When do safety mechanisms make working unsafe?

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Forum topic by interpim posted 01-21-2009 01:13 AM 1596 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1170 posts in 3634 days

01-21-2009 01:13 AM

I purchased a table saw a couple days ago, its a 4 year old Craftsman which I picked up off of Craigslist.

Well, it came with all the normal accessories, miter/fence/blade wrenches/splitter… the splitter in my opinion is garbage. It has the splitter and anti kickback pawls on each side. The guy before me said he never used it, but I want to be as safe as possible and want my children to learn safe practices when they watch me.

My first run on the table saw ended up catching on the pawls and I couldn’t get the 3/4” ply through. I ended up having to shut down the saw. I really don’t want to not use the safety guard/splitter… but having to bend down to kick off the saw while a board is halfway through a cut doesn’t seem safe to me either.

What do you guys recommend? are there replacement units that are better? Or what?

-- San Diego, CA

12 replies so far

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4197 days

#1 posted 01-21-2009 01:48 AM

Is there anyone you know that can give you some hands on pointers?

It’s kind of hard to advise you on the screen not knowing your experience and the state of the saw you have.
Table saws are notorious finger biters and nose breakers.
I’d slow down a bit until I could get an experienced guy to check out the saw.



-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 3634 days

#2 posted 01-21-2009 01:57 AM

Im fairly experienced…

I’ve been working with table saws for the past 15 years, and I worked in a woodshop for the Navy conducting all the safety training on each piece of equipment.

The question is, does anyone know of a better splitter setup for an older craftsman saw?

-- San Diego, CA

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 4056 days

#3 posted 01-21-2009 02:05 AM

un fortunately , my own opinion some of the tool companys put saftey features on eqipment that protects them and their interests and not so much you . bob has good advice . if you could post a pic of this eqipment it might be easier to help also . either way get it worked out it is your most dangerous tool . good luck

View rowdy's profile


375 posts in 3618 days

#4 posted 01-21-2009 02:05 AM

I don’t like pawls either and do not use them. Splitters are essential though. I think a well tuned saw fitted with good a good splitter and adequate featherboarding is about as safe as it can be as long as one uses his/her head. I mainly wanted to comment on ” bending down to kick off the saw”. A lot of saws have “off’ buttons that are too small and hard to find, making for hazardous situations like the one you described. I have a Grizz cabinet saw which is like that. One of the things I have done that makes me feel much, much more comfortable is that I have added a bar that swings and extends at about knee height along the entire back side of the saw and which is in contact with the “off” switch. Even the lightest touch on the bar turns the saw off. I can turn the saw off from anywhere along the operators side with a slight knee nudge, thus making it possible to keep both hands on the workpiece if need be.

-- Rowdy in Kechi, Kansas

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 3634 days

#5 posted 01-21-2009 02:35 AM

I found this post of the same model saw on ebay… which has the guard attached.

the pawls are on either side of the splitter.

-- San Diego, CA

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3998 days

#6 posted 01-21-2009 03:40 AM

With Craftsman contractor saws there are two major deficiencies- the splitter/pawl combination and the fence. I experienced the same problem with my pawl that you described and ended up removing both of them from the saw. I have run the saw for some time without a splitter but recently put this one on the saw. It works better than the original splitter but it has its own quirks. But it is better than having nothing on the saw.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Quixote's profile


206 posts in 3814 days

#7 posted 01-21-2009 03:55 AM

I have a similiar Craftsman conntractor setup. Similiar pawl problems, i ended up using masking tape to hold the pawls up out of the way. I fugured the splitter alone was better than nothing.


-- I don't make sawdust...I produce vast quantities of "Micro Mulch."

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 3634 days

#8 posted 01-21-2009 08:14 AM

Well… i may do what you have done for the time being Quixote… I do need to make some zero clearance inserts though… Im used to large cabinet saws, so getting used to a saw this small is going to take a little time.

-- San Diego, CA

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4181 days

#9 posted 01-21-2009 03:04 PM

Its all about working in a manner you’re familiar and comfortable with. I’m guess i’m old school and want all that crap off the saw so me and the blade have no doubts about where each other are. Sorta like an experienced cliff diver would probably balk at the suggestion he start wearing a helmet and parachute.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View CharlieM1958's profile


16278 posts in 4394 days

#10 posted 01-21-2009 03:53 PM

Both saws I’ve owned had the pawls, and I’ve never had a problem with them. In fact, I know they have stopped kickbacks on several occasions. Are you sure the problem was the pawls and not a misaligned guard/splitter? If the pawls really are a problem on this model saw, just do like Quixote said.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View MrsN's profile


987 posts in 3702 days

#11 posted 01-21-2009 11:14 PM

I have a small contractor type table saw in my school shop. I have a similar type of problem, the spliter and pawls become mis-aligned after a short time (I think it has to do with vibrations). For me the solution is to continually re-adjust and tighten the splitter. I never let my students use this saw, for this reason and because I don’t think middle school kids need to use it. You could try to realign the spliter to see if it helps. I am looking into an after market splitter, but have higher hopes of a new saw all together.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 3702 days

#12 posted 01-22-2009 12:44 AM

MrsN have the metal shop make you some… of your design.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

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