Actually, as stated below, ripping is a fairly easy opertaion for a
bandsaw. Really, it depends on what you want to do. I just thru it
out there as I wish I had thought about a bandsaw when I first bought
my tablesaw. If you are doing mostly cabinets, shelves and remodeling,
then a tablesaw would be better. If, on the other hand, you are more
interested in building furniture, then (IMHO) a bandsaw would be
better. They're quieter, less intimidating (the dado blade on my
tablesaw sounded like it could rip your arm off, chew it up, spit it
out and not blink), can resaw, cut curves, etc. But, also, as stated
below, no good for dados. Then you either get out a hand plane or a
If you write software you probably are good at solving
problems. Not sure how many engineering courses a
software engineer is required to take but just in case
you didn't take physics, statics or dynamics this may
provide many of the parameters of kickback - with
diagrams with colored arrows and all.
If you understand how and why things happen you don't
have to memorize a bunch of rules - and remember to
Manufacturers of table saws are so gun shy of lawsuits that might
result from"failure to warn" or "failure to guard" that it would
surprise me if you didn't have pages of both general and specific
warning information in your instruction manual when you purchase your
saw. Read it.
As has been said here, the two most important words I can give you are:
Board Buddies - http://www.grizzly.com/catalog/2006/main/308
I've been using them for over twenty years and never had a kick back. An
side benefit is the design of the board buddies keep your board flush to the
fence, resulting in a truer cut.
I have an anti kickback device my Dad gave me several years ago it's from
Leichtung (spelling) workshops. I dont remember the actual name of the
device but its similar to the "board buddies" I have been using these
devices for about 10 years and have never (knock on wood) had a kickback
either. The device has a wheel which can be set up to rotate freely (no
kickback but fence pressure) or to rotate in 1 direction only so you get
kickback protection in addition to fence pressure..
they run about $50 for a pair. You will usually need to mount them on on an
auxillary fence on top of your saw fence, owever, its not that big of a
I have mine on a Craftsman saw and my Dad had his on a Powermatic with a
Beismeyer fence and the setup was not too bad with either.
Being a Physical Therapist I also am very dependant on my hands so a kick
back could make for a "bad day"
Hopefully this helped you with your decision making.
I've got the same ones. They can be set to run on either side of the
fence and the "against the fence" force can be adjusted as well by
changing the wheel angle.
I've had mine for many years. As you say, I've never had a kickback (or
a pushback) when using them.
The root cause of kickback is the workpiece getting pinched between the
blade and the fence. There are a couple of reasons why this happens:
The most common reason is that the workpiece turns slightly (i.e.
doesn't stay tight against the fence) while pushing it through. Keep
in mind that the teeth on the blade are slightly wider than the rest of
the "meat" of the blade. This means that during an ideal cut, the only
parts of the blade ever to contact the workpiece are the teeth. In
reality, however, if you're not careful to constantly push the
workpiece up against the fence, it can turn a little, and the front
corner can come into contact with the inner part of the blade. The
friction between the blade and the workpiece causes a force which wants
to further turn the workpiece which causes the workpiece to bind even
harder, causing more friction which causes even more turning and
binding until, a fraction of a second later, the piece comes flying
back at you at mach 10. Inevitably, despite rotating rapidly through
the air, it will strike you in the gut with its sharpest point every
This scenario happens almost exclusively when you are cutting something
which is wider than it is long. It's also the reason why you should
never use the miter gauge at the same time as the fence, unless you're
VERY careful to apply pressure to keep the piece between the blade and
the fence pushed tightly against the fence or against the miter gauge.
This also happens fairly frequently when cutting very large pieces of
plywood. Despite your best efforts to keep the piece held tightly
against the fence, it's way too easy to torque the workpiece and bind
it against the blade. On large sheets of plywood, once it binds on the
blade, it usually rides up on top of the blade where it gets hurled at
you at high velocity, leaving a nice rustic scarring pattern (and
possibly some blood stains) across the face of the plywood.
Note that in opposition to Brian's advice, ripping a 1" strip off a 24"
piece is LESS likely to cause binding (and, hence, kickback) by keeping
only 1" between the blade and the fence. The larger the ratio of
length:width of the piece between the blade and the fence, the better.
Another common reason for kickback is improper use of a pushstick. If
you're ripping a piece 2" or wider, you can pretty safely push the
piece through with your fingers. When the piece is narrower than that,
however, you'll want to use a pushstick or scrap of wood to push it
through without getting your fingers too close to the blade. If you
don't use a pushstick and simply guide the piece along from outside the
blade, the part between the blade and the fence will most likely be
shot backwards once you finish the cut. This is a lot less violent
than the other scenario, however. Depending on it's length, the piece
usually only flies 5 or 10 feet.
Kickback can also occur when cutting warped boards. Sometimes even
straight boards will warp once you cut them and release the tension
from the grain. This warping can sometimes cause the piece to push
away from the fence and bind into the blade. In most cases where
warping is an issue, you'll be talking about ripping boards that are at
least a couple of feet long. That usually means that the length:width
ratio is high, so you're not that likely to experience kickback. You
may, however, experience enough binding to burn the wood or even bring
the blade to a screeching halt. This can be a dangerous situation, as
you don't want to remove you hands from the workpiece allowing the
blade to start back up and throw it backwards, but you also need to
shut the power off as soon as possible. Often, the circuit breaker on
the motor or in your breaker panel will trip in this case. A splitter
can help immensely to avoid this problem.
You can also experience kickback (and rough looking cuts) when the
blade isn't perfectly parallel to the fence. You'll want to make sure
your saw is adjusted to keep the blade, fence, and miter slot all
parallel to each other.
Last, if you try to cut pieces that are exremely small, especially
without a zero clearance insert, you're almost guaranteed that the
piece will kick back at you. The good news it that the pieces are
light enough not to break any ribs when they hit you. The bad news is
that such pieces are sometimes small enough to penetrate the skin
rather than just bruise. They also tend to ricochet in random
directions adding to the fun and sport.
I'm a software person too and still have all ten fingers. It's
important to read about table saw safety and there are several rules
to follow. Off the top of my head are these:
Wear safety glasses.
Work with a clear mind.
Use featherboards properly.
Have several types of push sticks and blocks nearby.
Use a splitter and guard.
Tune up the saw.
Use a DC, this protects your health and improves safety.
Have plenty of lighting.
Before you turn on the saw, stop a moment, and think if there is a way
to make the cut more safely (I use this method ALL the time).
A table saw is actually very safe when used properly. It is probably
my most important power tool in the shop.
I've had one real kickback, luckily without injury. If you search the
archives of this newsgroup (Google groups "advanced search") you'll find
quite a bit on this subject. If I were you, would immerse myself in the
literature on tablesaw safety, become an expert at it, and put the rules
into practice. That's the only thing preventing what could be a
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