Is this a Safe Table Saw Operation?

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I would like to know if what I am doing on a table saw is safe. I have ripped a board to 4" in width. I then have a piece of 3/4" plywood that is approximately 5" X 5" and I would like to cut this to 4" wide to exactly match (in width) the first piece I ripped. I am sliding the 5" X 5" plywood through by hand holding it tight to the fence. Pushing it through with a push stick does not "feel" safe to me. There is plenty of clearance for my fingers when I slide it through. However, since the board is only 5" across, it also does not feel safe to me to have the plywood fully behind the blade with nothing on eiter side as I am sliding it through. Miter saw would liekly be safer, however, I am trying to exactly match the first board I ripped.
Is what I am doing safe or not?
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Not!
If your hand has to go between the blade and the fence, it is not safe with that narrow of a cut.
You should be using your miter gauge or a miter sled to cut the 5" square piece of wood. Any piece of wood that is being cut with a fence and is close to being square increases your chance of kick back. The smaller that pipe of wood or panel the more likely.
That said, wood can be cut successfully in many unsafe ways but you need to be aware of the risks associated with those ways and let your gut over ride any thoughts if tells you that you about do something unsafe.
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Leon wrote:

My most-used "push stick" is an inverted "U" shaped slider that straddles the fence with the bottom shaped like the bottom of a shoe which sits on the work piece and a heel which pushes it along. On top is a wooden knob. It works as a hold down as well as a push stick. It is made from three pieces of 3/8 or 1/2 plywood. I don't remember where the idea came from. I'm sure I didn't think it up on my own.
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Gerald Ross
Cochran, GA
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I see nothing wrong with the operation and do similar operations routinely -- the bearing side against the fence is long enough that the prohibition against crosscutting w/ the fence in place isn't a problem; you're actually making a rip cut albeit on a (relatively) short piece of stock.
If you're uncomfortable w/ doing it by hand and/or w/ a conventional dead cat, I'd suggest making a wide push stick (say 3") that would give more stability. The commercially available "Gripper" would be a model...
--
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dpb wrote:

Pushing it through by hand? Not safe in the least - major clenching of the sphincter muscle. The "Gripper" is a great tool for this operation, and I've used it to make many cuts similar to the one described and it's been a breeze. I'd still be sure to use a splitter or riving knife though, and keep constant pressure downward and towards the fence until you've made it all the way past the blade. One of those long and tall push blocks with a through handle and a good clean rubber mating surface would be decent second choice. A push stick would be out of the question; I hate those things.
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(From a Shiner Bock billboard I saw in Austin some years ago)
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I concur with Leon, ... Not safe!
A while back I attempted something similar with a small piece of wood, - had done this many times before, - this time I nicked the end of my middle finger on my left hand on the saw blade. Still too sore to fret a guitar string. Laziness and stupidity on my part.
Don't do it. : )
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diggerop wrote:

I would not feel comfortable making that cut, I'd use a sled. If the piece has to be *exactly* the same width, cut it a tad over sized and use a hand plane to trim it to width.
Greg M
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4" is plenty, just be ready and Slide the heel of your hand along the fence and anticipate where your weight is bearing, should anything go wrong.
Crosscutting with a miter gauge and a rip fence is about the most dangerous thing you can do.
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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (RM MS) wrote in 3312.bay.webtv.net:

Somewhere I picked up the tip to hook your outside fingers over the fence as you made a cut on a narrow piece. That way, your hand won't be able to get any closer to the blade than as far as your fingers can stretch.
Puckdropper
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Until you slip.
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-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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There is that. Darwin takes care of his own. Doesn't matter how wide or narrow the cut is if you're prone to that. Maybe make appropriate allowances by permanently removing the key from the power switch.
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I think we've been down this road in another thread. People who do stupid things have more "accidents."
I've heard it million times, "I was being careful and I don't know what happened, something was on my shoe, I missed some saw dust when I swept, blah, blah, blah."
We make jigs and push sticks "grippers" and for a reason.
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-MIKE-

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It has a good chance of changing the number of fingers on your hand...
I have a sled which I would use for this purpose. Neither of my hands would be very close to the saw blade while I am using the sled.
Jim
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Kent wrote:

Do you have all of your fingers?
From your discussion it sounds like you were using the most important piece of safety equipment, your brain. All the trinkets in the world will not prevent an accident if you don't think and understand what your doing.
While there may be other ways of doing what you did, you completed the task with no bad consequences. However if you were going to make many cuts like this there are better ways.
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I would have to agree with Leon on this, it is not a safe operation. I have the same problem quite often and solve it this way:
Take the miter gauge and attach a long strip of wood to it, long enough to be cut by the sawblade. Take your ripped board and place it against the sawblade opposite the fence, and mark the miter gauge board to the width of the ripped board. I usually put a stop block on the miter gauge at this point. You can now cut the pieces to the proper size, A hold down on the miter gauge is quite helpful.
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Not safe. You may get away with it 500 times, but it may also bite you the next time. Too close for me.
What you need is a better push stick. Or should I say, push "device".
I have no trouble at all putting that through using my push device that has a long flat bottom to hold the wood in place. Picture the handle of a hand saw withthe hand grip hole. I traced the saw handle on a piece of 3/4" plywood, made a flat bottom about 6" long with a 1/2" catch on the back. Good grip, good control, lots of safety.
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Maybe I'm not visualizing the cut the right way... the end piece will be that plywood piece 4" by 5", right? In general, it sounds like a cut I'd be comfortable with. I've also made pushblocks like the one Edwin described, with sacrificial surfaces that could be sawed into. The main thing is to either have the surface glued on, or screwed in a way such that it is not in line with the blade.
Ed
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If it doesn't feel safe, don't do it. I personally feel comfortable with much narrower rips. The fingers that have no room ride on the fence, gripping it and guiding the rest of the hand. They're not going anywhere. I know that the entire saw, blade, and fence are aligned, adjusted, and tuned. Nothing's coming lose or going to jump out to bite me. All the same, the danger comes when you lose your respect for the saw's power to maim.
Why is your guard not installed? It contains the chips and improves dust collection, and would have negated your need to ask this question. Don't hesitate to install it, if you've removed it, when there's any question at all about safety. Better still, leave it installed.
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There is no such thing as a safe cut on the table saw. This one doesn't have particularly more risk than any other. If I have room I will always use my hand, much more control that way. You can easily have the guard in place and use your hand on this cut, so why people think this unsafe I have no idea. How did you rip the other piece to 4" wide? I don't understand why you felt that cut was safe but this one is freaking you out.
-Kevin
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wrote:>

Reread your first sentence.
How did you rip the other piece to

Ripping a narrow board and cutting to length a short piece of wood are two different matters. He simply used the wrong procedure to shorten the piece of wood. Any time the wood is almost as wide as it is long and use the fence you run the increased risk of the piece binding, for what ever reason, and being thrown back at you. The guard "will not" prevent this, guards "do not" prevent kick back when short pieces are being cut.
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