In Shop Blog

We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations.

Machine guards are supposed to protect us from harm, but there are times when they can turn against you. The worst injury I’ve ever received from a machine was cutting my hands on the anti-kickback pawls while installing my table saw’s guard.

Yesterday I ran into trouble on my jointer with disastrous results. The collar that controls the height of the guard vibrated loose. The tip of the guard contacted the spinning cutterhead and exploded. It shattered eight carbide teeth on the cutterhead and sprayed metal everywhere (hooray for eye protection).

I escaped without a scratch. And have now added one more safety check to my jointer: Check the collar that controls the guard’s height.

I know a few people out there are thinking to themselves: Remove the jointer’s guard and you won’t ever have this problem. My reply: I had to clean out a jointer after someone else’s accident. On that day I married my jointer’s guard.

— Christopher Schwarz

With Power Tool Essentials
Digital Collection

About proper drill press speeds for different bits and how to set the pulleys to match. Tips for tilting & realigning the drill press table for accurate drilling. The simple steps to keep mortiser chisels and drill bits sharp and cutting true. How to set the mortiser bit and chisel perfectly to avoid heat build-up and improve chip removal. Ripping and cross-cutting tips for sheet goods and solid wood. How to improve cuts using the proper blades. Where to stand and how to position your hands and body for the safest, most accurate performance. Simple maintenance and accurate setup and much more!

Learn the ins and outs of power tools with this digital collection!

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Recent Posts
Showing 13 comments
  • John Passacantando

    Damn, that’s a good lesson for us all. Thanks for sharing.


  • JimDeL

    I bought a used Delta joiner without a guard about ten years ago. I made a ‘pork chop’ style guard from melamine covered MDF, with a half inch diameter bolt for the shaft. (I did have the return spring.). Just needed to slot the bolt to receive the spring. I painted the edges of the pork chop bright (blood?) red as an additional safety reminder. It’s served me well.

  • peterlakis

    Oh man, So sorry. That feeling when something goes terribly wrong is the WORST. Then the quick finger and blood check… followed usually by the desire for bourbon. Any horse tranquilizers left in the horse garage?

  • BLZeebub

    I’m not a big fan of the Rube Goldberg devices that pass for safety guards on table saws BUT I keep mine on the jointer. And yes, you need to maintain them too. I use a splitter and rollers to keep everything in check that passes over the table saw. Before then, the only close call I’ve had was with the chop saw (no injury) and one incident of kickback with the table saw that threw an eighteen inch length of one by four at my gut just below my rib cage. It bruised my liver and left me with a small hernia. You could see the clear outline of the end of the board on my gut. The next day my midsection turned the prettiest shade of purple-black too. Good thing the board wasn’t longer! Now, I stand to the side ALWAYS!!! Even with the finger boards and rollers on.

  • rmousel

    The first thing I did with my new 8” jointer was to pull that guard off and replace it with a Euro style ordered from Grizzly as a replacement part from another model. Had to fabricate a small block to mount it. It is by far the best safety upgrade I’ve made. Blade is always covered.

  • Teddy

    Chris, you’ve always got something interesting to say whether it’s advice or instruction. I enjoy reading your pieces. I have an old (years and years old) Delta jointer. I noticed it’s guard sagging and found the pivot collar badly warn. I fixed it, but said nothing to anyone about it. I’m sorry for your near calamity but I’m glad you told your story. The wise will take heed.

  • philjohnwilliams

    The best safety lesson is cleaning up after somebody else’s accident.

  • lorenzojose

    Pfft. Just a way to brag you have a segmented cutter head.

    I got my best lesson on guard safety when my 8th grade shop teacher cut three fingers off demonstrating the proper way to use a table saw.

    “Don’t do this, kiddies”

  • Matt_Rob

    I bought a old MM FSB 35 that had been retrofitted with a shop made porkchop that never worked well. I saw that Jet had a Euro style guard on a planer combo that was wide enough and I could order the part online. Installed rather easy and I feel a bit safer. It will surface face up to 350 mm with the guard in place.

  • Chauncy

    Yikes!!! …and proof you’ve done some good in this life!

  • Just_Iain

    You got to love those who remove guards “cause they are in the way”. The only hope is if they win a Darwin Award, they don’t take anyone else.

Start typing and press Enter to search

Make relief cuts when cutting curves on the band saw