August31

Table Saws

John Howell

Table saws are common and heavily used tool found on the jobsite. Unfortunately when not used properly they can cause serious injuries. When using a table saw, consider the following tips and safety measures.

Basic operating steps: 

  • Only use equipment you are trained and authorized to operate.
  • When using hand-fed saws, adjust the height to limit the amount of exposed blade.
  • Hold the stock and push it into the blade.
  • Use the guide to maintain a straight cut at the desired width.
  • At the end of the cutting stroke, push it past the blade.

Point of operation hazards:

  • Injuries can occur if your hands slip while feeding the stock into the saw, or if you are holding your hand too close to the blade while cutting.
  • Injuries can also result when removing scraps or finished pieces of stock from the table.
  • If the saw is set up improperly, e.g., with the fence out of adjustment or the blade too high, the stock can either “kick back,” or your hand can be pulled toward the blade.

Kickbacks:

Kickbacks occur when the blade catches the stock and throws it back toward the operator. They are more likely to occur when performing rip cuts, rather than crosscuts.

They can result when:

  • The blade height is not correct.
  • The blade is not maintained properly.
  • Guards with anti-kickback devices or spreaders are not used or adjusted correctly, particularly when using wet or poor-quality lumber.

To avoid kickbacks:

  • When ripping stock, use a spreader to prevent material from squeezing the saw or kicking back during the process.
  • Use anti-kickback fingers to hold the stock down.
  • Maintain the blades and sharpen blade teeth on a regular basis.

Safety precautions:

  • Ensure that the saw components (blade, guard, arbor, fence, etc.) are adjusted correctly and the blade is sharp.
  • Ensure that the blade is designed for the type of cutting being done and fits the saw’s arbor precisely.
  • Enclose the portion of the saw above the table with a self-adjusting guard that will adjust to the thickness of the material being cut and remain in contact with it.
  • Ensure that anti-kickback and spreader devices are in place and adjusted correctly.
  • Establish and follow lockout requirements for service or maintenance of the table saw.
  • Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Use a push stick for small pieces of wood and for pushing stock past the blade.
  • Do not reach over the blade.

Consider purchasing a SawStop table saw, we use Sawstop table saws in our shop at Shepley.  Not only have we prevented two serious injuries but the saws have proven to be real work horses. Our shop foreman, Marc Angiolillo, is happy to answer any questions you may have.

Sawstop just released an awesome mobile jobsite saw worth taking a look at.

How it works

  • The blade carries a small electrical signal.
  • When skin contacts the blade, the signal changes because the human body is conductive.
  • The change to the signal activates the safety system.
  • An aluminum brake springs into the spinning blade, stopping it in less than 5 milliseconds!
  • The blade’s angular momentum drives it beneath the table, removing the risk of subsequent contact.
  • Power to the motor is shut off.

NOTE: Always promote a discussion on any of the topics covered in the Tool Box Talks. Should any question arise that you cannot answer, don’t hesitate to contact your Employer.

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