If you own a table saw, you know that it is a tool that requires you to take great care for your safety as you operate it. An unnoticed nail in a plank of wood can become a projectile, and a hazard to anyone in the area. A moment of distraction could lead to the operator getting too close to the whirring blade; a serious injury can happen in seconds.

This article looks at the table saw; the potential dangers associated with it; security measures that should be taken; and devices that can prevent accidents. We also take a look at who should not use this tool.

How often do injuries happen?

In America, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, compiles statistics on table saw injuries. In 2003, they reported that there 38,000 visits to the emergency room were as the result of being injured while operating a table saw. Some accidents are as the result of the kickback of the wood being cut, and others from direct contact from the saw. Serious injuries mean time away from work, significant medical bills, and the emotional and physical pain associated with such a trauma. There are situations where a body part, like a hand, is completely severed, leaving the individual with considerable life struggles.

 

What are some potential dangers in operating a table saw?

      • Loose clothing
        Clothing sometimes get caught in the blade of the table saw; this is generally when the operator is wearing clothes that hang on the body, as opposed to fitting snuggly. This is clearly a danger as if clothing is pulled into the blade, the physical body is as well.
      • Projectiles
        Nails, wood chips, and sawdust can fly out from the table saw at a considerable speed. A small wood chip can cut the surface of skin or seriously injure an eye. Table saw operators have frequently been injured when struck with such a projectile.
      • Falling
        We sometimes fall. If we fall when we are operating a table saw, the consequences could be tragic. A table saw operator pushes wood through the saw; using excessive force in pushing spikes up the risk of a fall.
      • Dull bladesA dull table saw blade can lead to injury as the wood being cut may be kicked back at you. A well-oiled, sharp blade cuts smoothly; a dull blade may cause dangerous fits and starts.
      • Wet wood
        Wood that is not dry should not be cut; wet wood can slide and slip and cause an injury.

 

Any table saw operator must ensure that he has taken appropriate security measures before he cuts his first piece of wood.

Protective Measures

    • Protect your eyes
      A table saw operator must protect his eyes from garden-variety sawdust and possible projectiles by wearing safety glasses or goggles. A face mask can be used to protect the entire face.
    • Choose your footwear carefully
      Wearing non-slip shoes or boots is essential when operating a table saw. It is easy to slip when pushing a piece of wood through a table saw, let your footwear help keep your body in place.
    • Stand in the proper place
      Projectiles, if they do fly out, will likely do so in line with the table saw blade. The blade operator, therefore, should not stand directly in the line with the blade.
    • Set the blade at the proper height
      If a table saw blade is set too high above the wood being cut, there is a danger that, if you do slip, you will experience a serious cut. How high is too high? The table saw blade should not be set higher than 6 millimeters above the stock.
    • Pay attention
      This is a simple security measure but an important one. If you are talking to a family member or friend while operating a table saw, you are not paying enough attention to the task at hand. Turn off the table saw, have your conversation, and then resume work.

Are there devices that can help to prevent table saw accidents?

 

table-saw-blade-guardPrevent severed fingers with this table saw blade guard!

  • A dust mask
    Wearing a dust mask can keep dust from entering your lungs; this is an essential piece of safety equipment for table saw operators.
  • A push stick
    A sturdy push stick is an invaluable tool for operators of table saws. If a piece of wood is narrow, this stick can be used to push the wood through the saw, preventing the operator from getting dangerously close to the blade.
  • A hood
    The blade of the table saw should be covered with a hood. This is crucial as should a table saw operator be unlucky enough to fall, he will hit a hood and not a whizzing blade.

Let’s move from the precautions that table saw owners can take, including buying some safety devices, to who should use a table saw – because not everyone should.

 

Who should use a table saw?

A table saw can be used safely by those who have taken the time to learn how to operate it in a responsible way. Let us look at who should probably not use the table saw.

One-time users

Someone who does own a table saw but finds themselves wanting some wood cut, perhaps for some table legs or a small wooden chest should probably not operate the saw himself. It is smarter to ask the table saw owner to cut your wood than to ask to borrow the table saw.

Youth

Yes, there are plenty of teenagers who are responsible beings. But a table saw is a dangerous tool that is best left to adults.

Physical limitations

If you have a physical limitation of some kinds that limits your ability to stand firmly on a floor or makes it difficult for you to firmly grasp a piece of wood, you should consider asking for some help in sawing your wood. Falling or letting a piece of wood slip are not infrequent occurrences.

This article points out some dangers that lie in operating a table saw: cut safely.