Table saw safety

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BorisTheBlade

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Recently I posted a thread and during the thread I had quite a lot of people giving strong advice that was well intentioned but actually misinformation and dangerous in itself. I was quoted HSE and told strongly to use 2 push sticks and never have your hand near the zero clearance slot. Admittedly the video in question I was working a scrap piece that was close to being the limit of what I would work on before making adjustments like using a sled, blade guard etc. However, I feel it's important we call this misinformation out as it will cause more harm than the help it's intended to be.

* 2 push sticks/proximity to blade. If you have watched any high end woodworkers or read HSE guidance you will see the position I adopted is exactly that described.

In the picture taken directly from HSS guidelines you will see a hand positioned slightly behind the 0 clearance and a push stick in the right hand. What I don't like about the picture is the hand isn't fixed firmly to the table like I do, so in the event of kickback/movement, you hand isn't pulled in with the workpiece.

For your own safety but more importantly, the safety of others please don't be giving advice before first educating yourself as this could lead to serious injury. I don't preach safety to others and make mistakes often but comments that littered my thread would lead to those less informed to adopt more dangerous practices.

The takeaway?

DON'T use two push sticks. Don't use a table saw if you don't feel safe with your hand on the saw table

DO position your hand near the zero clearance, posted to the table to help guide the workpiece. The loss of control is a large factor in injury.

Don't do what I did in the video and reach over a blade 🤦 and push the workpiece through with the push stick.

Hope that helps, if you disagree, first look at HSE guidance. Don't shoot the messenger, just wanted to help others avoid injury.
 

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Doug71

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On the picture from the HSE you have posted can you see where the persons hand is in relation to the blade? The blade is where the fence ends (as it should be), I would estimate that the operators hand is about 450mm away from a properly guarded blade which is fine but I think you are talking about putting your hand much closer to the blade which isn't a good idea.

2 push sticks is the safest way to make a cut once you are getting close to the blade.

The HSE says use 2 push sticks when needed on their poster.


 

Ttrees

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I’m going to give up giving advice about Health and Safety on this forum, hobbyists always seem to know more than the ones in the trade.
Would be nice if you guys would give an opinion on the overhead guards,
as being a hobbyist myself, difficult to know what makes a good one.
If you needed this, and not one mounted to a riving knife, what's the best one you've ever seen/used or even a just a speculative hunch on what seemingly might look like an outstanding design.

Love to know what your opinions are on the 10 second clip I linked to this morning.

Any takers?

Thanks
Tom
 

BorisTheBlade

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On the picture from the HSE you have posted can you see where the persons hand is in relation to the blade? The blade is where the fence ends (as it should be), I would estimate that the operators hand is about 450mm away from a properly guarded blade which is fine but I think you are talking about putting your hand much closer to the blade which isn't a good idea.

2 push sticks is the safest way to make a cut once you are getting close to the blade.

The HSE says use 2 push sticks when needed on their poster.


Thanks for that, re: push sticks the quote says to use two 'in certain circumstances' not as a general rule. Maybe there's where confusion came when it was suggested to me.

Hands 450mm from the guard/blade is the edge of the table. Is this something you do for all circumstances or rips in particular? (Genuine question to get more knowledge).

I’m going to give up giving advice about Health and Safety on this forum, hobbyists always seem to know more than the ones in the trade.

If you want to educate, I'm happy to hear it but the advice I had was at no point to have your hand on the EDIT *table* near the EDIT zero clearance slot (butter fingers, pun intended) and to use two push sticks. The picture I showed illustrated this clearly from 'the trade'. No need to get upset, I'm just highlighting something that contradicted what I had read/seen and wanted to do it in an open way rather than avoiding it to not upset people. These discussions will help others so it's good to do it in a positive and open manner. I'm all ears to new info and will change my practice based on sound suggestions.
 

BorisTheBlade

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Boris The "high end woodworkers" you watch, I'm assuming on Youtube, are they British and European, or are they American?

Pete
Pete, it was based on Japanese, UK, American, Canadian etc. I've not seen anyone NOT having their hand on the saw bench at one point or another and certainly behind the zero clearance slot.
 

LJM

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Pete, it was based on Japanese, UK, American, Canadian etc. I've not seen anyone NOT having their hand on the saw bench at one point or another and certainly behind the zero clearance slot.

I never have my hands on the table. I was taught by my father, who was taught by a very “highend woodworker” (a significant one) and himself taught many, many people to use the full range of woodworking machinery; the only accidents that occurred in any of his workshops came about because an individual did not follow the rules and methods taught them.

I’ve never had a reason not to use 2 push sticks.
 

RobinBHM

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There are primarily 2 dangers:

1) getting cut by the saw blade

2) getting injured by a piece being thrown back

both can cause catastrophic injuries

violent kick backs are operator error and are mitigated by a number of elements:

riving knife
crown guard / overhead guard
position of rip fence
type of material
size of material
lack of consideration for offcuts
poor technique

Its not really push stick versus no push stick -its all of the above together
 

LJM

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There are primarily 2 dangers:

1) getting cut by the saw blade

2) getting injured by a piece being thrown back

both can cause catastrophic injuries

violent kick backs are operator error and are mitigated by a number of elements:

riving knife
crown guard / overhead guard
position of rip fence
type of material
size of material
lack of consideration for offcuts
poor technique

Its not really push stick versus no push stick -its all of the above together

Agreed, it’s not one thing several; ignoring just one can lead to an accident
 

Lazurus

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Can some one enlighten me on the correct position of the fence in relation to the blade, most images show the fence going at least to the back of the blade in not further, and yet surely it does no good past the end of the cut?
 

Spectric

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Table saw safety is really not difficult, it is a stationary machine where the only thing moving is the rotating saw blade and it cannot suddenly decide to attack.

There is only one way that the saw can digest any of your digits and that is if YOU decide to offer them up which is no different than putting your hand through the bars of a lions cage. Two push sticks is really just common sense, I would much prefer a shortened push stick than a shorter finger. I would say that my hands never get nearer than 400mm to the blade, never apply excess force to a push stick and really just be alert and as said, hands behind your back if anything goes wrong and not trying to rescue a workpiece or clear behind the blade even with a pushstick.
 

Ozi

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Gents, I'm a very inexperienced table saw user and feel I have had a lot of good advice from people on this forum. Can I ask about where a fence should end. I have had people say in line with the motor spindle so that no part of the rising side of the blade is next to the fence (this on a small cheep saw like mine makes for a very small fence) or at the rear edge of the blade which I don't understand. All the saws in my price range seem to have a fence that goes all the way across the table. At present I have attached a secondary fence to the original that ends just past the blade center. I take it off if cutting very long items which need more support and have been known (this will probably horrify you to stand the other side of the table and pull rather than push on the last part of long cuts.

Tell me what I should be doing, I have no objection to being criticized by those who know what they are talking about.

On that point it would be a great shame if people with knowledge stopped offering it due to seeing poor advice.
 

Sgian Dubh

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I’m going to give up giving advice about Health and Safety on this forum, hobbyists always seem to know more than the ones in the trade.
I find that amusing. You've maybe noticed that I seldom get into discussions about using wood machinery safely, and it's because I don't have the patience to get into what can develop into a long and frustrating discussion. Nowadays, I tend to leave the protagonists in such debates to it; they're not my fingers or other fleshy bits, nor are they fleshy bits of people I do have responsibility for in a workshop.

I will, however, throw this old article I co-wrote about ripping on the table saw twenty or more years ago and leave it at that. People can make of it whatever they will. Slainte.
 

Kayen

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Can some one enlighten me on the correct position of the fence in relation to the blade, most images show the fence going at least to the back of the blade in not further, and yet surely it does no good past the end of the cut?

A lot depends upon what you're cutting.

When cutting board materials, the fence extending beyond the back of the blade (and beyond) gives something to run on as the cut is finished - this can help if a perfectly straight cut is required.

When ripping down sawn timber boards in order to plane, the fence can be brought back in line with the cutting teeth. Also, the board should be sighted so any bow is up and the 'round' (as opposed to the hollow) is against the fence. This way the cut tends to open rather than close on to the blade.

Disclaimer: As always there are anomalies and differing circumstances which can change the above, and it's been years since I did my H&S certificate - so that's just my opinion and one that has served me well - though I very rarely use push sticks, sorry not sorry 😁
 

BorisTheBlade

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I never have my hands on the table. I was taught by my father, who was taught by a very “highend woodworker” (a significant one) and himself taught many, many people to use the full range of woodworking machinery; the only accidents that occurred in any of his workshops came about because an individual did not follow the rules and methods taught them.

I’ve never had a reason not to use 2 push sticks.

Oh dear, I've been clumsy in my approach, wording and inadvertently caused offence. Thanks for taking the time to reply. Can you elaborate why you use two sticks and never touch the table? I mean if you do as your grandfather did, you presumably wouldn't have a riving knife, dust extraction, crown guard etc... I'm trying to make a distinction between 'because I said so' and a logical explanation. Thanks in advance for your time if you get a chance to reply.
 

BorisTheBlade

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Thanks everyone who has posted, I'm getting free health and safety training and a lively discussion. If anyone has taken offence, take a minute to consider that your advice, input etc could lead to myself or someone else avoiding an accident so it's not wasted time or on deaf ears. I won't stop asking questions and if you get upset about this, maybe ego needs to leave the equation. I'm asking legitimate questions and probing to get answers not a reaction. No trolling here, all positive.
 
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