I bought a Porter-Cable left-blade circular saw and it is a fine machine, but I returned it. Being right-handed (I have studied these for months and finally decided to get it), the first thing I did when I got ready to cut was to put my left hand down on the blade guard. I really liked the idea of seeing the blade as it is cutting. Do you think this is actually a safety hazard, and that I should just go back and get it and learn to deal with it? Or, is kickback a reality that might cause injury? I did notice that Porter-Cable had only a left-handed person in the instruction manual. Also, I called the local Porter-Cable service center here in Charlotte and asked if the saw is intended for right-handed people, and he gave an emphatic “yes!”
Michael Dresdner: The correct answer is that whatever works best for you, and whatever you use most safely, is the right tool for you. Yes, kickback is a reality that DOES cause many injuries (I have witnessed several myself) and no, you should not have your hand resting on a blade guard. But it makes more sense to buy a tool that fits your safe working style than to try to re-educate yourself, assuming such a tool is available (and in this case it is.) Don’t worry about what other people think you should like better. Go with what works for you.
That said, I will note that I am a right-handed woodworker, and personally, I think a left-leaning blade is safer and more convenient for me. But I can assure you I have never found myself with my hand resting on a blade guard, on either a right- or left-tilting saw.
Lee Grindinger: Kickbacks with this type of saw generally take the form of the saw kicking backwards and out of the work. Be aware of this and use the tool with caution. Another great danger from this saw is underneath the work piece. As you cut the blade is exposed and unguarded on the underside of the work piece. Adjust the depth of cut to minimize the protrusion of the blade. Always check the guard and never, never, operate this saw without the guard in place and working properly. Manufacturers will often put a handle or knob on the front of the saw, as this is the best place for your left hand. The left hand can help raise the guard as you begin a cut and help stabilize the saw as you work your way through a cut but do place your left hand where it belongs, on the handle in front, or far off to the left if you’re one-handing the saw. With the blade on the left the tool is intended for right-handed people. Seeing the blade makes for safer use and more accurate cuts. Obviously, though, you are not comfortable with this tool and that in itself signals danger. It would be wise for you to find an experienced person to show you the saw’s proper use and watch good technique.