Have you ever heard this “amusing” banter between woodworkers?
“And don’t forget to use your table saw’s blade guard!”
Although it may reflect the reality of most woodworker’s day-to-day practices – it is not really funny. Top guards or blade guards are standard equipment with all table saws, and are essential to the safe operation of the machine. But many woodworkers find them so awkward, or annoying, that they simply take them off. Even the most safety conscious will remove a guard for some task, like cross-panel dadoing, and just not get around to replacing it – because that task in and of itself is such a hassle.
Wouldn’t it be great it if there was an after-market top guard that was easy to use, easy to remove and replace & and maybe even had anti-kickback features built in?
Enter the Brett-Guard® line of saw guards.
Available in several versions with various mounting options, from the sides of your saw top to an over-the-top (or cantilevered) arm…they even offer a ceiling mounted application & what all the Brett-Guards share in common is a clear plastic box-like guard with built in anti-kickback fingers.
The clear plastic shield allows you to easily see the saw blade as you are making your cut, something that appeals to me. The shield is adjusted in and out, as well as up and down, with at a box-like mechanism that is well away from the saw blade. Unique to the Brett-Guard is the fact that it hovers over the workpiece. Most other top guards ride up and down as the stock enters and exists the cutting area, but the Brett-Guard must be pre-set to accommodate the thickness of the material you are cutting. If your stock happens to be 1/8″ too thick for the level of the guard, you can see this would cause you to have to stop and re-adjust the guard. On the other hand, the fact that the Brett-Guard is so strong allows you to use it as a hold-down for the stock you are cutting, a feature that no other top guard can accomplish.
All of the variations of the guard offer exceptional access to the table saw’s surface, an additional safety benefit in my opinion. The cantilever version has a swing-up, pivoting, means of getting the shield out of the way during saw blade changes or machine maintenance. The only negative I’ve heard reported about Brett-Guards is that their design limits proper splitter use. Some folks recommend a bit of modification to the shield or moving it forward to allow the splitter to be used effectively.
With that said, woodworkers with as much experience as Ian Kirby recommend the Brett-Guard, and that speaks volumes to me. As you can imagine, with a wide variety of mounting options and features to choose from, price of the Brett-Guard varies. (In at least one version, there is an optional dust extraction feature as well.) They range from a bit under $300.00 for your basic guard, up to a little over $525.00 for the over- the-saw versions. Brett-Guards are available from HTC Products, Inc. You can call 800-624-2027 to find the nearest dealer.