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Close call with table saw kickback

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by thebikingtechie, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. thebikingtechie

    thebikingtechie Active Member

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    So I know this has been brought up before, but safety can never be brought up too many times.

    Today I had a close call while using a table saw. My dad and I were sawing some 2x8, taking off 6 inches from the end. The first one went fine, though we had to stop the saw and flip the wood over to get that last little bit. The second one was when we had the problem. We had just gotten through and I was reaching to turn the saw off, the saw caught the 6x8x2 piece of wood and shot it at the ceiling with it ricocheting down, nicking my back on the way to the floor. The speed in which it happened is astonishing and it was a very good reminder, always be careful around power tools!

    I suppose there might have been a safer way to do the cutting, but the radial arm saw wasn't working and we were doing the best we could with the table saw.

    Though this was just for our garden it could very well have been for theatre. I know how often we all have to cut corners in theatre, but please at all times be careful, if the block of wood had been shot a little lower I could very well be dead.
     
  2. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I'd never use a table saw for that kind of thing. I'd prefer a good, sharp hand saw to a table saw in this situation. Though in a properly equipped shop, I'd pick things in this order: radial arm saw, miter saw, circular saw, hand saw, saw blade on my leatherman. Notice that table saw isn't on the list.
     
  3. thebikingtechie

    thebikingtechie Active Member

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    Yah, you're probably right, the thing is it's not really a properly equipped shop, it's a shared shop with a bunch of people who have donated stuff from their own collections (long story). Anyway, I think we're doing the other two boards by hand. The only reason we did with the table saw is we were being kind of lazy and had originally planned on the radial arm saw but since that wasn't working switched to the table. For the record we did double check with a skilled carpenter and he said go for it.

    This is also a point that you should always a)think before you do something, b)never take someone's advice at face value c)learn from your mistakes, I won't be trying this again.
     
  4. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    There are far too many people who don't follow this. And this is why we have the Darwin Awards.
     
  5. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    although this probably is a questionable use of a table saw, I wouldn't say it is completely inappropriate. The huge thing that a table saw gives you that most other saws don't is the ability to make the exact same length board over and over again. That reason is one of the main reasons that I'll choose a table saw over a radial arm saw. If you really need something thats plum, square and has clean corners using a table saw properly can really make that easy.

    As far as the topic goes I'd say the safety lesson here is use a push stick to make sure that both cuts are clear of the saw before you change your focus to anything else (even if it's to turn the saw off).
     
  6. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Radial-arm saw and stop block? Shoot the wood past the stop block, then flip board on its edge, and gently pull back and slide into stop block, then lay board flat. It's accurate.
     
  7. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Table saws are for ripping, running pieces longways through is not the best idea in the world... because you have a much larger chance of binding the blade, as you found out. Use the right tool for the job or don't do the job.
     
  8. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    That works if you have a stop block, most that I've ever used don't have that. Of course you could get creative with clamps and pieces of scrap wood but unless I'm cutting a lot of wood that seems like excessive time and effort. Maybe it's my "Work smarter, not harder" mentality from home construction, but I like using a table saw for all kinds of cutting. In the case of the original poster depending on the length of the long end of the board I would probably still use the table saw even after the kickback (just pay a little more attention to the small pieces that I'm cutting off).
     
  9. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    The scene shop I interned at had two "pre-fabed" stop blocks that live by the the radial arm saw. It was no more than some 1x2 at right angles with the words "DO NOT THROW OUT" written on them. Paired with the couple of clamps that live there it was a very effective technique for repetitive cuts. Of course there was also 16' of in/out feed table on either side. The show I cut the lumber for goes up in a few days, I should go and see if it's crooked. :mrgreen:
     
  10. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    If I had that maybe my opinions would be different, In most situations I've worked a saw horse or a dead man is about all I've had for a feed table. Currently at PTC the radial arm saw sits next to the wall dividing two bay openings so a feed table is out of the question, there is a saw in the VERY BACK of the shop that works similar to the radial arm just with no vertical movement but I really don't like it because it takes about 2 minutes from the time you shut it off till the blade finally stops moving. So yah in the end table saw it is for me for most situations. It doesn't hurt that the table saw has good pushers that manage to actually stay by the saw and it has an accurate measure tape on it so I don't have to mark or measure at all, just set the saw and let'er rip.
     
  11. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Ah, here we go, a picture of what I'm talking about, too bad the stop-blocks are out of view:
    [​IMG]

    Behind my shoulder the out-feed table extends 16', exactly. Makes it easy to get 16' cuts, and trim those pesky "factor-edges" off. Out of frame to the right behind the the in-feed table is a space to pile long scrap, for use later in smaller cuts.

    To the other young techs:

    As I've learned: if you don't got largest to smallest you look like an idiot.

    Also, label everything you've cut.

    Edit: I hope the terminology (in/out-feed table) is correct in this instance, when discussing a radial arm saw.
     
  12. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    I would switch in and out sides because I personally feed L to R and like you said the pile for scraps are to the right, but I understood exactly what you meant and wouldn't give you crap if we were working at the shop.

    Trying to get back on topic, if I had this available to me there would be no reason to cut anything thats not a sheet (4' x 8' plywood, 4' x 4' Masonite etc...) on that table saw.

    EDIT: PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY LABEL ALL YOUR CUTS IF THERE IS ANY POSSIBILITY THAT YOU MIGHT NOT INSTALL THEM YOURSELF. If you install it yourself well it's up to you to figure out which one goes where, I would still label them. It's quick, easy, and saves time.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2008
  13. Logos

    Logos Well-Known Member

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    Charc: Why aren't you wearing goggles and ear protectors?
     
  14. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    It comes down to proper equipment for the job. Proper equipment is always safer. I'm groping for a good example, but can't find one.

    In response to the L/R "in-feed" side: "In-feeding" from the right (The wood is stacked out of frame on the right, grab one, throw it down to the stop block.) allows you to keep your dominant hand on the saw.

    Alex, Brett:
    Is there no room in the PTC shop for such a set-up with the radial-arm saw? It'd free-up the table saw for more use, create a safer environment, and a more productive environment. My thoughts at least.
     
  15. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    I knew someone would call me out on that.

    It was a staged picture for my presentation. That's why my stance indicates I am about to attack the saw. :mrgreen:

    Edit:

    Brett, I did label everything, no worries there. There was an instance where I didn't entirely cut longest to shortest, though. I realized afterwards it was a stupid idea. However, "no harm no foul". I was able to keep working through-out the day, running the pile down, and a new lumber shipment came the next day. Plus, more cut-lists which called for my scraps.
     
  16. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    Like I said way up there ^^^ there is a set up that works fine for anything on the 2 x whatever variety, I just hate the thing cause it takes so long to stop after you turn it off. I guess it comes down to preference, PTC has a great shop with lots of well maintained tools, I happen to know how to safely operate the majority of these tools (me + lathe = ugly) I happen to prefer the table saw and have never had a problem with kickback on a table saw.
     
  17. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    You guys really don't have any type of standard compound miter saw? Sounds like to me one needs to be bought and put on a rolling cart with flipable wings. Most shops I work/have worked in have at least 2, and both are in constant use.
     
  18. Traitor800

    Traitor800 Active Member

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    So I apoligize for getting a little off topic but this has been bugging me, the saw in the picture above is not a radial arm saw, it is a miter saw, in fact it goes by some long name like dual compound sliding miter saw(Dont shoot me if thats wrong i can never remember the order that the words all go in). A radial arm saw has no vertical movement at all and when you cut you pull the saw towards you instead of pushing the saw in like you do on a sliding miter saw.

    Back to the topic, I to am a fan of using a table saw for all sorts of cuts, as long as the board being cross cut is less than 6', If its over 6' then I perfer a miter saw. You can also make repeat cuts on a table saw easly as long the cut is shorter than the cut width of your rip fence.
     
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    You should never use the table saw for cross cuts unless you build a sled to safely hold the wood while cutting. A sled is a sliding home made device that allows you to clamp the wood in place on both sides of the blade so that the small cut piece doesn't go flying.

    I made this mistake once in college when I was but a young carp. I launched a 4" piece of 2x4 right over my shoulder passing inches from my ear. It hit 20' behind me and 20' in the air. It left a mark on the brick wall that could be seen for years (perhaps still). I would have been VERY badly injured if not dead if I would have been standing two inches to the right. Don't cross cut without a sled, it can kill you! Go that? KILL YOU.
     
  20. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    thanks traitor800 for the clarification that was on my mind too but I let it go. We do have a radial arm saw with the purely horizontal movement, and it is near wood storage and it does have a long in run with rollers, BUT it is also the previously mentioned saw that takes longer to stop than I take to eat lunch. In my opinion an educated use of a table saw is much safer than a blade that you have to leave while it's still spinning fast enough to hurt someone. And for the first person to ask me why I'd leave it there it's because A) babysitting the saw that I don't want to use in the first place would piss me off B) I would probably get yelled at by someone of authority for standing there so long and C) the worst reason of all, thats what every one else does, and in the time old tradition of "that's the way its always been done" that is what is expected. Because of all this I'd rather use the sliding compound miter saw for a single quick cut or for custom cuts that don't all have to be of uniform length, or I'll use the table saw for anything that I want more than one of that I want to be exactly the same size. And just out of manageability I couldn't imagine cross cutting anything that hung off the table too much (say 5' long or more) and yes we have a sled and I love it because the way ours is set up you can make all your measurements with it and get perfect cuts just the size you want without every using a tape measure or a pencil. I hope this is the end of this all it's really kind of silly debating over table saw vs. radial arm/sliding miter saw when it's really preference. The only reason that I keep commenting back is I feel like I kinda flung PTC out there with a bad name and really I like the shop in general I just hate the radial arm saw
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2008

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