Is the Blade Guard really necessary ?

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Forum topic by fstellab posted 01-11-2013 04:32 PM 3220 views 0 times favorited 55 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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86 posts in 2590 days

01-11-2013 04:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tablesaw blade guard safety


I know this question could get me banned from woodworking, but I am new so please be forgiving.

The only thing I don’t like on my new Ridgid R4512 is the blade guard. The main issue is that I can’t see the the blade with it on. It seems to me that if I could see the cut, I might be able to see problems, like smoke or issues with the wood pinching together. Also, the guard is a bit flimsy and wobbles. This is not unique to the Ridgid, I looked at a bunch of table saws in the $500 range, they all had the same problem.

I purchased a Grr-Ripper model 200, it give very good protection when doing rip cuts. I have several good push sticks and push blocks.

The knife and anti kickback are in place .. and will stay there, but I am tempted to take off the blade guard and leave it off.

I thought I would check in with you folks first.


-- Fred Stellabotte ([email protected])

55 replies so far

View Manitario's profile


2781 posts in 3388 days

#1 posted 01-11-2013 04:40 PM

I have had a couple of TS with similar “issues” with the blade guard; I too ended up removing it and using a riving knife. My current TS has a very good guard that allows me to see the work well and isn’t flimsy; I use it as much as I can; it’s just one more level of protection from absentmindedly contacting the blade.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3663 days

#2 posted 01-11-2013 04:46 PM

Fred…I have a Sharkguard for my Unisaw…I hate it. I feel it doesn’t do any good unless it’s snug over the blade and if I do that, all the thin waste cuts get caught under the guard. I just haven’t gotten comfortable using it and feel that if I can’t properly see the blade that it’ll be a bad thing. I try to keep the splitter on, however. I think that’s the more important part.

-- jay,

View Wiltjason's profile


56 posts in 2467 days

#3 posted 01-11-2013 04:49 PM

As much as I hate to admit it I haven’t seen My blade guard in years. Knock on wood I haven’t had an accident with my table saw in which the blade guard would have saved me though.

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Monte Pittman

30439 posts in 2843 days

#4 posted 01-11-2013 04:56 PM

No blade guard on mine either

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4723 days

#5 posted 01-11-2013 05:05 PM

I have to admit, my blade guard rarely sees any use. However, I do have a splitter installed.

I want to be clear for any inexperienced table saw users out there: If you have the type of saw where the blade guard also functions as the splitter, you should NOT remove it unless you install a splitter that attaches to a zero-clearance insert, or a similar safety device to avoid have the wood pinch the blade.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Swyftfeet's profile


170 posts in 2676 days

#6 posted 01-11-2013 05:09 PM

I think what you would find that the majority of regulars on this site would be proponents of safety measures due to the sheer number of beginners that visit.

I would bet that less than 1/3 use them on older saws in private residence. My old grizzly 690 that I got off of CL was used primarily as a Dado saw in a shop and the guy had lost it. So I got the adjustable micro jig and just respect the saw.

I wont lie, I think very hard every time before I hit the power button. where I am standing, floor clear, ensure that my tables are clear, ect.

I’ve had two kick backs, one where I got a decent bruise in my hip… I now stand in a different spot and never push wider than long stock thru without using the Miter.

-- Brian

View LeChuck's profile


424 posts in 3567 days

#7 posted 01-11-2013 05:09 PM

Ridgid R4512 for me and I never use it without the blade guard (at least when not using a sled), which I like, except for those metal parts that force me to keep my miter gauge further away. Don’t see a valid reason to remove the blade guard and do away with that added safety.

-- David - Tucson, AZ

View Don W's profile

Don W

19329 posts in 3072 days

#8 posted 01-11-2013 05:12 PM

same here. I wish I could use it, but just can’t.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5981 posts in 3318 days

#9 posted 01-11-2013 05:13 PM

Ever notice on woordorking shows they saw “The blade gaurd has been removed for clarity” yeah, right.

The two biggest things you can do for TS safety (short of buying a sawstop), are…
1. Only run straight, freshly jointed stock on your TS.
2. Make use of featherboards and push sticks whenever you can.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View knotscott's profile


8332 posts in 3880 days

#10 posted 01-11-2013 05:18 PM

IMO the splitter/riving knife is more important than the guard because it helps prevent kickback. I’m sure it’s better to use both, but many stock blade guards are so cumbersome and obscure the view that I tended to not use them. A year or so ago I added the BORK Blade Guard to my BORK riving knife and actually like it because I can see… so I use it!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3824 days

#11 posted 01-11-2013 05:29 PM

This is what I had in my old shop, I blogged about it a couple years ago…

WHile you might think the hanging dust collector is in the way, I got used to it really quickly, and it afforded me some degree of protection from the saw blade.

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View Don W's profile

Don W

19329 posts in 3072 days

#12 posted 01-11-2013 05:57 PM

Milo, I’ve often thought about building the overhead dust extraction blade guard. Still thinking…....but its a good idea.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View AJLastra's profile


87 posts in 2733 days

#13 posted 01-11-2013 06:04 PM

I am an absolute safety nut about every machine in my shop. HOWEVER, i must admit that I haven’t used my blade guard in many years. With the exception of a Brett Guard, any other guard just made it more potentially harmful than helpful because I want to see that saw blade at all times. I use antikick back wheels and a Micro jig splitter. I push my stock through with a GRRIPPER push block system. and the most imprtant thing I do just like breathing is unplug the saw after each and every cut when I turn off the saw. i’ve had one kick back incident and that was years ago and it scared the hell out of me and thats what made me get the antikick back wheels. I know. The blade is still exposed even with these other things. If you’re going to work without the guard, you’d better make a habit of prepping yourself for each and every cut you make, being fully aware of what you are going to do, how and for how long. I think if you decide on this mindset going in, working without a guard is safe. You have to keep track of how tuned the saw is and that may mean, for your own peace of mind, checking the squareness of everything once each month. you can never be too careful when it comes to safety with these machines. Just my two cents worth.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16190 posts in 3123 days

#14 posted 01-11-2013 06:24 PM

I’m one of the 2/3 that Brian ^ identified: User of an older saw that doesn’t have a blade guard. Is it ideal? I guess not. It is what I’m used to, though. Is it inherently safe? I think we all know the answer to that is no. Can it be used safely? You bet. As much as anything, I suppose.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View fstellab's profile


86 posts in 2590 days

#15 posted 01-11-2013 06:29 PM

Thanks folks,

As a newbie, not on a schedule, I take a good amount of time prepping for each cut. I recently ordered 30 BF of very expensive hardwood (Macacauba) for a closet organizer project, so I will definitely setup each cut into that wood. I found some Poplar on ebay that I am using to practice cuts when I started noticing what a pain the guard is. Crosscuts don’t seem to be a problem, but the 1/2” rip cuts I really want to see the blade.

Mio, I really like that Guard-dustcollector—That will become my next project if not sooner.

-- Fred Stellabotte ([email protected])

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