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TABLE SAW SAFETY
NO SINGLE SATISFACTORY GUARD
No single satisfactory guard has been developed for the ordinary wood table saw. Why? Because so many different kinds of jobs are done on these saws. Each individual kind of sawing job can be well guarded. But no single guard can protect us on all operations. Be sure you know the safe way to perform each operation. And be sure to do it that way. Table saws probably cut off more fingers than any other kind of machine.
EXAMINE THE SAFETY DEVICES
Is the guard the kind that rides on top of the work? It should be for all ordinary sawing, particularly ripping. See that it moves up and down freely without side play. Saws should have anti-kickback dogs and spreaders. See that the anti-kickback dogs move freely and are sharp enough to dig into the stock if it starts to kick back. See that the spreader is close to the saw teeth, stiff, and well secured. Check the guide (fence) to make sure it lines up parallel with the saw blade. Then set it for the cut you want.
CHECK YOUR FOOTING
When you have a sawing job, check your footing. Be sure the floor isn't slippery and there isn't anything for you to stumble over. Place your feet securely and comfortably. See that there is nothing loose on the saw table to get in the way. Be sure there is enough light so you can see what you are doing.
STAND IN THE RIGHT POSITION
If you have more than a piece or two to rip, place the stock on a hand truck or where you can easily reach it from the saw table. Stand far enough right or left of the line of the saw blade so that a kickback will miss you. But not so far that it's awkward to feed the wood through. Make sure no one else gets behind the saw while you are ripping. In some shops or on some jobs, an extension is added to the saw table, so that the operator can't stand directly in line with the saw blade. It also permits long stock to be controlled more easily.
Unless you have seen a kickback, you don't realize how vicious one can be. Those saw teeth may be moving from 10,000 to nearly 20,000 feet per minute. The teeth at the top of the saw blade are running toward you. If they get caught in the wood, they'll shoot it right back the way it came.
Saws don't kick back if they are treated right. If used correctly, a properly mounted saw blade, in good condition, will cut its way cleanly through the wood. But if you don't feed the wood in straight, it will get caught against those up-running teeth. The saw may grab it, lift it up, and throw it back.
Some people will tell you that the way to prevent kickback is to keep the saw as low as you can and still have it cut through the wood. They are right, if those teeth are sharp so they'll cut clean. And if the stock is fed straight. The amount of set a saw has will also have a bearing on how it cuts. Slide the material smoothly ahead along the guide and through the saw. Be sure to keep it against the guide all the way through.
A good way to have an accident is to use the saw without a spreader, especially when cutting green or twisted wood. The spreader is located right after the blade to keep the stock from binding. The anti-kickback dog should be used, too, because the wood might bind against the teeth before it reaches the spreader.
KEEP HANDS AWAY FROM BLADE
Always keep your hands a safe distance away from the saw blade, at least six inches and preferably twelve inches. You can do this by using a push stick or push block. If the stock or block is made to fit the lumber and has a good handle, you can do a better job with it at the finish of the cut than you can using your hand only. And if something should go wrong, you won't lose your hand.
DON'T CROWD THE SAW
Don't crowd the saw. A blade in good condition will take the wood easily. It will almost feed itself. If it doesn't,
something is wrong.
Whenever using a power saw, don't forget to protect your eyes by wearing your safety goggles.
Whatever kind of a saw you are using, gasoline powered or otherwise, good housekeeping is important. Continually pick up sawdust and scrap that accumulates near the saw. And also keep a fire extinguisher handy.
IT'S UP TO YOU
Because there is no single satisfactory guard for table saws, the main responsibility for avoiding accidents
is up to you.
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