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?
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.
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.
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
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.
"Our beer goes through thousands of quality Czechs every day."
(From a Shiner Bock billboard I saw in Austin some years ago)
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. : )
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
Crosscutting with a miter gauge and a rip fence is about the most
dangerous thing you can do.
email@example.com (RM MS) wrote in
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.
On Usenet, no one can hear you laugh. That's a good thing, though, as some
writers are incorrigible.
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.
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.
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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