GWOT: Global War on Tablesaws

I just read another post about a fellow who hurt himself on his table saw. I think it takes guts to report an injury like this on a wood working forum and I applaud all who do. Unfortunately, I’ve seen several such posts and I don’t read the “Normal” forums.

I make all sorts of mistakes in my shop. I think I’m a little clumsy in some ways. But none of my accidents have or even have the potential to rob me of my digits. And I guess I’m wondering how long we’re going to sit here and do nothing about the table saw. We express our sympathies, suggest one can continue doing good work without one’s fingers (even though we know it’s not true) and move on.

I’m sympathetic to the issue: A basketball injury left me with a poorly functioning right forefinger. The middle joint dislocated while blocking a chest pass and the upper bone punched thru the skin on the inside of my hand. All the ligaments and tendons were damaged. It’s a common injury for basketball players but a devastating one for woodworkers who enjoy fixing cars. I have very little grip in my right hand, and my hand aches (even after 13 years) following a hard day’s work. I was told my middle finger would compensate. It hasn’t. My wife has to open the pickle jars. This is a tiny glimmer of what it must be like to lose even a portion of a finger.

So I’m thinking it’s time to declare all out war on table saws. There are people in this world who have to use table saws. But I’m not convinced any of us are among them. There are alternatives. I’m looking to the woodworking press (in all its forms) to take the lead here. Its been (we) the press that have told woodworkers the table saw is a “must have” and “essential tool”. We have called it the “heart of the workshop” and depicted it prominently in photos and articles. I think it’s high time we start having frank discussions about the darker side of this tool. In short, it’s dangerous and its unnecessary.

I suspect that many injuries go unreported and woodworkers need to know that in the flash of a second, your future work can be very different. I don’t believe there should be a home in any shop for a tool that can do this. Paraphrasing President Bush, we need to route these tools from the basements where they hide and bring them to justice.

Here’s what I propose: I’d like to see a series of articles in PW (other magazines are welcome to join, Asa) about the risks and reasonable alternatives. I think some such articles have been run, but I’d like to see them repackaged and focused specifically on replacing the table saw. I think Europeans have a few interesting tools like the rail based Festool products. Maybe Marc Spagnuolo can help. They also have special guards. I learned this from Kelly Mehler who’s Felder equipped shop is a sight to behold. Kelly has used table saws and taught students how to use them for a long time. I can tell you, he’s no great fan of the table saw and freely admits it scares him.


Table Saw Magic? The only thing magic about the table saw is that it can rob you of your fingers in the blink of an eye. No offense to Norm, but I’m not crazy about the reproduction in the background. I recall that episode and thought it lacked all the charm of the original. Had Norm used his hand planes and saws (yes he has them) I think it would have been a nicer project. Interestingly, Jim Tolpin, author of “Table Saw Magic” has recently given away his stationary power tools. Tolpin is going unplugged. At least Norm has left the guards on. How many of you have guards on your table saws?

Chris Schwarz recently editorialized about table saw law suits that may force the industry to incorporate expensive guards. I took Chris’ comments to mean he was concerned about the lawsuits pricing some woodworkers out the hobby, or pricing some manufacturers out of business. In my opinion, I think we should employ the “preemptive counterstrike”. If you need this saw to make your living, you need the additional safety equipment. If you are looking to do weekend projects or are new to the hobby, skip the table saw all together.

It has been my experience that a few people, a few articles, and consistent public statements can affect change. This is your chance to get in on the ground floor. It isn’t true that table saws are essential tools. They aren’t. Woodworkers need to see and hear from us on this issue before someone else gets hurt. Let’s put table saws on the endangered species list. Not illegal, not extinct. Endangered.

Adam

56 thoughts on “GWOT: Global War on Tablesaws

  1. theCarpentersShop

    Adam, I suppose that I am the “other fellow…”, and as you and so many others in this particular forum have pointed out, safety is tantamount when using these tools of the devil, and I will be the first to admit that I ignored that advice. And it cost me the feeling in my thumb, but thank the Lord, I still HAVE said thumb.
    But ban power tools? Would you ban automobiles, as they are responsible for far more injuries and deaths, even to innocent bystanders, than any power tool you care to name. I think now. However someone, or several someones, mentioned “Safe Use” training courses for purchasing users. Not a bad idea, but do we really need more regulation? Again, I think not. However, I recently saw a demonstration of a real ‘digit saver’ for table saws, and I think it could be adapted for many other power tools. During the demonstration of that device, a hot dog was fed into a spinning sawblade, but before you could say “Oh S***!!”, that saw shut itself down and applied the brakes to the blade. The hotdog? Unscathed., Now, if anyone wants to ‘regulate’ the power tool trades, then require that that little gizmo be built into every power tool made. There would be a slight (I hope) increase in cost of tools, but hopefully greed would stay out of the way of common sense this time, and keep things affordable. How does that strike you?

  2. BoredCutter

    Mr. Cherubini,

    I applaud and appreciate your empassioned point of view.

    Here is mine.
    I have been an active and rather busy woodworker for quite sometime now.
    I am (essentially) a one-man shop.
    I rely on, and almost continuously use, a 5 HP Delta Unisaw. It allows me to rip cut through 8/4 walnut, maple and Purpleheart stock in an efficient manner.
    I will now give you a great weapon to use against fools like me who use power tools everyday:I do NOT use ANY of the ‘lawyer guards’, except for the riving knife. Surprised? Hold on to your powdered wig and knickers…. I can count to 10 using my fingers just fine.

    How is that even possible???? It isn’t hard to conceive of the answer; I exercise due care, respect for the tool and common sense. Somehow, as incongruous as it may seem to you, Mr. Cherubini…. I am unscathed!!!! How is this possible without key pressure being put on tablesaw manufacturers??? Don’t know, don’t care. Too busy using safe working techniques and getting on with my work.

    We (and the silent majority similar to us) do NOT need anyone (not even you, sir) telling us how or what to use in our craft, or what may or may not be marketed. That is not to say I was not saddened to hear of your basketball injury; I was. I am just guessing that you’re one of those guys who believes heavily in the idea that freedom of choice is fine as long as it’s heavily legislated.

    I am sorry about your basketball injury, but I can’t help wondering…..have you have taken up the charge to outlaw THAT fine sport as well?

    I don’t dare mention my beloved bandsaw, routers and jointer/planer machines — you won’t sleep a wink, you poor thing!

  3. sailorjoe

    Adam, it’s been almost three years since this thread was started. From your perspective, have you seen any changes in the woodworking press along the lines of providing alternatives to table saw use as a matter of course in how projects are put together? Has your article writing changed significantly in some way relative to your thesis in this thread? Or is subject now moot, having been overtaken by newer issues? Thanks.

  4. larrydwilliams

    I’m a hand tool guy although I have to confess to occasional use of a circular saw, cordless drill and even a router. I use hand tools for the satisfaction of developing a skill. Still, after ripping 6/4 quarter-sawn white oak for table legs, I long for a quicker way to get closer to an end result. I have to set my gauge mark nearly a quarter inch beyond the finished dimension to allow for saw drift and the amount of wood I have to remove to get to a square and straight face. Do need a table saw? No! Do I want a table saw? Not often. Do they frighten me? They sure do. I’ve given myself some pretty good nicks with hand saws, chisels and even hand planes. Yes, hand planes. If I can go for a couple of months of safe use of hand tools, then maybe I’ll think about whether I want to spend the money and dedicate the space for a table saw, or maybe a band saw instead.

  5. uncle ben

    Yes, and while we’re at it, lets go to war on lawn mowers, chain saws, garbage disposals…and don’t get me started on cars, since they actually take lives everyday, not just remove appendages. Right?

    What about the band saw? It’s quite a dangerous power tool as well, and I would be willing to bet that the only reason there are more table saw injuries is because that are FAR more tablesaws in daily use than band saws.

    Adam, you said, “I think it’s high time we start having frank discussions about the darker side of this tool.” Have you read the instruction manual for any table saw on the market? Just pick any brand and model and they will tell you all about the dark side of this tool. No one, not even the people making and selling them, tell buyers that it is not dangerous, quite the contrary. But as with ANYTHING that is sharp and/or powerful, rather it be a table saw or a car, they can hurt you if you are not careful and this is a risk that individuals choose to take on a daily basis.

  6. Gary

    Some one needs to seriously address the question of why so many table saws users employ unsafe techniques and remove standard safety equipment. I believe these users as a group are rational people and really don’t want to endanger themselves anymore than they need to in accomplishing their objective. I don’t think these same folks drive with their eyes closed and disable their brakes.
    I don’t know why, but perhaps the table saw is not as "versatile" as claimed and the safety equipment is not designed very well for its intended uses. Couple that with ignorance, distractions, poorly written manuals, and piece of wood being pushed into a sharp blade spinning at around 3000 rpm and you’d expect a lot of injuries. I don’t think the safety issue is unique to the table saw either.

  7. Adam Cherubini

    "I for one don`t want to go back to the dark ages where I spend a week flattening and preparing material before I actually start to make something. My two cents."

    Nobody ever spent a week flattening lumber "in the dark ages" and that’s kinda the point here. That widespread belief inadvertantly supports power tool sales and we haven’t done a good enough job in the press of challenging it.

    Adam

  8. Dave C.

    I’m sorry Adam if that came out harsh but I am a fan of Norm. As woodworkers we can learn so much. One, that he has spent his life in woodworking, using power tools and still has all his digits. Obviously he understands safety and performing operations properly. Perhaps we should be asking him for advice.

    James. You are a salesman and because of that you view it at a different angle-it doesn’t matter, sell another saw, if someone gets injured then you will stand behind them if they sue the manufacturer. Do you actually believe what you are selling then? We can sit here and debate about the virtues and the engineering of the table saw. In fact, it has been gone over for some fifty odd years. North America does not like to change their patterns nor their foundries hence their reluctance to adopt a riving knife for as long as they have. European saw are wonderful tools, sliding panel saws are wonderful. If you have a cabinet shop you just can’t survive with a sliding table saw. There are many operations where the slider actually put the user in a much more precarious position then a cabinet saw. I for one need both.

    From what I read many injuries can be attributed back to a user being tired or performing an operation completely incorrectly. I believe the Sawstop will help in those instances but it still prevents the user from actually how to perform the operation better. Workers need to understand their body and how much rest they need to perform at a peek level. At the end of the day if someone is tired perhaps they should just leave the power operation alone.

    We live in an age when many more home and hobby woodworkers have taken up the craft-perhaps leading to a spike in injuries as well. Perhaps, those individuals should have to pass some techinical course before being allowed to purchase and industrial machine. We do live in an age where many people have the means to have a very well equipped shop.

    I believe some small techinical things need to be addressed. Perhaps making all saws have some crosscut sliding table of some sort instead of relying on the end user to make one. Riving knives are now standard. Perhaps getting Sawstop to licence their technology to all manufacturers so they can produce a line very similar. Then is the end user can have a choice and if they don`t buy the technology then they would have no right to take legal action on the manufacturer. The end user must assume some responsibility. I for one don`t want to go back to the dark ages where I spend a week flattening and preparing material before I actually start to make something. My two cents.

  9. James Watriss

    I’ll try and fail to keep this concise. This is a list of the points and thoughts that I would use to start my reply, however it would be shaped.

    -After selling tools for 3 years, I never, ever, ever had to actually ask the purchaser if they knew how to use it. The only time I refused service was to an elderly gentleman who looked like he was having a hard enough time holding himself up without holding a router. I figured my meddling would help keep him safe. If there is any lawsuit I would stand behind, it would be one where the manufacturers were required by law to send their customers through a tool-specific certification course before handing them the keys to their new device that takes small chunks out of larger chunks… of any material. Hands included.

    -After the great London fire, I wonder if people had these same kinds of conversations about using fire?

    -My shop-mate’s 16" sliding table Oliver is a woodworking monster. It creates a stiff breeze in regular operation. And it gives me the willies. My SawStop, by contrast, runs quietly, smoothly, and doesn’t seem quite as menacing. So I have a vague feeling that some of the industrial age woodworkers had a different sense of safety. Older tools were enormous, terrifyingly efficient, and I’m convinced left no doubt to their ability to do serious damage. And I have a feeling that they’d strike a similar "caution, but not undue fear" kind of mentality into anyone, where modern tools with their cleaner lines and quieter operation seem safer, and less menacing… as they must, if they’re going to sell.

    -I’m not surprised that this has broken down into a fight derived from people defending their table saws. I wish it had evolved into a conversation about how to more effectively educate the masses who don’t know any better… before they bring their new toys home. Or how to build a better table saw that would be just as effective, but used in a different, safer way. I wonder what the statistics are on european style table saws? And is it possible that they’ve found a safer way?

    -Woodworkers are a superstitious, cowardly lot, so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the dark ages. Dirty. Frumpy. And devoid of electrically powered tools.

    -I think that operations as described should include the guards in the pictures. It’s easy to get access to the business end of the tool when the guard’s not in the way. Apologies to Marc, but the guard typically feels like it’s in the way. I’m sure aftermarket guards are better, but the stock ones generally beg to be removed for productivity’s sake. The motorcycle helmet equivalent of some of these guards would be excessively heavy, with a small, non-opening visor, and made of the cheapest stuff they could make it out of. Demonstrating techniques without the guard in place will only show the technique that will subsequently have to be modified later… so it doesn’t really teach much.

    -I get that this thread is an old one by now. But given that the line of discussion is ongoing, how can we bring all woodworkers to the table and have a safety discussion without raising hackles, and ensuring productivity? Maybe we need to design a guard that will keep errant bloggers from thrusting the conversation into hazardous rhetoric? Injured feelings seem to halt all production when it comes to talking safety. Or, maybe those who come to the table should have the good woodworking sense to keep the parts of their opinions that they value clear of the rapidly spinning conversation, so that they don’t automatically feel injured or threatened by a well-made point.

    That’s all the grenades I’ve got to throw for now… keep up the good work.

    James

  10. Adam Cherubini

    Dave,

    You’re yelling at the wrong guy. I like Norm. I thought the picture was a good one because Norm sort of represents modern american woodworking. That I don’t like teh project behind him is just extra, and I thought it was interesting.

    I care about my fellow woodworkers. I meet a lot of them. I want them to stay safe.

    In an earlier post (don’t expect you to read them all now- there are so many) I’m pretty sure I said i don’t like the law suits or their effects. I call it legislating from the bench. Where I plug into this is where I feel we as a community haven’t done enough to protect our brother and sister woodworkers. I think we’ve recommended a dangerous and possibly unnecessary tool to folks and they’ve been injured. Before someone else we know or love gets hurt, I think we should openly acknowledge the dangers and discuss alternatives.

    I’m finishing up a workbench article that I hope Megan will like (after my insane comment on Chris’ blog here:

    http://www.popularwoodworking.com/woodworking-blogs/chris-schwarz-blog/note-to-self-on-future-hires

    After that, I’ll write some more about table saws.

    Adam

  11. Dave C.

    First of all shame on the man who sued the table saw manufacturer-I would be embarrassed if I were him. Secondly, double shame on the judge who didn’t throw the case out of court and file it under ‘stupidity’. I’m sorry but it seems today everyone seems to be able to sue for some ridiculous reason.

    Another point Adam. You draw Norm Abrham into your discussion. Again Norm gets racked through the coals. At the beginning of every show he starts with safety-yet again, you are critical. Then a quick jab at the project behind him. He has motivated thousands of people to start woodworking. Instead of looking at him as a model, a man that has spent his life woodworking and still has all his digits-I wonder why Adam? Secondly, is your work any better?

    I have no problem with anyone wanting to use hand tools alone or power tools. It is their choice to do so. For many, power machinery saves us time so we can use hand tools for the refinement of the work and bring our woodworking to a new level. To take your approach, perhaps we should have still have lumber yard pits with two sawyers pulling a large bowsaw to cut our rough lumber and then have a team of workers to go at them with scrub planes to start the flattening process.

    This is absurd really. What happens in North America is that the end user assumes no responsibility-blame it on the manufacturer that they woke up and are completely oblivious to using a table saw, or any machinery, safely and effectively. They injure themselves and it’s the manufacturers responsibility that they were careless.

    There is a book called an instruction manual with every new table saw purchase-perhaps the manufacturers should counter sue for not reading that manual.

    We should not be trying to turn back the clock here but move forward and make it mandatory that new users be required to learn about table saw safety and use the tool effectively. Today it is the table saw, tomorrow the jointer, planer, router, bandsaw and whatever other piece of machinery. When does this stop? I for one love my cabinet saw, bandsaw, jointer, planer, numerous routers, mortiser etc, just as much as my handtools.

    And to finish up. Thank you Norm Abrham for filling my Saturday afternoons with his cheerful personality.

    Dave

  12. Adam Cherubini

    "I could name something I depend on my tablesaw for, and then folks can chime in on some alternatives. Hmm…gears are turning…."

    Bring it on, Marc! :) Good idea.

    "So the real problem is that people are using the tool in an unsafe way.’

    I think that’s real life tho. I don’t think these are stupid people or inexperienced people who are getting hurt. Sam Maloof cut himself.

    Personally, I’d prefer to use tools that are forgiving of my humanity. Likewise, I prefer to fly in airplanes rather than helicopters for the same reason.

    If you cut yourself with a chisel, you get stitches. If you cut yourself with a table saw, you never pick your nose again! (now there’s a quote.)

    Adam
    P.S. Thanks for joining in Marc. This has been a better conversation because you stepped in.

  13. Marc Spagnuolo

    Took me a while to respond. Its been a busy week in my shop.

    When you pose the question like that Adam, its very compelling. "Is this tool worth the risk for normal woodworkers?" Well first off, I have yet to meet a normal woodworker. Most of us are pretty weird. :) But seriously though, I think the difficulty I have is with the assumption of an inherent danger in the tool. Proper training, safety gear, and a little common sense make the tablesaw no more dangerous than any other tool in the shop (just my opinion). But the problem is, many new woodworkers will purchase a tablesaw without training, safety gear, OR common sense. Obviously this is bad. We also have a situation where the veterans among us simply neglect to follow the rules they’ve been taught, or figure they haven’t been bitten yet so why bother, and whammo, they receive an injury.

    Now I won’t pretend to be aware of any statistics on this, but can anyone tell me of an instance where a person was injured at the tablesaw while using a splitter, a guard, and a push stick? Bueller? Bueller? If it has happened, the frequency must be so low that its non-significant. So the real problem is that people are using the tool in an unsafe way.

    There is a ton of info out there on tablesaw safety, but of course we have that classic issue of leading the horse to water. You could put a holographic safety video with dancing girls and a free slice of pie in every new tablesaw box and if its filed under the heading SAFETY, most folks will ignore it or simply "read it later". Not sure why people do that.

    So to come back full circle, I don’t think the average home hobbyist NEEDS a tablesaw, as evidenced by the countless woodworkers who produce amazing work without one. And using a tablesaw without the guards is absolutely an unnecessary risk, no doubt about it. So if its safe to assume that most people will continue to use the saws in an unsafe way, then perhaps there IS a good justification for moving education toward tablesaw alternatives. But I am a fan of the tablesaw and I count on it daily for its speed, reliability, and versatility. So I will continue to champion its use (with safety in mind). But I certainly don’t see the harm in teaching alternatives.

    Because of my own curiosity, I would love to start a forum thread that provides somewhat of a point/counter-point discussion on woodworking techniques. I could name something I depend on my tablesaw for, and then folks can chime in on some alternatives. Hmm…gears are turning….

  14. Bruce Jackson

    Adam,
    In the spirit of Gary’s post calling for special interest publications from Popular Woodworking, Fine Woodworking, Wood, American Woodworker, among others, where hand tools are the center, I wouldn’t mind another special interest publication where garage shops are featured.

    We see the truly professionalized shops of contributors, almost all of them featured the table saw as the centerpiece. Those of us who had to carve out a space for anything in the garage have had to make do with that limited space. To be fair, FWW does have one contributing editor who has a “garage” workshop, but the high class of his shop has left me wondering if he has to deal with a wife who uses the couple’s buggy in her work and usually makes it a point to come home while the sun is still up for several hours to come. And, to boot, she insists on parking the car in the shop which she calls the garage. So, everything woodworking has be rolled away to make room for the car.

    Anyway, here are some ground rules I’m offering for glossy pictures of a “true” garage shop:

    a. Table saws, if any, must be stowed or stowable in an area no larger than 2’ x 3’. That pretty much eliminates the fancy saws which in my garage (at least) would like the owner is trying to park an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Panama Canal;

    b. If the woodworker is shown working on a task which does not require the use of the table saw, said table saw must be stowed (and depicted as stowed);

    c. All tools otherwise on stands must be on wheels (manufactured or shop-made mobile bases or casters);

    d. All benches, assembly tables, and other workstations must also be on wheels; and

    e. Lawn mowers and garden tools must be part of at least two pictures of the woodworker’s garage shop. Hey, in real life these days, a garage shop is as good as it gets. Because I use mostly Craftsman tools, including the mower, the photographer (or the publication) could sell the pictures of my shop to Sears as advertising copy. Just a thought. (The drill press is an old import from South Korea.)

    1. leonardalvarez

      It seems clear that any sort of debate framed as table saw versus hand tools will not be resolved on this forum or any other. I think the important thing about Adam’s discussion, though, is in highlighting the way a woodworking shop is thought of. The images that have become most popularized around the idea of a woodworking shop do privilege the table saw among other power tools. I’d been a reader of the leading woodworking magazines for a while before actually trying to make things from wood in my garage. Between those magazines and my own wood shop class from junior high school many years ago, the image I had was one of power tools. It’s good to see that woodworkers and writers such as Schwarz are popularizing hand tools and that we are able to at least conceive of a woodworking space in terms that are not limited to large power tools.

  15. Gary

    Adam,
    Like yourself, I do not have the answers to this safety issue. The problem, I think, lies not with the table saw but with the people who use it. One only has to look at a few episodes of “America’s Funniest Videos” or “StupidVideos” on the web to see examples of this. We seem bent on turning even the most mundane things into accidents. Most of the time, we are the ones at fault. I remember reading an article which made the comment something like “what is the thing most men say before they hurt themselves – ‘Watch this!” I also remember reading (but can’t place where, so don’t quote me) in an article on shop safety, that many of the men interviewed after a serious tools injury knew that what they were doing was not safe, but that they were either too much in a hurry to go through the proper setup, or thought that they could get by ‘just this one time’. I seem to remember Marc Spagnuolo, in one of his video podcasts, showed his bleeding hand after a mishap with either the jointer or router table where he tried to shortcut a process but got bit with the board catching on the blade and slamming the wood back into his palm, he showed the result to his hand as a warning to other woodworkers (Marc- if I remembered this incorrectly, please speak up and correct me.) Even FWW is guilty of publishing pictures of people doing things in an unsafe way (the one I recall most vividly is a guy cutting a dado in a very thin piece of stock – I think it was a window muntin – with no push stick and his fingers on inches away from a running blade). Although they often state that guards are removed for photo purposes only, a better approach may be to have their artist draw the operation so that a person can “see thru” the guard or push stick, and in that way there would be no doubt as to what is the safest way to do the operation.

    Everywhere you look there seems to be warnings; does it really change the way we work? A while back, I bought a 6’ folding ladder; it had 9 different warning labels on it. I have often wanted to show up on the New Yankee Workshop just after Norm says “…and there is no more important safety rule than to wear these, safety glasses.” And, while pointing to my head, scream “No…There is no more important safety rule than to USE THIS, common sense, and the brains we were given.” Although I disagree with your response to my first post, when you stated, “I think guys don’t think much about their table saws”, (as most the woodworkers I have known are VERY aware of the dangers of a table saw or any power tool, and usually treat them with a great deal of respect), the problem is that we don’t always practice what we preach. Taking into account all that has, and is, being written on shop safety, how much more of it will actually change the way we do things. If your motive for the GWOT blog was to increase the awareness of table saw safety, and the alternatives to its use, than perhaps you, Chris Swartz, Glenn Huey, and the rest at PW could spearhead a collaboration with the other woodworking publication and key woodworking bloggers with surveys from actual woodworkers to find out what the REAL numbers are regarding woodworking injuries and how best to address the issue in a way that woodworkers will actually respond to, (articles that don’t just mention safety, but are dedicated to it; free videos on the proper use of power tools; free videos on alternatives, such as hand tools, to different power tools). Let’s encourage the woodworking press, along with woodworkers, to be the ones to take affirmative action on deciding what constitutes safe tools and safe shops, and not leave it to the lawyers and politicians.

    A brief explanation on my using the term “REAL” numbers. Before I became a chiropractor, I worked at many different jobs, but most seem to include the table saw. At 16, I drove tractor for a farmer who had a table saw in his shed, I was a sawyer/carpenter in a camper factory, I built log homes in a ‘spiritual’ community where we snaked the logs down the mountain to the main roads with mules and we had our own portable saw mill with its 4’ fully exposed blade and a ShopSmith for woodworking, I worked as a carpenter on construction sites where there were miter saws and table saws for anyone to use, I worked in the meat industry for a short spell where there were band saws and sliding table saws to cut huge pieces of meat, I worked at a lumber yard where we used a panel saw and a table saw to cut wood for customers, I did a very short stent working in a frozen food processing plant where I sat in front of a twin-bladed table saw feeding it corn cobs (what, you thought they grew that way – with their ends cut off all even like that), and I even worked in a plumbing warehouse where we had an ancient benchtop table saw that I dusted off so I could make some shelves to store parts. The reason for this list is to show that there are a lot of “table saws” out there which have little to do with the woodworking hobbyist or professional furniture maker. So out of those 30,000 who were injured, just how many were woodworkers (and no, I don’t think the lumber industry as a whole should included in the woodworker’s numbers). I think it would be a great benefit to have a survey of WOODWORKERS who have been injured and when (as old table saws were horribly dangerous and shop safety was chiefly ignored as was illustrated in a couple of episodes by Roy Underhill – yes, THAT Roy Underhill [who recently led a chant at WIA of “Just say no to power tools” {good grief, now power tool users are being classed with cokeheads}] when in one episode he excitedly explored a steam powered small mill and in another, went through a window sash making shop where all the machines were belt-driven and most were over 100 years old. Now those were some scary machines and showed quite well just how far we have come in regards to safety). Anyway, these REAL numbers could help us as a woodworking community pin-point were the problem really is and how best to improve it.

    As a final thought, I would like to make this suggestion; I would be EXTREMELY interested in seeing a quarterly magazine dedicate to making contemporary and period furniture using only hand tools (where you could even take glossy pictures of all those cool hand tools, just like they do with table saws). I am sure there are many serious hobbyist and professional woodworkers who fall into the power tool user class that would be thrilled with reading about and exploring how to expand their craft with professionally written articles on hand tools. I would make these suggestions: one, focus on the serious woodworker and not on how to make a CD/DVD holder that looks like something a cub scout could do, and two, leave out the stuff on how hand tools are superior because power tools are so horribly dangerous, and instead, focus on the peace, joy and pride that working with hand tools bring. I suspect you will win far more converts that way. And many might be surprised to learn that you can achieve a better surface and create better joints faster using only hand tools in many situations.

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