The Editors Mailbox

The Editors Mailbox

Winner Chosen for Tablesaw Safety Tip Challenge

comments (101) December 14th, 2010 in blogs

Hendrik Hendrik Varju, member
thumbs up 39 users recommend

 - CLICK TO ENLARGE Photo: Courtesy of Forrest

Hi, everyone.  There were 62 posts to this blog, which is just fantastic.  Even more fantastic are the wonderful and well thought out safety tips.  I thank all of you for your efforts and for sharing some of your concerns with using the table saw.
There were so many great tips from proper machine set-up to not using the machine when tired or distracted, keeping a keen eye on the spinning blade (especially after shut-down) and so on.  But if I have to pick one safety tip that I think would benefit the largest number of people it would be to learn to set up and use your blade guard and splitter effectively.  That goes for riving knives of well, of course, but I do think a full guard would protect many more people compared to just the low profile riving knife that so many people now use.
Many of you posted tips involving the blade guard and splitter, so I put all those names into a hat and drew out one name.  The winner is Mike7 from Anchorage, Alaska.  Here is his post again:
Mike7 writes: I always think in my head, don't get lazy. It may be only one cut but put the splitter and guard back on. I have a brother in law who paid the price of four fingers being sewn back on for lack of doing this.
The part where he says " . . . don't get lazy.  It may be only one cut but . . ." is really great advice.  In fact, I even admit in my table saw DVD that I've only had two kickbacks ever, one of which missed me and the other hammered me in the gut.  Both happened because I was too lazy to put the splitter and guard back on the saw for a single rip.  I no longer make that mistake.  I can now take the guard off my saw or put it back on in about 20 seconds, so there is no excuse for not using it when necessary -- even for just one cut.
Congratulations to Mike7 on winning the Forrest Woodworker II blade.  I'll wait to receive your full name and mailing address and then get the blade out in the mail to you as soon as I can.
To everyone:  Enjoy your table saws, but by all means stay safe so you can continue to enjoy our craft for many more years.  And Merry Christmas to you all.
Hendrik Varju
Passion for Wood


Hi, folks.  I was recently notified by Taunton Press that a woodworking tip I had submitted to the magazine had won "Best Tip" for Issue No. 217.  The prize was a Forrest Woodworker II 10" tablesaw blade.  Now, no offence to the Forrest Manufacturing Company, but I have so many good blades in my workshop already that I couldn't help but think that there are many others out there who can use this blade more than me.  So I thought I would offer up the blade to everyone on FWW Online and I'll even ship it to you at my cost.
As the producer and host of a 10 hour long DVD course called "Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety", I claim to know a thing or two about tablesaws and how to use them safely.  I spend a lot of time each year teaching others about tablesaw safety and I'm always interested in hearing new ideas.  So we're going to run a little contest here where one lucky winner will receive the Forrest blade.  All you have to do is post a comment here with your #1 most important tablesaw safety tip.  On December 13, 2010, at 12:01 am eastern time, the postings will close and I will choose what I consider to be the best tip of the bunch.  If more than one person essentially offers the same tip, I'll choose a random winner from those who posted the winning tip.
Share your #1 table saw safety tip and win a Forrest Woodworker II blade.  Thanks for sharing.
All the best,
Hendrik Varju
Passion for Wood
Hendrik Varju has produced and hosted 6 of his own DVD productions.  They are detailed private courses in a DVD format, ranging from over 4 1/2 hours long to more than 11 1/2 hours long, in 3 to 5 DVD sets.  For more information, see

posted in: blogs, giveaway, tablesaw blade

Comments (101)

slpoetzl slpoetzl writes: My number one safety tip for working with my table saw: Stop when I am tired. Almost all mistakes I have seen and heard of was when a person wanted to get one more cut in, one more piece ripped before they called it a day or a night. Stop when you are tired. Concentration goes down and mistake happen when you are not at your best and alert. Fatigue takes us off of being at attention in front of the saw.

Posted: 2:55 pm on December 31st

shunda shunda writes: i would keep my guard and riving knife on all the time but the knife is wide and won't fit in the cut made with thin kerf blades. General was useless in helping me out . after market parts don't seem to be available.

Posted: 10:38 pm on December 30th

bill117 bill117 writes: 50 years ago my shop teacher told me "keep your left hand on the left corner of the table and push with your right. You always know where your left hand is and you can watch your right". After 47 years in the trade,I retired 3 years ago with all my fingers. Thank you Mr Mayer!
Posted: 12:27 am on December 30th

Lateralgrove Lateralgrove writes: There have been some excellent safety suggestions posted here and I really cannot add to what has already been said except to say:
1. good shop lighting is a must have
2. dust control is a must have
3. Safety glasses is a must have
4. Read all of the manufacturer supplied manuals and understand them.
5. Read, read, read table saw instructional articles and books, you have not seen nor do you know everything.
6. Watch instructional DVD's because you do not know everything.
7. Take a course whenever you can because you do not know everything, it's a break and you'll enjoy yourselve and make some new friends.

I've been following the comments closely and there is much criticism over the old technology of bade guards and splitters. I have a three year old Delta Unisaw with a blade guard and splitter. It works fine and I have all of my fingers, two eyeballs and no holes in my torso from kickback. My question to all of you and especially to any of the manufacturer representatives auditing this site is can we instal a riving kife on table saws with splitters? If not why haven't they figured this out yet or is there really no safety advantage for the hassle involved?
Posted: 6:54 pm on December 29th

doneby doneby writes: I just saw (pun intended) this blog and realize I'm late but I didn't see this tip offered. Buy a new saw with an EASY TO REMOVE AND REPLACE BLADE GUARD AND RIVING KNIFE. That way you will be much more likely to actually use them. The old guards are largely unusable.
I know that's a lot of bucks but so are your fingers.
Posted: 4:40 pm on December 29th

Capt_Aubrey Capt_Aubrey writes: Rehearse the cut.

If I have any doubts about the safety of a cut, I'll drop the blade below the table and do a dry run of the entire operation. Immediately it is obvious as to whether or not I'll need push sticks, featherboards, outfeed/infeed supports, or even a special jig to hold the work safely.

For more routine operations, I'll run through the process in my head. Not only does this help identify any safety issues, but also gets my attention focused where it should be -- on the cut, not the next operation.

I have no doubt that this habit has saved me meat and blood.
Posted: 12:21 pm on December 29th

kmacleod kmacleod writes: Have a clean, large, zip-lock bag within easy access in your shop to put your severed finger in. In fact store it inside a second larger clear bag to keep it clean but hang it in plain view as a reminder that you will need it if you do not heed all of the great safety tips listed in this forum.
If you need a more graphic reminder, pick up one of the cheap plastic 'halloween' costume props such as a bloody severed hand and mount to the top door of your bandsaw. It will also help to remind your 'buddy' who drops in to borrow your tools and who claims to be more of an expert on safety than you.
Have something inserted into the zip-lock bag to keep it from locking shut - like a piece of paper. Imagine trying to open it with bloody hands and missing fingers...
It's odd that when we are overly prepared for an accident, it rarely ever occurs.
Posted: 11:01 am on December 29th

minchman minchman writes: Two things come to mind:
1- Before I start- I clean up. In my home shop it seems a fair amount of "household" items make there way to the floor, table saw, benches, etc. etc., in my absence.
2- I have a trophy!!! In my early days of learning wood working I tried to cross cut against the fence. The piece came spinning and punched a few holes in my chest. That piece hangs above the table saw as a trophy of what not to do. It gets me to THINK before I cut. Thank God for FHB and FWW. I've learned a lot over the years reading cover to cover.
Posted: 8:18 am on December 29th

SirMagnus SirMagnus writes: There are some great suggestions here. However the comments would be vastly more helpful were the suggestions therein illustrated. Some of the most interesting suggestions defy visualization without such.
Posted: 11:14 pm on December 28th

UnseenWombat UnseenWombat writes: "Riffler writes: Make a mark on top of the fence with permanent marker indicating the start of the table insert and never allow your hands to go beyond that mark."

The table insert? I never allow my right hand any closer than the front edge of the TABLE, and my left hand never gets any closer than the miter gauge slot. As you can probably guess, this means I use push sticks for just about everything.

I also make sure to keep my weight back and consciously control the pressure of hand on the sticks such that if the stick slips or is flung out of the way, I won't fall toward the saw nor will my hand involuntarily fly toward the blade.
Posted: 9:01 pm on December 28th

Kral Kral writes: Never try to rip warped lumber. This is an invitation to kickback. Flatten it first using a plane or jointer. Alternatively, you can devise a fixture that will rigidly hold the board in position relative to the fence while ripping.
Posted: 6:31 pm on December 28th

Fabuladico Fabuladico writes: I use feather boards, especially if working close. I also have made an assortment of push sticks, and continue to make new ones as the old one get chewed up. Whenever I see a new cut in a push stick, I am reminded that that cut might have been a finger, and yes, I still have all ten. When crosscutting I always stand clear of any possible path of trajectory. It is very important to concentrate on the work, and not be distracted. It only takes an instant of distraction for an accident to happen.
Also, whether crosscutting or ripping, if the piece binds, shut it down, check your set up and for proper blade alignment. It's probably a good idea to check all alignments periodically anyway, but if you should bind, never ever force the piece into the saw.

Last, respect and fear the blade. One of the first things I was taught by a mentor when I was young, is that the blade doesn't care if it cuts through wood or flesh, so be wary of any blade, punch, drill, and so on. Never try anything dangerous on any tool. Use the tool resposibly.
Posted: 4:57 pm on December 28th

emeraldhome emeraldhome writes: "techdude (quoted) My most useful table saw safety tip would be to make an extra guard and dedicated push stick for ripping narrow stock on the tablesaw. My guard consists of a block of 2"thick x 6" wide X 10" long milled stock with a 1/4" thick x 10" wide x 16" long plexiglass blade guard screwed to the top. The plexi overhangs the milled block by 6" to allow stock up to 6" wide to pass under the guard. The block has 3 1" dia. rare earth magnets set into its base to locate it on the left side of the table saw blade. When rip-cuts on narrow stock (ie. 2.5" or less) are about to be made,I remove the guard from its storeage location on the left side of my saw cabinet(the magnets hold it there). I set my rip fence to the desired cut (say 1/2"). I then place the guard against the rip fence allowing just enough room for the dedicated push-stick to pass (say 3/8" thick) to pass through between the guard and the rip fence. Now cuts on narrow stock can easily be made with the saws regular guard safely out of the way." This sounds like a great approach to safer sawing. Maybe you could submit a photo or sketch to FWW so we can have a visual to go along with the description? Thanks! Mike
Posted: 3:28 pm on December 28th

Filbert2 Filbert2 writes: The most useful tip I can provide will be extremely useful no matter where you are working. If you are about to do something that makes you uneasy or nervous, find another way to do the task that aleviates your concerns.
Posted: 1:43 pm on December 28th

reeltime1 reeltime1 writes: I was lucky. Really lucky. I hadn't used a table saw before, and on my very first project, I learned a few no-nos. Fortunately I did respect the power of the cutting blade and my fingers were nowhere near it when the accidents happened.

1) NEVER EVER CROSSCUT AGAINST THE FENCE. Okay-- this is a "duh" to most. But I hadn't considered the potential for binding between the blade and fence. When the board 'exploded', lesson 1 was learned.

2) Stand clear of the cutting line. Ripping a thin strip off of piece of mdf, I got my first and only gut-punch from the kickback. I did have my kickback prawns in place, but the piece was too thin to be grabbed, and the welt was a pretty shade of purple.

3) Keep your pushstick within arms' reach. Early on in my woodworking, I'd always be hunting for the thing with the blade spinning. I wasn't brave enough (or stupid enough) to go it without a push stick, but I quickly learned to set the pushstick on the opposite side of the fence before starting any cut. It's always there when I need it now.

Early lessons learned that were never repeated. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Posted: 1:18 pm on December 28th

dhawes dhawes writes: As I read through the comments already posted, I don't remember seeing any mention of the use of feather "boards" (lots of really well designed plastic ones out there) to keep work pieces tight to the fence and in some cases even tight to the table. I have installed a jig with Tee-slots onto my fence that allows feather boards ahead of the blade to hold work down securely.
Also - I have installed a double-pole heavy duty on/off switch "upstream" of the power receptacle, and marked the "off" side of the switch toggle with red marker ink. Whenever I do pre-cut setups or blade changes, I always turn off the power to the wall plug (and thus to the saw), even though I have a knee-paddle power-off activator on the saw itself. Finally, I have enclosed the power cord in an aluminum conduit screwed to the floor between the power receptacle and the saw, preventing trips on the loose power cord.
Posted: 12:53 pm on December 28th

Riffler Riffler writes: Make a mark on top of the fence with permanent marker indicating the start of the table insert and never allow your hands to go beyond that mark.
Posted: 12:24 pm on December 28th

Waldog2 Waldog2 writes: I think the best way to avoid an accident with the table saw is to respect as something dangerous. Always use your head. Never turn on your saw while thinking of something else or talking on the phone.
Posted: 11:48 am on December 28th

TomL115 TomL115 writes: 1. The most important piece of safety equipment for my Table Saw is my Band Saw. Whenever I find myself working too close to the Table Saw blade or with too small a piece of wood, I switch to the Bandsaw - much less likely to grab you.

2. House rule: Nobody enters the shop or knocks on the door is there is a machine running! Distraction leads to error or injury.

Posted: 11:21 am on December 28th

fivefib fivefib writes: I use a replaceable wood guard that is mounted with my miter guage. this covers the blade as it pushes the wood thru the blade and also prevents kick backs. I learned the hard way as I had to have three fingers reattached. I was be able to have feelings and use of the three fingers. Thanks to a great Doctor.
Posted: 10:48 am on December 28th

Belisarius Belisarius writes: I consider this round-up of comments on table-saw safety to be a great service. The wisdom of these various points is borne out in most cases by my own experience, but several points made by my colleagues needed to be highlighted (like having a first-aid kit handy.

Accordingly, I will incorporate these points into my own procedure with my new table saw. Being left-handed I always assume that I am at something of a disadvantage in using tools designed for right-handed people. Such awareness in itself, I think, keeps me psychologically prepared for trouble.

One point I would emphasize is the danger of becoming too competent and therefore complacent. I witnessed a man with fifty years accident-free experience as a millwright cut off two fingers just by being casual in clearing the blade while preparing some lumber for me.

Keeping free of distraction is another major concern. The male mind is not inclined to multi-tasking. We're at our best focusing totally on one task to the exclusion of all else. I've had to train my better half to be aware of this masculine limitation when assisting me in the workshop.

Exhaustion is another serious issue. My father-in-law lost three fingers after refusing to give over working on his table-saw despite being asked to call it a day.
Posted: 10:27 am on December 28th

DennisC DennisC writes: "Fear The Blade"
From Webster's dictionary, "Fear is an uneasiness of mind, upon the thought of future evil likely to befall us." This is not to be afraid of the blade, but offer it the respect it deserves. I've read that most table saw injuries happen to those that have had a table saw more than 10 years. They get comfortable and no longer "Fear the Blade". When I walk into the shop I remind myself to "Fear the Blade". This serves me well for all of the whirling sharp edges I use.

Dennis C.
Posted: 10:09 am on December 28th

demouser demouser writes: Dull blades are dangerous. Trouble is they get dull gradually and there is no "expiration date". Obviously we know that blade life depends of the types of wood and total length of all the cuts. Burning and high effort are obvious signs, but sometimes it's due to the wood, not the blade.

I try to change blades on a regular basis and send them off to be sharpened. Sometimes you forget that blade has been in there for several months. I use a permanent marker and write the blade installaion date near the hub. An alternate would be to write the installation date somewhere on the table saw itself.
Posted: 9:52 am on December 28th

nvman nvman writes: My tip would be to never work when you are tired or when you become tired. I find that when I am tired, I get lazy, begin to take shortcuts, and make mistakes. A sharp, fresh mind and an alert attitude is your best safety feature.
Posted: 9:39 am on December 28th

HelmutBuster HelmutBuster writes: Many great tips and advice here. Generally sound, but there is one item which was frequently mentioned which should be clarified. A few folks advised "never take your eyes off the blade": this is dubious at best. If you're using a rip fence, for example, it is much more important to watch and be aware of what's going on at the fence than at the blade. The blade is going to cut the stock, the important thing is for the edge to stay flat against the fence. If you're fixated on the blade, the stock could drift off the fence without you knowing it resulting in a dangerous situation. Always be aware of the entirety of the saw and your actions with it.

Push sticks (long and narrow with a "notch" on the end) are terribly dangerous. Instead, make or buy and use a "push shoe" which has a larger contact and offers much greater control.

Posted: 9:38 am on December 28th

SJDII SJDII writes: Repetitious cut? Be sure to take a break. It is all too easy to start to "day dream" and loose concentration when making the same cut over and over.
Posted: 9:35 am on December 28th

SJDII SJDII writes: Can't find the tape measure you just used? Getting tired, and it is time to stop for the day.
Posted: 9:30 am on December 28th

SJDII SJDII writes: Do not use any power tools after any amount of alcohol.

Posted: 9:29 am on December 28th

BCJason BCJason writes: One very simple thing that can save you a trip to the emergency ward. Never, I mean never reach past the blade for any reason. If your fingers are always in front of the blade then they can't be dragged through it from a kick back. I had to learn this the hard way. Luckily I got away with only a few stitches.
Posted: 9:28 am on December 28th

FredsWorkshop FredsWorkshop writes: Before approaching any spinning power tool, whether it be a band saw, a miter saw, or a table saw, check to be sure that you are now wearing a band aid on you fingers which could easily be grabbed by a tooth on the blade and . . . (Of course, number 6 would remove that possibility. ) But, contrary to all of the advice offered about using a splitter and a blade protector, most woodworkers don't.

As you approach the tool, take a moment to think about the following questions:

1. where am I standing in relation to the blade 1) to avoid kickback and, even though very remote, 2) to avoid a flying tooth?
2. am I tired? (fatigue is a killer!)
3. am I repeating the same cut for the nth time? (repetition is mind numbing.)
4. have I checked the lumber for knots? (can be a menace)
5. am I supporting the piece (against the fence and the table) properly? (both are essential)
6. am I using a proper push stick correctly?

I know this sounds like six-of-one and a half-a-dozen-of- another but a few thoughtful seconds may save many days and weeks of suffering.

P.S. Don't use dull blades!
Posted: 9:23 am on December 28th

coachhill coachhill writes: Like a few others I also put a 'paddle' on the on/off switch that I press with my knee to turn the saw off. This keeps my hands in a stable position while the saw stops.
My primary thought is about footing and the stance at the saw. I tend to push cut offs and scraps to the side and they wind up underfoot. Keep this area clean so you don't slip or trip. Stand to the side of the blade not directly in front of it. Kick-backs happen and you don't want to be in the line of fire. Oh, and have a variety of push sticks readily available for any rip cut.
Posted: 8:23 am on December 28th

ChrisB8815 ChrisB8815 writes: How about the simple tip of maintenance. How many times have we all used machines that "just require a little extra care". You all know the ones, when the off switch sometimes sticks a bit .. or the guard was removed because someone broke it and we haven't had the chance to replace it yet.

The saw that just "doesn't sound quite right" .. but we use anyway because the job needs to be finished. When was the last time you dressed your cutting table to keep wood sliding nicely?

Know thy enemy. Routine maintenance helps to keep it running great, lasting long, and helps to prevent in failures (which usually happen when the saw is on).
Posted: 7:29 am on December 28th

MASTERCRAFTER MASTERCRAFTER writes: After reading ALL the posts, l was truly surprised that absolutely everybody completely forgot the one tip that has gotten me CUT more than any other safety violation:
I have suffered more cuts,nicks, lost fingers(all of which l retrieved, thankfully), and assundrious close calls due to the guy that wants to be helpful, and all of a sudden, my piece being cut starts moving without me. And, usually with unwanted consequences!!!
Tablesaws are designed to be used by one person, and with proper side and outfeed table extensions, there is only a very few times that l have needed a second set of hands. You can BET that when this became necessary, l chose wisely as to who would assist.

Posted: 5:35 am on December 28th

Aiji Aiji writes: If it roars and has teeth, it eats meat! Feed your wood as though feeding a tiger- and use push sticks keep your hands clear of the teeth, and don't stand in line with the lumber.
Posted: 5:09 am on December 28th

Stephan01 Stephan01 writes: My 2cents : use a riving knife and a blade guard !
Posted: 4:21 am on December 28th

hhddww hhddww writes: Two of the most important:

1. Keep the blade sharp.

2. Keep the saw adjusted properly.

Dull blades (or cutters of any kind), and poorly adjusted machines cause more accidents than any other sources. Eliminate thoughts like "oh, I can make just one more cut before I ..........".
Posted: 1:49 pm on December 14th

dunner dunner writes: The best tip I can give on table saw safety is to respect that the table saw you are using is dangerous, have it set up properly with a sharp blade and think of each and every cut before you make it - if it seems dangerous, take an alternative approach - build a jig, use a sled,etc. And keep the height of the blade just slightly above the thickness of the wood being cut.

Posted: 10:38 am on December 13th

Knotscott Knotscott writes: You can plug in your brain and saw at the same time, but be sure to engage the brain before the start button.
Posted: 2:11 am on December 13th

Longwave Longwave writes: Be prepared. It's not a matter of IF you have an accident; it's a question of WHEN.
If it's a minor accident you'll be able to treat it as a "learning opportunity" and go back to work within a few minutes.
If it's a major accident, your working days may be over, forever, unless you're prepared.
Face visor
First aid kit, heavy with gauze pads and pressure bandages - accessible, not tucked in the back of a cabinet.
First aid training - what to do with the first aid kit.
Alarm procedure - to alert someone in the household.
Telephone - to alert 911 if you're working alone.
Posted: 10:35 pm on December 11th

cahudson42 cahudson42 writes: My #1 tablesaw safety tip:

Throw it out.

Use a tracksaw - like the Festool TS-55, and for narrow rips - a good bandsaw and fence.
Posted: 2:02 am on December 11th

SimonG SimonG writes: The Zero Clearance Insert should be the boundaries that your fingers should never cross when the blade is turning.
Posted: 12:33 am on December 11th

BrettWA BrettWA writes: My tip presupposes a couple of things,

1. that the saw is properly setup,with safety equipment installed, and in good running condition

2. that the operator is trained on how to properly use the saw

TIP: Keep your eyes on the blade and know where your hands and workpiece are in relationship to the blade. The idea here is to keep your hands as far away as possible from the blade while maintaining positive control of the workpiece.
Posted: 11:07 pm on December 10th

jHop jHop writes: Best tip I can think of, and I know others have far more knowledge and experience than I, is to keep it simple. It's when you try to do complicated things with the saw that you end up getting injury or mistakes. Keeping the cut simple means you minimize (but never eliminate) the dangers.
Posted: 10:06 pm on December 10th

superstew17 superstew17 writes: All great tips so far!
major tip i have is to understand how your saw works.

It is very important to understand why the rip fence needs to have a 1/32-1/64" tapper away from the table saw blade. This makes sure that the teeth are only cutting at the front of the blade and NOT at the back. This reduces kickback and burning and helps to keep the workpiece held down on the table instead of it trying to lift up. Tying into this topic also is the use of push sticks. Just because you are using a push stick DOES NOT MAKE it a safe operation. A push-stick must hold the material being cut DOWN against the table and against the fence while being able to push it forward.

If you are doing a operation and someone told you how, you must understand WHY.

Posted: 8:05 pm on December 10th

techdude techdude writes: My most useful table saw safety tip would be to make an extra guard and dedicated push stick for ripping narrow stock on the tablesaw. My guard consists of a block of 2"thick x 6" wide X 10" long milled stock with a 1/4" thick x 10" wide x 16" long plexiglass blade guard screwed to the top. The plexi overhangs the milled block by 6" to allow stock up to 6" wide to pass under the guard. The block has 3 1" dia. rare earth magnets set into its base to locate it on the left side of the table saw blade. When rip-cuts on narrow stock (ie. 2.5" or less) are about to be made,I remove the guard from its storeage location on the left side of my saw cabinet(the magnets hold it there). I set my rip fence to the desired cut (say 1/2"). I then place the guard against the rip fence allowing just enough room for the dedicated push-stick to pass (say 3/8" thick) to pass through between the guard and the rip fence. Now cuts on narrow stock can easily be made with the saws regular guard safely out of the way.
Posted: 6:49 pm on December 10th

larrysjack larrysjack writes: Since the table saw may be the first tool you use on a piece of stock, always check the stock for foreign objects. I found a 1” staple completely buried the other day. If I hadn’t seen the black dot on the wood and investigated I would have hit this squaring up the end.

I also like to learn from others mistakes. Making my own gets old quick.

Posted: 2:56 pm on December 10th

charlesk charlesk writes: When ripping never ever stand in the line of fire (kick back)
Get in the habit of standing off to one side. My saw can throw a projectile back at my gut at approx. 150 or so mph., and if it happens to be a thin piece of wood it can penitrate your gut like an arrow. I know of a person in my area who died of internal injuries from a kickback to the gut.

My next important thing would be as mentioned before, a magnetic switch with a knee paddle.

REMEMBER You can't fix stupid!!
Posted: 9:31 am on December 10th

David263 David263 writes:
I keep a push stick velcro'd to the back side of my tablesaw fence... so that it's always there when I need it (usually when I'm at the last few inches of a cut!)

David Elliott
Posted: 5:45 am on December 10th

ponyboy10 ponyboy10 writes: Here's a tip that contains a bunch of tips, buy Hendrik's DVD or if you are fortunate enough to live close by, take his Table Saw Safety Seminar or one of his many other seminars for that matter. No, he didn't pay me to say that!
Posted: 8:40 pm on December 9th

Jimmy_London Jimmy_London writes: When ever you are working on your table saw keep distractions down to a minimum. Don't have try to watch a TV, talk to you buddy or do that last cut after you have been called to supper. If you mind is not a 100% on the operation you are performing then you will not be ready for the unexpected and will not always react in the safest manner possible.
Posted: 6:43 am on December 9th

hookster1 hookster1 writes: Never do any rip cuts without some sort of splitter behind the blade.No splitter results in a greater chance of kickback. Kick back causes fingers and hands to be dragged over the spinning blade. Only having one hand left, I don't get any more chances !
Posted: 6:18 am on December 9th

WoodworkingJohn WoodworkingJohn writes: My Table Saw safety tip is:
When using a table saw, never use your mitre gage and rip fence together, or at the same time.
Posted: 4:29 am on December 9th

misterhappy misterhappy writes: Not a world-class tip, but whenever possible while using a push-shoe I like to curl a couple of my fingers over the fence. This means my hand is running on a track, so to speak, which makes it more stable, and it also puts at least a couple of fingers entirely out of harm's way.

Also not rocket science: use a big, sturdy sled for crosscuts.
Posted: 12:31 am on December 9th

pef pef writes: Don't plug it in
Posted: 12:25 am on December 9th

bob_barnett bob_barnett writes: Engage your brain before you engage your saw.
Posted: 9:12 pm on December 8th

BKopfer BKopfer writes: The safety "device" I use the most is a large paadle that I hit with my knee to turn off the saw. Sometimes near the end of a cut I feel the wood move wrong and almost without thinking my knee hits the paddle and a possible problem or accident is avoided. I have been cutting wood and see a possible problem develop and because of the knee paddle I can keep both hands on the table holding wood or jig in place and still turn off the saw. The paddle is not an excuse for improper technique but it is so nice to have and use.
Posted: 8:32 pm on December 8th

TheBuilder520 TheBuilder520 writes: The best table saw tip is to make sure that you understand and have a properly set up saw. This is the number one reason why people get hurt. They don't fully understand or just don't follow the recommendations. By setting up a saw I'm referring to everthing from an aligned the blade to making sure the blade guard is installed correctly.

I'm not sure if anyone has ever said this before but I will say it here if not:
A properly set up table saw will provide safe and accurate cuts when used properly.

Posted: 8:08 pm on December 8th

Mike7 Mike7 writes: I always think in my head, don't get lazy. It may be only one cut but put the splitter and guard back on. I have a brother in law who paid the price of four fingers being sewn back on for lack of doing this.
Posted: 5:22 pm on December 8th

Arcady Arcady writes: I think that it all comes to one meta-tip:

Always think before you make the cut.
Posted: 3:32 pm on December 8th

BArmstro10 BArmstro10 writes: Remember what happens to the Hot dog!
Posted: 3:17 pm on December 8th

armandobbb armandobbb writes: Always keep the top of your tablesaw clear when cutting. Remove any tools, scrap wood, or other non essential items when using your saw.
Posted: 2:19 pm on December 8th

Boredfeet Boredfeet writes: Never operate a Table Saw or any other piece of power equipment when you are tired, distracted or in a rush.
Check all setups etc a second time before turning on the switch.
Posted: 1:46 pm on December 8th

EngrMike EngrMike writes: Take the time to do it the right way!
Posted: 1:22 pm on December 8th

MikeIke MikeIke writes: Build a good jig for challenging cuts, especially tapers. NEVER buy one of those hinged adjustable stamped metal ones that look like a long compass. Those things are kickback inducing, can cause you to run your fingers too close to the blade, etc. I advocate building a miter slot guided sled with adjustable support battens and toggle clamps for taper cuts. You must include hand holds that are safely placed. Make your jig a safety device disguised as a precision device! Thanks!
Posted: 12:55 pm on December 8th

Lise_C Lise_C writes: Accidents don't happen on purpose, and I always assume that I will have one at some point in my woodworking career. So my tip:

THIS is the cut that will mess up.

This is the cut that will slice off a finger or send the piece into my gut. This is the cut where I will lose control midway through because I moved my foot onto something that made me lose my balance. This is the time that part of the blade will fly into my eye. This is when the fence will move because I forgot to lock it down. This is when the piece won't glide over the outfeed table because it moved. This is when my pushstick will move into the blade.

THIS is the cut that will mess up.
Prepare for it.

Posted: 12:47 pm on December 8th

aljen aljen writes: The best safety tip I have is to always be "nervouse" using a table saw. I lost a tip of a finger because I was use to the saw that it finally bit me. Now if something looks wrong or looks like it could hurt, I figure out a safe way to do it, even if it takes me longer to do.
Posted: 11:49 am on December 8th

wearsahat wearsahat writes: My best table saw tip is to have knowledge. Educate yourself on the mechanics of how and why accidents happen.
Learn how to safely use your table saw-- Hendrik's DVD is a remarkable resource of information.
Now that you have developed a safe cutting routine for all types of cuts--- don't get lazy and take short cuts.
Posted: 11:31 am on December 8th

FinTO FinTO writes: Me, I make sure I know where others in the shop are, what they're up to and where the dog is, then I announce "POWER ON'. The saw, I've no problems with. However Shop rule is: Any machine running stay clear and don't do anthing that will distract me. (Typed with all ten fingers). FCStott
Posted: 10:51 am on December 8th

BDoyle BDoyle writes: To control and safely push stock on your table saw use the

GRR-Ripper System.This tool is wonderful and i am sure anyone who has one would agree.
Posted: 10:04 am on December 8th

djtkach djtkach writes: Never, ever force it. If things are not cutting smoothly, or are binding, stop and figure out why. More pressure equals lost body parts.
Posted: 9:27 am on December 8th

dlbarrie dlbarrie writes: Make sure you are always aware of your stance, use push sticks and ALWAYS keep your eye on a spinning blade until it stops completely.
Posted: 9:18 am on December 8th

KCW KCW writes: ALWAYS use outfeed support. Gravity is not your friend.
Posted: 8:25 am on December 8th

Ihateusernames Ihateusernames writes: Don't take your eye off a spinning blade.

From your visual check before startup through to watching during wind-down, you should not stop watching what is happening around a spinning table saw blade. After the actually cut itself, a blade spinning down after power has been cut is the second most dangerous time. A user is liable to kickback from cutoffs or a thin primary piece during this time. When turning off your saw take your time to ensure you are safe while the blade stops.
Posted: 1:04 am on December 8th

caskof43 caskof43 writes: Here is my take on this subject.There really isn't a #1 safety tip for safe use of a table saw or any machinery.All that were mentioned are great safety tips.Each one has it's own merit.I have kept my eye on the blade,properly set up my saw and planned on which way to feed that piece into the saw and had kickback.I think that before you enter your workshop you have to stop and think"there is a potential to get injured today,what am I going to do about that?".
Posted: 12:13 am on December 8th

mcbrown mcbrown writes: Keep your mind about you.
Posted: 9:17 pm on December 7th

mvflaim mvflaim writes: Never rip a 2x4 in half. The wood is too wet and it will bind the wood to the fence causing kick back. Instead rip a groove half way through the wood then flip it over and complete the cut.
Posted: 8:54 pm on December 7th

kenrup kenrup writes: Making sure there is nothing around saw on the floor that may cause you to stumble and fall into your saw as your cutting.
Posted: 6:46 pm on December 7th

bmprigge bmprigge writes: Don't put your hand in the blade.

Seems simple enough, right?
Posted: 2:09 pm on December 7th

skay1611 skay1611 writes: Simply put: Always keep your hands away from a turning blade, push the piece with a push stick/pad, etc.
Posted: 11:39 am on December 7th

Dane_J Dane_J writes: I don’t know if this is what you are looking for or really applies as a safety tip, but here goes anyway.

I think I follow the safety rules pretty close, but following one rule has scared me one too many times, so I had to find a solution.

Unplug it whenever changing the blade... that is all well and good but plugging it back in can be scary, my saw came with a mechanical push-button switch...

How many times did I hit the 'on' button and realize that I have forgot to plug it back in(too many to remember), oh, then just plug it in and all is good, but !!!Surprise!!! it starts as soon as I plug it in. I have been extremely fortunate, but I was pretty sure that my luck may run out someday, so I retrofitted it with a magnetic switch, for about $60.

From what I understand, a magnetic switch ‘resets’ it’s self to off whenever power is applied, therefore the machine will not start when power is restored, by plugging-in or resetting a breaker.

Posted: 9:47 pm on December 6th

spvincent spvincent writes: Never use a table saw when exhausted, manic, or angry.

Step back, take a deep breath, and if you are not calm and thinking clearly, go away from the saw and work another day.

Posted: 9:31 pm on December 6th

Sgt_Ando Sgt_Ando writes: Be sure to read, understand, and follow all the safety rules that come with your power tools. Knowing how to use your powertools properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury. and remember this, there is no more important safety rule than to wear these, safety glasses.
- Norm Abrams
Posted: 8:43 pm on December 6th

pjpryor pjpryor writes: Safe operation of a table saw begins as you take it out of the box and put it together. My tip is that you need to ensure your saw is in proper working order and properly set-up.
Posted: 7:28 pm on December 6th

cer cer writes: As simple as it may sound, when cutting on a table saw, NEVER take your eyes off a spinning blade. It seems to be built into human nature not to make contact with a spinning blade. Yes you may accidentally damage your finished cut piece with a nick or scratch, but DON'T take your eyes off the spinning blade until your hands are at a safe distance away.
Posted: 7:07 pm on December 6th

rcs47 rcs47 writes: Do you really KNOW what you are about to do? Have you done anything like it before? No? Then shut off the saw and find someone to show/teach you how to do it the right/safe way.
Posted: 6:58 pm on December 6th

Aggie83 Aggie83 writes: If you have pause to wonder if making a particular cut is safe, it probably isn't.
Posted: 5:59 pm on December 6th

jrtoland jrtoland writes: My tip has less to do with the equipment/safety precautions that are in place and more to do with the human element involved. If you feel resistance, don't push harder! Doing so will negate most any precautions you've taken and almost guarantee that the stubborn piece of wood you're trying to cut is about to come back and cut you.
Posted: 4:34 pm on December 6th

D11RDozer D11RDozer writes: The real:
Wear safety glasses, hearing protection and respirator as appropriate

Correctly use the fence, miter gauge, blade configuration, splitter/riving knife and blade guard depending on the cut you need to make

Position your body and hands correctly to maintain a safe distance from the blade and to stay out of the line of fire

Do not operate a tablesaw (or any other machine) if under the influence of alcohol or other drugs or if you are tired

The silly:
Do not operate a tablesaw in the dark or with your eyes closed, or while wearing in-line skates, or in the nude, or standing on ice, or in the pouring rain, or in a moving vehicle, or on a steep grade, or with the saw on its side or upside down, or in a room with a sleeping baby, or while eating an ice cream cone (No offense to those with vision impairments as it may well be possible for you to safely use a tablesaw)
Posted: 3:10 pm on December 6th

Pbmaster11 Pbmaster11 writes: My best safety tip for using the table saw, any power tool for that matter, know your limits. Do what your comfortable with and when I say know your limits. Know when to take a break or quit for the day.

My biggest safety tip is never work tired.
Posted: 2:42 pm on December 6th

mpwill21 mpwill21 writes: I think all these recommendations are great!!! Mine is simply a plea to all my fellow woodworkers - listen to, and follow, all of the suggestions provided by manufacturers, Fine Woodworking and woodworkers out there. As an emergency physician I see the devastation these machines can cause every day. When I go to make a cut the voice of FW (and all of you) rings in my head. Is this the safest way to make this cut? Are all possible safety guards in place? Are push sticks positioned for easy retrieval? Is there any way to utilize hold downs? Is blade height correct? Is my out feed space appropriate? I use this philosophy when I perform procedures on patients - why wouldn't I do the same for myself!
Posted: 1:26 pm on December 6th

savage1 savage1 writes: When the saw is not in use, always remember to lower the blade beneath the table surface and unplug the saw.
Posted: 12:45 pm on December 6th

JJerman JJerman writes: It comes down to fundamental basics, never operate the tablesaw without the splitter or riving knife in place. It truly is that simple. The only exception would be if the splitter interferes with your machining operation such as cutting a groove.
John Jerman

Posted: 12:17 pm on December 6th

ScottSh ScottSh writes: Mine is based on personal experience. When ripping a relatively thin (less than 3" wide) but long piece, perhaps when ripping a 2x4 in half, use hold-downs to keep the board pressed tight to the fence and table in addition to the fingers that should be part of the back of your bladeguard or riving knife. Long pieces can (too) easily shift and get pinched between the blade and the fence and become dangerous projectiles. Getting punched in the gut by what amounts to a wooden spike is a painful experience that could be life-threatening.
Posted: 11:22 am on December 6th

fsdsdhshs fsdsdhshs writes: When you are cutting a tenon cheek by nibbling away the waste, slow down on the part after passing the blade. Being in a rush or careless could set you up for a particularly nasty kickback. If you start to pull the miter gauge and workpiece back towards you while sliding the workpiece sideways to clear the blade, you are getting sloppy. If the sideways motion is too slow the workpiece will touch the back of the blade and kickback ensues. Because you are stretched forward, you are much more likely to get hurt.
Slow down and slide to the side to clear the blade, then bring the piece back towards you.
Posted: 11:02 am on December 6th

JaredEgg JaredEgg writes: Short of buying a SawStop, my #1 table saw safety tip is this: use a good cross-cut sled whenever possible. I've found that supporting the stock well makes things a lot safer with a sled that has top and back guards. Obviously this tip is only specific to cross-cutting, but giving up the miter gauge was one of the best (and safest) things I've done. Thanks for your generosity!
Posted: 10:16 am on December 6th

JLYoung JLYoung writes: I'd have to say that one of the very basic safety issues with a table saw have to do with both the sharpness and setup of the blade itself. When a tablesaw blade gets dull, you end up having to push the wood quite hard to get the blade to cut it. This pushing force is very dangerous since you could slip and put your hand into the blade. So keep your blades sharp. The setup of the blade relative to the fence is also very important. Ideally the front edge of the blade as it enters the table top should be about two thousands of an inch or so closer to the fence than the back of the blade as it exits the table top. This very mior skew opens up the kerf a little bit and makes sure there is room at the back of the blade to keep the wood from binding between the blade and the fence, which is what causes kickback.
Posted: 10:00 am on December 6th

williamchall williamchall writes: I could list a hundred, but most importantly, never operate a table saw when you're even the slightest bit tired. The table saw should be respected as something that can easily liberate you from your extremities and it will be there when you have 100% of your wits about you.
Posted: 9:04 am on December 6th

chucktown chucktown writes: The best safety tip I have come to recognize is not something you make, build or buy. It is the common sense reasoning when I use my saw. You know...that little voice or tingle in your brain that make you stop and think twice about what you are doing and whether or not it is safe. Experience, common sense, and knowing your tools limits are some of the best safety devices you own.
Posted: 9:02 am on December 6th

Natick64 Natick64 writes: Great idea. I had a kickback happen a couple of years ago and I ended up taking a table saw course at the local Woodcraft store. There are many safety tips to use with a table saw, several could be considered the most important, but having to choose one I will go with the use of a riving knofe or splitter and blade guard.
Posted: 7:27 am on December 6th

thechidster thechidster writes: Regardless of whether you are right or left-handed, always use your right hand to feed and your left hand to guide when using your table saw. This helps keep your mental focus on where your hands are at all times. If each hand has a specific, consistent job, then you are less likely to have one accidentally stray into the blade.
Posted: 3:08 am on December 6th

granite36 granite36 writes: Never use the rip fence by itself to set the length of a crosscut. The workpiece can jam and become a missile coming back atcha. If you are doing repeated cuts and want a consistent length, clamp a small piece of scrap to the rip fence ahead of the blade. Slide your workpiece up to the scrap and make sure your workpiece will be off the scrap before the blade cuts into the wood. That way there will be a gap between the cutoff and the fence, avoiding that kickback potential. If you cut the scrap to an accurate 1-inch width, it will be easy to use the fence ruler by adding 1 inch to the desired measurement.
Posted: 11:00 pm on December 5th

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