My drivers education teacher in high school made a big deal about the difference between accidents and collisions. His point was that most of what we call accidents, events that occur unexpectedly and unintentionally, are really collisions, preventable events that happen because of a lack of control or a lapse of attention. In reviewing the responses to our recent table saw safety survey and reading about the recent lawsuit about a table saw injury, I couldn’t help but thinking most table saw injuries could be prevented with more understanding about how the machines work, and how to keep the work under the operator’s control.
In 2007 and 2008, we ran a series of articles written by Marc Adams that detailed the safe operation of woodworking machinery of all types. What set this series apart is that they are based on understanding all the forces at work when we stick pieces of wood into sharp spinning metal. With that understanding you won’t take unnecessary risks, and the quality of your work will improve. We don’t have to take a test or get a license to operate a table saw, we buy them, plug them in and go to work.
If you haven’t had any training in using a table saw, you are running a considerable risk of injuring yourself, or a loved one. There are many references you can read, and classes you can take. We are making two of Marc’s articles, Woodworking Essentials: Table Saws for our October 2008 issue and Avoid Kickback at the Table Saw from our November 2008 issue available online for free.