TS Safety


I'm new to woodworking. I have an old, small (8") tablesaw that I've fashioned a sled for out of 3/4" ply. The sled's skids run in both miter slots and actually runs very well. The sled is the width of the table, and has a groove that holds a 6" upright near the front to put my stock against when I'm crosscutting. In the middle of the sled is a double blade-width cut to allow the sled to clear the blade.
The guard for the saw got munched and I can't find a factory replacement for it. I got a guard for a 10" saw and adapted it to fit my guard holder so that I'm satisfied with it under "normal" circumstances and when the sled is on the table.
So far, so good. However, the teeth behind the guard (no idea what they're called - I'd guess they are for kickback) bind on the sled. To the point that each time I run the sled forward to make a cut, I have to release these teeth just to draw my sled back.
I can think of a few solutions to this,
1. Fashion something that will allow me to pull these teeth up and hold them out of position when the sled is on the table. On crosscuts, I don't know if this presents any safety problems or not. Please bear with my ignorance. I don't know if kickback is an issue with crosscuts. In any event, I could see using the sled for short ripping too.
2. Widen the clearance cut on the sled at the back end so that the teeth don't engage on the sled even when it's pushed all the way. Or just run a cut where each tooth is and let them run in that sawcut.
3. Remove the guard assembly completely when I use the sled. I don't like this one for a couple of reasons. First, it's a pain to remove and reattach the entire thing. Second, and most important, I'd have no guard at all. My thumb is still sore from an accident I had running the saw in "normal" mode.
There may be other solutions that I've not thought of.
What do you guys think?
Tanus
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I am a professional woodworker (100k$/YR, 401K, PENSION VESTED, ETC. ) and use a table saw more often in a day than most of these whiners on this group will do in any Number of years. The true answer is: GET RID OF THAT DAMN GUARD IF YOU WANT TO SAVE YOUR HANDS.. Anybody who tells you different just plain don't know what they are talking about, is drunk all the time, or is scared of the machine, and in which latter case does not belong anywhere near it. I am not saying this to be "tough" or "macho", in fact, I am probably the most careful and methodical person you will ever run into. I just mean to tell you that, after decades of practising this profession as my only livelihood, that there is no gizmo, no law or legislation or fairy tale that will protect you or anybody else from sloppy and ill-concieved setups. Use you head, be brave, stay calm.
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Tanus wrote:

I would suggest a trip to the library or book store. Books by Kelly Mehler have excellent advice on using the table saw safely. Also a good solution to your problem.
Ray
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Ray Miller wrote:

Thanks Ray,
I was hoping to avoid buying yet another book, but as soon as I saw your suggestion, I realized this was one I should have. I've seen Mehler's name quite a bit, so I'll search him out tomorrow.
Tanus
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Tanus wrote:

Might want to have a look at this stuff, before, or in addition to getting a book either from a library or bookstore. Goes over some of the physics - with diagrams even. and the things you can do to counteract or avoid problems Understanding what can get you may help avoid getting got. Personally, I think the best of the "saftey" equiptment on a table saw is a riving knife, not a splitter but a riving knife. I prefer not using a guard - gets in the way both physically and visually.
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/KickBack1.html
Knowledge is power - and can save you a lot of grief
charlie b
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charlie b wrote:

Amen to that.
Your site is wonderful. Clear, concise, and full of the information that I needed to understand what it is I'm doing each time I fire up my saw. Not that I do just from one look - I'll have to return to that site a number of times, but it's done something that I find very important.
It's made me very aware of how little I know about the machinery and what's going on each time I cut one piece of wood.
A lot of the time I concentrate on getting the fit right, or the look right, or getting the damned thing finished, and tend not to worry about what's going on at each step. Your site made me slow down a bit in my thinking, and appreciate just what's going on with the blade.
As I said in my original post, I'm new to this but I've had some very encouraging words from a lot of people. Thank you.
Tanus
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charlie b wrote:

I have something to add to the safety tips, Charlie. I thought about emailing you, but decided this may be a better forum.
The blade on your table saw is bigger than it looks.
After making a small crosscut on a narrow piece, the offcut was sitting next to and slightly behind the blade. I decided to use the eraser end of my pencil to flip the piece out of the way, thinking, "No problem. That offcut is well away from the blade, but it is vibrating closer and closer. The saw is spinning down, and I don't want that chunk of wood flying up and hitting me or anything else...."
Long story short, good thing I was using the pencil.
-Phil Crow
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On 18 Apr 2006 06:08:29 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

That's why I have a workbench directly behind my tablesaw at the same height. Things go past the blade and onto the bench with no problem. I think there's about an inch and a half between the back of the saw and the start of the bench because the skirt hits something on the saw and I've never gone in to fix it, but I have a small trashcan sitting directly beneath the bench and anything that falls through the crack drops into the trash. Otherwise, it's a giant 8-foot outfeet table. :)
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They're anti-kickback pawls, intended to grab the wood you're pushing through the saw and keep it from shooting back at you. By grabbing your sled, they're doing exactly what they're intended to do, keep things from going back toward the user.

If you're using a sled, then the pawls are just getting in the way anyhow. It is difficult with a crosscut sled to get kickback since the sled itself is keeping the material from being pushed back toward the user.

I'm not sure how your guard is set up that allows you to push a crosscut sled through it with the guard engaged anyhow. Usually only over-arm or over-head guards will allow that, most of them will only tilt up, but would hit the rear fence of the sled and stop it from sliding forward to complete the cut.
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Brian Henderson wrote:

Good, now I have a name for them. Thanks

Ok, that's good to know. And reassuring.

I didn't describe my sled completely. I don't have a rear fence on the sled, something that I'd not even considered until I started thinking more about this issue, and did some research on the web. It looks like I may be redesigning or rebuilding that sled.
My saw is old, and I doubt that it was a particularly good one in the beginning. The guard assembly, including the anti-kickback pawls, is attached to the frame with two bolts that frankly are a PITA to remove and put back on again. Better quality saws may allow the whole thing to swing up and out of the way but mine doesn't.
As charlie said, knowledge is power, and I'm beginning to think that this saw might be more trouble than it's worth. However, I can't afford a new one ATM, so I'm going to fiddle with it and see if I can hinge the assembly or at least make removal and reattachment an easier task.
Thanks for your reply.
Tanus
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It is possible to build your own overhead guard, you know. That's what I did when I got tired of pulling my table-mounted guard off the saw. I looked at a lot of the commercially available ones and then some of the DIY plans and put together something that I've been very happy with.
I specifically wanted a guard that I could use no matter what cut I was doing, so it's extra-wide to allow for both stacked dado heads and tilted blades. I keep a splitter mounted in my table inserts as much as possible, although obviously with tilted and dado cuts, that's not possible and it can be removed and reinserted in seconds.
Mine looks sort of like the one in this DIY guide I found:
http://www.woodcentral.com/bparticles/blade_guard.pdf
It's ceiling-mounted on t-track guides so that I can move it side to side if necessary, and the whole assembly is on a single piece that can be taken down and re-attached to the rafters if I have to move the saw. The biggest difference that I can see is that I removed the pawls that came with my original guard and installed them into the new overhead guard on a threaded rod. If I don't need them, I have small pins that I can push them over inside the guard so they don't hang down and impede the work.
These things really don't cost a lot and they provide a degree of safety no matter what kind of cuts you're making. I think the only time I don't use the guard at all is when I'm doing vertical cuts and panel raising, but there's no guard on the planet you could do that with.
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I made a little "W" shaped piece of metal from some banding iron. When the antikickback pawls are in my way, I put this little "W" on top of the splitter, and lift one or both pawls up into it to hold them out of the way. I've tried to draw an ASCII picture below. Hope you can visualize it.
Pawl -> | | <- Pawl \ /|\ /
IMHO for typical use of a sled on the TS, the pawls can be disabled in this fashion.
--

Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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