Table saws are one of the most common and helpful tools in the workshops of both Pros and non-Pros alike. A healthy respect of all tools is important, but the need for it around the table saw’s large, spinning blade is obvious. We’ve written more extensively about table saw safety, but this is our concise guide of 5 essential table saw safety tips.
Where Were You on the Night of…
1. Use push sticks and push blocks. It’s our contention that the best way to not be cut by a table saw blade is to be sure no part of your body is near it. All fingers, hands, arms, and so on should have a good alibi when the blade is spinning. Those alibis should all include that they were no where close to the blade. If fingers or hands do come near the blade (like when it’s time to change it), be sure to unplug the saw first. Of the 5 essential table saw safety tips this may be the most obvious and most important.
2. Be sure there’s a blade guard installed. Blade guards are good safety features that remind us to beware of the spinning blade while in the heat of the cut. They allow the stock to be pushed through the cutting line without exposing the blade.
3. A splitter is an essential safety feature. However, there is a better option discussed in number 4 below. Suffice it to say that both features prevent a Type 2 kickback as described in our article Setting the Optimal Table Saw Blade Height. When, during the cut, the part of the stock that has already been cut crosses the teeth coming up out of the table on the back side of the blade. This turns part of your stock into a dangerous projectile in a fraction of a second.
4. A riving knife is the best option to prevent Type 2 kickback. A riving knife performs the same function as a splitter but moves with the blade as it’s raised and lowered. The splitter remains stationary as the blade is raised and lowered so it’s most safe (and most like a riving knife) at its higher extreme. But as the blade is lowered, the gap between the splitter and blade increases and therefore the chance that a piece of stock gets in between them increases, too. This is the reason that we think the riving knife is superior to the splitter.
Only 5 Essential Table Saw Safety Tips?
5. Be aware of your surroundings. You could probably come up with a list of many more specific table saw safety tips. We’ll classify this as a general tip to be wise. Are there power cords or scrap stock that you could trip on during the cut? Do you have safety glasses on? Ear protection? The safer area around a spinning table saw blade is anywhere that’s not in the blade line, so stand to the side as much as you can. Wait until the blade stops spinning to collect stock from the table. Also unplug the saw when you’re done with the cuts.
We hope you’ve found these 5 essential table saw safety tips helpful! If you’re a Pro, and you have a table saw tips, add them in the comments below—or contact us with your own Pro tips. Happy sawing!