12 Table saw safety tips, so you can keep all your fingers
Working on a project is nearly impossible without the use of a table saw. As a result, it is most likely the most frequently used woodworking machine in the woodshop.
Unfortunately, it is also one of the most dangerous tools in the workshop, not only because it can cause cuts, but also because table saw injuries caused by the wide saw blade are difficult to repair.
To avoid this, you should be aware of some table saw safety tips. When using a table saw, you can significantly reduce the risk of injury by taking the proper precautions. This article will go over twelve table saw safety tips that every woodworker should take before using a table saw.
Before I dive into each one of them, I will briefly summarize the 12 table saw safety tips here:
- Wear protective gear
- Always turn of the power when assembling your table saw
- Maintain a good position to avoid kickback injuries
- Maintain a clean environment
- Never put your body over a rotating blade
- Check your table saw’s safety features
- Examine the wood for foreign objects like nails
- To avoid tipping and kickback, use outfeed tables
- If the blade is clogged, do not start the saw
- Make use of the appropriate tools
- Never cut by freehand
- Make use of a push stick
5 Helpful Table Saw Tips Every (New) Table Saw Owner Should See
Check out this main article on table saw tips to get the most out of your table saw.
Know How To Use a Table Saw
Before we dive into the 12 most important safety rules for table saws, it is very important to really know your tool. By examining your tools and getting to know all the parts, you can easily estimate where the dangers are and find an appropriate solution to avoid possible dangers.
This also applies to a table saw, especially since this tool is considered the most dangerous tool in the woodworking workshop. Did you know that over 30,000 table saw accidents occur worldwide every year? Don’t be one of them!
Before you start working with your table saw, thoroughly research your table saw to understand the potential hazards and learn how to use this tool correctly, thanks to a short but clear guide in my article on how to use a table saw. Only after you understand your tool, you can begin using the table saw safety tips below for a lower risk of injury.
Make Your Table Saw Safer
Because many table saw accidents happen every year, manufacturers have built safety devices into table saws year after year. These contribute to drastically reducing the number of table saw accidents.
If you have a table saw yourself, it is not a good idea to just rely on these safety features to avoid table saw accidents. The moment you’re working with your table saw, you can get the most out of these built-in safeties with just 1 extra thing, and that’s your common sense.
For example, you can make your table saw safer by always using the right saw blade, ensuring the right conditions in your workshop, using handy tools such as a push stick, and so on. In my article, How Can I Make My Table Saw Safer (7 Helpful Tips),I go into more detail about this. It is strongly recommended that you read this article to increase the safety of your table saw.
Make a First Aid Kit in Case Something Happens
No matter how well you prepare, how well you work to make your table saw safer, or how well you follow the table saw safety tips in this article, an accident can happen.
You have to be aware of this and certainly don’t minimize it and think, it will never happen to me. It is therefore recommended to always be prepared in the event of an accident. By administering the correct first care, in many cases, the damage due to the table saw injuries can be limited.
That is why I always have a first aid kit in my workshop, in which everything is present to be able to administer first aid for any possible accident. In my article How To Make A Workshop First Aid Kit – N°1 Guide | FREE CHECKLIST, I’ll let you see what’s in this first aid kit and how you can put together a first aid kit tailored to your workshop. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you to have a first aid kit for your workshop. Be sure to have one today!
12 Table Saw Safety Tips
Wear Protective Gear Such as Safety Glasses and Hearing Protection.
The first one of the safety rules for table saw is wearing the right PPE. When using a table saw, or any other power tool, wearing proper safety equipment should be considered mandatory. When working with a table saw, you should always wear safety glasses and hearing protection. To prevent your lungs to dust, you should wear a dust mask.
Related article: Woodworking Safety – What PPE Do You Need For Woodworking?
Also, pay attention to the clothes you wear. Loose clothing, ties, and jewelry are all hazards to avoid when using a table saw. The fast-spinning saw blade can grab one of these and pull you into the machine.
Do you have long hair? Then make a tail and put it in a cap, hat, or in your clothing. Prevent loose hair from spinning in the saw blade or other rotating parts of a machine.
Always Turn Off the Power Before Assembling Your Table Saw.
Always turn off the power to a table saw when making adjustments, such as changing the blade or making other internal adjustments.
This eliminates the possibility of accidentally turning on the saw while working on the table saw. It’s a seemingly insignificant action that takes only a second to complete but has far-reaching consequences.
Only when you are sure that all the adjustments you have made are correct, you can plug in the plug again after checking whether the switch is indeed in the off position.
Maintain a Good Position to Avoid Kickback Injuries.
When you’re standing at the table saw, you need to think about how to get a good, firm posture. As a result, table saw accidents can be avoided in various ways.
Stand behind the table saw with a wide base so that you can maintain good balance. The better your balance, the smaller the chance that you will lose balance and come into contact with the saw blade. A better balance will also always be beneficial in case of emergency.
When assuming your position at the table saw, it is important to ensure that you do not stand directly in front of the blade.
When a table saw kickback occurs, the wood will not kick back into the body, but slide along the center of the user.
Maintain a Clean Environment.
Keep the table and the area around the table saw free of material, cut-offs, and excess sawdust when using a table saw. Any of these can obstruct or impair a woodworker’s ability to make safe, clean cuts.
A stray piece of material or wood can become entangled in the saw blade and become a dangerous projectile flying around the workshop. Furthermore, the wood can be pushed away by materials on the outfeed table, pinching the blade and resulting in kickback.
Clean the area around the table saw regularly. Any piece of wood or material is a risk of losing your balance and coming into contact with the saw blade. If you work with extension cables, run these cables along the walls as much as possible and avoid crossing the workplace.
Never Put Your Body Over a Rotating Blade.
Never hang over the table saw while the blade is still rotating. Instead, wait for the blade to come to a complete stop before reaching anything or making any adjustments.
Even when you move the fence to a new position, you switch off the table saw. Moving the fence may be smooth, but it can always come loose and suddenly move more towards the saw blade than you thought it would. To see more about placing your rip fence, check out my article What Side of the Table Saw Should the Fence Be on – a Clear Answer
Always set the distance between the gate and the saw blade when the machine is switched off and also make sure that the height of the saw blade is set before you start. An additional advantage of this is that you can also check whether the distance, measured from the blade, is really correct. this will help you to improve the accuracy of the cut.
Check Your Table Saw’s Safety Features.
Before starting any table saw job, it is a good idea to do a check on your table saw’s safety features. That way, you can be sure they are set up and working properly.
When the riving knife is present, take a look at its alignment, test the emergency stop, and any other safety devices designed to protect the woodworker.
If one of the safety devices does not work, do not continue working, but repair or replace the parts. Also, never try to bypass a safety in the hope that the machine will still work.
Related article: How To Make A Power Tool Safety Switch | FREE TEMPLATE
Examine the Wood for Foreign Objects Like Nails.
Before you start sawing, especially when using reclaimed wood, you should visually inspect the wood to be cut for foreign objects such as a screw, nail, staple, or even a loose knot in the wood.
Any of these can dislodge upon contact with the rapidly rotating saw blade and become a dangerous projectile. In addition, it can damage or loosen the tip of a saw blade tooth, which in turn can also be thrown around as a dangerous projectile.
In my workshop, I have a metal detector to check for hidden fasteners. It is one of the 7 Inexpensive Digital Tools For Accurate Woodworking I recommend in another article on this website. These tools are already available at reasonable prices and can quickly pay for themselves. Just a quick scan with this metal detector can avoid table saw injuries and unnecessary extra costs.
If the Blade Is Clogged, Do Not Start the Saw.
Before starting the saw, make it a habit to check that no wood or other material has come into contact with the blade.
Also, make sure the blade is free to rotate and not obstructed on the inside of the table saw.
If this happens, the force of the motor may eject material that comes into contact with the blade throughout the workshop.
Turn on the motor once you are certain that the blade can freely rotate and that no material is touching the saw blade. Before beginning to cut, the blade should always be at full speed when the motor is turned on.
To Avoid Tipping and Kickback, Use Outfeed Tables.
When cutting large pieces of wood, such as sheet plywood, an output table or outfeed roll, such as the one described in this article, should be used to support the wood.
Using an outfeed table or outfeed rolls makes the wood more stable and prevents it from tipping over.
This keeps the wood from being damaged and, more importantly, keeps it from catching the saw blade and kicking back.
As a result, an outfeed table will not only make your work safer, but also easier.
Tip: make sure your outfeed table and your table saw are level, more about this in my article, Does A Table Saw Need To Be Level?
Make Use of the Appropriate Tools, Such as a Fence, Miter Gauge, or Crosscut Sled.
By supporting the material you want to cut in the right way, you will always achieve the best result and be able to work safely.
Also, in addition to connecting with the crosscut sled, fence, or miter gauge support, make sure that the wood also mates with the surface of the table saw. Connecting the wood securely to the support or surface increases the control you have over the workpiece and reduces the chance that the wood will pinch the blade and kick back.
The crosscut sled is one of my favorite table saw jigs. Thanks to the free plans I offer on this blog post, you can make this crosscut sled for your workshop too.
Never Cut by Freehand.
When using a table saw, never attempt to cut freehand. This is one of the 10 dangerous table saw mistakes I discuss in this article. Use the correct type of support for the cut you want to make, as discussed in the previous tip.
Cutting a piece of wood freehand increases the risk of the workpiece slipping because of the great force applied to this piece of wood from the saw blade. You will quickly lose control, with all the adverse consequences that entail.
So never cut with a free hand and use the correct support, but keep in mind that the fence and the miter gauge should never be used together. This will cause the wood to pinch the saw blade and cause kickback.
Make Use of a Push Stick.
The last one of the safety rules for table saw is to use a push stick. If the plank to be cut causes your hand to come closer than 6 inches (ca. 15 cm) from the blade, a push stick should be used to push the plank through the blade.
This will help keep your fingers safely away from the blade. Usually, when you purchase your table saw, a push stock will be included that you can use for this.
I made a push stick as you can see in this video which gives me even better control over the workpiece through its shape. I can recommend making this push stick for your workshop and improve your table saw safety.
If you want to read more about push sticks, I suggest to read my article, “When Should a Push Stick Be Used (a Clear Guide)“.
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Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration