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Einsteinsdog

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Apologies if this question has been dealt with previously.

I'm a newbie to woodworking and have just bought my first table saw. My question is regarding table saw safety and I'd be keen to hear the advice of other more experienced woodworkers as to the best way forward.

I have read quite a lot about table saw safety and have heard quite a number of conflicting reports regarding removing the riving knife and saw cover. From one point of view the majority of woodworkers appear not to use the riving knife and cover apart apart from at certain times, and from another camp the idea of removing it appears to be tantamount to letting your child play with a loaded shotgun. On a similar note I asked tech-support at Charnwood whether their saw was compatible with a stacked dado and the guy nearly blew up at me over the phone for being so stupid! There appears to be a vast difference of opinion on these things.

I was faced with a dilemna today in my shop where I was trying to create dado slots in MDF. My first thought was to remove the riving knife and cover for this operation, clamp the piece to the sliding carriage and use the table saw using mulitple passes, however hearing "don't be am silly person" in my head made me us a less accurate cross-cutting saw to complete the operation instead. This kind of did the job but was a bit shaky to say the least. I am keen to be safe in the shop as of course I like my hands the way they are, but am I being over the top? I bought the saw with the idea that I could use it for loads of cuts but I appear now to be limited to ripping and cross-cutting only if I don't remove the riving knife.

+ So is it acceptable to EVER remove the riving knife or cover?
+ If so, which types of cut are acceptable?
+ What pre-cautions should I be aware of?
+ Is a stacked dado truely a mental idea?

Any help here would be great.

Matt
 

davem62

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hi and welcome, there seams to be lots of information on the internet,but have a look at the dvd's produced by Steve mastery of this site, at Workshop essentials.com.Although i haven't got the table saw set, i have the others and they are full of set up ,safety info and jigs to look at, also the plans are also provided.If you search this site for them you will find good reviews i'm sure.

hth dave
 

Karl

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Hi Matt and welcome.

I'm guessing that those sources where the riving knife and guard are removed were predominanlty American in source. It's quite a popular thing to do over there, but it isn't best practise.

First recommendation - buy Ian Kirby's excellent book on table saws - "The accurate table saw". I've found it immensely useful.

Secondly, I use a dado head all the time on my saw. Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to run a dado blade in a table saw. I actually use an adjustable groover which I bought for my spindle moulder, but it works perfectly well in the t/s



The important thing is to make sure that it blade is still guarded. Many American articles (and programmes, naming no names :norm: ) show a dado blade unguarded.

Where abouts are you in Manchester?

Cheers

Karl
 

DIY Stew

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Hi Matt

I bought a table saw in January so I am not an expert but I have read several articles on saw safety.

Dado blades are a big no no in this country, they are acceptable in the states but so are guns!
Someone on this site posted a link showing what can happen if you remove the riving knife, it's not recommended.
I haven't seen any of Steves DVDs however several members highly rate them so well worth looking at.
All power tools are dangerous so never try to cut corners on safety.

Regarding cutting dado slots in MDF I use a router either with the parallel cutting guide on or against a straight edge.

Hope this helps

Stew
 

beech1948

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I have not used a dado blade for about 30+yrs or more. Reasons why not:-

1) There are other safer more easily used techniques to create a dado. Such as using a router combined with a jig.
2) European law requires that ALL tablesaws are fitted with a short arbour so that there is no room to fit a dado blade onto the short threads. Note that this applied to any workplace where there are more than a single person working or where it is for business. H&S would levy a major fine and or take you to court. This law does not apply to a hobby shop but try buying a saw which does not comply. Dado's are beloved by our American cousins but they little sense of the safety aspects so highly prized in Europe.
3) The safest way to proceed is not to remove the riving knife from the table saw. Its purpose is to prevent kickback and to prevent any forces released in the wood from causing it to twist into the blade.
4) The safety blade guard over the blade should not be removed. By all means buy a after market improved version, or make your own but leave one in place at all times. It keeps your hands away from the blade. As do push sticks and other devices.
5) You could use an SCMS, as you did, but these are very inaccurate and often leave a rubbish finish to the cut or are hard to judge as to depth. As you say it felt a little shaky.

Preferred method is to use one of two approaches. Either use the router and jig approach
( the most popular) or replace the blade with a specific trench cutting tool designed to fit like a saw blade to the short arbour ( problem is these can be very expensive) {see post above].

In all cases mentally rehearse the cut, visualise what will happen, consider where your hands are placed and how they could slip into the blade your using. If the worst could happen it will.

You might also consider maybe asking here first. We accept all kinds of questions with humour and grace from the erudite to the silly to the beginner.

Stay safe.

Al
 

deserter

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As the above poster has said on a workplace it is illegal to run a table saw without a roving knife fitted and the crown guard must be as close as practicable to the cut but must be present on the saw at all times.
Whilst we were learning these regulations our lecturer brought in a frozen pork leg and proceeded to cut it on the table saw straight through the bone and flesh, just to highlight how little work these machines will make of your limbs.
There are far safer and better ways to achieve a dado without risking injury.
 

Karl

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deserter":aqp9epnq said:
There are far safer and better ways to achieve a dado without risking injury.
I'd dispute both those assertions. Using an adjustable groover in the t/s is perfectly safe as long as the operator puts appropriate guarding in place, and you won't get a better finish.
 

kevin dwyer

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matt, I'm blown away. I've cut the timber on a sliding table circular saw for for a timber yard for years and you're a perfect advert for why people shouldn't just walk into a shop and buy a circular saw. If you don't like your hand the way god made it, keep it up. kev.
 

deserter

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Karl":2xzf28z3 said:
deserter":2xzf28z3 said:
There are far safer and better ways to achieve a dado without risking injury.
I'd dispute both those assertions. Using an adjustable groover in the t/s is perfectly safe as long as the operator puts appropriate guarding in place, and you won't get a better finish.
Agreed, but the OP is suggesting the use of Dado cutters without a riving knife or crown guard, in the American tradition. By better I didn't refer to the finish, I think it's is quicker to set a router or spindle to cut a dado.
I guess it boils down to personal preference.
 

beech1948

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Kevin,
Slow down a minute. The OP sounds like someone who is getting started and who is trying to learn. He has been very honest about what he has done, what he feels about it and has sought our help and is trying to find out the best way to proceed. Lets give him some credit.

Karl,
Karls method is fine, its legal, its efficient and produces good results and can be guarded to prevent accidents. The only reason that you son't see those types of cutter very often is price. they are too expensive for the hobbyist/amateur. I bought my version from Felder and it cost me £235 probably more than an average hobbyist would want to spend.

Al
 

Steve Maskery

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Lots of good advice above.
Dado blades do a good job BUT for a hobbyist there rarely offer the best solution. They are time-consuming to set up, usually require test cuts and shims to produce the rigth-sized slot and are difficult (though not impossible) to guard. The riving knife is redundant with a dado set and often has to be removed completely, depending on its style. The danger is that it doesn't go back on again and that's where the rot sets in.
For a handful of cuts it's usually quicker, much safer and more accurate to use a router and jig. I've published designs before and written about tablesaw safety. If you are new to TS's then I would advise against dadoes until you are more experienced and understand clearly the increase in risk.
If I were to use an analogy, you wouldn't put a 17-year old who had just passed his driving test at the wheel of a F1 car. Yes it's possible to do it safely, but the risks are high.
S
 

misterfish

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As you can see, the topic of dado cutters is certainly emotive! As mentioned above many of the (mainly US) programs show the use of such cutters without a guard, though most do say that guards have been removed to allow them to show you the cutting in action.

The first question to be answered is whether your saw arbor will actually accept a dado set - many only have a short spindle length that will only accept a single blade. The you have to think about guarding the blade. Most saws have the riving knife higher than the bldae and also supporting the guard and the only way to cut a groove is to remove both so you need a guard that will cover the blade and also allow the wood to pass over it - something like http://www.axminster.co.uk/axminster-sa ... prod32672/

Whatever you do you should always ensure the guard and riving knife are in place for normal cutting. Also you need to be familiar with using the saw and constantly aware that if mishandled it is dangerous. I sometimes use a dado set in my saw but treat it with great respect.

Misterfish
 

JakeS

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One thing I didn't see mentioned yet: if the reason you're looking to remove your riving knife is to do non-through cuts, it's probably because the guard is attached via the riving knife (and thus the knife is much taller than it needs to be) rather than because you actually don't want a riving knife at all; a knife which only goes so high as the blade and thus doesn't get in the way when cutting slots is still going to perform its function as a riving knife. Consider an alternative form of guard, then you can cut down/make a new riving knife which only sticks up so far as the blade does.

What has been mentioned already is Steve Maskery's table saw safety DVD: he goes through the construction of alternative forms of guard and new riving knives and all that in there, IMO it's worth the investment.
 

Einsteinsdog

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Thanks to all for the advice given.

Without being particularly offended @kev I think that you might have the wrong end of the stick slightly, though I appreciate your advice all the same; even if its just how important the safety aspects truly are. As yet, I am taking as many precautions as I am able to; I have not removed the riving knife, installed a dado cutter or removed the guard so my question was to see whether this is something that was remotely safe. If anything at the moment I am too terrified to remove any safety features, and apparently with good cause.

@Jake, thanks for your advice specifically as you have answered one of the main problems that I have. My riving knife that came with my Charnwood is about 10 mm above the top of the saw blade which means that making non-through cuts is impossible. I am keen if possible to make sure that the knife stays on and so having a slightly lower knife that allows the material to be passed over the top whilst keeping it in place is a good idea.

From the advice above I think that I will forget stacked dados completely, look in to the DVDs by Steve Maskery and investigate buying/building an adjustable overhead guard so that I can keep it in place at all times even when making non-through cuts.

Here's to keeping both my hands!
 

woodbloke

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Einsteinsdog":3h4xp199 said:
Thanks to all for the advice given.
As yet, I am taking as many precautions as I am able to; I have not removed the riving knife, installed a dado cutter or removed the guard so my question was to see whether this is something that was remotely safe. If anything at the moment I am too terrified to remove any safety features, and apparently with good cause.

My riving knife that came with my Charnwood is about 10 mm above the top of the saw blade which means that making non-through cuts is impossible. I am keen if possible to make sure that the knife stays on and so having a slightly lower knife that allows the material to be passed over the top whilst keeping it in place is a good idea.

From the advice above I think that I will forget stacked dados completely, look in to the DVDs by Steve Maskery and investigate buying/building an adjustable overhead guard so that I can keep it in place at all times even when making non-through cuts.

Here's to keeping both my hands!
My two euro's worth. Some excellent given thus far by all, but as ever the debate over dado heads continues. Fwiw I wouldn't ever use them and as others have rightly said, there are other ways to achieve the same result with a lot less risk to the operator. The riving knife should be as close as is practical to the saw blade, on my Charnwood W650 it's around 3 or 4mm away. However, it's not the original one (and neither is the crown guard) but still sits higher than the top of the saw blade. For deep cutting at more than the capacity of the table saw, then a bandsaw is the preferred option - Rob
 

marcros

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safety issues aside, what the American shows do not show you is the amount of time spent changing the blade to a dado head, setting it to size, making a couple of cuts, changing it back to standard blade, squaring it etc. For general use it is probably not worth the hassle- I dare bet if you had one, after a couple of times it would not be the tool that you used.
 

Karl

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marcros":2zxm2kcd said:
safety issues aside, what the American shows do not show you is the amount of time spent changing the blade to a dado head, setting it to size, making a couple of cuts, changing it back to standard blade, squaring it etc. For general use it is probably not worth the hassle- I dare bet if you had one, after a couple of times it would not be the tool that you used.
I hear this time issue against dado blades on a regular basis.

It takes less time than you may think, particularly if you know (from experience) which shims/cutters you need for a given width of groove.

Seriously, I can change my t/s from standard form to having the grooving cutter fitted with guard in place in about 2 mins. I couldn't clean up the crud which the router creates in 2mins :lol:
 

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