Table Saw Safety Rules
Table saws are a great addition to your power tool arsenal. As a matter of fact some consider it to be the best tool in the shop. The table saw is capable of cutting large pieces of wood into more manageable pieces for your wood projects. But the hazards of using one can be very unforgiving if you don’t know what you’re doing. As usual when thinking about investing money into buying one, do the research on the uses for that tool. Always follow the table saw safety rules that come with it. There are thousands of accidents reported every year connected to this beast of a tool. Some involve lacerations while others loss of fingers or far worse.
First and foremost, eye protection needs to be worn at all times. Yes you’ll find that I mention that a lot in my posts. I want you to be safe and have fun. Some people think that if they wear prescription glasses that will be enough. Nope, it’s not because these types of glasses don’t have side shields and no protection at the top of the glasses to prevent sawdust or other debris from entering the eyes. Find the right eye protection that’s comfortable to wear for you. Some people like the goggles while some prefer the safety glasses or the full face shield.
Hearing protection is also important when using this saw or any power tool that makes a lot of racket such as the circular saw. As with eye protection it’s important that you use what’s comfortable for you. Some like the foam type ear plugs while others prefer the headphones that cover the entire ear. Protect your hearing because hearing can alert you to problems that your eyes can’t. So what do I mean by this? An example would be when you start the table saw, it’s your hearing that will tell you when the saw is up to maximum speed. Hearing will also tell you if the blade is cutting smoothly or not.
Gloves and Power Tools are a No No
Can gloves be worn in the work area is a yes and no topic of discussion. They can be worn as long as all you’re doing is moving the wood from one place to another. They shouldn’t be worn around power tools that are turned on. Why you may ask, well when the finger tips of the gloves come in contact with moving parts there’s a good chance that the moving part will latch onto one or more of the finger tips and pull you into the machine. Fingers have been pulled out of their sockets and in some instances people have lost their lives due to a hand that was gloved.
Loose clothing and jewelry shouldn’t be worn around power tools. These are also known as entanglement hazards. For the ladies, if you have long hair you need to put it up in a bun or tie it back so that the hair won’t get entangled in the moving parts of the table saw or other power tool that’s being used. A lot of people have actually lost there lives due to these types of hazards.
If you have shirt tails, tuck them into your pants. Cuffs at the end of shirt sleeves that are unbuttoned are also an entanglement hazard. Loose jewelry like long dangling necklaces or wrist bracelets are dangerous as well. They can get entangled in moving parts and pull you into the moving blade. Best practice is to remove them before you enter the work area. There’s a lot of safety rules to abide by and when starting out I encourage you to make a safety checklist you can refer to until all of them just become automatic.
Table Saw Blade Safety and Types
The table saw can cut with the grain or across the grain. However you have to use two different types of blades for this. The blade that needs to be used for cutting with the grain is called a ripping blade and a crosscut blade if you’re cutting across the blade. I can’t stress this enough when changing out blades, unplug the saw.
Many people have been hurt by getting in hurry. Something that my father always told me at a very young was this “slow down and think about what your doing”. Fingers and hands don’t grow back people, be safe at all times. Things to check for when changing out blades are cracks and how sharp are they. Make sure there aren’t and missing or chipped teeth. If the teeth on the blade are excessively worn, it’s best to change it. Dull blades are not your friend.
Inspect Your Wood
Inspect the wood before cutting. Saw blades don’t react very well when they encounter loose knots. These can turn into projectiles in a hurry. Also check for other types of foreign material such as staples, nails or screws. Hey you never know what your getting when you buy recycled wood or even wood from the lumber yard. Hard objects will damage your table saw blade and could cause personal injury to you or others in the area.
Pink Things are Fingers
Now that you’ve got the right blade on the saw, make sure that the blade isn’t higher than it needs to be. The rule of thumb is about 1/4″ above the wood. When ripping large pieces of wood such plywood, make sure that you have a good out feed system set up so that binding or kickback won’t happen. Out feed rollers work well for this because of portability. Plus the height can be adjusted easily to accommodate the cut.
If you don’t have this type of out feed system, find somebody to support the out feed part of the wood while you finish the cut. Wood that is narrower than 6″ inches should never be cut without the use of a push stick. Remember, pink things are fingers, don’t lose them. If you don’t have push stick you can either make one or purchase one either online or I’m sure at your local lumber store.
Think About Your Intent
Before you begin your cut, think about what you’re trying to accomplish. First make damn sure that the cut is even possible to make safely. A good example would be if the wood that you want to cut is too big for the table saw handle. You may need to cut it down with a circular saw to make it more manageable. If there’s any doubt after cutting it down with a circular saw, the best thing to do is not to attempt it at all.
With almost everything in life there’s more than one solution to a problem. If need be, find a safer and better answer. When performing long cuts it’s important not to stand in the path of the saw blade. To do it safely stand to the side of the wood that’s being cut. Not only does this keep you out of the direct path of the blade but also keeps your body out of the way if you experience one of those ugly kickbacks.
The Table Saw Fence
As you cut long boards make sure that you use the fence. I know I know some of you will ask “what fence” basically all it is, is a guide that should come with the table saw. Two things that it can do is it makes sure that all of your cuts are straight all the way down the board as you’re cutting. The safety factor is that since the wood is being guided straight through the blade, it will prevent any kind of binding or kickback. Don’t ever try to cut something that is long and awkward without using this safety feature. I promise that you’ll be sorry that you did.
Workshop Housekeeping Practices
Workshop housekeeping plays an important part of being safe when using the table saw. This tool can create a pretty big mess if the area around the saw isn’t kept up regularly. Small chunks of wood will collect on the floor especially when performing a lot of cross cuts. The scraps can and do cause tripping hazards which are dangerous when operating the saw or any power tool for that matter. Best practice is to set aside the time to clean up after yourself when you get ready to knock off at the end of the day.
Put the usable pieces somewhere that can be used later on and throw away the ones that you know won’t be used for anything. Sweep up sawdust as well since sawdust can create a slippery effect on the floor. Slipping or falling into a moving blade from a piece of wood laying on the floor just isn’t worth the trip to the doctor. Even if the blade isn’t in motion is gonna cut you ribbons. Besides I would rather spend a few minutes and clean up than an hour or so.
Work shop Fatigue
Let’s talk a little bit about work shop fatigue. This happens to all of us, sometimes after a hard days work such as today for me. Here I am, writing this and my eyes are getting droopy and I’m having hard time putting words together to form sentences for this post. Guess what, this is a sign of fatigue and a silly example but a harmless one.
Now, imagine that your in the shop doing your thing and you find your mind starting to wander and your using a power tool and all of sudden, you’ve cut yourself. Why did this happen? Well its because when your tired your physical and mental reactions are slowed. The part of the brain that controls concentration has become dulled. Spending too much time in the shop working on a project causes this as well.
So the best way to combat workplace fatigue is to take a break from time to time. Especially if you plan on working long periods on a project. Get some fresh air, have coke no alcohol. Booze dulls the senses as bad if not worse than being tired. If you like working in the evening but you sometimes find yourself tired, it’s best to wait awhile until you’ve had time recharge the batteries. Don’t ever put yourself in a position where you can hurt yourself.
Table Saw Basics
Lastly, learn what it can do. It can do more that just rip plywood or crosscut boards. Two other table saw basics is that you can use it at joiner although for this to work you will have to make a jig. Which is cheaper if you don’t have the cash to buy a joiner. Another basic function of the table saw is that it’s capable of making box joints for things such as drawers.
Well let’s see here, what other table saw basics are there? It can cut angles, makes squaring wood easier. The saw can also miter your material and groove it as well as long as the miter doesn’t have to be exact. If miters need to be cut to a perfect angle then a miter saw should be used which you can learn about here. There’s all kinds of things a person could do, you just have to take the time to learn the basics and have some fun with it.