, the cover cut is clamped to your table saw which always bothers me and the raised panel cut just freaks me out having all that wood hanging out in the air.

View Robert Tidwell's profile

Robert Tidwell

19 posts in 1078 days


#8 posted 03-14-2014 02:29 PM

The most dangerous cuts for me on the table saw so far have been thin strips. I have seen multiple jigs that are simple to make that will help make cutting thin strips much easier, but have yet to make one.

As for general table saw safety, a cross-cut sled is a great thing to utilize. It is simple to make, inexspensive, and worth it’s weight in gold. I made my first one last week and used it for the first time last night and I felt 100% in control of the cut I was making, with still fearing the saw, of course ;).

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4167 posts in 3203 days


#9 posted 03-14-2014 02:42 PM

If you read the stories on injuries – - the most dangerous cut is that “last cut of the day when tired”

For me it was crosscutting odd items, that were unwieldy – - – so easy to kick back.

Tablesaw sled has been a real key to safety and accuracy in the shop.

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View carver1942's profile

carver1942

93 posts in 1165 days


#10 posted 03-14-2014 02:44 PM

I never do short rip cuts. I cut into a longer piece to a length a little longer than I need. Shut the saw and back out the piece. Then I just cross cut the length I need off the long one.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

21994 posts in 1799 days


#11 posted 03-14-2014 02:49 PM

Short pieces. Too easy for kickbacks. Gripper works great.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4024 posts in 1812 days


#12 posted 03-14-2014 02:57 PM

To avoid ripping short pieces, I will rip a longer board then cross cut to final size later in the build. Every once in while to use a special piece of wood I may want to rip a short piece. Then I go to the bandsaw, and clean up with a handplane.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7909 posts in 1841 days


#13 posted 03-14-2014 04:47 PM

Cutting wood that isn’t flat is the most dangerous cut I’ve done, it can wobble and shift, avoid at all costs. Ripping in general is the most dangerous type of cut and how people hurt themselves. Most common errors seem to be ripping wet wood or pushing with your hand inline with the blade. Using a dull blade is dangerous because you have to push harder and have less control. Never had any qualms or issues ripping short lengths. Raised panels can feel awkward if you don’t make a tall jig to hold the piece but otherwise are fairly simple. I’ve only done cove cutting once and was surprised that it was so easy, no issues at all, just take small bites.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

5721 posts in 2829 days


#14 posted 03-14-2014 06:40 PM

A log time ago I had to make two 24” frames out of 2×4 that were glued together in an octagon. I made a jig that held the center of the octagon the radius distance from the table saw blade. I rotated the octagon and slowly raised the blade with a lot of trepidation … fortunately every turned out OK and I ended up with two decent looking circles and a lot more sawdust/chips that I expected.
This was one of the most scary cuts I have ever done!

Other than that, short piece rips are the worst so I tend to start with stock that is longer than required and cross cut to size later.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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