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Table Saw Safety Questions AKA I love my fingers

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Forum topic by jopo posted 01-07-2015 09:00 PM 1503 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jopo

17 posts in 702 days


01-07-2015 09:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’ve been using my table saw for years now with a decent amount of fear but not enough knowledge. I’m just starting to build a few jigs and it’s now got me thinking about why I’m told to cut things certain ways.
Why is the fence usually on the right of the blade when that makes us have to reach over the blade often to control the wood? My natural thinking would be to place the fence on the left, my body left of blade and I could easily hold the wood, even keeping my thumb hooked or gliding on the fence.
I’ve made a thin rip guide where you have a screw or bearing on a jig touching wood from the left T track and you push your larger piece on the fence right of the blade. I like the set up as it allows quick thin strips and feels fairly safe but wouldn’t it be safer if the whole process was flipped to the other side. I’m sure it’s not and I havent even tried it because everywhere I see, everyone does it the other way. Maybe I should unplug the saw and do some pretend passes and I’ll figure it out…maybe not?

Thanks for the help
jP


15 replies so far

View Joel_B's profile

Joel_B

294 posts in 848 days


#1 posted 01-07-2015 09:24 PM

I have the same fear. I have an old Craftsman TS and it does not have any safety features on it.
I am considering upgrading to a new saw or maybe adding some things like a splitter.
I am also looking at getting some magswitch feather boards.
One thing I learned about all power tools is stand out of the way of flying wood.
I never stand directly directly behind the blade, been hit a few times and luckily it just hurt but didn’t cause an injury.
I just finished a router table and I was using a large miter lock bit on it, somehow after I turned off power and the bit was still spinning, a loose piece of wood got into the bit and I happened to be standing on the side of the table it shot off and it hit me in the gut, felt like I got punched with a karate chop, again I was lucky but really upset I let it happen.
So I have new power equipment rule, do not move myself or anything else until the motor is completely stopped.

-- Joel, Encinitas, CA

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bigblockyeti

3668 posts in 1187 days


#2 posted 01-07-2015 09:35 PM

I’ve never had to reach over the blade to “control the wood”, that might be a technique that could use improvement if you’re having to do that very often. A good push stick or push block can keep your fingers well away from the blade. Using a properly positioned feather board along with a riving knife or splitter of some sort can also make things much safer.

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jopo

17 posts in 702 days


#3 posted 01-07-2015 10:01 PM

Maybe I didn’t phrase the question correctly. I have and use a couple push sticks and blocks but if your body is to the left of the blade and your pushing wood on the right of the blade as I see everyone do, there’s a part of you (usually your forearm and possibly your shoulder) that are in the line of fire. I’m just wondering how/why that is the best way to rip. I agree about the safety add ons mentioned but I’m talking about body and fence position.
I appreciate these replies.
jP

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Joel_B

294 posts in 848 days


#4 posted 01-07-2015 10:25 PM

Maybe because most people are right handed.
What you are proposing might make sense if you are left handed.

-- Joel, Encinitas, CA

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bigblockyeti

3668 posts in 1187 days


#5 posted 01-07-2015 10:32 PM

This may be the very reason why many saws are including a biesmeyer type fence with both side being identical you could use which ever you choose.

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jopo

17 posts in 702 days


#6 posted 01-07-2015 10:33 PM

Joel, how so? I’m right handed but having the fence to the right of the blade puts my forearm and shoulder in the line of fire. Putting the fence on the left keeps 100% of your body out of that line. I’m not suggesting that anyone should normally put it on the left, I’m just looking for the logic.

View joey502's profile

joey502

487 posts in 985 days


#7 posted 01-07-2015 10:56 PM



Joel, how so? I m right handed but having the fence to the right of the blade puts my forearm and shoulder in the line of fire. Putting the fence on the left keeps 100% of your body out of that line. I m not suggesting that anyone should normally put it on the left, I m just looking for the logic.

- jopo

I keep my fence on the right side of the blade because the side extension table is on that side. I am left handed but it still feels more comfortable to use the right side.

To me it seems like if you and the blade are on opposite sides of the fence then you would be pushing the work piece more into the blade than against the fence. If your part pushes away from the fence it can easily bind up in the blade and go flying or worse.

With that being said I am not saying that it is safe for a TS user to stand directly downwind from the blade. I think the best control of your work piece is the safest choice.

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2326 posts in 1763 days


#8 posted 01-07-2015 11:02 PM

When you think about it, having the fence on the right also means any kickback could hit you in the chest. That’s not good.

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Grandpa

3256 posts in 2142 days


#9 posted 01-07-2015 11:21 PM

dhazelton has the correct response. This is what I was taught 50 years ago. Keep the heart out of the line of fire. Stay to the left of the blade and everything else to the right side. If you don’t like life as you currently know it then try it on the other side. I guess your heart could be on the right side of your body. Anyway that is my reasoning.

View SuperCubber's profile

SuperCubber

875 posts in 1751 days


#10 posted 01-07-2015 11:33 PM

Call me crazy, but I’m with jopo on this one. I typically use my fence on the right for two reasons: that side of the table is longer and my lone miter slot is on the left (feather boards and such).

That being said, jopo’s logic makes perfect sense to me. If you have the fence on the left, and you stand on the left, while ripping a piece of lumber, absolutely no part of your body will be in the line of fire. Grandpa, this would put your heart even further from the danger zone.

How is this not making sense to anyone?

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View jopo's profile

jopo

17 posts in 702 days


#11 posted 01-08-2015 12:10 AM

This is a learning thing already for me as my TS is more of a portable/contractor type and has wings on both sides, slots on both sides and my fence seems to be symmetrical as well. I never thought about other set ups. None the less, these TS’s must be made and set up like they are for a reason.
At this point I would guess that the recommended position gives you a better angle to push your wood forward and into the fence which apparently is worth the risk of having some body parts in line w/ the saw.
jP

View Joel_B's profile

Joel_B

294 posts in 848 days


#12 posted 01-08-2015 12:30 AM



Joel, how so? I m right handed but having the fence to the right of the blade puts my forearm and shoulder in the line of fire. Putting the fence on the left keeps 100% of your body out of that line. I m not suggesting that anyone should normally put it on the left, I m just looking for the logic.

- jopo

I had to draw myself a picture and think about this.
It depends on what you are cutting and how you are cutting, ripping or cross cutting.
Your hand could be either to left or right of the blade, or even on top of it if you are using a gripper.
With the fence to the left there will still be cases where your arm has to cross the blade unless you switch hands.
In either case you can keep your body to the left or right side of the blade by using the appropriate hand to guide the wood. The key thing for me is do whatever it takes to not stand directly behind the blade and or work piece that is going through it. I’ll admit my experience with table saws is limited so I am sure others with more experience have better advise to offer.

-- Joel, Encinitas, CA

View SuperCubber's profile

SuperCubber

875 posts in 1751 days


#13 posted 01-08-2015 12:51 AM

Joel, you bring up a good point. For some reason I was (narrowly minded) thinking of ripping narrow stock that doesn’t need to be supported with the other hand. Now I get it. Switching hands mid cut could ruin a straight cut, or worse, cause the material to bind and boom!

Thanks for your input, Joel.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View oltexasboy1's profile

oltexasboy1

240 posts in 1171 days


#14 posted 01-08-2015 01:53 AM

I don’t care if you’re a right or left handed person, or what kind of saw you use, the trick is always paying attention to what you are doing. I found out last year that a split second of in attention can have lasting results. I was lucky, I only nipped off the vey end of my left pointer finger. It didn’t even hurt a lot, but I will never have the touch sensation I had before. My wife says “sawstop” but I really don’t want to pay $2500.00 for the saw. That is 10 emergency room trips, and after all I still have 9 good fingers left.

-- "The pursuit of perfection often yields excellence"

View Buckethead's profile

Buckethead

3140 posts in 1335 days


#15 posted 01-08-2015 01:54 PM



I don t care if you re a right or left handed person, or what kind of saw you use, the trick is always paying attention to what you are doing. I found out last year that a split second of in attention can have lasting results. I was lucky, I only nipped off the vey end of my left pointer finger. It didn t even hurt a lot, but I will never have the touch sensation I had before. My wife says “sawstop” but I really don t want to pay $2500.00 for the saw. That is 10 emergency room trips, and after all I still have 9 good fingers left.

- oltexasboy1

That is the best sawstop advertisement I’ve ever read.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

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