This woodworker has a new table saw and two teenage sons. He doesn’t want to take the blade guard off for that reason. On the other hand, one son came home from shop class the other day and said that none of the TS’s at school have their blade guards still installed. Now he’s worried about his son’s safety at shop class and is wondering if he should keep his blade guard on his TS.
Ian Kirby: The blade guard prevents you from getting involved with the blade. The splitter prevents kickback. Both are vital.
I suggest you invest in a Brett guard and a separate splitter. A Beisemeyer can be made to fit. Don’t be fooled by TV shows that film unguarded saws. Don’t be put off by shop teachers who removed guards and splitters. Don’t believe magazine articles that explain that guard and splitter have been removed for the sake of clarity. Correct setup of the table saw for each of its four operations and correct operator procedure is the most efficient way to use the machine. Do I need to say that correct automatically includes safe?
I have two more suggestions. First, have the school shop replace the guard and splitter. Second, get numerous copies of my book The Accurate Table Saw and give a copy to all concerned. Call me (203-882-0736) and I’ll be glad to send you signed copies.
Ellis Walentine: No responsible table saw expert would ever advise anyone not to use all the safety equipment recommended by the manufacturer of the saw, so I’m not going to address the pros and cons of guards here. Certain operations, such as cutting grooves and dadoes, can’t be done with a saw-mounted guard in place, but most other operations can and should. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the workings of your guard, so you know how to use it in different situations. If it’s a cheap, flimsy unit like most stock guards, consider upgrading to one of the more sophisticated and capable aftermarket guards available. Finally, if your son’s school shop doesn’t have guards, someone is in serious dereliction of duty and they’re opening themselves up to a world of possible legal trouble. I’d call ’em on it! You don’t need reckless people in charge of your children’s safety.