If you’re an owner of a table saw, you probably know that this power tool requires the user to take great care for his safety. An unnoticed nail in a wooden board can easily become a dangerous projectile and something that could cause a severe injury to anyone in the area.
A single moment of distraction, on the other hand, could lead you to get too close to the machine’s blade and end up with a life-threatening injury.
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the potential dangers that are associated with this powerful tool, as well as the security precautions that need to be considered. We’ll also see some handy devices that are capable of preventing accidents, as well as who should and who shouldn’t use the table saw. Read on!
How Often Do These Injuries Happen?
In the United States, it’s the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) that puts together statistics on injuries connected to the use of the table saws. In 2003, the commission reported almost 40.000 injuries that were in some way related to table saws.
Some of these accidents were the result of a direct contact with the blade, and some of the “kickback” that can potentially occur when you’re cutting the wood.
As you already know, severe injuries bring not only physical and emotional pain but also substantial medical bills, time away from work, as well as trauma. Along with death, one of the worst consequences of improper use of the table saw is the loss of limbs. The blade of this power tool can easily sever a hand and leave the individual with significant life struggles.
What Are the Potential Dangers?
Let’s have a look at some potential dangers that can easily leave a table saw operator with a life-threating injury:
Everyone falls from time to time. But if you fall while you’re using the table saw, the consequences can be truly tragic. These kinds of accidents occur because the table saw operator is using excessive force to push his workpiece through the saw, and then falls on the blade that’s working at full speed.
Sometimes, clothing can easily get caught in the table saw’s blade, especially if the user is wearing clothes that aren’t fitting snuggly but are hanging on his body. And when clothes are pulled into the saw, the body follows.
Wood chips, nails, and sawdust are things that can fly out of this device at a very high speed. Just a small piece of wood can easily cut the skin or do some serious damage to the operator’s eye. Almost all people who have been using this machine for years have experienced some variant of this injury.
This one is a no-brainer – wood that’s not dry enough should never be cut. And the reason behind that is the fact that the moist pieces of timber can slide, slip, and leave you impaired.
Wood being cut with a dull blade can easily be kicked back at the operator and hurt him. A sharp, well-oiled blade provides smooth operation, while the dull one causes dangerous starts and fits.
The Protective Measures
All people who intend to use this machine must ensure that they have taken the correct security measures before they start cutting wood. Some of these measures are:
The Eye Protection
Those using this device have to protect their eyes from the possible projectiles and the garden-variety sawdust. This can be done by wearing safety goggles or glasses. There’s also the face mask that protects the entire face of the operator.
Choosing the Correct Footwear
When using the table saw, it’s of crucial importance to wear boots or non-slip shoes. It’s very easy to slip and fall down when you’re pushing the wood through the saw, and this kind of footwear will surely keep your body stable and in place.
Standing In the Proper Place
All projectiles that fly out of this machine will probably do so in line with the device’s blade. That’s why you should never stand directly in line with your table saw’s blade.
The Proper Height of the Blade
If the blade is set too high, there’s a danger to get cut if you accidentally slip while splitting the wood. The blade should never be set higher than 0.23 inches (6 millimeters) above the stock.
Even though this sounds very simple, it’s actually an essential security measure. While operating the device, you should avoid talking to your friend or a family member – pay attention to the work in front of you. Turn off the machine, talk with your friend, and then resume the cutting.
Devices That Prevent Table Saw Accidents
Here are some useful devices that lower the risk of getting a severe injury while using a table saw:
A Push Stick
For all operators of these kinds of machines, a sturdy push stick can be an invaluable tool. In case you’re working on a narrow piece of wood, you can simply use this stick to push it through the saw. You won’t have to get too close to the blade and will, therefore, avoid getting potentially hurt.
A Dust Mask
A quality dust mask will prevent the dangerous dust from getting into your lungs. In our opinion, this is an essential piece of safety equipment!
It’s of critical importance to have your machine’s blade covered with a hood. If you’re unlucky enough to fall while using the device, you’ll hit the hood and not the lethal teeth of the blade.
Who Should and Who Shouldn’t Be Using It?
All those who know how to be responsible and are willing to patiently learn all those little tips and tricks are fully capable of using the table saw. Let’s take a look at kinds of individuals who shouldn’t be using it:
Even though many teenagers are very responsible, they still shouldn’t be given a chance to operate this power tool. It’s a dangerous machine that should be used only by adults.
People who own this device but have never used it should never even think about turning it on just to do some simple cutting. Asking a professional to do that for you would be a much wiser decision.
People with Physical Limitations
If you have physical limitations that make the correct use of this machine impossible for you, you’ll have to ask for some help or let a professional do the cutting for you. People who can’t firmly grasp the wooden board or stand firmly on the floor should never use the table saw.
Some Additional Safety Tips
Avoid wearing gloves. The loss of tactile sense is the principal reason for that, as well as the possible loss of gripping power and the fact that gloves are loose and can be grabbed by the blade.
Avoid operations that feel awkward. If it feels foolish to do a particular cut with the table saw, then don’t do it in that manner and use another tool.
When you’re cross-cutting short lengths, don’t forget to use a stop block. Mount it on the fence, and it will prevent the cut-off pieces from binding between the fence and the blade.
Avoid reaching over or behind the blade while it’s still working. Even though it might look safe sometimes, it never truly is – you don’t want to end up in the hospital.
The tabletop needs to be kept as smooth and polished as possible. A table that’s rough and dirty will require the operator to use more force while pushing the wood through the saw – you can see where that is going.
Release your workpiece only when it’s past the machine’s blade. If you release it too early, you’re risking a kickback – the blade could easily grab the part that still hasn’t passed it.
Always check the wood for things like screws, nails, and knots before you start cutting. As we already mentioned, these things can easily become projectiles, as well as do some severe damage to your blade.
Avoid making free-hand cuts on your machine. Always guide the wood through the blade by using a miter gauge or a rip fence.
Don’t forget to use the clearance inserts. These things are capable of preventing the narrow cuts from getting into the blade’s lower part (after which they make a round trip and get propelled into the air). The clearance inserts also reduce splintering.
Keep the floor free of things that you could accidentally trip over – such as the piles of sawdust and cut-offs.
The table saws have a pretty bad reputation which they don’t actually deserve. When used with caution and with full concentration, these machines become versatile tools that quickly turn every DIY idea into reality. Don’t let your guard down and remember the above mentioned tips!