first tablesaw cut

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Forum topic by Glenn posted 02-17-2009 04:54 AM 1824 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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141 posts in 3627 days

02-17-2009 04:54 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw safety

I made my first cut on a tablesaw today. After reading the manual from cover to cover and checking the parallelism of the rip fence-miter slots-blade, I cross cut a 15” piece of a 1×2 to make a push stick for when I get brave enough to rip something. Man, was I scared. I guess I was afraid everything was going to blow up on me after reading all the horror stories of kickback and lost fingers. I sure hope I don’t lose any fingers—I’m a guitar player, for God’s sake!

Next project: featherboards and a crosscut sled


-- Glenn, Arkansas

34 replies so far

View pitchnsplinters's profile


262 posts in 3678 days

#1 posted 02-17-2009 04:58 AM

These are good and useful starter projects.

I do believe that being too scared can be dangerous. Get yourself signed up for a class or two. Woodcraft regularly has classes, keep your eyes peeled for your earliest opportunity.

-- Just 'cause a cat has kittens in the oven, it don't make 'em biscuits.

View Zac's profile


48 posts in 3628 days

#2 posted 02-17-2009 04:58 AM

Safety glasses, push sticks/blocks, splitter and/or gaurds, and common sense….

Glenn, I was nervous too when I started using my TS…. but – if anything, it keeps you aware. Glad to see you read the manual….nothing “un-manly” about that… it’s smart. I did too.

I’m sure it said in the manual – but NEVER cross cut something and use the fence at the same time unless you are using a stop block. Put it this way…. you should never be cutting through something and the offcut touching the fence at the same time….the likely hood for a pinch is huge.

Happy woodworking!


-- "Start with ten.....end with ten"

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3963 days

#3 posted 02-17-2009 05:22 AM

Glenn, you sure didn’t waste any time in learning the way. Remember that safety is, and always should be, the most important fact when working with a table saw, or any power tool for that fact. Respect the saw and what is can do to you if you make a mistake.

Good luck in eveything you undertake!

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View bendisplays's profile


40 posts in 3641 days

#4 posted 02-17-2009 05:27 AM


Kickback usually happens when something binds on the blade or your material climbs on the back of the blade and is shot out. A climbing kickback can shove the material into your hand or throw it at quite a high speed.

The key is to not have your hand above or near the blade. If it kicks it is better to just let go and let it kcik then to let the saw pull your hand into the blade.

I have used table saws for many years and have made thousands of cuts. I still have all my digits. Be careful and observant. You will do okay and as others have mentioned it would be good to take classes and get a little experience. Too much fear as others have mentioned is not good either.

Good luck with your new saw and you will do fine and in addition to playing the guitar maybe you can be a luthier.



View Bureaucrat's profile


18340 posts in 3892 days

#5 posted 02-17-2009 05:38 AM

Glenn: As you use your TS you will loose your fear of it. That’s okay as long as you never loose respect for what it can do. Observe safety admonitions, don’t do stupid stuff and don’t work on it when you’re tired or distracted; you’ll be fine.

-- Gary D. Stoughton, WI

View EEngineer's profile


1119 posts in 3854 days

#6 posted 02-17-2009 02:08 PM

Maybe there is a little too much harping about the dangers of table saws here. I spent many years with my father and grandfather in the shop before I got my first table saw. When I got it, I just dove in and started. In spite of learning by example, I found that there were some stupid things I was doing over the years that really didn’t get me in trouble but could have. The problem is, it only takes one time…

I find that the horror stories here and other places are most helpful when they describe exactly what circumstances led to the accident. Being aware of what could be a problem allows correction or compensation before the cutting starts.

But take heart – my father and grandfather were both buried with all 10 of their fingers, I have 30 years behind various table saws and still have all 10 of my fingers (knock on wood!).

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 3767 days

#7 posted 02-17-2009 03:24 PM

Glenn, I have been using a tablesaw for over 40 years and it still and has to demand respect. Your saw will help you build and create many new projects and advance your knowledge in woodworking. Be safe and enjoy. PS try and get a copy of the dvd by “Kelly Mehler” called “Mastering Your Table Saw” and watch it many times, it will help a lot.

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

View SteveMO's profile


54 posts in 3649 days

#8 posted 02-17-2009 03:37 PM

Your post gave me a chuckle as I recalled my 1st experience with a table saw 50 yrs ago with my Dad. Reading your post brought back that same feeling of fear. I quickly overcame it but never lost the respect for any power tool. My only tip——Never take your eyes off the piece your working on. Thanks for refreshing old memories.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2846 posts in 3678 days

#9 posted 02-17-2009 04:02 PM

How many of us own and use a table saw regularly but secretly wish our kids never buy one. Interesting when you think about it that way huh?

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3627 days

#10 posted 02-17-2009 04:39 PM

Thanks for all the support. It was pretty amazing and powerful how that blade just sliced through the wood like it were soft butter. I can imagine a finger wouldn’t stand a chance. I’m sure I’ll get over the fear with practice. Hopefully I’ll never lose the respect, however.

Daniel, I guess it’s kind of like a motorcycle. My parents always said that they wouldn’t be the ones to buy one for me. Of course, as a man, I owned several (actually traded the car they gave me when I was sixteen for one). Now, I secretly wish that my two young daughters will never grace the seat of one. But, oh, well, kids will be kids…

-- Glenn, Arkansas

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Craftsman on the lake

2846 posts in 3678 days

#11 posted 02-17-2009 04:49 PM

Ha.. Glenn. If you’ve ridden a bike for awhile I’ll be you have some hairy stories. i never met a biker who didn’t.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View SteveKorz's profile


2139 posts in 3954 days

#12 posted 02-17-2009 06:32 PM

I have to add a couple things here, Glenn.

I’ve been on a tablesaw for almost 20 years. I’ve done a lot of crazy things with them, some with safety features, most without. I got overconfident about 4 years ago, and I was in a hurry (a bad combination). I had the blade angled at 45 degrees, and I was ripping a 14 1/2” long 2×4 in half for a building corner. I pushed it through, no problems. I stepped to the right side of the saw around to the back and grabbed it, big problem. I pinched the blade and the kickback with the 45 degree angled blade was inevitable. All I heard was “TING” and I thought, “Oh, man.. it got me.”

I was lucky because it just cut the very tip of my right middle finger. It was teasing me. All of the cut grew back, and now there is just the tiniest scar there.

After that event, for about a year or so, I was incredibly timid around that saw. I think that being timid around it put me in worse situations than when I was overconfident. Every time I was on that saw, it was like, “Oh, I hope it doesn’t hurt me this time… Oh, the horror, Oh, the humanity… lol”

My point is, learn how to properly use it. Respect it, because it is (in my opinion) the most dangerous power tool you’ll own. It’s the T-Rex of your shop. Don’t think you’ll get hurt (or hope that you don’t) every time you use it, or you will.

Kickback occurs when there is side to side movement in the workpiece, especially if it is jammed against the fence during a crosscut. Keep your piece nice and straight, ALWAYS use push blocks. Stand a little off center so you don’t get hit in the gut or face should kickback occur. When I operate any of my power tools, I always put my weight on my back leg, and ease the piece forward or thru the machine with my body, nice and controlled. If you put your weight forward, and use that weight with your arms to push the material forward, then what happens when something goes wrong? You’re entire body wants to go right to the blade, and you’ll ALWAYS want to catch yourself with your hands.

Start good habits now, and respect that T-Rex. It won’t be long, you’ll have some healthy confidence in yourself, and you’ll be safely turning out more projects than we all can keep up with.


-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3634 days

#13 posted 02-17-2009 07:03 PM

Glad you are on track…...don’t be scared, is a tool, to handle with care, but you know what? I believe many people have accidents due the horror cloud we woodworkers have formed around this useful and vital tool.
Just take the time and practice!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3627 days

#14 posted 02-17-2009 07:12 PM

Well, I’m not a long-distance biker who cruises around in leathers, but I did ride to work in the warmer months for a few years. Even with just casual use, I did have some close calls, despite having taken a motorcycle safety course. I found out, it’s almost always the other person on the road you have to worry about. Sold the bike when I had kids so I’d be around for them. Might get another when they are grown—we’ll see.

Steve, thanks for great advice. Based on your story, would it be safe to make the following safety guideline: never touch the work directly (assuming it’s a shorter piece) in line with the sawblade. Obviously with long boards you would have to stabilize them as you pushed them through the blade, but you could still say to never touch the work where it’s over the table. With crosscutting, never touch the work between the miter gauge and the blade. Since I’m inexperienced, this might seem woefully ignorant, but it’s a start for me in figuring out what is safe and what isn’t…

-- Glenn, Arkansas

View SteveKorz's profile


2139 posts in 3954 days

#15 posted 02-17-2009 07:30 PM

Well, You’re going to have to touch the work at some point, but when you get up near that blade, you really need to use some push sticks or blocks. I don’t do any crosscutting on the tablesaw anymore, I do all my crosscutting on the miter saw. I use the tablesaw to rip, that’s about it.

I’m finding myself using the band saw for more applications lately that I would have originally ran to the tablesaw with.

Just know your limitations with it. You’ll have to experiment with your stance, etc. You have to do what is comfortable to you, what is ok with the limits of your coordination, or you’ll find yourself in a compromising position.

If you’re going to do crosscutting, you should look at one of these. It’ll make it much easier, and safer.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it.


-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

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