NEW! Faster Search Option

Loading

Table saw safety! Blade guards?

muleboy's picture

Just Curious,


Regarding Shop Safety,   On my table saw I use a various assortment of board buddies, feather boards, magnetic feather boards, a splitter and at times vertical feather boards.


I have to say, I'll admit it, I rarely if ever use my blade guard.   I have been in at least 6 different professional furniture shops, as a visitor, and I have never seen one installed.   I have also been in a few cabinet shops and a few school shops, and again I have never seen the blade guard installed.


I have read hundreds of articles in woodworking magazines that show the tablesaw in operation.   Always with the disclaimer, "Blade guard removed for visual clarity".   I gut reaction is that this is a bunch of BS.


I realize I may be setting myself up for a tongue (text) lashing, as it were, but oh well.


I would totally understand if nobody wanted to reply to this...   I't just a matter of curiosity.


On the other hand if some of you out there use the guard regularly and have developed methods of making it a little less cumbersome I would love to hear and see it.


Thanks!


 


Muleboy.


 

Samson's picture

(post #115572, reply #1 of 91)

For every operation that allows it (that is most as I use my saw 85% of the time for ripping), I use my Brett Guard and love it. 


For crosscutting I use a sled which has a poly cover in the center and thus guards the blade too.


The only times I go naked is when dadoing tenons or cutting tenons or open mortises in long stock that makes using teh Brett Guard impossible.  But for teh open mortises I'm using a home built version of a tenoning jig that makes the operation very safe in that my hands are nowhere near the blades.

BigK's picture

(post #115572, reply #2 of 91)

Hey Muley,
With regards to your fingers, using a table saw without a blade guard is the equivalent of playing russian roulette. Way to many possibilities to leaving one or more digits laying in the sawdust, and one hell of a way to ruin your day let alone the potential long term effects on the rest of your life and or finances. Sorry for the lecture but been there, done that; was damn lucky and still have my left index finger (though nerve sensations are still a little different four? years later). Saw manufacturers should be sent to prison for the crap that they include with their machines for guards. That is why you see so many pro shops without. Usually the saws are actually safer without the stock guard, but that does not make them safe. Many good overarm guards available. In my shop I use a Delta overarm guard and the splitter that came with it. Won't let buddies use my saw without guard, period. (except for the obvious exc's.) IMHO even more important is a good splitter. It is more than "I know what I am doing" or "I'll be okay"; what-if usually happens in about a split second and then you have what you have. And of course there is that nagging little question of liability if something happens(employees, friends, etc.) Saw injuries take a long time to heal, hard to earn a living with one hand bandaged bigger than your thigh and held up in the air. Yet the bills still have to get payed. People tend to get a little funny when they get desperate, that combined with shyster atty's advertising on the tube all day long; I think you probably see where this is headed.
Hope that this helps you with your decision. Sorry for getting on my soapbox so long. Before I decided to work for myself doing what I wanted to do for a living I spent 3 years working as a surgical tech at a local hospital that was also known as "the institute for limb preservation", spent many a long night helping to try to save fingers, etc. Enough said on that subject.

muleboy's picture

(post #115572, reply #3 of 91)

BigK,


 


By no means am I trying to "justify" not using the blade guard.   I'll be honest, I have been using my present table saw for 6 years now and at times I still find it a little scary.   I tend to step back and go through the next TS process in my head before I do it.    My hands are my life.   I have been working with machines since I was 16.  I and out of my day job.   Besides   My fiance' would kill me if she didn't have a finger to put the ring on in 103 days.


   I guess What I am trying to get at, is just what you said... The guards that come with the saw are more of a liability than a help.    I had a splitter custom made by a welder.   I had it made so I could take it on and off easily.   The original splitter requires the blade to be removed the throat plate to be removed, and was more or less useless.   The inherent clumsiness of the original devices tends to make them sit on the side and not get used.    


I use just about every other safety device I can get my hands on.   I use store bought push sticks and custom, home made, ones.   I make my own zero clearance inserts,  I make my own push blocks for the jointer.  ETC ETC.


I have been eyeing the after market blade guards for years.   I would love to hear that one is actually worth the money and isn't a real pain in the butt to use.


I would use a blade guard if it wasn't clumsy and cumbersome.   I guess I just find it funny that I NEVER, and I mean NEVER, see them installed.    In ANY shop I have ever been in.     I mean these things seem as elusive as Bigfoot.


What kind of Blade guard do you use?   Is it easy to use?  Do you use it in every possible cut you can?


I would take the plunge...  I would convert to the church of blade guards.  I would convert if the mass wasn't like visiting the dentist.


Muleboy.      <-----wants to keep his fingers!!!


 

John_D's picture

(post #115572, reply #4 of 91)

I always put my stock Unisaw blade guard on (usual exceptions).  Still screwed myself pretty good on one exception cut, but that doesn't make me more likely to go commando.  I'll use the stock guard, PITA though it is, until I can research and buy a good overarm.


Definitely looking forward to getting back into the shop -- doc says I'll be allowed to pick up paperclips in February, unrestricted use of the right hand some time in March. :)


My goal is for my work to outlast me.  Expect my joinery to get simpler as time goes by.
My goal is for my work to outlast me.  Expect my joinery to get simpler as time goes by.
BigK's picture

(post #115572, reply #15 of 91)

Hey Muley,
In my shop I have and use a Delta overarm guard and the removable splitter that came with it. Shortly after it was installed I made one small modification to the arm. Where the guard arm fits into the main arm Idrilled both tubes and installed a short clevis pin to act as a quick locator for reassembly. I appreciatte that the blade covers are always on either side of the blade unless I remove it to do tenons. The splitter is easy and fast to remove and reinstall, and I have grown to like the kickback pawls. Don't think that I would appreciatte having to adjust the height of the blade guard for different cuts all the time. To much repetition for me. One of the magazines did a comparison of after market guardsabout a year or so ago, if you are interested. Sorry that I can't remember who.

Dave's picture

(post #115572, reply #28 of 91)

Muleboy...I'm afraid I have to agree with you and open myself up for being so careless.  However, I've had two close calls on my TS's over the years.  After each, I took off the $$&* guard and threw it in the trash before it killed me!  I too haven't seen a single guard yet that would work the way I work. 


The best guard is your head!  Keep it in the game!  The tools are dangerous and will not give you a second chance and if you keep that in mind, watch your fingers and possible conflicts with materials moving through the blade, you should be fine. 


Darn, wish there was something that kept me safe all the time, but I haven't found it yet.


 

muleboy's picture

(post #115572, reply #29 of 91)

Well I have a few simple rules when it comes to things that could cut something off.


Never work Tired.


Never work ANGRY.


Never work distracted.


Never work when consuming beer/wine/etc.  


(I know that's a no brainer but I've seen it happen)


After the first time My fiance' walked in the shop on a sunny summer morning and tapped me on the shoulder to "surprise" me.    We subsequently had a little talk about surprises and table saws.


 


Muleboy.


 

tinkerer2's picture

(post #115572, reply #30 of 91)

Something to keep me safe all the time.


100 percent effective.  Stay in bed.

Scrit's picture

(post #115572, reply #33 of 91)

" I too haven't seen a single guard yet that would work the way I work."


Then maybe you need to change the way you work as well as your guard.


"The best guard is your head!  Keep it in the game!  The tools are dangerous and will not give you a second chance and if you keep that in mind, watch your fingers and possible conflicts with materials moving through the blade, you should be fine." 


The best guard is actually a guard. Your head will tell your hands to stretch out and break your fall if you overbalance - it won't consider "extra information" such as whether or not the place your hand is going to land happens to be a spinning, unguarded saw blade.


Scrit

tinkerer2's picture

(post #115572, reply #34 of 91)

     Your best guard is your head!

     Your best guard is your guard!

No, I disagree.  I think your best guard is your head that tells you, you must have a guard to to ensure you keep the rest of your body parts together.  It would certainly be nice to have a guard that would easily come off and reinstall for the times that the blade doesn't go clear through the wood though.

Scrit's picture

(post #115572, reply #35 of 91)

Then with such a poor approach to primary safety it's a darned good job you're an amateur woodworker

tinkerer2's picture

(post #115572, reply #36 of 91)

     Frankly, I think that is the best approach to safety.  People who don't use their heads also don't use the guards and the safety devices available to them.  If fact, people who don't use their heads don't know enough to keep their fingers out of harm's way.  I think you missed what I tried to say. 


Edited 3/5/2006 9:05 pm ET by tinkerer2

Scrit's picture

(post #115572, reply #37 of 91)

Sorry, but I get a bit annoyed by the cavalier attitude some so-called "professional" woodworkers (pronounced "minor TV and satellite network celebrities") towards safety - and the fact that Mr Untrained Weekend Wood Warrior thinks that playing Russian roulette with his fingers and an unguarded spinning sawblade is OK, "because I saw it on TV" (or in a book, or at his buddy Joes's, etc). Guards are there for a purpose and should work. Obviously there must be a lot of rubbish guards in the world, together with bendy splitters (as opposed to riving knives), and the like.


Scrit

tinkerer2's picture

(post #115572, reply #38 of 91)

    Sorry for the tardiness of the reply but my internet quit on me and the my first reply was lost but then, on it's own, it started working again.  I fail to see how taking the extra precaution to insure safety is a "poor approach to primary safety."  Yes, I admit to a slower work progress, and yes, I admit to the  "weekend woodworking warrior" status that you refer to.  As my title would suggest, I never presented myself as an experienced woodworker, but I enjoy practicing.  At age of 73 I am in the process of retiring, I will find more time to woodwork and take every opportunity to do so.  Until recently we never had TV reception where I live, and now I have lost my hearing so don't watch TV and have never watched a whole TV woodworking show.  I would like to be able too, though, as I enjoy just about anything that pertains to woodworking and I do enjoy your contributions to this forum.  Sorry to give all this boring personal information but it felt a personal attack as being unsafe when I take all the precautions you, reportedly, take plus more because I am unexperienced.      


Edited 3/9/2006 11:32 pm ET by tinkerer2


Edited 3/9/2006 11:33 pm ET by tinkerer2

Scrit's picture

(post #115572, reply #39 of 91)

Hi there Tinkerer


It's good that you're thinking through what you are doing at a saw. I feel that too many people get a machine like a table saw then treat it a bit like a "plug and play" computer. It's a tad more dangerous than that, so whilst you may be lucky and never get hurt, the maths aren't on your side. I make a living from woodworking, although I once enjoyed amateur status - these days I'm pretty aghast at some of the hazardous things I did back then so I'm perhaps a little OTT about safety. Employing people tends to push you that way as well. The zeal of a convert, perhaps? <G>


Taking the time to think through making a cut is a given for a full-time woodworker, or at least it should be, it's really the guy who takes all the guards off and the spltter and then says "I know what I'm doing, my brain is my primary safety device" that my comments were aimed at. An accident can happen much faster then than the brain and muscles can react to - one reason I've had 13 stitches in my left thumb (22 lacerations - total contact time with cutterblock in a pin router 1/30th second). Without chip limiter cutters and a guard in place I'd have lost the thumb.


Scrit 

tinkerer2's picture

(post #115572, reply #40 of 91)

     As has been said here before, "the powered woodshop is a dangerous place to be."  No use letting it be more dangerous that it just has to be.  I like your idea of using your brain to think out the cut, then proceeding with guards and safeties in place.  Your chances of an accident are much less.  Sorry about your injury - I hope it is long since healed, but it's stories like yours that show us, less experienced, the need to take all the precautions we can.  Thanks for the info.    


Edited 3/12/2006 9:11 pm ET by tinkerer2

tuscanyt's picture

(post #115572, reply #41 of 91)

I really appreciate your point of view and stress on thought before action on powered shop equipment. Need your opinion on the operation of a tablesaw. Just bought a new powermatic 66 recently, and cannot get use to using the blade guard to line up my cuts. Whenever I view someone using a tablesaw on video, the guards are off, splitter is still on. Is this the answer to lining up for cuts on a table saw? I should say that for years I have only used a radial arm saw, so my experience is very limited on the tablesaw.
I would appreciate any advise on how to setup the powermatic to get a cleaner view of the cut marks but still includes all the safety items on the saw. Thanks in advance.

Scrit's picture

(post #115572, reply #44 of 91)

In the days when I had a Wadkin with a solid cast aluminium crown guard mounted on the riving knife I used to strugle with this at times. The trick was to replace the standard tightener with a quick release fastener so that I could flip the guard up to align the cut with the blade, then flip the guard down, switch on and make the cut. I've used an Altendorf panel saw for more than 7 years now, mainly because I do a lot of sheet goods, but the Alts have clear acrylic crown guards supported on long-reach arms and it's just so much easier to rip to a line with that type of guard that I really hate going back to the old deWalt DW742 when I'm doing on-site trim work!


Scrit


Edited 3/31/2006 8:05 am by Scrit

tuscanyt's picture

(post #115572, reply #45 of 91)

Thanks Scrit, it would be nice to use a panel setup to cut sheet goods, but alittle too costly at this point. I'm wondering, are there after market suppliers for blade guards for powermatics? and who are they? Guess the question goes to whomever has some info. Thanks.

forestgirl's picture

(post #115572, reply #46 of 91)

I would think any of the aftermarket overhead guards would work, no?  Maybe I'm unclear as to what you're referring to.  Seems like most folks go with an aftermarket removable splitter (Biesemeyer, Merlin for instance) and an overhead guard.  I have the Merlin with a PSI collector/guard.  Or you can make your own guard.  And build a splitter into your throat insert, or make a riving knife (beyond my talents, LOL!)


forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 


Edited 4/1/2006 11:12 am by forestgirl

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

tuscanyt's picture

(post #115572, reply #47 of 91)

Appreciate your thoughts, forestgirl. I guess I'll try the after market sites to see what I can find. You know, after many years of dabbling around with wood projects,spelled 'weekender', I'd hate to loose any of my fingers at this point. Retirement is supposed to be fun, right? Take care.

forestgirl's picture

(post #115572, reply #48 of 91)

"Retirement is supposed to be fun, right?"  Absolutely!


Here's the page for the Biesemeyer.  If they had one to fit my old Jet saw, I'd have opted for it, but the Merlin was the only one that would fit.


forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

marion's picture

(post #115572, reply #49 of 91)

So you like your merlin? How thick is your blade? Do you have website? I have seen them in woodcraft, but not for my saw (old blue jet). I use splitters and homemade zero clearance plates. How much did it cost?
Thanks,
Marion

forestgirl's picture

(post #115572, reply #50 of 91)

Wow, you're just full of questions <grin>.  Ahhhhhh, another Blue Dinosaur owner, cool. 


I will get the model number for you.  It didn't fit perfectly, I had to do something (add a washer? can't remember, but can reconstruct) and I can't raise the blade to the very tippy top and use it, due to interference.  It's possible I could do something to fix that too, just haven't bothered.


Do I like it?  YES!  Pops right out, reinstalls easily, though I do double-check and make sure nothing shifted.  I got it on sale at Rockler, around $50-$60 IIRC.  Hang around, I'll get the info for you.


forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

marion's picture

(post #115572, reply #51 of 91)

forestgirl
I googled merlin splitter. It looks like it attaches to back of saw. I have outfeed table attached that I think would get in way. I tuned saw when I got it and set it up for dust collection and small outfeed. I may stick with my ho-made splitter and zero clearance plate for now. As far as Blue Dinosaur--I have herd. Bandsaw and jointer are also blue, I almost didn't buy the white drill press, because the color didn't match.
(just kidding)
Marion

forestgirl's picture

(post #115572, reply #52 of 91)

Well, darn, I finally had time to get out to the shop and find the box, and you're bailing on me!  ROFL!  C'mon, you can modify the outfeed table.


The model that I made fit my saw is MTK 150.  It happens to be a thin kerf model, which wasn't on purpose.  Just was the one they had that I was willing to take a chance on.


forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

marion's picture

(post #115572, reply #53 of 91)

Jamie,
I'll take a picture of outfeed table. Did you make zero clearance plate for it? Right now I have two forrest thin blades and one other blade that is 1/8". I like the idea of being able to take it on and off.
Marion

forestgirl's picture

(post #115572, reply #54 of 91)

"Did you make zero clearance plate for it?"  Welllll, I do have a few ZC inserts for saw blades and dado. 


"I like the idea of being able to take it on and off."  Absolutely!  Turns my table saw into an assembly table very quickly, and makes doing dados and such  "no big deal."


forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-)