Overhead Table Saw blade guard- good or bad?

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Forum topic by Tooch posted 06-05-2017 12:42 PM 4677 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tooch's profile


2013 posts in 2648 days

06-05-2017 12:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question jig safety

Here’s a safety question for everyone, which is going to probably evoke some strong opinions from people either way.

When you are using a table saw, do you use an overhead blade guard?

Personally, I do not. The one that came with my Sawstop PCS 3.0 feels to be very flimsy, and inhibits my view of the rotating blade. Now I fully understand their intended use—to both protect the user from chips/splinters, and foreign objects falling on the blade—but I find them to be more of an annoyance than anything and actually decrease my feeling of safety when they are in use.

Also, there are a couple other issues I face with overhead blade guards. When making thin rips (less than 1-1/2”) I feel like I cannot use the guard and a push stick effectively. Dado cuts are impossible to do with the overhead blade guard since the splitter is taller than the blade (as opposed to a riving knife, which sits at the same height as the blade).

I did a quick YouTube search and found varying opinions, so I was interested in all the LJs take on this. here’s probably the closest opinion to match my own, found from a WWMM vid:

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

22 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6241 posts in 3265 days

#1 posted 06-05-2017 02:31 PM

I have a Sawstop, and sold the overblade guard piece. I have an Excalibur mounted on the saw, and it is always in place when I’m sawing unless it’s with a tenoning jig or other cut that makes me move it out of the way. My dedication to that type of guard is for the dust collection capabilities, and the puny opening on the SS OEM wasn’t going to cut it (IMHO).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Gene Howe's profile (online now)

Gene Howe

12176 posts in 4201 days

#2 posted 06-05-2017 02:35 PM

Took mine off long ago. Would like an over arm set up for DC, though.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30550 posts in 3110 days

#3 posted 06-05-2017 03:26 PM

With everything I cut, the blade guards interfere too much with many of my projects. That being said, I work alone. If I had employees, I wouldn’t allow them to work without all safeties in place.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View syenefarmer's profile (online now)


557 posts in 3852 days

#4 posted 06-05-2017 03:27 PM

Also stopped using mine for basically the same reasons you stated plus it was always a hassle to realign the splitter with the blade whenever I was done making a dado cut. They certainly do have their purpose where safety is concerned but if one is always aware of using the table saw safely they shouldn’t really be necessary.

View Woodknack's profile


13386 posts in 3152 days

#5 posted 06-05-2017 04:10 PM

Blade guards are a legal device, not a safety device. But like Gene I would like to have an overarm dust collector.

-- Rick M,

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24791 posts in 3877 days

#6 posted 06-05-2017 04:37 PM

I never used mine since I got my saw. I cut so many shapes and use lots of sleds that I’d spend more time taking it off and putting it one than time cutting. I spend enough time changing the insert when doing angle cuts!!

If I was always doing flat cuts, I’d use it because it keeps the chips/dust from flying at you. I always wear ear and eye protection on the table saw, though. I don’t mind dust in my hair but not in my eyes!!

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Tooch's profile


2013 posts in 2648 days

#7 posted 06-05-2017 05:08 PM

thanks guys, lots of good opinions. I think the overall opinion is that if it weren’t such a hassle it would be more practical. I’m not setting aside the safety issue; with a riving knife (which I use) I feel like kickbacks can be prevented.

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 2675 days

#8 posted 06-05-2017 05:25 PM

The Excalibur guard on this Delta 12-14 is easy to use, I lift it up for sleds. It can be quickly removed if needed, but its heavy.

View hoss12992's profile


4171 posts in 2665 days

#9 posted 06-05-2017 05:49 PM

I don’t use one as I view it as a safety issue and feel I’m much safer using my table saw sled whenever possible. Much faster and allows for better accuracy. A lot of stuff I cut I would have to remove it anyhow to make the cuts

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 1363 days

#10 posted 06-05-2017 05:54 PM

With the blade guard the amount of dust in the air is very noticeably lower even without dust hose and is very much lower with the attached dust collection.

View Redoak49's profile (online now)


4733 posts in 2761 days

#11 posted 06-05-2017 05:56 PM

I do not know why anyone needs a blade guard or riving knife. I am 100% focused on safety and that will protect me. Besides the blade guard causes safety problems at times.

I just wanted to add this comment before someone else did.


View TheDane's profile


5822 posts in 4435 days

#12 posted 06-05-2017 06:07 PM

I have a Sawstop PCS with the over-arm guard, and use it pretty much all of the time. The dust collection alone makes it worthwhile.

The only time I don’t use the over-arm guard is when I am making a non-through cut (e.g. have a dado stack running, etc.) or am using a sled.

I also use push-sticks and featherboards.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4420 days

#13 posted 06-05-2017 06:46 PM

I quite like the added dust collection, it
really stops a significant amount of airborne
dust and lessens the amount of dirty debris
that hit you in the thighs when operating
a table saw.

View clin's profile


1113 posts in 1768 days

#14 posted 06-05-2017 07:36 PM

I have a SawStop PCS and use the guard whenever possible. I find it very easy to use and easy to put on and off.

And it is a great help with dust collection. Of course there are plenty of times I don’t use it. For example, when using a sled. But unless I can’t make the cut with it on there, it’s on there.

-- Clin

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3576 days

#15 posted 07-05-2017 09:12 PM

After getting my new table saw, I have found that I’ll use the guard/dust collector sometimes, but not always. It’s more in the way most of the time

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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