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Last week’s table saw safety survey generated a lot of interest and numerous responses. Around 6,000 participated and shared their experiences. Before we look at the results of the survey, a few words about the survey are in order. As many commenters pointed out, this was not a “scientific” survey.

With a sample of people who opted to participate, rather than a random sample, the data collected can’t be used to determine the chances of having an accident while using a table saw, nor can it be used to calculate the number of accidents likely to occur compared to the number of table saws in use. That wasn’t the goal. What we were after was a sampling of our readers, their experience in using saws, the type and severity of injuries they suffered and what safety equipment was or was not in place. We won’t be listing specific numbers; you’ll see the results in terms of about, nearly, most and some.

We last paid for a scientific study of our subscribers in 2005, and the percentages of readers who owned table saws and the number of years experience they have is in line with the results of the blog survey. The paid survey was about marketing our publication not about safety, so there were no questions about accidents to refer back to. Our motive in last week’s quick survey was to learn more about our readers and their experiences, not to sell anything, please or antagonize any advertisers, former advertisers or would-be advertisers. So here is what we know about those who took part in the survey:

Most of you own and use a table saw. A little more than half of you own a contractor’s or hybrid type saw, and almost a third have a 3hp or larger cabinet saw. Around 10 percent have a benchtop or portable saw, and less than 2 percent of those who responded have no table saw at all. Beginners were a distinct minority, less than 10 percent have only a year or two experience, about 30 percent have two to five years, and most of you have been using a table saw for five years or more. You’re a serious and experienced bunch; you have a significant investment in your machines, but the majority own middle-of-the-road machines.

And a lot of you have hurt yourselves with your table saws, about one in seven of those responding reported an injury serious enough that it required medical treatment. Here is where the statistically flawed sample of the survey shows up, and it makes sense to us that those who had been injured would be more likely to respond. Tangling with a table saw leaves a lasting impression, especially if, like me, you have a funny looking finger that you still notice 35 years after the fact.

When we wrote the survey, we gave three options for types of injuries: Being struck by something kicked back from the saw, having a hand or other part of the body come into contact with the blade as a result of a kickback, or moving your hand into the path of the blade.

There were other responses we didn’t anticipate, saws accidentally being turned on while changing a blade or checking the height of the blade, and one reader who, when he was 10 years old, stuck his fingers into the back side of a running blade, figuring it was the other side that did the cutting. Many of the injuries reported seemed mild to us. As a group you’re either very lucky (the curious 10-year-old reported that his bruised backside as a result of his mom seeing his wounds later in the day was more painful than his cut fingers) or we didn’t make it clear what we were looking for. We didn’t intend to count knuckles scraped during a blade change or a nick in the end of a push stick as table saw accidents, but some of our respondents did.

The good news is that most of the people responding have not had an accident at all, or at worst, what we termed a “close call” without an injury. Of those who did report an injury, slightly more than half didn’t require medical attention beyond first aid at home. Of the accidents that couldn’t be treated at home, three out of four were repaired with bandages or stitches. On the other hand, about one of five of reported injuries requiring treatment resulted in the loss of one or more fingers. Hands and fingers weren’t the only parts of the body to suffer; there were also injuries to eyes and soft tissues. Being in the way of a piece of wood kicked out of the saw left one reader without a spleen, and another missing a testicle.

We asked what safety equipment was in place when the injury occurred, and in about three out of four cases none was present. It would be easy to jump to a conclusion and say, “See, if you’d only left the guard on this wouldn’t have happened.” But there isn’t much evidence that guards or other safety devices can actually prevent accidents; their main purpose is to mitigate the damage after the operator loses control of the workpiece or places his or her hand in the path of the blade. About 10 percent of the reported injuries were on saws that were equipped with the stock splitter and guard, or a riving knife and guard. The severity of those injuries, including the loss of digits was within a percentage point of those injuries that occurred on saws without any safety equipment in place.

The frightening part of this survey was the number of table saw users who accept kickback as “something that happens” or simply weren’t paying attention to where their hands were, or where their hands might go if something went wrong while operating their saw. Moving the hand into the path of the blade was the most commonly reported cause of injury, accounting for six in 10 injuries. Three in 10 injuries were related to material kickback, either being struck by the material or having the hand pulled into the path of the blade.

In the October and November 2008 issues of Popular Woodworking, we printed articles on using a table saw safely, and on preventing kickback, written by Marc Adams, owner of the largest woodworking school in the country. We have decided to make those articles, as well as Marc’s safety rules for using the table saw available online. Look for links to those articles in a blog post to follow.

The one question I wish we had asked was this:

Looking back on your injury, what could you have done differently to prevent the incident from happening?

If you’ve had an injury while using your table saw, leave a comment if you would like to answer that question.

–Robert W. Lang

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Showing 36 comments
  • Skip Feld

    What could have been done to prevent my injury? I was cross-cutting some stiles to length when several of the cut-offs jambed between the blade and the rip fence. One off them flew back and lacerated my thumb. I probably needed stitches but you know how that goes. I don’t think any gaurd gaurds or even a Saw Stop would have prevented this accident. I should have known to move the rip fence further away and/or cleared the scraps when that "little voice" in my head told me.
    Regards, Skip Feld

  • Ken Hall

    Every accident I had was my own fault. I nearly lost an index finger and end of thumb by reaching across a moving blade to pick up a small piece I had cut. 34 stitches and loss of felling in the tip of my thumb, but still have 10 digits. I can’t even find the guard and splitter that came with my saw 20 or so years ago. Now I wait till the blade stops before reaching for any wood at the other end of the blade. Still no guard, not available.
    I learned never to use a molding head with a radial arm saw, fortunately the piece I was molding entered a cinder block instead of my body. Took me years to use a molding head again and that is only rarely. I manufactured a splitter after I had breakers trip when a piece of oak decided to grab the blade and stop it dead. Guards or not, safety needs a brain that is working. Shops are dangerous, thinking helps make them less so.

  • al

    The best tool that you can take into your shop always is your brain. If you tend to leave it at the door, don’t go in. Short of natural causes such as lighning strikes etc.,all accidents are caused. I’m not saying this lightly, but if you look back you can usually trace an accident to a cause. Whether it be lack of attention at the time, or a momentary diversion, or whatever. It should not take more than one trip into a wood shop to determine that it can be a dangerous place if you are not tuned in to what you are doing. There are more than enough safety books, blogs, and teachers out there to keep you safe when in the shop. Your responsibility is to heed the warnings and instructions. Don’t let some shyster lawyer with an idiot in tow going to court make the rules for the shop. Thanks to all of our new safety czars and rules etc., we are in more danger than ever before. You don’t have to get shot to respect what a gun can do, well the same applies to shop tools and your safety.

  • David Bartle

    Thanks for the article and survey. Another good job from your magazine.

  • Jason Miler

    I’ll answer that question.

    I should have had a planer. A table saw is not the best tool for turning 3/4 mahogany into 1/2" (in one pass no less). It was stupid. The last board (3" x 24", for a little box) kicked back at me and left me with a split open finger. Scared me more than anything. I bought the planer.

  • Jeremy Jones

    I did not respond to the survey, but here is my incident: I was cutting through a piece of 1/4" plywood about 3’x2′. As the plywood exited behind the blade, it bowed down and got hung up in the blade insert recess. I could not push it through. Next things happened really fast – I was shifting my grip and stance when the ply came back at me. Thankfully it struck my left forearm. The pain I felt made me thankful it did not hit me in the abdomen. I did not seek medical attention, but I probably should have.

    This was an old saw that had been owned by a one-man contractor shop. Then it was owned by my grandfather. I’m not sure what safety equipment it came with. But I think a ZCI that was flush mounted to the table surface could have saved me this incident. (Along with other devices – but most don’t look at a ZCI that way.)

  • Bob Lang

    In the final photo, Marc is making a non-through cut, making a groove. If you look close, you can see 2 cutters of a stack dado set, and the top of the groove.

  • Alex Pung


    I read your article above but when I was that last picture I said to myself "Good idea to guard the blade BUT what happens to the piece of wood that’s between the blade and the fence under the blade guard AFTER the cut is made?"

    I feel that to AVOID ACCIDENTS, one should always CONTROL the piece of wood between the blade and the fence until it is past the spinning blade. You wouldn’t be able to do that in the last picture above.

    Also, after a cut, you should always turn off the saw and wait till the blade stops before moving any piece of wood around the blade.

    Above all, ALWAYS UNPLUG the saw before messing around the blade area.

    Keep Safe.


  • chris


    Well, I read that part of your reasoning, but I don’t agree.

    Specifically, a splitter (even the old style, unified with dust shroud and pawls) is designed to *prevent* kickback that’s induced by the kerf closing up on the backside of the cut.

    The problem is, we can’t ever know how many of the kickbacks that occurred with NO protective gear in place would have never happened if the gear was there. But I bet it’s a non-zero number.


  • Bob Lang

    There wasn’t a significant difference in the distribution of types of injuries whether or not guards were in place. Nor was there much difference in the severity of injuries reported.

    I think reading the entire sentence you quoted explains the reasoning behind what I said about guards. Here it is: "But there isn’t much evidence that guards or other safety devices can actually prevent accidents; their main purpose is to mitigate the damage after the operator loses control of the workpiece or places his or her hand in the path of the blade."

  • chris


    You gave 3 types of injury choices.

    Of all the respondents who said they had an accident, you said about 75% had no protective devices on the saw.

    Do you see any difference in the distribution of the TYPES of injures that occurred in the injury-with-no-protection group versus the injury-with-protection group?

    Specifically, I wonder if the injury-with-protection group was more comprised of "moving your handing into the path of the blade."

    I’d also ask what is your basis for saying, "But there isn’t much evidence that guards or other safety devices can actually prevent accidents."


  • Carol Oster

    My accident was preventable. After working on a project for half a year, I was making the last cut on the table saw – not even for a part for the item I was making, but for a jig to drill equi-distant holes for knock-down bolts. The previous cut required me to remove the blade guard and splitter, which were all one piece. The small piece I cut was about to fall off the back of the saw, I hit the off button and reached to grab it before it fell. As I came back over the still-spinning blade, I dragged my thumb over it. Cut down to – but not through – the bone, severed a nerve. Took 6 months to heal because there wasn’t enough skin to sew it back together.

    What I do differently now: think through every operation start to finish before I begin. Use safety guards or devices appropriate to the operation. Triple check where my body parts are relative to the path of wood and blade. Do it differently if it doesn’t look or feel safe. Take extra precautions when I’m on the last operations of the day and as I approach the final stages of a project, when I otherwise would tend to stop paying attention.

    It was all my fault… and it would never occur to me to sue.

  • Bill Johnson

    Hmmm, what would I do differently? I would:

    1. Never ever ever use a molding head cutter on a table saw again. Did I emphasize ‘never’ enough?

    2. Never push wood through a table saw blade unless there’s a push stick at least 10" long between my hand and the workpiece – no matter the size, shape, or thickness of the workpiece.

    I did not respond to the original survey, but I did have a serious injury about 27 years ago. I was using a molding head cutter in my table saw (much like a dado set, but 100 times more dangerous). I was new to woodworking and still gaining knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, the experience came before the knowledge in this case. I was pushing a 4"x10"x3/4" piece of Oak over the cutter to make grooves for a knife block. I did use the rip fence as a guide, but no push stick/device. After many successful (i.e., lucky) previous passes, the cutter caught the workpiece and threw it back toward me while the force of my pushing action thrust my hand into the cutterhead. You can imagine what a mess a molding head cutter, made up of 3 "bits" or small blades mounted to a spinning arbor (like a shaper cutter turned vertically) could make.

    My Index finger was badly cut and broken in a couple of places, and my middle finger was badly lacerated and nearly severed – barely hanging on at the middle knuckle by a little bit of muscle and flesh. It was broken in so many places, the hand surgeon lost count. He placed a pin down through all of the pieces, reattaching it, and reconnected tendons, muscle and skin as best he could. Today it functions almost normally, but I lack 90% of my fingernail and have a lot of scars to show for the experience!

    This accident was the result of my ignorance – pure and simple. Fortunately, the memory of the incident is as clear today as it was 27 years ago, assuring that I always think about where my fingers are and how quickly things can go wrong.

    One last suggestion for your readers; If you own a molding head cutter, throw it away! Don’t give it to someone else, and don’t leave it in your shop where someone else might be tempted to use it. In my opinion, this is the single most dangerous tablesaw accesory ever developed. There are many good (and safe) ways to cut grooves, shape edges, etc., to choose from. The use of molding head cutters is not one of those.

    Come to think of it, I should have sued the maker of the cutterhead, or even the tablesaw. Just think of it, my ignorance and carelessness could have made me a millionaire, while at the same time, causing makers of woodworking equipment to add uneeded safety features and raising their prices to new levels. Why did it have to take 27 years for someone else to think of it? Maybe people were more willing to take responsibility for their own stupidity, and lawyers were more responsible and less out of touch with reality back then.

  • Jim

    This is a little long, so I’ll try to keep it entertaining. I think every single one of us has broken a rule or two and gotten away with it. You might do something to help mitigate the risk you know is there. But, the critical point that will always ring true to me that was made in this article is to make sure you are prepared for what would happen if that plan fails. I got caught in "…or where their hands might go if something went wrong while operating their saw" from above. Also, I learned the hard way that you might be able to get away with a mistake every time you step to the saw. Maybe even two at a time. But when you look back and see as many mistakes as I made, you are going to get hurt.

    I was literally cutting the LAST piece of a many month project building a large 440 bottle moving wine cabinet. It was my first large project that was completely my own design. One of small spacers (about 3/8" thick, but 3/4" wide, by 4" long) was a not quite long enough so I had to cut another one. I picked a slat board from my scrap pile and went to the saw. I hadn’t been cutting at all that day, so I didn’t have my head in the game and give the tool the respect it deserves (we’ll call that mistake number #1). I was in a hurry because I wanted to finally see the finished product (#2). It was a rip cut down the 3/8" by 2" by about 2 foot long piece. I thought "it’s just one piece, I can leave the combo blade on and not put the ripping blade on," (#3). I didn’t put my rip fence on (#4). I had the guard removed on my 3HP unisaw, so no kickback fingers (#5). I knew what a push-stick was and used them all the time, but I had no idea what a shoe was (#6… I can tell a lot of you are starting to shake your head and tense up because you know what’s coming…) BTW, NO ONE HAS ANY EXCUSE NOT TO HAVE A SHOE. You can make it out of scrap. As I was making the cut, my brain tried one last time to help me out and said "this back of this is going to lift and kick on you," but then it failed me with the worst of my mistakes… the magic #7. I leaned forward, put my right hand on the fence behind the blade, pushed my palm down and shifted some of my weight to it, and used my thumb to hold down the wood as it existed the saw… you all know what’s coming…

    You know why they make rip fences, and shoes, and kickback fingers? Because your hand is not an acceptable solution to any of those problems.

    The board kicked just like I thought it would and pulled my hand, thumb pointed directly at the back of the blade, back to me. It was like lighting. It sliced right down from the top through the nail, and down the side of the bone. I felt the bone chip as it kicked up. I immediately clasped it and knew I had messed up bad. I put my hip into the shut-off, and had a look. I made two immediate assessments. I needed to go to the hospital, and I was a lucky man. It had got straight instead of across. Everything was still attached.

    Leaving the rest of the adventure out, I have a fairly normal looking thumb now. It still has a nail (which I had to have repaired again about a year after the initial incident). I have nearly full mobility. Any movement has some pain associated with it, and always will, but I can live with that. It’s a good reminder to make safety a priority. Getting back on the saw was incredibly difficult. The first thing I made was a shoe. I will upgrade to a Saw-Stop saw before my children step foot in my shop.


  • Joe Okapal

    My injury came when I was cutting 2" x 2" squares for a chess board. The guard was in place and I was using a push stick. I set the rip fence at the 2 1/8" mark and proceeded to make 64 identical cuts. As the wood piece passed the blade I must have twisted the push stick and the wood piece came back at me breaking the blade shield and stricking me in the shoulder. What would I do different; I would rip the long boards the same but do away with the rip fence and cut using my miter guage. Doing this adds an hour or so th the process.

  • Dennis R

    My encounter with a contractor’s saw was at a job site. It was 1975 but it is so clear in my mind that it could have happened this morning. I was cutting the 45 degree angles on gussets for gondolas. The 3/4" plywood pieces were already cut to 12" x 24". My job was to cut the correct angles. Using the factory miter-gauge at a 45, I would cut, flip, cut and stack. In ’75 many contractors had a disdain for guards as they were viewed as OSHA’s intervention into their work lives; therefore, all guards or anything resembling a guard was removed. As I was cutting, another guy was walking by and asked a question. I turned my head to respond and that was all it took. My right thumb went numb but the blood on my face and shirt told the story. In my case, I am not so sure a guard would have helped due to the thickness of the material. Lesson learned: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER allow anything to distract you while operating any power tool. My son is grown now, but if my grand-chilren are in the shop, I use hand tools. You can’t bond with them with a screaming saw running anyway. I’m not anti-power, but the serenity of a woodworking shop using hand tools is the perfect place to pass down those family values.

  • Michael DeWald

    Unfortunately, the industry was ripe for something like this to happen. My injury occurred while resquaring cedar shingles. I was using a home made panel cutting jig to do this. The guard supplied with the major label direct drive (but not portable) saw I was using was so flimsy that it came out of alignment with the blade at the lightest nudge, and would flop out of alignment when any bevel was used on the blade. My first attempt to use it resulted in the work piece being jammed by the support for the guard that is supposed to double as a splitter. Readjusting the alignment resulted in the work piece being bound against the blade. The guard went in the trash shortly afterward. It was a hazard. I was injured as a result of fatigue, my back went into spasm and I bent slightly further forward unconsciously as a result. The movement forward was at an angle to the blade, and i pushed my left pinky into the blade, severing it just distal to the last joint. It was sewn back on, but the last joint is permanently fused, and the end is numb. It could have been much worse.

  • Tim V

    I don’t remember if the survey allowed for 2 different type of injuries with table saws. Years ago when I first started woodworking, I had a powerful kicked back piece hit me in the chest. It felt like I was hit with a golf ball. Luckily there was only a welt. But, I analyzed why it happened and did research. This was in the mid-90’s so there wasn’t much on the internet then, but I found enough to make learn not to do that again.

    Then in the early 2000’s I cut my thumb. I had an afternoon flight to England one Sunday. I was working on a project in the shop so I thought I could jut make a couple of quick cuts before I had to pack up. Of course I was safe because I paid attention to how everything was set-up and how the cuts were made. I wasn’t going to have another kick back accident. I made the 2 cuts and turned off the saw. While the blade was free spinning, the back edge of the cut piece was dinging the blade while setting on the outfeed table. The dinging noise bothered me so I reached over the non-guarded, non-splitter, free spinning blade, grabbed the part and pulled it toward me. I’m glad the blade was not under power because it sliced my thumb. I missed my flight…

    I stopped paying attention because I turned off the saw. I was so p*ssed at myself, not for cutting myself, but for letting my brain turn off too. I always give my full attention when I’m around it now, on or off.

    Tim V

  • J.C. Collier

    I ask myself one question BEFORE I crank up my saw for the day, "Where are your fingers?"

    While I empathize with the victims of random table saw violence, the fact is that ALL mishaps with the tool can be traced to bad judgment either literal or by default. No "idiot proofing" device has been invented by man that will save everyone’s digits 100% of the time. I am sure that even the hallowed SawStop can be misused to ill effect by the right hammerhead operator.


  • Dick Heatwole

    I was cutting baltic birch ply drawer pcs not using a push stick or splitter on the saw. Piece twisted and pulled my fingers into spinning saw blade. Fortuneally I only had the blade about 1/2" above work piece but still managed to cut one finger almost entirely off and major cut to thumb and another finger. Surgeon was able to reattach finger and stitch up the other two and I still have use of all three (no feeling in one).
    LESSON LEARNED – Was late and last few pieces, never try to complete a project in a hurry and not use safety equipment.

  • Moe Yoder

    Well, my accident, too was preventable. I was tapering some table legs for a coffee table with a homemade tapering jig. I had the guard off cause the tapering pushed the guard into the blade. I had just made the last taper, and let it fall to the floor so I didn’t have to reach across the blade to retrieve it. (A smart move, I thought). When bringing my hand back, the blade was set too high, and my right thumb contacted the blade. I spent some time in the emergency room, and now I have a constant reminder of shop safety, I have very little feeling in my thumb. I, too, remind myself that I am not smarter than everyone else.

  • Pat Scott

    My injury happened 30+ years ago using my Dad’s table saw. My only instruction on proper safety was watching him make cuts. I did everything wrong: no splitter, no blade guard, and I used the rip fence and miter gauge at the same time to make a through cut. I was cutting a hexagon shaped piece for a flower stand I wanted to make as a present for my Mom. Being a hexagon the surface contacting the rip fence or miter gauge was small. After cutting a corner off, I PULLED THE PIECE BACK. I didn’t know you weren’t suppose to do this. As I pulled it back you can imagine what happened – it got trapped between the blade and rip fence. The blade grabbed the back of the piece and raised it up. Since it was a hexagon (picture trying to cut a circle on the table saw), it also rotated. As it rotated counterclockwise, my right hand was dragged across the top of the blade. Thankfully I didn’t lose any fingers or cut any nerves. I did have to get a skin graft to cover the top of my chewed up index finger. I didn’t go anywhere near any power tools for 20 years after that. Now woodworking is my passion and I’m Mr. Table Saw Safety. My scarred finger is a constant reminder to be safe! At first I blamed my Dad for not using any safety devices on his saw or not supervising or instructing me. But it’s my fault also because I didn’t ask.

  • Rocko McCombs

    My accident was preventable. I used the fence and miter gauge at the same time leaving a small block of unsupported wood between the blade and fence. It was left unsupported well before reaching the splitter. It shot out at Mach 5 and hit me in the chest after bouncing off my right hand. So 100% preventable. Any amount of safety gear was not a factor.

    No physical permanent damage.


  • Bill Donnelly

    I was cutting some small triangles out of 1/2" plywood (8" on each side). My previous cut had been a dado, which required removing the blade guard & splitter, and I did not take the time to reattach them. I was stacking the finished pieces on the far left corner of the table. I turned away to grab the next work piece. I turned back to the saw, and just as I began to think the stack was too high, it toppled over. One of the pieces fell into the exposed, spinning blade.

    Proximity to the actual saw was not a factor in this incident – I was about 2 feet away from the machine.

    Personal safety gear was not a factor, either – I was wearing goggles and a dust mask.

    I calculated that the edge of my 10" blade is moving at about 102 mph. That’s how fast the triangle was launched at my face. I got hit squarely on the underside of my chin. The resulting gash required eight stitches, and the impact slammed my jaw shut, cracking a tooth and popping out an old filling. And broke two carbide teeth off the blade.

    <li>I should have had the blade guard installed</li>
    <li>I should not have turned away from the machine while it was running</li>
    <li>I should not have stacked those pieces on the saw table</li>

    I now have a trail of blood splats on my workshop floor, leading to the slop sink, to remind me of this incident. I could have been hit in the mouth, nose, eye, or worse, the throat or carotid artery. The triangular piece could have easily pierced the artery and I would have bled out on my basement floor.

  • Douglas Coates

    So far I have avoided accidents with my table saw – but I think this safety tip works well for me – just once every so often stand in front of the saw, switched off, and imagine what happens when your shirt cuff gets caught, or you slip forward etc. By pausing for a moment to imagine the consequences, I find I take extreme care!

  • Richard

    I encountered a kickback and automatically deflected the wood from my face and my right hand crossed the blade cutting all four fingers, one finger suffered nerve damage, and my index finger was cut off. The emergency room reattached my finger incorrectly and removed it a week later.

    I usually us rollers and feather boards but this particular cut would not allow their use so I swung them up. The factory guard was always causing problems. I now use an Micro Jig splitter I now use an over-arm guard and it is NEVER removed. The big lesson is if I need to make cut that requires removing safety equipment I use a different tool! I had POS hand tools then and with my good hand saws I can make these dangerous cuts by hand with excellent results!

  • Greg

    I experienced a minor injury from kickback, resulting in a bruised abdomen that didn’t require medical attention. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I don’t use the factory splitter/guard because they really make me feel less safe – not because they don’t work, but because their design shortcomings force me to adopt less safe pactices.

    My injury occured while "cross-cutting" plywood (i.e a piece wider than it was long), using the rip fence.

    What do I wish I’d done differently? Had an effective splitter, first of all (The MicroJig™ is a manageable retrofit). The second thing that I’ve found helps a lot doesn’t get all that much attention in table saw safety discusssions, and that is adequate outfeed support. This really helps to keep your hands and eyes focused on the actual task.

  • derek andrews

    I was once at a craft market and had 3 people at by booth showing off their wounds:

    Table saws are dangerous

  • Stuart Hough

    My near niss was a result of doing something my gut told me was not smart. I was trying to crosscut a piece of 4×4, without the miter guage. I was able to keep everything straight on the first cut, but when I turned it over and started the final cut I guess I pushed one side faster than the other. As I got to the final inch the wood caught up on the blade and twisted slightly. The blade cut though and jerked the wood almost out of my hands, causing me to momentarily lose my balance. I caught myself with my elbows on the front edge os the saw, and turned it off. THEN, I began to get wobbly-kneed at the thought of just how close my face came to the blade. It was then and there I made a promise to myself to follow all the rules of table saw safety from then on. Now if I have to take off the guard, I make sure there are other implements in use to allow me to do the job safely. Rule #1 is alwas said out loud before I start anything "I am NOT smarter or better than everyone else…be safe, dummy!"

  • Chris Friesen

    Lou, I’ve given up ripping construction lumber on the tablesaw. I use a bandsaw instead. Works almost as fast, and is much safer.

  • Lou Hodson

    Good survey,
    I have had two near misses with my power saws. The most recent was 5 or 6 years ago when I ripped some s2s oak to width. It was apparently some torsion wood. It bent severely into the blade and raised with enough force to remove my fence and splitter from the saw. I know it happens very rarely but once is often enough. It took a half an hour to pry and lever the board off of the saw table, repair my splitter and guard and throw away the blade( badly bent).
    The first was 15 years ago from trying to rip a 2×12 down to width on a radial arm saw. The blade climbed up on the 2×12 and swung the arm back against the 45 deg. stops and blew out the lights. Never try to rip with a RAS. I swore never to do that ever again. My next tool was a table saw.

  • Mike T

    Mine happened when the small part (about 4"x4" square) I was rabbeting kicked, spun, and knocked my finger into the blade. Can’t Dado with the guard on, but if I’d had the piece horizontal instead of vertical, it would have been safer. A router table would have been even better (didn’t have one at the time, but my loving wife got me one the following Christmas), both for safety and because it would have left a cleaner rabbet.

    But when I’m working with small pieces these days, I’m much more likely to use hand tools.

    Am I the only one to learn a new appreciation for hand tools after an accident?

  • Jim Woodward

    I was one of the respondents to the survey who had a kickback injury. I had a piece I was ripping thrown back at me and hit me in the abdomen and caused a good amount of bruising/swelling. I just nursed it at home and didn’t work out in my shop for the rest of the day.

    Looking back in what would I do differently – well its what I pretty much always do differently today. I don’t stand directly behind the region between the fence and blade when ripping stock. I try to keep my stance slightly to the left of the blade so anything thrown out will fly past me and not into me.

    Of course I also have to add that at the time of the accident my table saw was not well tuned and I recall that the fence at the time was the old Craftsmen sheet metal fence that tended to get tight on the back side of the blade. Since then I have a very good after market fence and I keep my table saw well tuned with blade and fence kept parallel to the miter gauge slots on the table. Keeping the saw tuned has done a lot to reduce likelihood of kickback situations – pretty much now if it happens its usually because I managed to cock the piece while feeding it.

    Anyway good survey and I am glad you guys are putting the table saw safety stuff up on the website.

    Jim Woodward

  • James Roberts

    I have been bitten twice by a tablesaw and, luckily, neither of those accidents resulted in loss of digits. The first time I was working in a production cabinet shop around 1995 cutting laminate strips for a series of shelves. I was running them through without a pushstick and pulling the strips out the back side. I knew then that this was not the preferred (read: recommended) method, but production sometimes takes priority over safety (unfortunately). On one of the strips, I reached to the back of the blade to pull it through and my left thumb contacted the blade; right on the meaty portion. Luckily, the saw had an 80 tooth laminate blade on it and I really believe that is what saved the thumb. I only went to the immediate care facility to have it documented as a "just in case" because if there was real damage that I couldn’t forsee, I wanted to be able to do a workmans comp claim and that wouldn’t be possible if I took care of it myself.

    The other time was in late 2003. I had a very popular 10" contractor saw with the factory plate in the table and was ripping some wood strips to about 3/16". I was using a push stick, but with the thin strips I was cutting, I was unable to have the splitter and blade guard installed. I had probably cut 15 of the strips I needed and on one of the last ones, the strip slipped down between the blade and the insert. This threw the push stick back behind me and my right index finger had a neat 1/8" kerf through the nail to the tip of the finger. Painful to be sure, but again no more than a little cleaning and a bandage.

    After performing my first aid, I immediately stopped whatever project was in progress and made up a few zero clearance inserts before using the saw again.

    It’s important to note here that I knew better in both instances. Since the last episode, I have really been a huge stickler for safety and there are many common procecdures that I won’t even attempt (i.e. raising panels) on the table saw as there are better ways to do them and I can be efficient and safe. I hope someone reading this learns from my two mistakes and this prevents someone from suffering similar injuries.

  • Ron Ecke

    I wanted to add to my comment that my incident occurred within less than a moment,less than a blink of an eye, which I could have lost. It took more time to realize that I had just been struck.
    I still have all my digits and one of the fortunate ones that survived my "simple spell" as we call it around here.
    Thanks again,

  • Ron Ecke

    I was one that responded to the survey that I was injured by kickback, badly bruised in the chest, but not bad enough for medical attention.
    I had the overare guards (no riving knife on mine)off my tablesaw because I was cutting 4"x4" pine lumber to lengths for planter boxes. I had to cut, then flip each section over and cut again to completely severe the wood as my 10" blade height is only 3-3/8" tall. So the incident occurred while immediately finishing the first cut then lifting while pulling the lumber back towards me to make the second cut. While pulling it back towards me, I hadn’t lifted it quite high enough to clear the blade which caught the lumber weighing around ten pounds, and launched it directly at my upper left chest as I was "almost" clear of its path. This was a case of a momentary loss of concentration due to being in a hurry. Hard lesson learned for me which I will NEVER forget as it could have been much, much worse.
    Thanks for listening,

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