Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Safe Table Saw Cutting

I saw a table saw recently that I would love to have. Unfortunately, they don't make it in a miniature size or price.  The full-size version would take up nearly half of the floor space in my tiny little workshop, and the price is prohibitive for my hobby purposes - about $3,000. 

I like the saw because it's so safe to use. Within milliseconds of its saw blade touching human skin, an electronic sensor slams on a brake and flings the saw blade down into the case of the saw. At best, someone using that system would end up with a mild nick on their finger, although when demonstrated with a hot-dog, the saw didn't even puncture its casing!

Since it's unlikely that anyone will ever build such a table saw for miniaturists, we need to be as careful as possible in using the smaller, table-top saws. I can assure you that if you're using a table top saw and you run your finger into the blade, you may need a doctor's assistance to stitch up the injured finger. These small saws might look tiny and innocent, but they can and will cut fingers!

So, now that I've given you my safety lecture... here's a safety tip! If you are using the miter attachment to your saw and you want to cross-cut multiple pieces of wood the exact same length, you should NOT set your saw fence to the width you want to cut the wood. Woodworking experts say that having three of the four edges of your board touching barriers (the blade, the miter and the fence), the wood can jam and cause the saw to kick the wood back at you.

The solution is to set a piece of wood between the fence and the wood you wish to cut. As shown in the picture above, you can set the spacer so that it is flush against the fence. Next, move the fence until your sample blank touches the saw blade. (You can see a sample blank in the above picture - just above my thumb.) Lock the fence in place and remove the sample length of wood. Now you're ready to saw.

Place the wood you plan to cut against the miter and then slide it over until it touches the piece of spacer wood. That will be your "fixed" length. Hold the wood firmly against the miter, and then remove the spacer. You can then easily saw the board without it getting jammed between the blade and the fence. (See photo at left, and notice how the board I'm cutting doesn't touch the fence.)

Happy (and safe) cutting to you!


Caseymini said...

George, what brand is your table saw and where did you find it? I am currently looking for one. Thanks for the tips!

Karin Corbin said...

Unfortunately George you have just given people advice that goes against the recommended way to set up a cross cut safely. The way you have shown creates a dangerous unsupported pinch point between the saw blade and the fence.

The correct way to do this cut is to clamp a short gauge block against the fence in a position forward of the saw blade. That insures there will be a gap between the cut piece of wood and the fence of the saw. The short piece of wood will then lie quietly on the table top instead of becoming a projectile that is tossed back at the person making the cut.

Karin Corbin said...

whoops my apoligy George you were right, I was looking at the second photo where it looks like the wood is against the fence. Too much shiny metal and no shadows.

George the Miniguy said...

Whew! You had me worried for a minute there, Karin. The pinch is exactly what I was trying to coach people to avoid!

Casey, I used to have a Dremel table saw, and wore the poor thing out! I replaced it with the Microlux Mini Tilt Arbor Table Saw from Micro-Mark. I just checked their Web site, and its current price is $349.

Caseymini said...

Thanks George! That is one of the saws that I was looking at.

Peach Blossom Hill said...

I just received the Microlux little coping type saw for my birthday and love it. Would love to have the tilt arbor saw some time when I work up to that level. If I get there, I'll check back with you on this set up. Thank you!


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