- Manual handling signage for workshop/space generally
- Risk assessments for different cuts
- Make cross beam
- Paint the guard
- Make foot-lifter for guard
- Make locking handle (?)
- Add spot of weld to guard locking nut/make handle
- Assemble table saw toolkit and build storage rack: ring spanner for riving knife, torque wrench for changing blade, socket for blade locking nut, naughty finger…
- Complete text of induction notes below
- Insert photos into induction notes
This is a heavy-duty table saw.
2nd hand. 1980s vintage Italian engineering.
Needs work before being brought into use:
- DC injection brake for motor
- New ange handle lock knob DONE
- Extraction fitted DONE
- New blade? DONE
Induction and Training
Notes for delivering induction:
Cribsheet (click to expand)
1. Initial lecture - intended to be up to 45 mins in length
What the table saw does:
- Big, accurate saw - very good at cutting straight lines - both cross cut and ripcut
- Compare briefly to bandsaw and mitresaw - discuss a few tasks you would use the tablesaw to complete
- Induction will cover safety and basic technique - if doing anything more complex, then discuss with a woodtech first
- No metal ever to be cut on the tablesaw. Plastic could be cut but would require special blade - discuss with woodtechs.
What are the risks?
- Kicking - from material catching in blade, or twisting, or being trapped between blade and fence
- Coming into contact with main blade or scoring blade - during use, never cross the centre line of the main blade
- Fire from buildup of sawdust and thin slivers of wood
- Don’t take advice from YouTube videos - especially American ones
- Recap usual dress rules for the woodshop - tie back everything, and no gloves!
- Use push sticks or sleds to prevent your body coming within 30cm (1ft) of the blade. Except when using sled with a solid guard between hand and blade.
- Always use extraction
- Goggle, masks, ear defenders
- Isolate tool in two places before going within 30cm (1ft) of the blade - removing tag from tool control doesn’t count. Use both the twistable isolators.
- No lone working
- Don’t use tools when tired or inebriated
Anatomy of the tool:
- Power control/switches. Include tool control - reminder that responsibility for any injury is down to the person whose fob is in use.
- Emergency stops. Reminder it’s easy to hit with knee - slowing blade is more dangerous. Use mushroom to stop, not isolators.
- Bed - mention the of feed table and 8ft is maximum length that a single person can cut
- Guard and how to raise and lower - the guard should always be as low as possible - sitting on bed for any material up to 18mm (~3/4 inch) thick. NB - current advise not to use anti-kick claws as they require more work to function properly.
- Extraction - reminder about checking all the right gates are open/closed.
- Ripcut fence - and how to adjust. Should usually be “vertical”, but turned onto it’s side when carrying out a fine trim and needing to get under the guard
- Sliding beam - should always be locked in place if movement not required for current cut. Clamps can be used to hold a small piece to the sliding beam for cross-cutting.
- Removable side table - warning: weighs 19kg, so consider two person lift - attaches to sliding beam for larger cross-cutting tasks.
- Crosscut fence - large metal bar which attaches to the side table
- Main blade
- 30cm (1ft) diameter - as it spins towards operator, this causes kicked material to come towards you.
- More teeth = cleaner cut, but less clearance. So typically, a ripcut blade had fewer teeth as it needs to clear faster, whilst a crosscut blade has more teeth so that it cuts more neatly.
- Tablesaw should be left fitted with ripcut blade by default
- Scoring blade
- Not currently in use - but may be sourced and fitted in future
- Reduces tear-out on surface - sticks 5mm above the surface of the bed
- Riving knife - keeps material separated and in a straight line after passing across blade. Reduces risk of twisting and catching. Riving knife should be around 5-8mm clear of the the blade tips. Reiterate that riving knife is extremely important, even though it is often not used in the US
- Control for changing main blade height - should be set so that gutter on teeth is a few mm above the surface of the material
- Control for changing main blade angle - should be left perfectly vertical
Prepare your material
- Ensure material is free of nails and screws - beware reclaimed timber.
- If you’re cutting along the length of a rectangular material, this will be a ripcut
- If you’re cutting across the narrower width of a rectangular material, this will be a crosscut
- If in doubt, discuss with a woodtech
- Crucially - ensure that any “reference edge” which will be pressed up against a fence is perfectly straight - if not, screw on a straight piece to serve this purpose
2. Demo/usage - intended to take 20 minutes each for 3 pairs, plus time for demo and questions:
- Inductor demonstrates a ripcut, then changes the blade, attaches the side table, and demonstrates 2 cross cuts (one with material in front of fence, one with material behind fence).
- _Get inductees into pairs, and get them to repeat all the above. Ensure that both people in each pair are getting equally involved.
- Invite everyone to give feedback and ask questions as each pair practices.
Checks for all cuts
- Fences - never use both
- Guard height
- Riving knife present, straight and correct distance from blade teeth
- Blade height and angle correct
- Ensure material is clamped as necessary, or that push sticks/sled are at hand
- Entire tablesaw bed and off feed table clear of dross
- PPE ready
- Tell everyone in the workshop that you’re going to use the tablesaw
- Never ripcut anything wider than it is long - ie. short side of a rectangle - as this will twist very easily and cause a kick.
- Use ripcut fence only - show how to adjust. Back of fence should line up with back of riving knife
- Marking up material - remember to allow for kerf!
- Push material towards the fence until it is safely separated by the riving knife
- Keep hands 15cm (6inches) in front of the guard - ie. not beyond front edge of the bed. Use push sticks as necessary
- Select new blade to fit
- Isolate in two places
- Remove safety finger/rubber bumper
- Push sliding beam to end of travel farthest from operator
- Screwdriver to lock blade, then turn by hand (not touching teeth) until screwdriver drops and spindle locks
- Remove blade locking nut - LEFT HANDED THREAD(?)
- Take note of washers/spreader and inner ring that fits spindle to blade - don’t lose!
- Clean out any sawdust and slivers whilst tablesaw is open
- Remove old blade and fit new - make sure the inner ring is in place and the blade is the correct way around
- Reassemble and screw on securely - make sure all the components are smooth and flat against each other
- If switching to ripcut blade, then reassemble the safety finger/rubber bumper
- if switching to crosscut blade, then insert the naughty finger
- Is material big enough to need the side table?
- If cut is small enough that it only requires travel of 30cm(???), then it can be done without exposing the blade (without removing the safety finger).
- Fit side table to sliding beam - ensure they are locked together
- Ensure fence is fitted correctly to the side table
- Make sure that material is securely held against the fence and any sled at all times during cutting - by clamp or by hand
Clear up after yourself!
Does anybody have questions?
Induction Notes for inductees:
What the table saw does:
The table saw is used to make accurate, clean, straight cuts into boards that are less than 4 inches thick. It can handle full size 8ft by 4ft boards. It does this using a large, circular saw blade that is built into a table - which provides a large flat surface to slide the workpiece over. It can be used for some other specific tasks:
- Making a very neat box. Make a cuboid, then use the table saw to cut off its top!
- Mitred edging - the table saw blade can be tilted in order to create a cut edge that is angled rather than flat
- Precise angled cuts - when crosscutting, the fence can be set to any angle, to produce a finished piece with a more or less “pointy” end, rather than simply a perfectly flat 90 degrees.
- Grooves/channels - by lowering the blade so that it only cuts part way through your material, then making a number of passes with the fence moved a few millimetres each time, it is possible to make precise, straight grooves or channels in your material
It is an alternative to the band saw for some applications. The band saw can cut deeper materials and handle some curves, whilst the table saw is designed to cut perfectly straight, at a variable depth and angle, and handle larger workpieces (provided they are not too thick).
What are the risks?
- Kicking - when being used to rip-cut, the table saw can cause the workpiece or offcut to be pushed back towards the operator with enormous force. If the piece is large, then this is likely to be a strong push which could make you lose your balance - however, if the piece is small it will travel very fast and the impact could cause you serious injury. Just ask Joe about his intimate bruise.
- Contact with the blade - this is particularly dangerous after the table saw has kicked. As usage involves pushing workpiece towards the blade, it is possible to become complacent and let yourself get far too close. If the table saw kicks a small piece of wood, this may hit you in the groin or stomach and cause you to double over in pain automatically. It is possible that your hand, arm, chest or even head could then some into contact with the blade.
- Contact with the other blade - as well as the main blade, the table saw has a second blade for scoring (more on this below), which is closer to the operator. As this is only just proud of the surface of the bed, it could be forgotten about. In addition to causing a nasty injury itself, it could also bring you into contact with the main blade. Treat both blades with equal and extreme caution.
- Entanglement - most things coming into contact with the main blade will be very swiftly cut up. However, it is possible that loose hair, clothing or jewellery could be caught by either blade, and pull you into a cutting edge.
- Do not take any advice from American “how to” videos - in the US there is far less regulation around the use of table saws, and much of the “normal usage” you’ll see on YouTube is dangerous enough to be considered illegal in the UK under H&S regulations, and is therefore not permitted at SLMS.
- If an injury is caused by the table saw, we won’t need a first aid kit or ambulance - just a priest with a mop. Jokes aside, this is the most powerful tool in the workshop, and can cause serious injuries, even if used correctly. Always take the time to minimise risks.
- Do not let any part of your body or clothing come within 30cm (1ft) of the blade whilst it is moving. Instead, use push sticks with a notched end to retain greater control (more on this below).
- Do not wear loose clothing.
- Ensure long hair, jewellery, and any clothing drawstrings are securely tied back
- Safety glasses are mandatory
- Extraction should be used at all times
- Masks are mandatory, as a lot of dust can be created
- Ear defenders or ear plugs should be worn, as this is a very loud tool.
- Sensible footwear with sturdy toes and a small heel should be worn at all times in the workshop. Steel toe-caps are a bonus.
- Do not wear gloves - they are an entanglement risk with woodworking machine tools
- Always isolate the tool (turn off the power) before going within 30cm of the blade, or exposing the blade.
- NO LONE WORKING WITH POWER TOOLS - there must always be another adult in the space
- As with any power tool - be sober and alert. Do not use the table saw when tired.
Anatomy of the tool
- Power control - the table saw is the first tool in the wood workshop with tool control - this is the small box of electronics on the wall above and to the right of the controls. Your door-entry fob will be “enrolled” by a woodtech after training. After that, you can activate the power to the table saw by placing your fob on top of the tool control box and leaving it there until you are finished. Note - don’t forget to take your fob and anything else it is attached to (eg. keys) with you when you leave! Once the power is activated by the tool control box, you can use the green power button on the table saw controls to turn it on.
- Emergency stop - as well as the red stop button next to the power button, there are also several emergency stop buttons for the table saw, to make sure the operator can always reach one easily if needed. Remember - emergency stop buttons are generally damage limitation - bad things are usually already happening by the time they are hit. Try to avoid this by preparing carefully.
- Controls - there are a number of controls for the table saw, all accessible from the operator’s position. These are explained in more detail in the relevant sections below.
- Bed - this is the large, flat steel surface with a gap in the middle containing the blades. You will feed your material over the bed, through the path of the blade, and out the other side. The bed on the far side/downstream end of the blade has been extended - so that larger pieces of material can be fed thorough it without “falling off” the other end. Anything up to 8ft in length can potentially be managed by a single operator. However, anything over 8ft would fall off the end before cutting had safely finished, so a second person is needed to hold the end of the material coming off the bed, keeping it straight and level.
- Guard - a metal arm hangs over the table saw, and holds a transparent plastic guard over the main blade. The guard is designed to hang just above the surface of the bed, and then rise up as a workpiece is pushed underneath it. As the material clear the back of the guard, it then lowers itself back down to cover the blade. This is a safety feature. The base height of the guard is controlled by a wheel on the “elbow” of the arm. The guard should always be in place, unless a specific task is being carried out with supervision by a woodtech.
- Extraction - there are two elements to the table saw extraction system. One line has been fed into the body to extract sawdust directed down from the blade (this is where most of it is deposited), whilst the other follows the arm and feeds from inside the top of the transparent guard (which allows for the extraction of finer particles). Always ensure the extraction is on when using the table saw - although a relatively small amount of dust is released into the workshop, it piles up enormously under and around the table saw body itself. This would be a serious fire risk if it caught light
- Anti-kick claws - these are metal talons that hang from a rod attached to the guard arm. They should be set so that your workpiece just fits underneath. The idea is that that as material is pushed through the table saw in the correct direction, the teeth simply curl out of the way - however, if the table saw kicks material back in the wrong direction, the teeth will try and bite into it - slowing it and hopefully stopping it before it’s fired back towards the operator.
- Rip-cut fence - this is the metal bar on top of the bed, which always remains perfectly parallel to the blade. It can be moved closer to or further away from the blade. This fence should be used when ripping along the grain of a board or plank. The fence is moved using a combination of the black plastic locking handles on top of it, and various controls on the front of the table saw. These are explained in more detail below.
- Sliding beam - the side of the table saw bed on the left (from the operator’s position) can slide backwards and forwards to allow for easier movement of material past the blade without twisting or catching. This is commonly used with the next item…
- Removable side table - this is an extension weighing 19kg, which is added to the table saw to allow larger materials to be catered for - especially when cross-cutting. This is linked to the sliding beam, and can be used either in a fixed position, or with travel parallel to the blade. Note that this is heavy and moderately awkward to fit correctly whilst supporting its weight. It is strongly advised that this be a two-person lift. Please refer to the signage in the workshop about safe manual handling of heavy items.
- Cross cut fence - this is a metal bar which attaches to the sliding beam and side table. The metal pegs on the fence can be slotted into holes on the side table, which lock it at common angles such as 90 degrees or 45 degrees. Alternatively, one of the pegs can be put into a channel in the side table, and set to any other angle before being screwed securely into place. More on this below.
- The main blade is 12 inches in diameter, and spins towards the operator - meaning that it cuts through wood pushed against its cutting face. It is the energy of this blade spinning towards the operator that can “kick” material back towards you if it gets caught by the blade incorrectly.
- Generally speaking, crosscut blades for the table saw have more teeth (to get a neater finish), whilst rip cut blades have fewer (to allow more waste to be cleared). Multi-material blades can also be fitted, which are suitable for wood and plastic.
- No metal should ever be cut on our table saw - the potential for causing a fire is simply too high, given the amount of wood waste in and around the machine.
- Our table saw typically stays fitted with a blade suitable for a range of tasks in wood.
- In front of the main blade is the scoring blade, which spins away from the operator (towards the main blade). It is much smaller (only a few inches across), and when in use its apex should come just a few millimetres above the surface of the bed. It performs the same function as running a Stanley knife down a cut line before sawing - by breaking the surface fibres, it significantly reduces tear out from the face of the material.
- Riving knife (pronounced to rhyme with “driving”) - this is a curved strip of metal which sits just behind the blade, giving the teeth around 5mm of clearance. As the material moves across the blade, the riving knife keeps the two edges of the material apart, and helps keep the material moving in a perfectly straight line. This is vitally important, as it significantly reduces the risk of the material twisting or catching - which would cause a nasty kick. Using a table saw without a riving knife is common in the US, but is terminally dangerous - and therefore not allowed in the UK, and definitely not at SLMS.
Prepare your material
Rip cut or cross cut?
- As with any material going into one of our powerful and valuable tools - your material must be guaranteed free of screws/nails, etc… Do not put reclaimed timber through the table saw without discussing with a woodtech.
- Most materials to be cut on the table saw are at least roughly rectangular. Consider your material - are you cutting along the longer length of the rectangle, or across the narrower width?
- If you’re cutting down the length, this will generally be a rip cut
- If you’re cutting along the width, this will generally be a cross cut
- If in any doubt, ask a woodtech. Strangely shaped materials will typically be treated as a cross cut
Rip cut preparation:
- You’ll be using the ripcut fence, which is parallel to the bed and doesn’t move during cutting.
- This requires you to have a straight edge on your material, perfectly parallel to the cut you want to make. If there isn’t such an edge, you’ll probably need to treat this as a crosscut. In some circumstances, you may be able to screw a straight edged offcut on to an uneven edge to act as a guide. Discuss with a woodtech.
- Mark up your cut position on the leading edge of your material - the bit that will be offered up to the blade first
Cross cut preparation:
- You’ll be using the side table and cross cut fence, which is typically perpendicular to the blade (at 90 degrees), and will move with your material as it goes through the full length of the cut. However, the fence can be set at any angle between about 20 degrees and 160 degrees from the blade’s path.
- Ideally, you want a flat edge which can sit against the fence, whatever angle you may need this set to. If there isn’t such an edge, then you will need to very thoroughly clamp the workpiece to the sliding beam, so that it cannot twist at all during the cut.
Preparing the tool for usage
- Isolate the tool from the power supply, to reduce the risk of injury during set-up
- Ensure the crosscut fence had been removed from the table saw, and stowed back where it belongs
- Lift the guard, so that it is easier to access the blade for measuring. Whilst it’s visible, check that the riving knife looks straight and in line with the blade. Also check that the riving knife clears the blade, but only by around 3-5mm (no more than 8mm).
- Set the height of the blade. In front of the operator is a large metal wheel with a handle for turning it. Release the locking nut on the wheel by hand (leftie-loosey!), and turn the wheel to raise or lower the blade. Set the blade height to be around 5mm taller than the height of your material (assuming you want to cut all the way through). You can do this by putting an offcut next to the blade, or by using the measurements displayed in the wheel you are turning. Once the blade height is correct, re-tighten the locking nut by hand.
- Check the blade is tilted (or not) to the correct angle - it should have been left perfectly upright. There is a similar wheel with locking nut located just inside the table saw body, to the right of the wheel you’ve just used (underneath the fence controls). Make sure the locking night is hand tightened, whether you’ve adjusted the tilt or not.
- Adjust the ripcut fence:
- Check you measurements, to make sure you know how wide to set the fence. You may wish to mark up a piece of scrap in the same way as your material, in order to check the settings are correct.
- The end of the fence nearest the operator has a metal lever with a black knob on the end. Set this to the middle position - “unlocked”.
- You can now push the fence from side to side, to get it in roughly the right place - you only need to be close for now - within around 2 cm. Once in position, set the lever to the top position - “Vernier”.
- In the Vernier position, you can now use the silver knob on the left of the fence to “micro-adjust” the fence in either direction, to get the distance from the side of the blade to the side of the fence exactly correct. Your piece of scrap may be useful to check this visually!
- Set the metal lever to the bottom position - this locks the fence in place.
- Set the guard to the right height using the wheels on the “elbow” of the arm that holds it. For material less than 1 ¼ inches (around 3 cm), this should be sat on the bed - but not too heavily! For thicker material, the guard should hang above the bed - at a height 1 inch less than the thickness of your material.
- Ensure the bed and out feed table are completely clear - remove any scraps, offcuts, screws, notes, phones, teacups, etc…
- Ensure that you have sufficient space available at both ends of the blade for the full length of your cut - move any stacked wood, bins, or other obstacles as necessary.
- Tell everyone around you what you are about to do - make sure anyone using the workbenches is aware. Advise them that this is a good time to put on ear defenders and masks.
- Final checks - is the fence securely locked off and immobile? Is it in the right place? Is the blade at the right height and tilt? Are the blade adjustment wheel locking nuts tightened? Is the guard at the right height? Are you wearing all your PPE - mask, ear defenders, safety glasses?
- Ensure your fob is securely in place on the tool controller, and that it says the table saw is “ON”.
Cleaning up after usage