Tablesaw safety


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Hello I’m new to this site as I’ve said in my bio. Part time woodworker with a older tablesaw. With that said my concern is safety with the saw I have. The saw has no kick back paws no riving knife or blade guard. Any advice on operation with this kind of saw that would make it safer to use. I know about push sticks I just bought the gripper which makes me feel a little more at ease around the blade. There’s a lot of experience just reading other post on this site. Hopefully I can get some advice thanks. 

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All good advice so far.  Once upon a time I had an old 1970's Craftsman/Emerson contractor saw that lacked the typical safety features of newer machines.  Things I did to promote safety outside of studying proper methods and techniques were shop made or bolt-ons.

First thing I needed was a decent fence to assure good path control while ripping. Your fence may be fine, mine was an accident waiting to happen.

I made zero clearance inserts with splitters.  I chose the simple Micro Jig MJ Splitter that was offered at the time.  The ZCI's are quick to make and I would make them in batches using the original insert as a template as they are a wear part.



Being a contractor saw it was fussy to align the blade so I coughed up the $20 for a set of PALs.  I see these are still available from Peachthree.

I also upgraded my miter gauge as the one that came with the saw was not original, did not fit well and was not worth tuning up.

I tossed a 90# bag of redi-crete wrapped in plastic into the bottom of the stand to add some mass and build outfeed and sidefeed tables.  This may sound like a lot to throw at a saw however, not all of it is required and your saw may already be pretty good.

If I had to short-list the things that make a tablesaw safe (assuming good practices like keeping your hands away from the blade, no over-reaching and so forth) they would be:

1. Proper alignment -- A tablesaw blade rotates on a fixed plane.  To avoid kickback you want to do a couple of things; make sure the blade is aligned with the miter gauge slot and the fence and assure that material you cut is well milled.  Getting a kickback while feeding irregular material across the fixed path of tablesaw is not an accident, it is misuse.  Tablesaw  statistics would change drastically if all "accidents" that were operator generated were removed from the numbers pool ;-)

2. A ZCI -- Small cutoffs that can get lodged in the gap between blade and insert can become dangerous tiddly-winks.  Buy one or make your own but, save yourself the laundry-generating experience of this phenomena.

3. Splitter -- Again, anything that goes wrong when you make a cut without a splitter is no accident IMHO.

4. Material support -- Roller stands, outfeed tables, whatever.  Wrestling your material past the blade almost assures a bad feed path and all the burning, fraying or kickback that goes with it.

There's so much more but, these would be my top 4 ;-) 


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I highly suggest getting a splitter asap.  Kick back is one (if not the most) likely cause of tablesaw injuries.  I second the recommendation of the microjig splitters.  I had it on my previous ts and it worked great.  That type of splitter also makes switching out to a dado stack a little easier and faster as well as opposed to having a traditional splitter.  I would also make a zero clearance insert.  Good luck.  Stay safe.

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When the guys mentioned aligning blade and fence, the standard practice is to reference the miter slot, since it does not move.

Also, construct a tablesaw sled ASAP. A large percentage of table saw cuts are cross-cuts, and a sled that carries the workpiece AND the off-cut keeps everything aligned and your hands out of harm's way.

For ripping, the Grrripper is a good push block, but does require a little adjustment for each different cut. I prefer to use a length of 2x6 with a short scrap screwed to the end to form a 'hook' about 1/8" below the edge. This makes a sacrificial push block that I can pass right over the blade as needed. The blade should never extend more than 1/2 a tooth above the workpiece for such cuts. Always keep the pushblock off the fence, and press the workpiece toward the fence as you cut.

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Don't do stupid stuff like the guy in that video.   Never get in a hurry.  If you feel yourself getting in a hurry, turn the power off, put the tools up, and go to the house.

When you use a push stick, use the right type of push stick for the job.  They're easy to make, if you can't buy one you need.  I have many, with some 2' long, but still will stop, and make one for something unusual.   Make long ones for long pieces.  Don't use a little thing on the end behind a long piece.  The push stick needs to not only keep your fingers away, but it needs to be able to hold the piece down, and in control.  I'll try to remember to take some pictures when I go to the shop.

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