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Thread: Removing Saw Guard-What do you think?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Punta Gorda, Florida
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    Removing Saw Guard-What do you think?

    Last year I built an overarm guard with dust removal for my Unisaw. It seemed like a good idea at the time. As time went on I used it less and less. For one thing there is not that much dust on top of the table anyway and for another it is just a kind of a pain in the side. A lot of the time it is in the way so I swing it out of the way. Then when I want it I swing it back and lock it, adjust it sideways if needed and lower the guard. A lot of piddiling around so it does not get done very often. Now I busted the side of it out whacking it with a 2x4 as can be seen from the photo below. That is what I get for not using lexan as any fool knows but I did not have any at the time. As you can see, I have my workbench behind the saw to use as an outfeed table. Sometimes I work between the bench and saw using both tops but the support arm for the guard is really in the way. It would be REALLY nice to have that area free of obstructions. Also the vertical support arm is in the way for a long crosscut. I cannot attach it to the ceiling as I need to move the saw sometimes.

    Now we come to the point. I always use pushsticks or the gripper when my hand could get close to the blade and use featherboards when necessary. I use a quick removable splitter with anti kickback pawls. I use a crosscut sled when possible. I am seriously considering just junking the whole thing and not using a guard at all due to the way that I work. Do the most of you use a guard with your saw? What do the majority of you think about not using a guard at all?

    Allen


  2. #2
    I just set up my new Unisaw and didn't even bother installing the guard that comes with it. I also use the Gripper and various push sticks and just work slowly and carefully. I think the guard is more of a hindrance than anything, IMHO.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Levine View Post
    I just set up my new Unisaw and didn't even bother installing the guard that comes with it. I also use the Gripper and various push sticks and just work slowly and carefully. I think the guard is more of a hindrance than anything, IMHO.
    Bite your tongue!!! I am here to tell you that as a "Shop Teacher" for 30+ years I will never use a saw W/O a guard or some sort of guarding device. I prefer the safety factor even though there is a setup time involved. My fingers and other body parts are fare more valuable to me than the few seconds it costs to do a safe job.

    You scare me! If you prefer to risk your own safety, that is your perogative but for Gods sake, don't post or brag about it. Keep your safeless practices to yourself. Please. For fear of sounding like a Safety Looney I can't help but express contempt for fellows who do not use safety devices and especially those who brag about how they defy common practices.

    I am a practicing amputee (been w/o legs for 43 years) and I am here to tell you that it is no picnic to be missing body parts, save your skin and change your ways. I too, at one tme thought "I'm special, it will never happen to me" Bull Dump! It can and will happen.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
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    Having used a Radial Arm Saw, with a fully exposed blade, for 30 years or so, I feel safer knowing exactly where the blade is, rather than where a guard is. I kept my table saw guard around for years, and never used it other than during setup. I have never mounted the guard on my fancy sliding tablesaw. It may be foolish, but I know where the blade is, and where my fingers are, and after 50+ years I can still count to 10.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Simpson View Post
    You scare me! If you prefer to risk your own safety, that is your perogative but for Gods sake, don't post or brag about it. Keep your safeless practices to yourself. Please. For fear of sounding like a Safety Looney I can't help but express contempt for fellows who do not use safety devices and especially those who brag about how they defy common practices.
    I am the one who ask for opinions and I wanted honest answers and that is what I am getting but I think that answers like this may distort any forthcoming post due to intimidation. I accept your outlook except for the personal attack.

    I appreicate honest answers no matter what they may be. Keep them coming. Thanks!

    Allen

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Lindsay area, Ontario, Canada
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    30
    I think Charlie and Matt have summed it up very well...and agree! For anyone, who would rather use a guard...by all means, do so! But after starting with a radial arm saw (as Charlie did), with no guard on...I much prefer to see the blade...not a guard. "Accidents" (by dictionary definition) do not happen with the saws. They are caused by a number of 'things'...a few of which are: lack of attention...being in a hurry...not thinking out your moves, before starting the cut...and just getting to cocky, and taking bad chances, etc.
    Bill: in a teaching environment, I also would expect to see guards. However, teaching to...think...before any move, is much more important. Nuff said.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Allen,

    I think this is a decision you need to make on your own. They're your digits when all is said and done.

    I certainly don't want to tell you it's okay, because stuff can and will happen. At the risk of incurring the wrath of the Safety Looney, I'll confess that I don't use a guard on my saw. I never worked in a professional shop where there were guards on the saws. Our equivalent of OHSA never wrote anyone up for this. I replaced a worker who had 3 fingers amputated on the TS and it never ocurred to anyone to find the guard for the saw and put it on.

    It's a calculated risk. It is foolhardy, but it goes on all the time.

    I've never had a tablesaw injury, I'm glad to report. Unless something catastrophic happens to the saw, the saw will do what it was made to do. Accidents are mainly due to the unpredictable behaviour of the operator and the material being cut. And when it goes wrong, it does so damn fast that you probably won't even beware you've got a problem until the damage is done.

    If you're sure that you want to work this way, think very hard about getting a SawStop. Whatever you might feel about their marketing techniques or legal tactics, they are offering a pretty good way to help your digits survive the 'oops' moment if/when it happens.

    Talk to your wife if you have one, Allen. I'm sure she wouldn't mind your springing for an expensive saw if she thought it might save you from real carnage.

    [No, I'm not affiliated with SawStop in any way]
    All the best,
    Ian G

    **Now holding auditions for a catchy new signature**

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    ABQ NM
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    I learned power tool use in high school woodshop, with no guards on either the TS or RAS. We also learned essentially the same as Matt's five steps above. Situational awareness.

    I'm another TS3650 owner who installed the blade guard just long enough to discern that it would more likely cause an injury than prevent one. I use the Gripper or a sled for everything except large sheet goods (of which I cut very little). I've had several close calls with push sticks, so I tend to avoid them on the TS; the Gripper offers me much better control of the cut. With a guard on the TS, the Gripper is no longer an option, and I'd be back to push sticks. Ain't gonna happen. I also use the MJ splitters when appropriate.

    If and when the funds are available, I'd love to have a SawStop. Primarily, because it's a superb cabinet saw. The safety features are just icing on the cake for me.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  9. #9
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    Dec 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Gillis View Post
    Talk to your wife if you have one, Allen. I'm sure she wouldn't mind your springing for an expensive saw if she thought it might save you from real carnage.

    [No, I'm not affiliated with SawStop in any way]
    I hope that you are kidding. You are trying to get me killed instead of just loosing some fingers. Seriously, I think that SawStop would be a great idea but I just cannot justify the expense unless I could write it off with a going business. Then maybe even a slider like Charlie has.

    Now back to my real world.

    Allen
    Last edited by Allen Bookout; 02-18-2007 at 03:08 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    535
    Accidents happen with guards and without. IMHO the most important factor is operator confidence and knowledge. If the guard is in the way and causing a distraction then it ought to go. If you are un-comfortable without a guard, then you need a different one that does not cause problems.

    Funny thing similar to Matt's story, one of my miter saws is a delta 10", whose guard shattered on its third or fourth cut. I had been very careful to check it was functioning correctly, since a couple years before the very same thing had happened on the same model of delta saw at a shop where I worked. Both occassions were the biggest fright a saw has ever given me!

    For what its worth, below is a picture of my standard method. Once the board is more than 6" or so, I dispense with the right hand push stick. The left hand stick acts as a splitter more than a push stick, and is surprisingly effective. I know I've posted this somewhere before, but maybe not here (I think my memory needs a push stick too).

    John
    Last edited by John Dow; 07-11-2008 at 01:21 AM.

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