We meet host Kevin O’Connor and general contractor Tom Silva back at the shop to discuss table saw safety. Tom explains to Kevin that there are lots of injuries caused by table saws each year and then highlights some of the features and techniques that can help saw users stay safe.
Table saws cause lots of injuries each year. Very often, these injuries are caused by users removing or not using certain safety devices that are designed to keep them safe. Sometimes, it’s poor technique or positioning that’s to blame. General contractor Tom Silva explains what table saw users need to know to stay safe.
Be sure to wear safety glasses when working with a table saw. Also, avoid baggy clothing, tie back any long hair, and avoid jewelry. Ear protection will also project hearing from the loud hum of the blade and sound of the teeth cutting through the wood. Use dust collection, as well.
Use the Riving Knife
The riving knife is the hooked piece of metal that installs after the saw blade. Its function is to keep the board straight, prevent the board from closing on itself, and reduce the risk of kickback. Kickback occurs when the blade lifts the board and a tooth then hooks the board and sends it flying backward.
Adjust the Blade to the Correct Height
It might seem more efficient to stand the blade as high as possible, and it may even help with keeping the board straight while cutting, but it’s important to adjust the blade to the correct height. The correct height is so that the top-most blade teeth extend just over the height of the board. From the side, only two to three teeth should be visible above the face of the board.
Stand to the Side of the Board
Do not stand directly behind the board being cut. If the blade should hook the workpiece and kick it back, you’ll be right in the line of fire. Instead, stand to the opposite side of the blade as the rip fence and use a push stick to push the workpiece through the blade.
Don’t Remove the Blade Guard
Many DIYers remove the blade guard from their table saws but shouldn’t. The blade guard protects the user’s hand from accidentally contacting the blade and can prevent the board from lifting off the table and kicking back at them.
Invest in the Latest Safety Tech
Table saw safety tech has come a long way. There are saws available now with brakes that instantly stop the blade from spinning if it touches a person’s hand. There is an electrical pulse inside the saw that short circuits when it contacts skin, firing the brake up at the blade and causing it to embed itself and fall out of the saw. Meanwhile, the user’s hand receives barely a scratch.
Tom demonstrates necessary safety protocol when using a table saw. For the demonstration, he used a SawStop 15amp CTS Table Saw, which is manufactured by SawStop.
Tom shares how a blade guard can act as a reminder to keep hands and fingers away from the blade and also protect a user in the case of kickback.
Tom then showcases how a brake cartridge can sense moisture near the blade, like the moisture on fingers, and drop the blade beneath the table into a brake.
Tom demonstrates how using a push stick helps to keep hands and fingers as far away from the blade as possible.