View Full Version : Ouch!! Table Saw Accident

gary porter
12-02-2002, 05:44 PM
Never thought it would be me,, Now I'm pecking at this keyboard
as I have two heavily bandaged fingers on my left hand.
Just before Thaanksgiving I was passing through the shop
helping a friend and just making one quick cut, a narrow
rip. Toward the end of the cut I noticed I was going to catch
the push-block so I made a small , quick adjustment
and in one big bang and one micro second it was all
over. The board caught,kicked back and shot across
the shop like a bullet just missing my friend. I look
down and saw blood and a bit of a mess of my fingers.
It was my thinking that the board had hit me and I guess
it did but as I later found out I somehow had hit the
blade as well. Still have my fingers but they don't
look like they use to. Most of one nail gone with
a good slice off the side of that finger, a large hole in
the index fingernail also split and missing some parts
which had to be dug out, a fractured bone and a hole in
the end of that finger...hurts like hell and pride,
well its totally gone. See, I have all the equipment
to keep this from happening but didn't take the time to
use it. It could have been so much worse that I
feel quite thankful for what I have left and hope that
it will cause me to not make a mistake like that again.
I've cut thousands of board feet through my saws, hours
and hours of time there. One micro second of a mistake.
Please,,take the time to do it right or don't do it.
Theres just to much to loose.
Take care all.
Gary :(

12-02-2002, 06:19 PM
must be something going around,over the weekend, a friend ground the tip of her right index finger 1/2 way to the bone on the tablesaw but didn't lose the fingertip.

Joe (SoCal)
12-02-2002, 06:30 PM
I worked with a cabinet maker who used to say Its not a matter of IF but WHEN and then how bad. Sounds like you got off lucky this coming from a guy who's father has 9-1/4 fingers. How's the feelings in your tips. Your gonna have to be even more careful if you have lost the feelings since you wont be able to feel when your too close to things

gary porter
12-02-2002, 06:36 PM
Joe, I certainly hope this is it for. Yes, the feelings seem to be ok as near as I can tell for now. They hurt so they must be working.
LeeG, if its going around I hope it passes soon.
gary smile.gif

Wild Dingo
12-02-2002, 06:39 PM
Well if its goin around I aint goin near me tools!! :eek:

Gary hope alls well mate and no perm damage done. :cool:

Take it easy {but be alert!!}

Gary Bergman
12-02-2002, 06:43 PM
My fingers will look like hell in my coffin, but they ain't too bad now, really, use a lot of straight Aloe out of the leaf and the scarring will be considerabely less :(

12-02-2002, 06:44 PM
Did you save the push stick?

Bummer for sure. Let us know how you heal.

Best wishes.


12-02-2002, 06:51 PM
Unavoidable. That's why you never, I mean NEVER, put your fingers close behind that blade. Unless you just got that one little piece you gotta wiggle out.

The tablesaw is the most dangerous stationary tool in the typical wood shop. It always seems to have a bit of a mind of its own.

I've been whacked more that a few times by pieces rocketing out. Be thankful you've got all your knuckles!
:D :D

gary porter
12-02-2002, 07:00 PM
Thanks Shane and Gary , I'll go for the Aloe soon as I can, may be a while yet. Norm, the push stick didn't get a scratch. Whish I had let the saw have it. Your right about all that Jack, I actually don't remember having my fingers very close but they got into the front of the blade and thats where most all the damage happened. I'd really like to see a video of it ,maybe not, just to see what all went on so fast.

12-02-2002, 07:04 PM
I hate hearing about fingers being chopped off. .I still have all of my digits(knock on wood) Like most of you I have ripped thousands of feet and i am not always a cautious as I should be.
When I was 17 I got a job working for a cabinetmaker. We had a huge job to do and he cut off two of his fingers. With his arm in a sling to keep the hand elevated, i had to be his hands. I got a fantasitc education in cabinetry/ architectural woodwork. Well anyway that was 15 years ago. Abot 5 years ago I went to the Industrial complex where we had worked to try to locate him . I heard from the neighbor that he sold the buisness and changed careers after he had lost all of the rest of his fingers and about half of his hand in the shaper.

Be careful all.

Dave Fleming
12-02-2002, 07:12 PM
Ayup, them thar woodworking machines will bite you eventually ***IF*** you are not carefull all the time around them.
Got an interesting looking 'social finger' on the left hand. Absolutely MY fault.
Several left hand fingers have altered tips.
NOT my fault.
Those cut fingers are going to be very very very sensitive to cold and bumping for some years to come. I think it took about 5 or 6 for that damn 'social finger' to finally settle down.
Some time I will relate the story of "Little Hat Shapiro' and the shaper or the one about the shaper at the old Blanchard Boat Yard in Seattle.
Or did I already tell that one? CRS strikes again, I'm thinkin'. :rolleyes:

[ 12-02-2002, 08:14 PM: Message edited by: Dave Fleming ]

ion barnes
12-02-2002, 07:32 PM
I too have had an intimate relationship with my tablesaw. Cannot find any marks now after several years. The nail grew back and the tips of second and third fingers look and feel normal. Sounds like you did the about the same. My biggest concern after it all was not tapping the ends of my fingers - too many raw nerve endings. Got a static shock once through the end of one of those fingers,(I can laugh now) but that night I was a raving nut in the parking lot holding my hand and slowly dancing about with the wife saying "Whats the matter with you". She thought I had pinched the fingers in the door! I dont know which would have hurt more. Any way the sum total of my mistake after 40 years of close encounters of almost the third kind, I am not surprised to make contact. Its the law of averages as the insurance reps will say. And It was my fault, full stop. I was cold, wanted into a warm house, impatient, just get the job phase done and we're outa there. Yep we were - straight to the medical clinic and home to deal with the after shock. It should be a warning to everyone, When you get antsy, and want to take a chance please call TIME OUT! Regardless, absoulutly regardless of the situation. Go have a smoke or a coffee or just go away for a change of scenery. My old Grade 8 wood shop teacher was just ferocious about us not paying attention around the machine tools and 5 years later after retirment, sliced off three of his own at home. I clench my own hand when I think of it. Be thankful it did not turn out worse, change your ways, and go at it again. Reflect, Repent, Reboot. Take care.

On Vacation
12-02-2002, 07:41 PM
I guess I should consider myself one of the lucky few. Only a sawsall to the tip of my thumb that took about five years to finally get its nerves back to normal and finally the skin to quit flaking to be free from evidence. It looks like the learning was a bit cheap this time. REMEMBER this the next time you hit the start up switch. All well that ends well.

12-02-2002, 07:55 PM
damn gary
Just got home from work and read your post. I know the feeling only too well. I got lazy with a bunch of repeated work on the table saw and just took my mind off long enough to catch the blade with the left thumb. Still hurts like hell when it gets cold, and have no feeling on the end of it,.....and that all happened 3 years ago :mad:


gary porter
12-02-2002, 07:59 PM
Yep, thanks for all the good words and believe me I'm listening. Last night I added a hinged board that hangs in front of the magnetic controls. Now, if I see trouble coming or have a problem I don't have to move , just a flick of the knee and the saw is shut down,,,could help sometime.
I'm not afraid of the saw but as you say there Oyster, I did get off cheap this time and I don't intend for there to be a next.
Well heres hoping.

On Vacation
12-02-2002, 08:03 PM
I think sometimes we get what is known as a wakeup call. I hate to see you unable to continue your quest for the ultimate boat in the area that you live in.

gary porter
12-02-2002, 08:14 PM
Oyster, thanks,,haven't given up anything just set back a bit,,I'll be sanding on the boat in the shop with my good hand tonight and the quest lives on.
Wakeup call taken....Gary ;)

12-02-2002, 08:16 PM
My left hand has taken quite a beating thuogh, I've shot it with three different nail guns( a narrow crown staple throuh the middle finger into a jig, attached my thumb to a door frame, with a finisher ansd into my palm, almost through with a framer....that one still hurts 2 years later.

Memphis Mike
12-02-2002, 08:20 PM
Sorry to hear that Gary. I guess I'm one
of the lucky ones also. I still have all
ten fingers and toes. But then again, I
don't have a table saw............yet.

Roger Stouff
12-02-2002, 08:21 PM
Sorry to hear it, Gary...makes me shudder. My only accident was with a hand planer which took off the tip of my pinky, but it grew back okay.

Just gotta keep our eyes open and thoughts on our work, but sometimes freak accidents still happen.

12-02-2002, 10:04 PM
I'm sorry, Gary. I hope it doesn't hurt too long. I'm glad you've still got your fingers.

My son-in-law wanted to use my table saw, one afternoon. I had some molding bits he needed to complete some framing-Nasty, single bit molding head. I warned him that the molding head was vicious. I had to go out for a couple of hours. When I came home there was blood in the kitchen, blood all over the table saw and basement and no son-in-law. I went nuts! He was fine, thankfully; Just the tip of a first finger.

The Shaper! Now that's a different story. 30 years ago, I was in a boatbuilders shop and was commenting on how dangerous his huge band-saw must be. He said 'That's nothing! That's the machine you have to watch out for.' and pointed at an innocuous iron table top with a little spindle in the center. Whenever you approach a shaper, repeat to yourself, 'This machine wants to chew you up and spit you out.' Repeat that any time you're with 5 feet of the beast.

12-02-2002, 10:10 PM
Never. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. Put your hands on the back side of a tablesaw blade if you want to be able to count to ten without using your toes.

12-03-2002, 01:54 AM
A guy I work with in another venue was at the lumber yard trying to describe our boss. The description:

"Fiftyish, beard, and missing a finger"

The response:

"That's half of our customer base, can you narrow it down???" :(

- M

12-03-2002, 02:43 AM
Used to be in the printing industry, one place the guillotine op. had removed the safety bar as it 'got in the way'. All his fingers on the left hand had flat ends from following theblade down as it trimmed the paper. One day he slipped. I chewed my thumb on a metal saw as an apprentice but so far I have been very lucky and very careful with my power tools. Closest shave has been a bench drill catching my sleve.

J. Dillon
12-03-2002, 08:24 AM
I shiver when I read stories like this. It's not just the shop size saws that do the damage.

I once got careless with a miniature model making saw, the blade was no more then 2 ". Subconcsiously you think it can't hurt me. When ripping up some planks for a model, I pulled the stock through, in a nano second it pulled my left thumb in and sliced off the end. :eek: :eek: I still have on feeling in that region of the thumb. :(

Gary , do you have to go in for hand therapy ?


Bruce Hooke
12-03-2002, 09:12 AM

Thanks for being willing to tell everyone about your slip-up. It's a great warning to the rest of us to be more careful...

- Bruce

Garrett Lowell
12-03-2002, 09:50 AM
Sorry to hear about it, and happy it wasn't worse.
We all have our stories, so here's one from me.

Last summer I was ripping some maple into 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches square, about 20 inches long. My table saw is in the garage, the exhaust port facing the house, meaning my back was to the open garage door (with my Wrangler sitting just outside). You guessed it, the blade caught a piece of freshly ripped maple and hurled it into the headlight of my jeep. The entire headlight assembly had to be replace, to the tune of $90.00. I feel I got off cheap; it could have hit the garage door (had it been closed), my jeep's condenser or radiator, or even worse, me or someone else.

Don't get me wrong here, I always use care and respect and every safety precaution avalaible whenever I use my tools. But since then, I approach the table saw with a newly minted respect and even a little fear.

12-03-2002, 02:28 PM
Left hand thumb. Big scar, numb. I've never been able to remember how that hand got anywhere near the saw. :(

Dave R
12-03-2002, 03:00 PM
Gary, glad you'll be alright.

While we're sharing stories, here are two. First--the only time I've hurt myself on the tablesaw was when it was new. I was cleaning the gunk off the top and slit my finger open on a burr in a miter gauge slot. Not alot of damage but I bled like a stuck pig.

The worst injury so far came from a chisel last February. I lopped off the end of my index finger. Not much and the resident who worked on me tried to sew it back on. It didn't take and that finger is still not right.

Do the therapy. It doesn't take long to have impaired function in your fingers from lack of use and excercise.

12-03-2002, 03:19 PM
Gary -- ouch! Your story is too close to how I got bitten; knew how to do it, hurried, blang! I've got about 95% motion in that finger, it still (after 30 years) does a good job of predicting sharp barometer changes.

Aloe, do the exercises, and my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

capt jake
12-03-2002, 03:31 PM
Gary, I will add to the 'saga' smile.gif Hope you are felling ebtter and they heal soon!

Did nearly the same thing about 5 years ago, only the right hand (I hope you are right handed!! LOL). :D :D bummer doin' that to the hand that you 'use'! :D

No bone FX in mine though one finger wouldn't heal. They considered grafts at one point, but after about 6-8 weeks it finally started to heal. No feeling in the tips of those buggars anymore, though I have had feeling return to another finger after nearly 20 years! smile.gif It still points around corners though! ;D

"shot accross the room", you are lucky it hit no one! I took one of those in the gut a while back. Knocked me back about 10' and thought I was a gonner. Very swollen and bruised for a few weeks.

Take care, when you are all better, make a bunch more push sticks!! I did! :D :D

[ 12-03-2002, 04:32 PM: Message edited by: capt jake ]

12-03-2002, 04:38 PM
Bigger tablesaws are more dangerous exponentialy.
While working in a cabinet shop years ago, the boss was ripping some 16/4 oak on his monster 7hp/3ph 14" table saw. Well, at the end of the rip the blade bound on the wood and sent the rip of white oak at a velocity fast enough for it to punch through the cinderblock wall. :eek:

12-03-2002, 04:57 PM
I saw this on tv the other day and was completely amazed. It is a device that is electrically activated and does two things: it instantly drops the blade below the surface of the table, and at the same time, completely stops the blades rotation. They demonstrated it on a thawed hotdog and it only made a tiny scratch on the surface. You sacrifice a blade in the process, but all of the digits would remain attached! Pretty amazing invention!!


I haven't been attacked by the tablesaw yet, but I can see how quick and easy it can happen.


gary porter
12-03-2002, 05:39 PM
I wouldn't mind having one of those saw stops on everything in the shop but I'm not seeing anyone stepping up to shove his finger in the blade for demonstration. Can't blame them really.
Thanks for all the kind words and great stories. Seems its not uncommon for this type of thing type happen,,too bad for that but maybe sharing our messups might help us to be more cautious. Fingertips are getting numb for some reason, not sure about that will find out more this friday.
All take care and be safe..
Gary ;)

B. Burnside
12-03-2002, 06:20 PM
I'll have two of those sawstop doob'ries when they come out. My dearly beloved still has all his fingers, but he's had a close call or two. From the article in the link above, it looks like I better start saving my pennies now.

Stay safe, you folks! We need those beautifully skilled hands.


(PS Did you know the biggest market for survival suits when they first came out was fishermen's wives?)

Greg H
12-03-2002, 06:28 PM
Eww, I don't even want to think about it. Heal fast! Take care of yourself.

Greg H.

Gary Bergman
12-03-2002, 07:29 PM
Gary, cut a inch or two piece of aloe leaf, split it, the inside is cool and jellied. Place the jelly side down as soon as you can stand it. Besides the work accidents, once I sat my chainsaw down beside me in a squat and hit the kill switch off as I set it down. when I stood up,I slapped my last three fingers into the idling off saw. Yuck! It was a long summer but you cannot tell unless pointed out, and the nerve damage seems less.Injun medicine..Geronimo didn't give guys days off...

gary porter
12-03-2002, 08:04 PM
Thanks Gary, will do as soon as I can. For now the doc has me packed in Bacitracin. I have used the aloe for burns etc in the past,,good stuff.
thanks again,

Rich VanValkenburg
12-03-2002, 08:06 PM
This is a darn good thread. Serves as a wakeup to all of us. Hope it all grows back, Gary.


12-04-2002, 01:35 AM
Hey, you guys! Just stop doing that! Those machines are out to get you.
I must be shot in the a** with luck. The only thing I've done in about six decades of woodworking is try to shove a puttyknife through my hand. Oh, there was that time with the turtle. I was out in my cartopper with a Mexican fisherman pal off Quintana Roo, and we spotted a medium-sized sea turtle. He jumped in and brought it alongside the boat (this was while such capturing was still legal). In the course of getting it aboard, I stripped all the tendons from the first knuckle of my ring finger, which left it flopping in the breeze. Got it sewed up when I returned home. Sorry, there weren't any gory details with which to regale you, but it did hurt...a little. On reflection, I guess this is not enough to get me into the scarred-body-parts club. Sigh.

[ 12-04-2002, 02:38 AM: Message edited by: Bayboat ]

ion barnes
12-04-2002, 03:09 AM
Saws an planers.humph! I taught at a junior high school for a time (mechanical shop) and one day went down to the wood shop as the teacher was into kayaks, a single step hydro, and other projects that had my eye. So I walk into his classroom, its his free period, and there he is at his desk, just staring at the waste can. He asks me to go and look at the wood lathe in the corner. Well, there was blood everywhere up the backstop, tool rest, infront , and a thin strickle out the door and down the hall. The significance was apparent, and I asked 'Is he still screaming?'

The story was, the kid put a 3in. block in the lathe, turned it on, and wondered where the corners went!!! He promptly put his fingers up to touch the 'invisable' corners and had his hand sucked in between the tool rest and the spinning lumber. I just cannot comprehend , to this day, what was going on in that kid's head. This took place about 20 yrs ago in Campbell River, BC Never heard what the outcome was. Teacher left everything as it was for the rest of the day to show the other classes.

12-04-2002, 06:09 AM
Several neighbor kids hung around pretty regularly as I was building Prairie Islander. One, my grand neighbor, Daniel, of whom I've spoken here many times, could be trusted to be in the shop without supervision. Another could not. I had the feeling that if I told him not to put his hand in the saw because it would cut it off, he would try it just to see if I knew what I was talking about.

The teacher has to know his kids.


12-04-2002, 06:57 AM
Aside from 20 or 30 scars on my hands from sharp objects ranging from exacto knives to oyster shelves, to (not spinning) table saw blades, I've been very lucky. Ive lost 2 sets of thermo-pane sliding doors to the tablesaw. I know several friends who can only count to 8 now with out using their toes.
The scariest thing I saw though, was in college WW shop. A freshman girl running a piece of 1 1/2" stock about 2 feet long over the jointer. Why so scary you ask? She was trying to join the end grain... No one got there in time to stop her.

ken mcclure
12-04-2002, 07:39 AM
Sorry about the accident, Gary. Hope all ends well and that the pain goes away quickly.

Just as a practical note, whenever I have to rip skinny pieces, I make up a skinny push stick. Only takes a second to put a notch in the end of a skinny piece of wood.

Dave R
12-04-2002, 09:04 AM
The Saw Stop thing does indeed sound like a neat idea. Evidently the company who developed it couldn't get any takers when they tried to sell it so they are building their own saw to market the device.

Can't help but think that it's kind of like a parachute, though. You won't know if it works until you need it.

Probably the best thing, Saw Stop or no, is to not allow yourself to be distracted while operating power tools. I always try to do a dry run on the tablesaw to make sure nothing gets hung up when I'm using an outfeed table or rollers.

Ed Harrow
12-04-2002, 12:11 PM
Gary, glad you're still of a piece. These things take no prisoners, so one can't take a chance. Dave's comment re doing a "dry run" is a good one, even if one has lots of time in... Like me and the chainsaw... I came out of that with all my "features" intact at least. I've had one kickback on our table saw. Scared me (tho I never saw it) and SWMTMH (who was upstairs, studying, and sitting right over where the piece struck as it was gaining altitude like mad, half to death.

My grandfather, who worked with some pretty crude stuff as was the way back then, never had to do anything more than throw in the occassional stitch or two.

12-04-2002, 01:29 PM
Sorry to hear of your encounter with a table saw. You are not alone. The list of posts describing accidents with table saws seems to be almost as long as the people who frequent this site, including me.

Gary, get well

gary porter
12-04-2002, 01:40 PM
All great posts, thanks. Ken, the thin push board is good for sure but guess what ,, thats what I was using. For thin cuts its made from 1/8th ply. I was going to catch it with the blade though and made a small adjustment,,big mistake, let the saw have it. We work with these things for years then in one microsecond of dumbness,, well, I still have a hard time with the fact that I did this. It is good to hear all of the stories form everyone as it gives food for more thought and hopefully might keep one from doing the same. The woodlathe, well thats asnother one..
Gary :rolleyes:

gunnar I am
12-04-2002, 04:24 PM
What's a splitter?

John of Phoenix
12-04-2002, 05:21 PM
Heal well and soon Gary. I had a run in with a daddo blade that chewed my right thumb up pretty well 20 some years ago. Some of you guys are gonna howl at this, but self-hypnotism really helped my recovery. My surgeon was amazed at how quickly and well I healed. He told me he didn't think I'd have 50% motion or any feeling at all, it was messed up so badly. I just kept visualizing the healing and it's almost as good as ever. A little tender on beer twist tops is all. :D

Gunnar, a splitter is usually made of metal, is about 80% the thickness of the saw blade and sits directly behind it. It keeps the wood from pinching together at the back part of the blade and kicking back at you. Some people just use a wooden wedge in the kerf to do the same thing, but by the time you realize you need a wedge, you're flirting with a kick back already.

[ 12-04-2002, 06:30 PM: Message edited by: John Teetsel ]

gunnar I am
12-04-2002, 05:31 PM
OK. I thoght that might be what it is. Put all that stuff away when I set the saw up. I don't remove the guards for effect.They're in the way .They're off the chop saw as well. On the joiner because it doesn't get in the way. Tools today are a lot safer than they used to be. Ever work on some of the babbit bearing , monsters of the past. How about a swing saw. I once saw a shingle mill built just like a swing saw. REALLY SCARY!!!

John of Phoenix
12-04-2002, 05:38 PM
Jointers give me the creeps. There was a sign on the one in the wood shop on base where I used to do some work. It said,

"This machine has removed SEVEN fingers from five careless operators. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED."

gary porter
12-04-2002, 05:50 PM
Just found a great splitter, and ordered one for my saw. It hides under the throat plate until you want it then just takes a second to set it in place. On mine a bracket gets mounted under the plate with a pin to snap in the splitter. Cost about $130 for the Power Matic but I think it could be cheeper for the others. Check out

gunnar I am
12-04-2002, 05:52 PM
Originally posted by John Teetsel:
Jointers give me the creeps. There was a sign on the one in the wood shop on base where I used to do some work. It said,

"This machine has removed SEVEN fingers from five careless operators. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED."There's my baby! 8' bed 16"x4" cutterhead.You outta here this sucker scream! Loud? You bet! My guard has on it ," Always use personal injury lawyer to feed stock." What really scares me is the band saw. Those hook teeth if they ever catch ya will pull ya right in. http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid41/p09d86626d751593750611f773896fdab/fcf8804d.jpg

Nicholas Carey
12-04-2002, 06:44 PM
Originally posted by gunnar i am:
What's a splitter?In the US, OSHA mandates a particular style of blade/kickback protection device -- the kind you normally see that hangs over the blade and has spiked, ratchet-like pawls that are supposed prevent kickback. They are useless and because they obstruct the view of the blade (and prevent blind cuts, such as you might do with a dado blade), that they are virtually always junked.

They don't use the American-style blade protection in Europe (and I assume in the rest of the world). They have a Better Way.

Kickback occurs when the outfeed end of the workpiece rotates away from the fence. The kerf, obviously has to go somewhere when it catches on the spinning sawblade. FWW, a couple of months ago did a interesting piece where they purposefully induced kickback to demonstrate how and why it occurs. You can read it here (with pictures): http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/pages/w00066.asp

To prevent kickback, what the rest of the world uses is a 'splitter'. It is merely a thin piece of metal just behind the blade. It is attached to the saw arbor so it raises, lowers and tilts with the blade. It's aligned with the fence side edge of the blade (so you can use a dado blade with it.)

Anyway, here's a picture of a Euro-style splitter (on a Robland X-31 combination machine):


Because of its location, the workpiece can't rotate off the fence. I suppouse you could pull the infeed end of the workpiece away from the fence, but then all that's going to happen is the blade is going to slam it down against the table, jam and stall.

Nicholas Carey
12-04-2002, 07:29 PM
Originally posted by edsr:

You can read about the SawStop at their web site at http://www.sawstop.com/

Fine Woodworking has an article about SawStop at http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/pages/w00108.asp

SawStop works by running a mild electric current through the blade when running. Contact with flesh changes the impedence which causes a plastic finger to be fired into the saw gullet and the blade to be retracted. Within 5 milliseconds of contact, the blade is stopped and withdrawn into the body of the saw, resulting in at worst a very minor cut.

You can view some videos of the system in action on different tools (table saw, band saw, chop saw) at http://www.sawstop.com/video.htm (I had problems with everything but the Real format player). Check out the high speed camera videos especially.

You're out $60-70 dollars or so for a new 'braking cartridge' or whatever it is, but I'd say it's cheap at 100x the price. Keep a couple of spares around.

You can also preorder their saws on the web site.

SawStop is making two saw models: their cabinet saw, competing against the Powermatic 66 and its brethren is $2200.00 and their contractor's saw, competing against Delta, Dewalt, et al is $699.00

If you think their system is a Good Thing, here's their page, http://www.sawstop.com/contactmanufacturers.htm , listing contact info for most of the major saw manufacturers: let them know you're interested

I wonder if you could redesign shapers and planers to use this technology?

Joe-Bob sez...check it out.

Dave Fleming
12-04-2002, 07:39 PM
Just watched the videos and the high speed ones as well.
VERY impressive to say the least.
I am surprised that the lawyers for the big makers, PM-Delta-General-Grizzly-Jet et al., haven't been after those people to put it on their machines.

Scott Rosen
12-05-2002, 05:52 AM
Sure, the finger saver is a good idea. But the danger comes when people think it's a substitute for good safety practice. The law of averages says that one day, one of those finger savers is going to fail and someone's hand will be in the blade when it happens.

Bruce Taylor
12-05-2002, 07:46 AM
But the danger comes when people think it's a substitute for good safety practiceIn the safety industry they call it "risk consumption." You have ABS brakes, so you drive faster, "consuming" the new margin of safety.

However, the tablesaw is such a voracious meat-eater that even if this device only worked one time in five it would probably still save a lot of fingers. I want one.

John of Phoenix
12-05-2002, 09:46 AM
That SawStop sounds great but it won't be available for at least another year. Also, the saw's standard table is pretty small so add extra wings for $150 and the upgraded fence is another $150. That's $1000 for a 10" contractor saw with no history of quality or repair. That stop gizmo is enticing though.

In the mean time, A survey of retrofit tablesaw safety devices that are convenient to use (http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/pages/w00130.asp) . Another fine article from the fine folks at FWW.

I'm going to order a splitter that I'll actually use. Thanks for the reminder Gary. Get well soon.

Ian G Wright
12-05-2002, 11:51 AM
Shall I tell you about the damage I caused with a 48inch chainsaw first day on the job? First tree too? No? Oh, OK,,,,,,,


gary porter
12-05-2002, 11:56 AM
Go for it Ian,, in Alaska we have quite a few chainsaw accidents. I was once a medic and took in a guy who had taken one in the face cutting the door opening in his log cabin. No clean cuts there.
Gary :eek:

Nicholas Carey
12-05-2002, 01:15 PM
Originally posted by Scott Rosen:
Sure, the finger saver is a good idea. But the danger comes when people think it's a substitute for good safety practice. The law of averages says that one day, one of those finger savers is going to fail and someone's hand will be in the blade when it happens.
To which Bruce Taylor replied:
But the danger comes when people think it's a substitute for good safety practiceIn the safety industry they call it "risk consumption." You have ABS brakes, so you drive faster, "consuming" the new margin of safety.[/QUOTE]

Assuming that no system is 100% failure-free, a better analogy would be seatbelts or airbags, not ABS brakes.

Arguing against a system like the SawStop on the grounds that it might fail and consequently people might be hurt is like arguing against seatbelts and airbags on the grounds that there's a small probability that they might not deploy properly and thus people might be hurt.

Seatbelts, airbags, and the SawStop do their work after the system has already failed. ABS brakes work to prevent the system failure [wheel lock] from occurring in the first place. The one tries to prevent the accident from occurring in the first place; the other tries to maximise survivability and minimize damage once the accident occurs.

It's a crucial distinction.

For instance, in the case of ABS brakes, it's pretty immediately apparent that braking performance is much improved. The first time you brake hard on ice will tell you that. Hence, the confidence level goes up and the operator pushes the envelope -- driving faster, following closer -- thereby consuming the additional safety margins provided by the ABS system.

Seatbelts and airbags, on the other, don't affect the apparent performance of the system, since the system never comes into play until a failure (in this case, collision) occurs. So to the user, the system's performance characteristics appear unchanged -- the new systems are just sitting quietly waiting for something catastrophic to happen. So there's no impetus for the user to exercise the new system.

Nobody is going to, say, drive recklessly or drive intentionally into a tree at 100 km/h just because their car has seatbelts and airbags that improve the their probability of survival in a collision.

Collisions are outside the problem domain (normal operation of a motor vehicle) and, in addition, the collision itself comes with consequences -- financial damages, for instance, and inconvenience while the car is being repaired -- that far outweigh whatever benefits might be perceived in exercising the system (seatbelt/airbag deployment.)

So the SawStop is rather less like the ABS analogy than the seatbelt/airbag analogy.

Are you going to get careless around -- or put your hands intentionally into -- a whirling tablesaw blade or shaper head just because there's a safety system waiting to try to save your bacon after you f**k up?

Bruce Taylor
12-05-2002, 03:41 PM
Geeze, Nicholas...I said I wanted one! smile.gif

I'm not "arguing against the SawStop on the grounds that it might fail." I'm not arguing against it at all (and I'm not sure Scott is either). In fact, I said it could fail four times out of five and still be worth installing!

It's been fifteen years since I worked in the safety business, but even then there was a huge body of literature on seat-belts. I remember reading a German study suggesting that people did, indeed, tend to "consume" some of the safety benefit that comes from wearing good restraints.

Seatbelts don't cause people to swerve into trees. However (assuming the German study was a good one -- an assumption I'm in no position to make, fifteen years later!) they may have a measurable effect on the way people drive. It seems plausible. Cross a parking lot without your belt on and take note of how vulnerable you feel.

Nobody would conclude from this that seat belts are a bad idea, or a major cause of reckless driving.

[ 12-05-2002, 04:59 PM: Message edited by: Bruce Taylor ]

12-05-2002, 03:47 PM
Sorry to hear, and thanks for the warning.

Best of luck, glad to hear you still got your fingers.

ion barnes
12-05-2002, 07:28 PM
For a non-boat related thread, this has been excellent! Three cheers to Gary, for your honesty and consideration of our safety. Thank you.

12-06-2002, 07:10 AM
It's scary how respect for power tools can fade until someone you know (or yourself) gets bit. Reading through this thread and thinking about some of the chances I've taken in the last few weeks has really given me the shivers.

One of my first wakeup calls was back in my firefighter days. Working rescue and we picked up a guy who was using a radial arm saw to cut a board to length. He didn't realize that his hand on the board was right in line with the cut and it cut him right in the crotch between thumb and first finger about halfway to the wrist. That poor guy was in misery all the way to the ER.

12-06-2002, 11:54 AM
gunnar i am,
A splitter is a device that is installed behind the blade of a table saw it prevents a piece of stock that is being cut from catching the back teeth of the moving blade and hurling the work at you, hence the term kickbacks. With a little engineering it would probably be possible for the splitter to raise and lower with the blade and would be left in place for a great majority of the cutting done with a standard blade.

Recently there was a good article in Fine Woodworking along with photographs demonstrating the effect of kickbacks. It also outlined how to make a wooden splitter as needed for a job.

Most of the guards and splitters installed on a majority of saws are difficult to use, time consumming to re-install, and generally frustrating. They are routinely taken off and left off.

If you are ripping long pieces the standard fence length can be inadequate. Go to your steel supplier(Home Despot) and get a 1" square tube 8' or 10' long. Pick a good straight one, sand lightly and paint to prevent rust, white is nice and visible. Then using double stick tape make an extension for the existing fence one your saw. Simply stick it on when needed. It's cheap, removes easily and will be more accurate and safe when cutting long stock. Support the workpiece, especially the outfeed; rollers, auxillary table etc. Think the job through from beginning to end, rehearse the motions. Give your brain and muscles a chance to learn before you turn the power on. One other thing is a special push stick. Forget the whimpy 1/8" things, or things made of plastic. Get a 2x6 about 8" long and round off one corner for a comfortable hand pushing shape. Then cut a long piece out of what is the bottom leaving an inch notch, more or less, doesn't matter, make the notch deep enough to sit on your workpiece and not touch the saw's table. You now have a sacrificial push block that fits over the work, holds it down and pushes at the same time. Make several of these and when one gets worn out throw it away. You can cut pieces small and large with a lot less risk to fingers and hands. Also, learn to stand to the side of your machine and scan view your work area and not just the point of contact with the blade. After the first cut the push block will be "adjusted " to make repetitive cuts without any further material being removed from it and being a 2x6 it has some margin of safety in it's height and bulk. You hold the push block over and on the workpiece and guide against the rip fence. On really long pieces clamping down the back of the fence can help it stay steady. Use caution and make sure you don't pinch the work. A few thousands wider at the back of the fence is a good thing. This rig works well for making rip cuts in solid wood. If faced with rip cuts in full sheets of plywood or other sheet goods use a straight edge and a circular saw for safety. IF A CUT ON THE TABLE SAW LOOKS OR FEELS AWKARD OR STRANGE OR JUST NOT COMFORTABLE -- STOP AND RE-THINK THE PROJECT -- PERHAPS THE TABLE SAW IS NOT THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB. For a lot of things hand tools are the right power tools to use.
Best Wihses

12-06-2002, 12:30 PM
Scott - Thank you for adding the links

Nicholas Carey - Sorry to yell, seemed the event warranted the rant.

gunnar i am - Wow what a dog! Wish I had one of dem. Wegman, eat your heart out.

gunnar I am
12-06-2002, 01:15 PM
More pics from the shop. Definetely, an outfeed table is probably one of the important safety devices. Don't like rollers,uneccessary expense and worse they make your work walk. Don't understand the need for them.never had trouble pushing my work through. My first table saw was when I was 15. 1939 Craftsmen 8" which was made by Delta.That was it untill 12 years ago, now the uni-saw pictured. But it was some dangerous walkin around the saw maintaining down pressure and then pulling from the other side.and pulling is an extremeley dangerous move always. When done you should be applyin torque to the piece and should be at least several feet from the blade. It's tough, you do stuff on the saw in front of your kids and then say don't do that. I've got a pretty good understanding of the mechanics. By the way I'm 46. http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid41/p8b64ae11471205077ec4b256c9ed986c/fcf6af3c.jpg http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid41/pbc2fd61ded5bfc1c90dc98810d4a57ef/fcf6b003.jpg And that little lathe is an Oliver pattern makers lathe.A monster! If I could have I would have all Oliver."Oh, Oliver,Oliver, wherefore art thou? Whether,tis better to saw the pines and poplars with Delta when my heart yearns for dear,Oliver."Yeah ,he's a great dog that, Basil.Always tryin to get in the picture.

Bruce Taylor
12-06-2002, 01:36 PM
Yes, nice dog. Did you succeed in jointing his butt?

Alan D. Hyde
12-06-2002, 01:58 PM
Gary, you have my sympathy. It could have been me; I've just been lucky so far (although I've put a knife through my right index finger, and a dog's canine tooth through my left "signaling" finger while breaking up a dogfight...).

Anyway, something that helps a lot is to take a baseball around with you and squeeze it hard whenever you can.

A shot of whiskey morn and night is an old Maine healing assist for the extremities, and it does seem to work...


[ 12-09-2002, 11:57 AM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

gary porter
12-06-2002, 04:28 PM
Thanks again all, and Alan, the first thing I did after leaving the ER was have my wife drive me to the liquor store for a big bottle of Jack Daniels and yes it does help but I only use it in the evening and then not too much. Have to have my coffee in the morning hours. The ball sounds good as the doc is conerned about maintaining mobility. I like some of the above comments on ways to deal with various aspects on the saw,,think I'll print this post out and hang it on the wall.
Thanks yet again for all the concerns, comments and ideas.

12-07-2002, 04:07 AM
Thanks for the 2 fingered post Gary.I made a similar one about 10 months ago when I chopped off my right thumb!! All is now well,no pain,nearly full feeling,full use .So things can turn out well!I've spent the last 10 months trying to scare my all and sundry out of the kind of things I used to do ! Thanks again for telling your story......we need to stay just a bit scared. smile.gif smile.gif