Many safety features and precautions have been built into table saws by manufacturers to make this popular machine a little safer. However, once you’ve installed this tool, don’t be satisfied with its built-in security features. You have to take it to the next level and think, how can I make my table saw safer?
You can make your table saw even safer and prevent injury by performing a few actions yourself. Here are the seven tips on how to make a table saw safer that I will discuss in this article in brief:
- Use sharp sawblades
- Support long workpieces with outfeed rolls
- Build a push stick for better control
- Tune your table saw on a regular basis
- Use a feather board to avoid kickback
- Make a safety switch
- Make safer cuts with a crosscut sled
These seven actions, which you will learn about in detail in this article, are all simple to execute table saw safety tips. In fact, I’ve already started using them in my workshop.
For each one of these tips, I created a handy in depth step-by-step instruction blog or a video on my YouTube channel. Feel free to click through to discover more.
- Why Are Table Saws So Dangerous?
- How Can I Make My Table Saw Safer
- What Ppe Is Required for a Table Saw?
- What Are the Safety Rules for a Table Saw?
Why Are Table Saws So Dangerous?
We’re all aware that table saws are hazardous, but if you want to know how to make a table saw safer, it’s a good idea to start by identifying the dangers.
We can look for targeted solutions to limit the dangers if we can name and list the dangers.
Because of the rotating blade, a table saw is extremely dangerous. It has the potential to cause injuries in a variety of ways. The teeth can cut fingers, and the rapid rotation can cause the workpiece to be thrown back at high speed (kickback), transforming it into a dangerous projectile.
Sawdust and small parts, such as staples, nails, or saw blade fragments, can also be thrown.
Because of the high speed at which the saw blade rotates, any of the above events can occur in a fraction of a second.
Because of the speed with which this occurs, you, as a user, do not have time to respond. That is why we must devise a solution for each of these issues that will protect us, as users, from harm. That is why we need to question ourselves, how can I make my table saw safer.
P.S.: Always be prepared for a possible accident. Learn how to put together a first aid kit in my article, How To Make A Workshop First Aid Kit – N°1 Guide | FREE CHECKLIST
How Can I Make My Table Saw Safer
With these seven table saw safety tips that you can find below, you can make your table saw safer than just the standard protections that were included.
Use Sharp Sawblades
It may seem counterintuitive, but a sharp saw blade is safer than a dull saw blade. A sharp saw blade will cut more smoothly and with less friction than a dull saw blade.
A dull saw blade will, in addition to burning the wood due to the increased friction, have a chance of grabbing the workpiece and throwing it at a higher speed towards the user. In other words, kickback.
The built-up heat from a dull saw blade can weaken the metal, causing parts of the saw blade to come loose and be thrown away.
Check the saw blade for dullness as well as loose or missing parts on a regular basis. This is something I do every day before I start working with the table saw. When the saw blade is dull, replace it with a new saw blade.
Maintain the saw blades as well. A good saw blade maintenance on a regular basis will keep it sharper and allow it to cut through the wood more easily.
Support Long Workpieces With Outfeed Rolls
Long workpieces that protrude far beyond the end of the table saw are prone to tipping over.
The weight can accumulate to the point where it can no longer be corrected with one hand. At this point, the wood is at risk of becoming stuck between the saw blade and the fence.
Another risk here is that the hand you’re holding the wood with may be pushed towards the saw blade.
An output table or outfeed stand is the solution. These will continue to support the wood even if it extends far beyond the table saw’s edge. If you are using this, you need to be sure your table saw is level.
The most recommended, but also the bulkiest, solution is an output table. An extra output table in your workshop is not an option if you have a small workshop, as I do.
The folding outfeed rollers were the solution I discovered for this. These are strong enough to carry heavy pieces of wood and, when folded, take up very little space. In my blog “Easy DIY Adjustable 3 Rolls Outfeed Stand | FREE PLANS,” I show you how to make these step by step.
Make Safer Cuts With a Crosscut Sled
The crosscut sled is without a doubt the most frequently used tool that makes my table saw much safer to use.
This crosscut sled allows me to cut smaller pieces of wood without ever getting my hands near the saw blade.
Furthermore, because of this woodworking jig, I can be certain that all parts made with the crosscut sled are perfectly square.
I strongly advise you to build your own crosscut sled for your table saw, both for a better sense of safety and for perfect cuts.
The crosscut sled I built has replaceable zero clearance insert plates and plenty of t-tracks for connecting various jigs.
In my article “The Most Complete Crosscut Sled | FREE Crosscut Sled PLANS” I show you step by step how I made my crosscut sled and you can download free plans that can help you build your crosscut sled.
Build a Push Stick For Better Control
If you’re wondering, “How can I make my table saw safer?”, I would say, make a push stick first!
A push stick can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. It makes no difference whether it’s a simple scrap piece of wood or a finely crafted push stick, as long as your hands are kept away from the saw blade.
For my workshop, I made two types of push sticks. I use my first push stick to push the wood through the saw blade. This tool protects my hand from being cut by the saw blade.
The second tool is more akin to a hold-down stick. I prefer to use this when cutting wood with my crosscut sled or crosscut saw.
This hold-down stick allows me to exert the same grip as if I were holding the wood in my hand, but because my hand is now further away from the saw blade, there is less risk of injury.
I recommend that you make a push stick or hold-down stick as soon as you have your table saw set up in your workshop. They are enjoyable little projects that can be completed in a short amount of time and significantly improve table saw safety.
Tune Your Table Saw On a Regular Basis
A properly aligned table saw (and its components, such as the fence) will not only perform better, but it will also be the safest table saw. This necessitates a series of small actions that must be carried out at regular intervals.
Aligning your blade, leveling your throat plate, and tuning your fence are all part of this process.
If any of these three things are incorrect, the wood will burn, or you will experience table saw kickback. This is caused by a misaligned blade or fence pinching the wood behind the blade.
When you notice some burn, it’s best to align the blade and fence before it becomes so severe that it wants to kickback.
Similarly, if your throat plate is uneven, your board may tilt, shift, or jam halfway through the cut.
This will almost certainly result in some burn, rendering them useless and ruining the piece you’re working with. Allow time at least once a month to align these three parts and avoid injuries from kickback or burning the wood.
Wood burning and kick back are just a few of the table saw problems that can occur. That is why I suggest you should check out my article, Most common table saw problems and how to fix them quickly.
Use a Feather Board To Avoid Kickback
I recommend making a feather board to make your table saw safer and to avoid kickback. You can see how in this video I made a while ago.
Attach this feather board to the table saw’s slots and adjust it to the thickness of the wood you want to cut.
The feather board ensures that the wood you cut is always pushed against the fence with the same amount of force. This not only results in super straight cuts, but it also reduces the possibility of wood becoming stuck between the blade and the fence and causing kickback.
Make a Safety Switch
The last tip in this list of table saw safety tips is to make your switch more visible and easier to reach. What irritated me about my table saw, and after some research, I discovered that this is a common problem with other table saws, is that the switch is tucked so deeply under the machine.
While cutting, I had to feel for this switch deep beneath the tabletop. This can result in dangerous situations where attention is temporarily diverted away from the fast-spinning saw blade.
This is no longer the case thanks to this safety switch. By tapping the switch with my knee, I can now turn off the table saw without using my hands. This is also extremely useful in an emergency, as the table saw can be turned off faster than ever before. This small adjustment made my table saw the safest table saw in terms of shutdown.
What Ppe Is Required for a Table Saw?
Even if you make all of the adjustments described above and follow all of the table saw safety tips and table saw safety rules, something can still go wrong.
When using a table saw, it is therefore recommended that personal protective equipment (PPE) be worn. This is also one of the table saw mistakes people make that i discuss in my article, 10 Dangerous Table Saw Mistakes To Avoid. Be sure to check this article out to improve your table saw safety even more.
I always wear safety glasses, hearing protection, and safety shoes as personal protective equipment.
Gloves should never be worn under any circumstances. These can become entangled in the rapidly rotating saw blade and drag your hand with it, resulting in serious consequences.
A table saw produces extremely sharp sounds that can cause permanent damage to the ears, so use earplugs or hearing protectors to protect yourself.
Table saw cut parts can crumble and fly away. As a result, it’s a good idea to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.
If you want to get inspired with a list of PPE for your workshop, you can check out my article, “Woodworking Safety – What PPE Do You Need For Woodworking?“, where i go deeper into this topic.
What Are the Safety Rules for a Table Saw?
Aside from making modifications to your table saw to make it safer, there are a few safety rules to follow when using a table saw.
Examine these guidelines thoroughly and remember to adhere to them each time you use the table saw. Below you will find a few simple table saw safety rules that will make working with this potentially dangerous tool more enjoyable and safer.
- Keep your body and face to one side of the saw blade to avoid a possible kickback.
- Always use personal protective equipment (PPE). More on this later in this article.
- Never remove small pieces of wood while the blade is in motion. Wait for the saw blade to stop.
- Never saw freehand, always support your workpiece by the stop, crosscut slide, or miter gauge.
- Never use the miter fence and the fence at the same time. This can lead to kickback.
- Never reach over the saw blade.
- Do not adjust the saw or setup until the table saw is turned off, and never while the saw is running.
- Never use materials containing nails, screws, or other metals. Check this with a metal detector.
Besides these tips, there are a few more tips I discuss into my article, “12 Table Saw Safety Tips, So You Can Keep All Your Fingers“. Highly recommended if you want to work as safe as possible with your table saw.
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I hope this information answered your question “how can I make my table saw safer”, and that this blog about table saw safety tips inspires you.
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Christophe, founder of Christofix.com
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration