What Not to Do with a Table Saw?

A table saw is a powerful and versatile tool that can make precise and accurate cuts in wood, metal, plastic, and other materials. However, it can also be very dangerous if not used properly. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, table saws cause more than 30,000 injuries and 4,000 amputations every year. Therefore, it is essential to know what not to do with a table saw and how to avoid common mistakes that can lead to serious accidents.

The most important thing to avoid when using a table saw is to touch the blade or let any part of your body get close to it. The blade spins at a high speed and can cut through flesh and bone in an instant. Even a slight contact can result in severe injury or loss of limb. You should always keep your hands, fingers, arms, and other body parts at least six inches away from the blade at all times.

How to Use a Table Saw Safely

Besides keeping your distance from the blade, there are other safety precautions that you should follow when using a table saw. Here are some of the most important ones:

Wear proper protective gear. You should always wear safety glasses, gloves, ear plugs, and a dust mask when operating a table saw. These will protect your eyes, ears, hands, and lungs from flying debris, noise, and dust that can cause injuries or health problems.

Use the right blade for the material and the cut. Different materials and cuts require different types of blades. For example, you should use a rip blade for cutting along the grain of wood, a crosscut blade for cutting across the grain, and a combination blade for both. You should also use a blade that is sharp, clean, and in good condition. A dull, dirty, or damaged blade can cause kickback, binding, burning, or splintering.

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Adjust the blade height and angle correctly. The blade height and angle determine the depth and direction of the cut. You should adjust the blade height so that it is slightly higher than the thickness of the material. This will reduce friction, heat, and wear on the blade and the material. You should also adjust the blade angle according to the desired angle of the cut. For example, if you want to make a 45-degree miter cut, you should tilt the blade to 45 degrees.

Use a fence, a miter gauge, or a sled to guide the material. A fence, a miter gauge, or a sled are devices that help you keep the material straight and aligned with the blade. They also prevent the material from moving or slipping during the cut. You should never freehand a cut on a table saw, as this can result in inaccurate, uneven, or unsafe cuts.

Use a push stick or a push block to feed the material. A push stick or a push block are tools that help you push the material through the blade without putting your hands or fingers in danger. You should use a push stick or a push block whenever the material is too narrow, too short, or too close to the blade. You should also use them when making a rip cut, a crosscut, or a dado cut.

Avoid kickback, binding, and pinching. Kickback, binding, and pinching are situations that occur when the blade catches or stops the material and throws it back at you with great force. They can cause serious injuries or damage to the table saw or the material. You can avoid kickback, binding, and pinching by using the right blade, adjusting the blade height and angle, using a splitter or a riving knife, using a fence or a miter gauge, and keeping the material flat and stable on the table.

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A table saw is a useful tool that can make many kinds of cuts in various materials. However, it can also be very dangerous if not used properly. You should always know what not to do with a table saw and how to avoid common mistakes that can lead to serious accidents. By following the safety precautions and tips mentioned above, you can use a table saw safely and effectively.