is one of the most dreaded occupational hazards associated with this power tool. As such, you must approach its usage with the feeling of confidence and respect for the potential hazards. However, statistics reveal that over thirty thousand individuals yearly visit the ER for treatment for injuries inflicted by the table saw itself. These figures only indicate the number of injuries caused to employees using the best table saw but overlook the far greater number of minor and compound cuts that can cause permanent damage over time. This begs the question, ‘What are the best ways of table saw kickback prevention?’
The answer lies in two things; first, avoiding the use of improperly sized table saw kickback guards; and second, ensuring you maintain appropriate table saw usage guidelines. As previously mentioned, it is extremely important to ensure your table saw is always correctly adjusted to ensure it remains perfectly balanced at all times. Failure to do so can lead to the sudden and unforeseeable snap in the table saw when it is being used. Although this unlikely occurrence usually results in minimal damage, the resulting injury often results in extensive bleeding and even amputation of the hand held table saw. For this reason, it is imperative that you use a properly fitted table saw kickback guard or else you run the risk of serious injury.
A poorly working or broken saw blade is another common cause of table saw kickback. Because table saw blades are generally made out of steel (although they can be made out of other materials), when these blades get dull or damaged they will tend to hang up and ‘freeze’ up. In the process, the blade will cut across your workpiece and cause it to bind in place, known as binding up. This results in the wood on the workpiece becoming severely damaged and tends to crumble and collapse unexpectedly, causing a catastrophic release of shavings from the workpiece itself. While table saw kickback is not usually a problem on smaller or softer woods, it can occur much more easily on harder woods with sharper edges, such as pine or cedar.
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Unfortunately, one of the main causes of table saw kickback can also be attributed to using incorrect table saw usage practices. One of the most common mistakes made by woodturners and other turners who use their table saw at a high level of proficiency is crosscutting too frequently. Crosscutting refers to the practice of making numerous crosscuts on a piece of wood while the table saw is still in use, in an effort to speed up the cutting process and produce crosscuts of varying length. Although some believe that crosscutting speeds up the process of turning, it actually causes the opposite – it slows it down.
Crosscutting can cause your table saw to experience what is called “kickback,” where the fence will bind in place and cut crookedly against the table saw blade. To remedy this, simply keep your table saw well lubricated, and make sure you keep the fence well below its maximum binding height. Also, whenever you’re making any cuts along a grain, crosscut at a 45 degree angle, which will cause your cuts to be very shallow, causing them to bind more tightly against the fence.
Another way to help prevent kickbacks from happening is to always keep your hand far enough away from the wood and the blade itself to create a distance between the blades and your hands. In addition, whenever you are turning the wood with your hand or while using your Turning Tool, ensure you keep your left hand on the table as well, so that your right hand is away from the blade. If possible, remove your right hand entirely while making large or difficult maneuvers with your saw. And, if you must leave your right hand near the blade while using your table saw, make sure it is at least two feet away. The closer your right hand is to the blade, the more control you will have, and the less likely you are to experience kickback.
Finally, it is important to wear safety equipment whenever you use your table saw and to make sure you have taken all of the necessary precautions to prevent injury. First, make sure you use appropriate safety equipment such as eye protection and appropriate shoes. Additionally, wear appropriate work clothing such as long pants, long sleeves, long shirt, heavy-duty gloves, and an appropriate hard hat.
Table saw kickback does happen, and with today’s modern materials and construction techniques it is more likely to occur than it used to be. However, you can prevent it by following all of the above advice, and if you have any doubts about whether you might experience a kickback while using your saw, don’t hesitate to contact a table saw specialist for further information. The specialist will be able to advise you on the best preventative and treatment methods for avoiding this problem. After all, prevention is better than cure.
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