Table saws are one of the most common and helpful tools in the workshops of both Pros and non-Pros alike. A healthy respect for all tools is important. However, the need for safety around the table saw’s large spinning blade is obvious. We’ve written more extensively about table saw safety standards, but these 7 table saw safety tips could save you from serious injury.
Table Saw Safety Tips
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 nowhere 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 to Install the Blade Guard
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. Kickback Pawls are an Essential Table Saw Safety Feature
The riving knife discussed below does a lot on its own to prevent kickbacks. However, you get even more benefits from using the included kickback pawls. Both features together help prevent a Type 2 kickback as described in our article Setting the Optimal Table Saw Blade Height. If during the cut, the stock crosses the teeth coming up out of the table and begins to lift, the kickback pawls grab it and help keep it in place. You may damage your workpiece, but anything preventing your material from turning into a projectile is a plus in our book.
4. The Riving Knife Helps Prevent 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.
5. Stand to the Side When Making Rip Cuts
The safest area around a spinning table saw blade lies anywhere not in the blade cut line. Make a habit of standing to the side of the blade while making rip cuts. As much as possible, you want to ensure any material suddenly thrust towards you has a fighting chance to miss your body.
6. Wait Until the Blade Stops Spinning
Before removing your waste material, wait until the blade stops spinning. Then you can collect stock from the table. This holds especially true when making rip cuts that leave material between the fence and blade. A related tip—unplug the saw when you finish making your cuts.
7. 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?
We hope you’ve found these 7 essential table saw safety tips helpful! If you’re a Pro, and you have table saw tips, add them in the comments below—or contact us with your own Pro tips. Happy sawing!