Ripping on Table Saw Safety Question from
This woodworker wanted to try a new-to-him technique on his table saw -- and he wanted to know if his planned method was safe. - Editor
"I need to rip some pieces of plywood. They need to have a 22.5 degree bevel on one edge and I am wondering about a couple things. The finished width will be 5" and the length is about 24".
I am concerned about safety doing this. When I rip the bevel, should the blade be tilted towards or away from the rip fence - I've never been too sure about this? Also, would it make sense to rip the pieces wide, say 5-1/2" with a bevel, then put the beveled side against the rip fence and rip to final width?Safety with my 1023SL (w/splitter) is always on my mind. I've never been too sure on the safest way to rip a bevel. I know these are rather newbie-ish questions, but the older I get, the more concerned with safety I get and the more I question myself ... Hope I'm asking this right and making sense.
The pieces are for a corner cabinet thingy I am making." - Joe
Others let him know which side of the blade they thought the fence should be placed on, and what that thought of his planned cuts. - Editor
"My take: always have the bevel you are cutting on top of the blade. You don't want anything trapped between the blade and the fence. The idea of cutting the bevel and then ripping to width works for me. It's what I often do." - J.L.
"The loose off-cut should not be between the workpiece and the fence. However, in lots of cases this is unavoidable and if it is, then be sure you keep out of the kickback line of fire. I believe your saw is a left-tilt and if so, it is OK. Cutting the bevel and then the finished width is what I would do since you
are more likely to get an accurate width because it is much easier as a rule to set the fence accurately for the 90 degree cut than the bevel. Make sure when you do this cut the long edge of the bevel is up; if it is down, it may slide under the fence." - Bill H.
"General rule; if you have a left tilt blade, the fence should be on the right side of the blade and if you have a right tilt, the fence should be on the left side. There may be exceptions, but as said, be careful and keep out of the 'line of fire.'" - Hal
This woodworker also shared his experience of what could happen if things went wrong. - Editor
"If it leans to the left, the fence goes on the right; that way, the rotation of the blade holds the workpiece down on the table, and over against the fence. If you want to trim the piece for width, or cut a bevel on the second edge, then you can go ahead, but it is better to have the thin edge high, so it does not jam under the fence. One of my rules for table saws is I don't do it if it can't be safely done (which this can). But if you want to escape injury, never let yourself drift into doing iffy things on the saw. It isn't professional, if you care about that. And a lot of pros are missing digits. Kickback is very dangerous. A 10" blade doing 5,000 rpm, has a surface speed of 218 feet per second. If your piece comes off the saw at that speed, as small pieces can, the projectile is lethal. When I got into archery, 218 fps was about tops, and bows shooting arrows that fast had killed all the game on earth. An arrow would have a weight of about 1 oz +. At that weight and speed it develops an energy of 40 foot pounds. A 22LR bullet does about 110 foot pounds, or about what a piece weighing 3 ounces would hit with at that speed. I have been hit by much heavier pieces, and they did slow the blade speed down a little, but they were moving like hell. It really hurts." - Tom D.
Advice on Starting a Career in Furniture Making from WoodCentral
This young man posted a question on a woodworking discussion forum that is a fairly common one among young people with an interest in woodworking. - Editor
"I graduated high school last year and tried the college route. However, I don't believe formal education is for me, and I want to follow my dream of making things with wood. Specifically, I would like to get into fine furniture making, but I don't know where to begin to learn this trade. I have looked at a few schools online that look legitimate and aren't some scam. They are run by professionals who have years of experience and your time is spent in the shop learning the trade and not in a classroom with 'theory' from books. I have also wondered if trying to become an apprentice would be a better route to take. I would most likely be paid to learn on the job. I have a little experience with woodworking as I fiddle around making small projects in my father's shop but really nothing compared to what I see people making in their home business, etc. Also, I think I would like to work in a shop first to gain experience and possibly branch out and start my own business at a later date. Any thoughts, tips, advice, etc. would be greatly appreciated!" - Steve
When you ask for advice from woodworkers, you get it. Some had suggestions for specific schools. - Editor
"Before committing, ask where the persons that came before you are now. For example, should you go to a school, find out where the students from previous classes are employed. If they are mostly assistant managers at the local fast food places, make another choice.... Similar inquiry for apprentice positions. If you like building stuff, consider taking a job at a shop that makes commercial or residential cabinetry. See how you like the work and go from there." - Bill T.
"There are some schools that are highly regarded, like North Bennett StreetSchool in Massachusetts and College of the Redwoods in California, but you can go to shorter courses like at Marc Adams and pick up specific skills. I like the idea of working in a shop and learning how to produce things on a schedule -- the commercial pace, which you have to learn or you won't be making any money. I am happy to do woodworking as a hobby, but I can see how doing it for a living would have its appeal." - Roy G.
"You might also want to look at vocational schools. There is one in eastern Pennsylvania called Thaddeus Stevens that has an excellent cabinet making program as well as an excellent placement rating for graduates. Look around your area and see what is available." - Wade
Others focused on needed skills. - Editor
"Regardless of your learning path, if you want to make fine furniture you will probably not be working from a set of detailed plans. Often you will be working from an idea or picture from the client (which could be yourself). Drawing is an important skill to learn, whether is it on paper or a computer. It is something you can start on now. I write this acknowledging drawing is my biggest weakness." - Jerry G.
"If your goal is running your own business, that business training will be paramount. All the schools mentioned will give you hand and design skills, but no idea how to make a living. Then after getting good training and business skills, get married to someone with a great job and even better benefits. Then you can go into business. Making a good living at this is one big uphill battle. I worked in an engineering job for 15 years before starting a custom woodworking business. If my wife hadn't had benefits, we wouldn't have lasted as long as we did." - Dick C.
And still others advised Steve to make sure woodworking is really what he wants to do. - Editor
"In addition to the other good advice that everyone has given you, I would advise you to make sure that woodworking is what you really want to do. Consider which aspect of woodworking that you would like to do. If you haven't really tried a reasonable sized project, then you might want to try one or two before you embark on the woodworking journey. It's not like you can switch majors as people do in college. An apprenticeship program might be the ticket - but make sure woodworking is what you really want to do." - J.L.
"I would suggest taking a job in a cabinet shop somewhere, and get some real world experience of what that business is all about. You'll learn by being part of the operation and you'll see what your employer has to go through -- finding customers, coming up with designs and drawings, how to buy lumber, plywood, tools and machines, stoking the stove, sweeping the floor, unloading the truck, wiring the machines, not to mention dealing with employees, paperwork, bookkeeping, marketing, sales, etc. A little background here: I believe strongly that you need to get involved in something before you decide to invest in a pricey education. I think it was Confucius who said, 'If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up someplace else.' And, with the cost of education, even vocational training, you shouldn't have to afford an education that isn't relevant to your eventual career path. Some people think you need to
go to school for something, and then 'find yourself' in the course of your education. I think you need to work in a trade or profession in some capacity before deciding your next move." - Ellis W.
... and to reconsider throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. - Editor
"The theory you dislike and what seem to be unrelated courses may not seem so useless down the road. It is what makes you an educated individual with, hopefully, an inquiring mind and a range of interests. Focusing on what looks like your ideal career today has to be tempered with the reality that it may not be what it seems and it may not even be a career a few years down the road. How many woodworkers that used to build cabinets have been replaced with a computer program and a CNC cutting machine? How many people in the modern generations treasure handcrafted furniture? The answer to the first question is 'lots' and the answer to the second question is 'few.' I'm an old guy now but I can't think of anything I didn't learn in schools of various types that hasn't been beneficial even if it was just to know what somebody else was talking about." - Bill H.