Table Saw Safety


Mark J
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I don't need to use my table saw very much and so sometimes I'm a little unsure of best practices.  In fact shortly after I brought it home I did some research on safety tips and put together a list for myself that I could keep at the saw.  Yesterday I was making a simple jig for a turning project and was cutting some 3/4" BB on the table saw.  I had one piece of plywood about 4' x 7" which I needed to true up along the 4' edge.  Most of the "table" is to the right of the blade so I set up the fence to the right of the blade. Then I set up one finger board on the infeed side, clear of the blade and then an adjustable stand to support the board on the infeed and there was a n outfeed table.   And I used push pads to handle the workpiece.  But I couldn't figure out where to stand?  According to safety sheet you're supposed to stand to one side of the board or the other.  Not hard to understand why.  But you are also not supposed to let the blade get between you and the workpiece, either.  That means standing on the fence side of the cut, reaching over the fence while trying to hold the workpiece against the fence whose surface you can't actually see without leaning out over the work table.  Keep in mind that the support stand is also taking up space.  I did the first trim cut this way (standing to the right of the blade) and it felt very awkward.  And when I had the plywood through the cut I realized that I couldn't reach the off switch which is left of the blade (SawStop).  When I flipped the board to trim the other long edge I tried standing to the left of the blade.  I had access to the stop button with my thigh and a better view of, and better ergonomics with, the fence, but I was reaching across the blade.  I managed to complete the two operations without incidence, and next time I'd set up the cut with the fence on the left side of the blade (with the power switch), but that will still be awkward with the fence.

So given a long board to rip, an infeed stand taking up space and the power switch on the left how are you supposed to set this up and where are you supposed to stand?  

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In years of daily use, I have never seen a large piece of plywood kick. I push them squared behind the sheet. The cutoff is more likely to fly. In this circumstance, no single rule works for all situations. You have to know how much weight each piece has, and how much of the piece will be behind the blade by the time uplift forces will matter. If your fence clamps, you can put a down roller on it. With a riving knife, I have never seen a kicking concern. With a riving knife and guard, I have never seen an injury. (Just my experience. It could be done.) The pieces have to get small before I remove the guard. Only for special circumstances do I remove the knife. 

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Forgot about the infeed stand. For a ply piece like that, I wouldn’t use the stand. Hold from the left side toward the back 2/3-3/4 and walk it into the cut until it’s supported on the table and then feed through. If the piece is heavy enough that infeed support is needed, I’d still stay left and use a push stick long enough to complete the cut (but not necessarily clear the back of the blade) without getting too close to the blade, then immediately stop the saw and step back or continue holding the push stick on the work piece.

Blade guide and riving knife dramatically reduce the chance of kickback and/or injury for cuts like this. 

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I would have to agree with all of above. And I have never used an in feed support. I try and rip the piece to a manageable size with a circ saw and finish it on the ts. An in feed support would just be an extra consideration when I need to be watching the piece against the fence while watching it thru the blade. 

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I used to have an infeed cart.  Plywood went from the truck onto the cart.  It could roll up to the front of the saw, and was just the correct height to match the saw top.  A plywood sheet would go from the truck to the saw, and was ripped down to its needed size.  It was used for some number of years, but we finally decided it took up more room than it was worth.

Now, I rip full sized sheets by myself, including MDF.

The important thing for me is having a good outfeed table, so it can lay right there after it goes through the saw.

4' x 7" is just a small piece.

Hands Never go over, behind, or anywhere close to the blade.  NEVER.  Some sort of push stick/device gets used, unless a whole hand can pass well clear of the blade.

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The safty point to stay between the blade and the work piece is interesting, I've never heard that one. I"m assuming it's to prevent someone from hitting their arm on the blade.

I always position my left hip on the on off button which puts my body mostly out of the way of the blade and anything that might get kicked back. I also use push sticks not push paddles. I won't advise either way because everyone is different, use what feels safe and comfortable to you.

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