I am interested in buying or making an improved blade guard for my unisaw.
I learned quite a lot while reading this groups' archived messages on blade
guards, I really liked the blade guard plans that are posted here:
So my thought is this.
Instead of making the guard out of lexan as the plans state, what about
buying this for $25 and making the aluminum supports from the plans?
Mark, sounds like a good plan. My old manager Walter has an Excalibur
and he loves it. He figured it was a good idea after he had two of his
fingers ripped off and sewn back on due to a kickback... He lives just
north of Lakeline Mall and I'm sure he'd be happy to show you his setup
so you can get some design cues.
Mark Giles wrote:
That one has the dust collector hookup in back, sort of middlish.
With those plans the hose is at the front (which is kind of strange)
so you may have to alter the plans a bit.
I'm not crazy about how he has that 4-link set up anyway. He's got
the long arm that you'd use to adjust the height at the *back* so
you'd have to walk around the saw every time to make adjustments. On
the PSI one you link to they use a similar arrangement, but put a
counterweight on it which makes sense.
What I was thinking for mine was to make a square box tube out of 1/2"
plywood, with another plywood box that would slide within and have
room for a 2.5" hose within that. Not sure how to lock it at a
given height though. A couple of angled braces to the bottom of the
outer section to stiffen it up. Perhaps the whole thing can be hinged
at the ceiling to fold up out of the way. But then my shop is in the
basement and I don't have that far up to go, the garage would be a
different story. I figure total cost under 50 bucks.
Sure, you could do that, it's probably easier than building the lexan
box anyhow. I've got one that's gone through a couple of evolutions,
but is still similar in design to the overam guard and I'm extremely
happy with it.
The thing looks a bit flimsy, actually. Having experienced kickback
first-hand, it's amazing how fast even a relatively underpowered saw can
chuck a hunk of wood. I'd imagine that most saws would be able to chuck it
hard enough bend/break that apparatus. Dust collection looks nice, though.
If you are watching the blade where it is cutting the wood then you
are not watching to see the wood is flat against the fence and flat
on the table, and you are not watching where your hands are.
The guard does not obscure anything you need to see to make
a safe and accurate cut.
If it gets in the way of what you are trying to watch, then you
don't know what the hell you're doing.
Ah, I gotcha...
Color me stupid, I guess? I generally divide my attention between the
fence, the blade, and my fingers. In no particular order. That is, I check
the board against the fence (or the miter gauge), then look at the blade,
then look at my fingers to make sure they're not heading into the blade,
then back to the fence, etc. I'm guessing that this is what most folks do.
As to blade guards, I've yet to find one that works well at anything other
than covering the blade. The ones I've used have always had a noticeable
bump/resistance when the board hits them, which in turn effects the quality
of the cut. I suppose one could argue that not having one will one day
effect the quality of my fingers, but I have yet to see a cut that I
couldn't make safely in other ways. Push sticks, featherboards, sacrificial
bits of lumber, what have you.
As to the guard's ability to keep your fingers out the blade, I'm
suspicious. The first saw I bought, a used Delta, had a guard with it.
At some point in the saw's career, something had forced the guard into the
blade. Several large hunks of clear plastic were missing, along with a nice
kerf angled through the side of the thing.
IMO, most guards don't do the job they're intended for. I'm a firm believer
in setting up the blade with the minimum height required, using a splitter
and/or featherboards, push sticks, frozen cat, etc. etc. etc. and
positioning yourself so that your various bits are out of the way on the
chance something goes wrong.
The one thing I can't figure, when using the table saw is how to
position yourself so you are not at risk of being hit by something if
kickback occurs. The natural position to stand would appear to be in
front of the saw, in line with the gap between the fence and the blade
...smack in the path of a kickback.
Yes, the primary danger is the blade, but lots of other things can go
If I'm ripping something narrow, I'll stand to the left of the blade (i.e.
on the opposite side of the blade from the fence) and push the material
through with my right hand (or hold a push stick in my right hand). My
left hand will typically be on the table, guiding the material, with my
thumb hooked over the table edge. As long as my thumb is hooked over the
edge of the table, I know my fingertips can't possibly reach the blade.
If the size or shape of the thing I'm cutting is such that I can't do that,
I'll set up a featherboard. I've got a nice one I made with an expanding
slug that fits in the miter slot and a big knob on top to tighten it up.
It lives near the saw and takes about 3 seconds to put in place; I find
that if safety gear isn't convenient to use, it tends not to get used.
Just human nature.
If I'm cutting something larger, like sheet goods, I'll stand between the
blade and the fence, but only if the fence is far enough away that there's
room for me to be out of the line of fire should there be a kickback.
This is the usual way to use a table saw. I'll just add that finshing
cut usually puts the right hand/wrist/arm close to and onver the blade.
If something causes the person to slip and fall forward, this is one
case were a guard can keep your body out of the blade--falling
on it from above.
I don't understand. Between the blade and the fence IS the line of
fire. It is the piece that you are pushing between the fence and the
blade that is liable to eickback.
You can't and maintain good control. If you stand in a position that would
avoid getting hit by a kickback, you are far more likely to have a kickback
because you can't control the stock the way it should be.
The advantage of that type of overhead guard is you can set it so that
it is locked just above the stock. So the stock only contacts it if
something goes wrong, ie it's starting to want to lift up at the back
of the blade.
The guard is never going to be 100%. When Really Bad Things happen
they are going to be destructive to the guard. At that point the
guard is as much of a hazard as the wood. But your job as the
operator is to prevent the Really Bad Things from happening in the
first place. The guard's job is to protect you from the little to
medium things that happen from time to time.
Well I've got a cut healing on my right index finger from the band saw
where I was using a push stick but some unexpected things compounded
on each other on what should have been a very safe operation. From
that I can tell you one thing, having a saw blade go into your finger
"the minimum height" is not pleasant. It'll heal, but it doesn't feel
too great and sure cuts into your productivity for the next few days.
No matter how careful you think you are being sometimes things happen.
I watch the blade too, when it isn't covered by a guard and
when it is I wacth wood passing under the guard. But of those
things you mentions, the one that does not contribute to
safety is watching the blade.
Yes the biggest problem iwth them is they often impede the movement of
the work, especially the crappy ones.
Of course you can use all those things in addition to a guard.
If the guard doesn;t keep a 2x4 from moving into the blade then
it can't hardly stop you from putting you hand in either.
BUT before your hand contacts the blade it should contact the guard.
The guard functions much like the warning track in a major league
outfield. This is particularly important if only a little bit of the
blade protrudes above the workpiece, making it hard to guage how
far the blade extends under the surface of the work. You should
never get you hand that close to the blade, the guard gives you
a visual on where the blade is when the workpiece hides it. An
overarm guard can be useful for this when doing dadoes, the
splitter mounted ones have to be removed.
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