Is this a Safe Table Saw Operation?

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Both of these are ripping operations. The 5" length is plenty long enough for bearing against the fence imo.
I'd concur w/ the opinion of "if you're not comfortable, do something else" but this certainly isn't in the high-risk category.
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wrote: ...

Both of these are ripping operations. The 5" length is plenty long enough for bearing against the fence imo.
I'd concur w/ the opinion of "if you're not comfortable, do something else" but this certainly isn't in the high-risk category.
5" is way too short to safely rip if the board is 5" wide.
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Nope.... :)
Somewhere over that I'd start thinking about it, but w/ that much bearing surface for the fence on ply I got's no problem w/ only an inch or so cutoff...just where I'd balk I'd have to have a piece in hand to see; I can't really say otomh what seems completely wrong. 2-3 ft, sure. Under 1, I'm not so sure...I'm sure a piece of roughly that size I'll have done quite a number times in 40 years but can't place a specific piece...
Again, my $0.02 is "what floats yore bote...if you're uncomfortable, do some other way..." :)
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Reread my second sentence.

If the piece is substantially wider than it is long, then absolutely that is a high risk cut. I was watching the show "Holmes on Holmes" once, and they were cutting short lengths of the wood I beams to use as blocking. So they wanted to notch the top and bottom to fit between the joists without any gaps. They had the new guy doing it, and he was doing it with a circular saw. And Mr Holmes wasn't satisfied with the results, so he shows the new guy how to do it. So he proceeds to go to the table saw and run them vertically through with just the fence. So, 1.5" against the fence, 15" or so wide. And of course standing right behind it. How this guy still has all his body parts I don't know.
But a short piece isn't by definition unsafe to run through the saw. People make it less safe by using a push stick and give up a lot of the control they would have had with their hands. A 5"x5" piece is no problem to keep tight to the fence. In this case we are talking about a piece of plywood, so it's not going to warp and pinch the blade.
I do often use a procedure for narrow short pieces that would get people even more freaked out. I bring the blade all the way up, go in half way, back out, flip end for end, finish the cut, back out again. At this point you're going "No no no! never back out of a cut!" but the problem with backing out is that you're bringing the wood back into the back teeth of the blade, begging it to pick up the wood and have a kickback. But with what I am doing the back teeth are never involved in the cut at all, which for these small pieces I would just as soon avoid entirely no matter what device you have to help you. When you get into cutting narrow strips the wood wants to bow on you at least a little bit an awful lot of the time, and I don't want that happening beneath a pushing device where I can't see it. I watch what the wood is doing and if it starts to warp I just kill the saw and wait for it to stop. I have a backwards push stick I use to pull the wood straight back. By never involving the back teeth at all I feel it's safer.
-Kevin
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wrote:

I was answering your question/puzzled comment, not looking for an answer.

Ok, you are missing the point, I think, Length is not so much a problem until the width begins to "approach" the same measurment as the length. This increases the likely hood of the piece being able to spin/go in a different direction other than perfectly parallel to the fence.

How long have you been using a TS????
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No, you were being a smartass, and I responded by being a smartass too.

By your rule it's unsafe to rip a 20x20 piece of ply to 19x20, which is nonsense. Length has something to do with it. At some point it's long enough to not make much difference, until it's big enough that the fence not being long enough and being too awkward to maneuver takes over. At some point it's too short to not be safe regardless. I totally agree with the instinct of the OP to say this is in my gray area, stop and ask questions.

Never fails. Keep on doing what works for you. Don't assume I'm an idiot because I do it in a way outside your experience.
-Kevin
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Not my rule, just a common sence approach of how to gauge safe from unsafe. You do have to admit that 20 x 20 is more likely to cause a problem than say 20 x 80, but what we are talking about here is 5"x5" and 20 x 20 would be much safer than that. There is no black and white, all or none safe approach. There are always varing degrees of danger.
Length has something to do with it. At some point it's

I am not assuming anything here, nor do I think you sound like an idiot. Where did you get that idea? You simply sound inexperienced whether you are or not. I do things quite often that are not necessarily considered safe but I deal with those situations as they come up. The OP sounds inexperienced and the best approach here is to warn against an unsafe procedure rather than give him a false sense of security and risk being injured. With time he will learn through close calls and hopefully only close calls that the unexpected can happen at any moment. Experience will help him recognize those times and how to better deal with the task.
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I am a heckuva lot more comfortable doing 20x20 than the long stuff, because I rarely work with long material and I don't have the outfeed support that you probably take for granted, and my fence doesn't extend very far past the back of the blade. That's the kind of thing I would have to stop, move things around, plan everything out, and be uncomfortable doing. I deal with small parts day in and day out, so my comfort level is much higher there. 20x20 is kind of huge for me actually. I make boxes not furniture.

I've been around table saws for 15 years or so, and I began doing it that way out of experience a few years ago. I don't expect to convert anyone to my way of doing it, but I maintain that it in that situation it's safer to back out than to go through. Longer pieces I do at the band saw, and I would do the short ones there too if I didn't feel it was safe.

The safety rules are good, but it's kind of like the building code. You can follow all the rules and still make a crappy house. If you understand what's behind the rule then you can understand when you're in a situation where the rule isn't going to cover it. I have a scar to remind me that using pushing sticks doesn't guarantee you're safe. The biggest mistake I see people make is to just fixate on what is happening at the cut and ignore what is happening at the fence. Get your hands out of the path of the cut and the blade will do its job just fine without you staring at it, as long as you do your job of feeding the stock properly.
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wrote:>

I felt perfectly safe when I cut the end of my thumb off 20 years ago. I had completed cutting a dado and had turned the saw off. You never know when an accident can happen.

I NEVER use a push stick, they scare me to death. I always apply downward pressure, typically I use a Gripper or a home made hold down devise with a hook on the rear.

Yeah I used to think that way, I always keep my eye on the blade when it is spinning. My lesson 20 years ago taught me that any thing can happen when you are not paying attention to the blade.
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"Leon" wrote

Ditto ... not enough "control", as far as I'm concerned.
I prefer the old "shoe" style "push" stick with a long "sole" that keeps downward pressure on the work piece, as well as against the fence if need be, way past the blade.
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I can see how our viewpoints can differ, given that. My thumb is the primary hold down and pusher device. Without it, I sure wouldn't have the control I count on for even the simplest cut. (I wonder if you're about to tell me it was your left thumb...)
I have my share of lessons learned also, but all of them without serious injury. Are they any less valuable for that? Most recently, I thoughtlessly, casually reached across the front of the blade to prod a cut-off away from the blade with a pusher stick. At least I got half of it right; the plastic didn't bleed as a result. It was over in an instant, leaving me puzzled for long seconds on what had happened. There was a loud bang, the stick jerked sharply, and there was a ragged new hole behind me in the shoji I just put up around that end of the shop. (Brilliant choice of material, that.) The fence wasn't even on the table, so it wasn't a kickback. The tip of the pusher got snagged by the blade, and slammed into the insert plate hard enough to shatter. The insert bears testimony to the saw's power. It's bent and dented now beyond salvage. Not to mention, a contractor's saw's trunnions don't hold up well to that kind of abuse. I had to re-align the blade to the miter slots after that.
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wrote in message

Hummmmm , Left thumb, I had just finished cutting a dado and had turned the saw off. I then proceeded to remove the fence, swung my left hand directly over the top of the blade as it was coasting down. Wham! It took me one year to finally realize what had happened when I almost did it again. I too initially thought it was a kick back but there was no damaged wood. Funny how your mind stops remembering when you get injured.
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On Thu, 22 Jan 2009 04:00:51 +0000, Leon wrote

I've just changed my loud. instant-stopping FEPOS benchtop saw for a much better contractor's (site) saw with a 315mm blade, no brake and a near silent motor...
This thing takes about a minute to spin down and of course would be illegal if new (U.K.)
Respect. Fear.
Patience.
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I was using "push stick" as a generic term for anything in between your hand and the work. And I don't care how fancy it is, it can't stop the wood from bowing after it's cut. You may be able to keep it down to prevent the kickback with the gripper or whatever, but I decided it's just not worth it.

I didn't say ignore the blade, I said not to be fixated on it. You can even be staring at the damn blade and watch your hand go right into it before you realize what you just did. It's not enough to be looking, you have to have your brain turned on too.
-Kevin
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wrote:

Correct, you did not say ignore the blade nor did I indicate that you said that. I said that I always keep my eye off on the blade when it is spinning. If you are set up properly and taking prudent precautions you should not have to worry about other areas of the saw.
I totally agree that you can be staring at the blade and watch your hand go right into it before you realize what you did. And, it is pretty simple to realize that having said that, that not watching the blade would increase the chance of your hand doing the same.
That sounds like a pretty simple analysis but accidents happen in the simplest of situations. You cannot be too careful.
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Correction,
I said that I always keep my eye on the blade when it is spinning
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Leon wrote:

Try using a blindfold. ;-)
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I disagree. You can easily come off the fence at the back and not realize it if you don't have a splitter, which isn't possible on every cut. It may not necessarily cause an incident, but it's sure going to ruin the stock. If the stock is thin it can bow significantly before a splitter can do anything. With the proper precautions you can hopefully prevent any incident from causing you harm, but you don't necessarily prevent the incident from occurring in the first place, and once things get out of whack anything can happen and you don't have time to react to it. It's always better to prevent it from ever starting to happen at all, and you do that by being aware of everything that is going on and using all of your senses. You can often see the problems starting to happen in time to correct it, if you are paying attention. If you are only looking in one different spot, then it's just going to happen in an instant and you may very well both have no idea what actually caused it and assume it could not have been prevented. I'm not saying every incident is preventable, we all make mistakes and sometimes unforeseeable things go wrong. So I am not saying prevention makes safety precautions unnecessary, just that we don't want to fall back on the last line of defense if we don't have to.
-Kevin
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wrote:>

Ok, I'd much much much rather ruin the stock then my hand. I'll keep my eye on the blade.
If the stock is thin it can bow significantly

If you are watching the blade you can simply stop feeding and turn the saw off, I did this routinely before adding a splitter.
It's always better to prevent it from

If you know what you are doing, you know what can cause a problem. Perhaps you don't to this yet but reviewing what can happen and preparing can cut down significantly on the unexpected. My number one priority it to keep from getting cut again. Me keeping my eyes on the spinning blade has been very successful for the last 20 years and not every cut has been text book smooth. I have had several incidents for one reason or another, a majority of the time the stock was the cause, and I so far I have been able to controll the unwanted reaction.
I'm not saying every incident is preventable, we

We agree.
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If it's safe to do so, there is reason to prefer to use the setup that's already dialed in and locked on the saw. There is a point where it's too skinny, too short, or the unguided cutoff is too long. 5"x4" with a 1" cutoff doesn't ring my alarm bells. Somewhere in between is the realm of self-fulfulling prophecies. It won't bind if it's well controlled and held firmly to the fence. If it doesn't bind, it won't kink into the blade and kickback. If you can control it well enough with a pushstick, use the pushstick. I think you'll agree that the hand has better grip, feedback, and control than the stick. If that weren't the case, we would all use a pusher even on 30" or wider rips.
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