§ by Joel Hess on January 10th, 2008
At least a half dozen times, I’ve experienced serious kickback while using my table saw. Not once during any of those times though did I feel that I was doing something that was inherently dangerous. I almost always use my guards and push blocks. I take my time to set up my saw for safe, accurate cuts. I’ve even been known to step back and question whether there is a better way to complete an operation that I’m not 100% comfortable with.
And still, I’ve experienced situations that could have resulted in bodily injury.
Once I was knocked on my keester when a workpiece I was ripping pinched the blade and got kicked back into my stomach. (I broke two cardinal woodworking safety rules during that particular procedure.) I don’t remember now what caused the kickback. But I’ll never forget how lucky I was not to have been injured more seriously. (Or the pain to my gut!) But none of us are perfect. Accidents happen and all you can do is hope they don’t happen to you. Right?
That’s why I was surprised while watching a recent segment of TOH, as a trim carpenter made a free-hand cut on the table saw. Frankly, I watched in disbelief as he made the cut and thought to myself, “Man, that just looks dangerous!” Norm Abram was standing there watching and I thought maybe he would say something, but he didn’t. I figured there would be a lot of people commenting about the segment on our woodworking forums. And there is a debate raging over at WoodNet. But, you may be surprised to learn that there are a lot of people defending the practice.
Several people have commented that the practice of pushing a piece freehand past a spinning table saw blade is an acceptable practice by professional trim carpenters. It may be. And the guy managed to make the cut during the show without any problem. But I can tell you one thing….I’m never going to try it.
What’s your response?