Stupid, stupid, stupid. You can't fix it. The whole damn world is getting more stupid everyday because of greed and lawyers. I wish the US and here in Canada, we would pass some laws limiting the liability in these cases as well as enacting legislation to install safety measures. Not that everyone would use them but again, the responsibility would remain with the idiot that cut his hands. And before anyone jumps on me I also have table saw scars but I didn't even think of blaming anyone else. My choice to buy the saw, my choice to operate it, my risk all the way around. It was a Sears product and I wasn't long moving that out the door in favour of a General.
In the Province where I live we have a limit of $2,500 for soft tissue damage as a result of car accidents. Many lawyers had to change their business when that came in several years ago. Good thing too. At least the insurance companies can still afford to operate and offer us reasonably priced policies.
There are many reasons for injuries however there are four that stand out in my mind.
1) Low quality equipment. People buy cheap products to save money. However poor quality tools, regardless of type, will flex and move under pressure. The table saw is such a machine. With poor quality table, poor quality blades and particularly poor quality fences, wood will bind and a spinning blade will cause kickback.
2) Noise. One effect that can happen while operating the saw is dizziness caused by the noise. The dizziness can be only momentary but just enough to cause an accident. I can vouch for this because it happened to me.
The high pitch sound from a saw can and will cause temporary and some permanent hearing loss. Again, I have first hand knowledge.
3)Removal of safety items such as blade guards.
4) Dull blades. Blades are like any other tool, if they are not sharp it requires extra effort to push the wood through. This can cause binding, people get off balance, hands get closer to the danger zone; all because we are concentrating on the extra effort rather than the safety factor.
My recommendation: Buy the best you can afford but never waste money on dangerous junk.
I guess we all have a favourite tool. I have been asked many times what I would buy if there was only one tool I could select. I would buy the biggest and best router on the market. My second tool would be a good book on woodworking and they would be followed by my table saw.
A router can do many tasks including acting as a planer, jointer, saw and yes, a chisel.If you can build a jig the tasks it can accomplish are endless.
I, too, thought the radial arm saw ( Sears) was the answer. It was the first major tool I purchased and within a few hours I realized it was also one of the most dangerous tools around. It was very quickly put up for sale and was sold within days. I then used my tiny brain and went to a furniture craftsman and asked his advise. He told me to buy the best tools I could afford starting with a table saw and a jointer. I bought the table saw (Sears) and jointer (Delta). After 30 + years I still use that Jointer but that Sears saw was gone in a year. I have had 6 table saws but once I bought a General saw I had no need to change. I still don't have a good band saw but it is on the top of my list for 2010.
I have several dozen chisels but I have one special set of bi-metal Japanese chisels.
My one piece of advise is that anyone buying tools for any hobby or trade should buy the best within budget.
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