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Are Grippers much safer than push sticks?

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tony359

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Greetings all

My DeWalt 745 table saw is still sitting on the floor in my workshop while I educate myself before I attempt my first cut.
I stumbled into the MicroJig "Gripper" tool and many people seem to suggest they are a much safer tool than push sticks. So I came here hoping to find a long debate on the subject but I cannot find any besides a few short threads.

While I see why the gripper could be very useful when cutting small pieces, I am a bit confused as many safety videos I have watched online say "never lean on the blade" and "never place your hand close or past the blade". This is where a push stick play its role.

However with grippers your hand ends up ABOVE the blade and you have to FULLY lean on the blade to move the piece away from the blade when the cut is finished.

I believe Microjig says that you are protected as the gripper is in between the saw and you. But we all know that anything can happen - and very quickly - and if by any chance the blade manages to flip the gripper, your hand falls just on top of the blade itself.

So I was wondering what is the community feeling on those tools.

Thank you all!
 

Ttrees

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It depends on what you call push sticks is suppose,
the gripper may be safer than a single pencil.
It's mostly an American thing.
We have better safety standards than over the pond.
I suggest you make a pair of long push sticks from something that will take abuse.
Soft plywood or something.
The sort of shoe style push stick on American publications is much shorter than what you might see here in compliant workshops.
Some quite dangerous looking things on Youtube

I believe a UK spec push stick is something in the nature of 400mm long, Steve Maskery here has made some,
I wonder what he will suggest for a machine that size.

Tom
 

tony359

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Thanks Tom
I have the stock DeWalt push stick that came with the saw and indeed I thought a longer one may be a better choice. I can indeed make some.

In fact the previous owner gave me his home made push stick but it's one of those which pushes the wood from the back - so your hand ends up very close to the blade...

I can understand why people may have a better sense of control with the gripper - the problem is "what happens if" - at that point your hand is just over a spinning blade. Kind of reminds me when - before seat belts were compulsory in cars - some people felt they did not need to use them when at the wheel because "If I have an accident I will hold to the steering wheel" without realising that the forces at play during an accident are much more than a human bone - or even a steering wheel for what matters - can withstand.
 

JonG

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Greetings all

My DeWalt 745 table saw is still sitting on the floor in my workshop while I educate myself before I attempt my first cut.
I stumbled into the MicroJig "Gripper" tool and many people seem to suggest they are a much safer tool than push sticks. So I came here hoping to find a long debate on the subject but I cannot find any besides a few short threads.

While I see why the gripper could be very useful when cutting small pieces, I am a bit confused as many safety videos I have watched online say "never lean on the blade" and "never place your hand close or past the blade". This is where a push stick play its role.

However with grippers your hand ends up ABOVE the blade and you have to FULLY lean on the blade to move the piece away from the blade when the cut is finished.

I believe Microjig says that you are protected as the gripper is in between the saw and you. But we all know that anything can happen - and very quickly - and if by any chance the blade manages to flip the gripper, your hand falls just on top of the blade itself.

So I was wondering what is the community feeling on those tools.

Thank you all!
I made one of these from scraps... works a treat.
 

MikeG.

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I don't own or use a table saw, so take this with a pinch of salt if you like......

......but it strikes me that if you have a proper crown guard those gripper things can't work. In other words, in an attempt to add a layer of work-handling safety you need to compromise the overall machine safety by removing an essential guard. I'm struggling to see how this is any sort of benefit.
 

tony359

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Mike
Indeed, that's another one. You'll have to remove your guard to use them. Another thing that made me think a bit.
 
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I think the Gripper is better than nothing, but the main problem I see is that you're still reaching over the blade with your arm. What if you were to stumble? or slip? ... basically, if things go wrong, you're right in the firing line. Hopefully the gripper takes most of the damage, but as can be seen from this video, that certainly may not be the case. And certainly won't help if its your arm that ends up going into the blade when leaning over. Yes he is purposly trying to induce kick back, and yes it's different kind of push block, but the point is that his finger ended up being extremely close to the blade.

In my opinion, a push stick should allow you to finish the cut with your hands still in front of the blade. No leaning over. No flesh in the danger area.
 

Trevanion

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We had a thread once about this very topic it got so unnecessarily heated and bombastic from one side of the non-argument that it ended up getting deleted. That user isn’t here any more so it should be fairly safe ground.

Make some decent push sticks around 450mm long, ideally made out of MDF so they can’t shatter and splinter like natural timber or plywood when the blade eventually comes into contact.
 

Myfordman

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Here is a typical Merkin design shown with typically Merkin unguarded TS but no dimensions. You can scale up from the hand in the photo and then I'd increase by 50%. 450mm long is a good aiming point
Certainly agree with mdf as the best material to use.
Make two at least; one to drive the work through and the second to keep the job against the fence.
 

Ttrees

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That video is both shocking and hilarious.
The first take must not have been dramatic enough to risk putting
the hand in the firing line the second time!
I would have liked to see the first take.
 

PAC1

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In the UK it is best to follow the considered advice of the Health and Safety Executive https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wis16.pdf
I appreciate not everyone is in a commercial setting but why ignore a good source of advice.
A push stick or if you wish push sticks is the recommendation
 

Doug71

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As said 2 push sticks, 1 to push and the second to keep the timber against the fence.

Use the riving knife and crown guard.

Try to avoid cutting small pieces, that's when accidents happen. Years ago I was told "Keep the wood as long as you can as long as you can", it's much safer pushing one long piece through the saw then a few short ones.
 

tony359

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@transatlantic
Yes, that's one of the videos I watched which showed very well why hands and body don't want to be close to the blade at any time and hence my concerns about the gripper.

@Trevanion
ahah, that's exactly what I was expecting, a heated and long thread on pros and cons of the gripper!

@PAC1
Yes, I am planning to check what HSE has to say about that and also download the 745's user manual to see what DeWalt has to say.

I'll definitely make another stick out of MDF.

I appreciate everybody's help - I'm glad I shared my concerns here before going ahead and buying a £80 piece of plastic :)
 

sunnybob

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I have the micro jig gripper. Its an incredibly useful tool to hold smaller and odd shaped pieces on the router table and the bandsaw. I like it so much I dont begrudge a penny of the money it cost. If I had a planer I would happily use it on that.
But I have never used it on my dewalt 745 saw. I dont see any time when I would use it on the tablesaw. It cant be used with a normal blade guard. The only time I take the blade guard off is when I am using the table saw sled. The guard is replaced immediately after.
There are far too many american videos with dangerous practices.
The dewalt push stick is very good. There is no need to make anything longer, you will just lose control. I have never used 2 push sticks at the same time. Again, one being pushed harder than the other will make you lose control.
If you want a new toy to buy, get a couple of feather boards. I have a bench dog universal and sometime soon will buy another one. Theres no safer way to hold the wood securely.
 

Rorschach

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I don't think one pushstick (or type of pushstick) covers all bases. It depends on the job you are doing, the size of the workpiece, a full or partial depth cut etc. It's the same with guards and riving knives, they aren't always useful for certain jobs and ideally you would have a selection of them as well (I have 2 riving knives for example).
 
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tony359

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@sunnybob
I can understand why the microjig is useful but my concern is mostly about safety. Again, the issue is always in the "what if" situations. But yes I can see how useful that can be with small pieces. To be honest I am with @Rorschach and others on the sticks: one to push the piece towards the fence while the other one pushes the piece through the blade.

I suspect the "table saw sled" is also called a "mitre sled" as the attached picture? If that is the case I was indeed thinking of making one as I may end up using the TS that way and I believe the sled allows for a safer and faster cut.

I googled "feather board" but I am not sure what you are referring to - could you please point me to the right direction?
 

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tony359

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interesting!

I don't think the 745 has slots to fix them though... But I'll investigate!
 

Droogs

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Sunnybob has a 745 and is the one who suggested the featherboards
 

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I am in the Jacob 2 push sticks camp. One stick pushes the outer corner of the workpiece forward into the blade, the other holds the workpiece down, and pushes in towards the fence a bit.

I did a search on YouTube for "table saw accidents" a while ago, and the majority that weren't kickbacks seemed to be from people using home made ripper style devices. They seem to catch the naked blade on the return stroke, and then flip over, along with the hand holding it. My thinking is that if my hand is never in reach of the blade, I will probably be OK.

The nice plastic push stick that comes with the saw melts on contact with the blade, so a wooden one is better. I hadn't considered the mdf angle for not splintering - I had better get some mdf, as my push sticks are all splintered and cream-crackered.
 
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