So just turned on a table saw for the first time...

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Forum topic by bwoods posted 02-12-2013 06:24 AM 2453 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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41 posts in 2854 days

02-12-2013 06:24 AM

And it is the scariest freaking thing I have ever operated. I just made a few cuts on some board I had laying around and realized I have no idea what I am doing and need to learn how to actually use the darn thing… any videos someone can recommend that teach good solid safety basics? I also have a used saw (Craftsman 113) and it doesn’t have any of the modern safety mechanisms like a splitter or riving knife. Are there after market things I can add that you guys know will fit this saw? Thanks for the help.


33 replies so far

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41 posts in 2854 days

#1 posted 02-12-2013 06:35 AM

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Monte Pittman

30576 posts in 3251 days

#2 posted 02-12-2013 10:50 AM

Check YouTube for videos. Should be some. Take no chances with fingers. I work in a hospital. It is#1 for emergency room visits from woodworkers. Safety protocol should be used at all times.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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4920 posts in 3961 days

#3 posted 02-12-2013 11:17 AM

The table saw certainly is one of the best tool you can own and use but it also can be the most dangerous one.
Learn to use it before you in fact try to use it, especially be careful about kick backs and cutting too close from the blade.
Always keep your fingers far away from the blade and never stand in line with the piece of wood you cut, always sand on the side.
If you are afraid of a power tool do not use it, you will get hurt.
When your fingers are gone they are gone.
I know, I lost two of them.

From Woodcraft:
Two Dozen Table Saw Safety Tips

Table saw safety is extremely important to woodworkers because most woodworkers who use power tools use table saws as their main shop tool. Add to that the power of the saws and the dangers it presents, and we quickly understand that lots of personal damage is possible. The table saw has been in use for many, many years, so most of the problems possible can be easily foreseen and avoided. The double dozen below should help you avoid most, if not all, problems.

Do not wear gloves while operating a table saw. There are several reasons, but loss of tactile sense is probably foremost, while a possible loss of gripping power is also close to the top. And some kinds of gloves are loose enough to present an item for the rotating blade to grab.

Keep the floor in front of the saw free of cut-offs and piled up sawdust. Tripping or sliding into a running, or even stopped, saw blade can really create problems, but even slipping and banging your head against the cast iron table can bring on a bad injury.

Wear proper eye and hearing protection. Eyes need to be protected from damage by projectiles—and no, standard eyeglasses will not do the job. Hearing protection is something every woodworker should start with, and continue. Hearing loss creeps up on you without warning, and often without symptoms, until it’s too late to reverse the procedure.

Wear short sleeves, leave the ties at the office, and junk your dangling jewelry. Get rid of other loose fitting clothing while operating a table saw. Any of these items might get caught in the blade and yank you into it before you can react. Stand comfortably, with your feet far enough apart for good balance. This is always important, but more so when you’re cutting stock long enough to require several steps towards the saw to keep the feed going. Then, you build up momentum and want to be able to stop easily. Wear footwear with non-slip soles.

Stand comfortably, with your feet far enough apart for good balance. This is always important, but more so when you’re cutting stock long enough to require several steps towards the saw to keep the feed going. Then, you build up momentum and want to be able to stop easily. Wear footwear with non-slip soles.

Avoid any awkward operations. If you feel like a gawky fool doing a cut, then don’t do the cut in that manner. This helps you avoid losing your balance and possibly falling into the blade or table.

Use a push stick to cut stock that is 6” or less in width. A hand that isn’t close to a blade isn’t going to get cut. Generally, a 6” minimum distance to the blade is considered safe, though some recommend 4”.

Use a stop block when you crosscut short lengths. Mount a stop block on the fence—this can be as simple as a clamped on board that stops just before the saw blade, so that cut-off pieces cannot bind between blade and fence.

Position your body so that it is NOT in line with the blade. This keeps sawdust feeding back through the slot of the blade out of your face, and much more important, it keeps you out of the line of most kick-backs.

Never reach behind or over the blade unless it has stopped turning. Sometimes this looks safe. It almost never truly is. This does not mean you should stop pushing your work before it finishes passing through the blade, itself an invitation to kick back.

Always disconnect the power before changing the blade or performing any other maintenance operation. I like to drape the plug over my fence rail so I know in an instant the saw’s unplugged…or not.

Make sure that the blade has stopped turning before you adjust the table saw. The reasons are obvious. Making adjustments can get hands too close to the blade, and even a slowly spinning blade has a multitude of sharp edges that can do damage. Always make sure that the blade is turning free before you turn on the power: this is especially helpful after you make changes or adjustments. In other words, spin the blade without power a time or two to make sure there are no scraps or tools touching it.

Keep the tabletop smooth and polished. A dirty or rough table requires you to use more force to push the stock through the blade. It may also rust like crazy, further reducing the saw’s effectiveness.

Keep the rip fence parallel to the blade so stock doesn’t bind on the blade and kick back. Some woodworkers prefer to keep the rear of the fence kicked out (away from the blade) by 1/64”. I believe parallel is better, but a friend of mine, with more experience than I, keeps the back of his fence kicked out. Both work.

Use zero clearance inserts. These reduce the chance of slender cuts dropping into the lower part of the blade and making the round trip to speed by your head. They also reduce splintering in cuts.

Never operate a table saw with the throat insert removed. Wood that is fed into a gaping hole can drop down and get caught on the blade. That can’t happen if the throat insert is in place.

Do not make free-hand cuts on a table saw. Guide the stock through the blade using the rip fence or the miter gauge.

Keep the blade guards, splitters and anti-kickback fingers in place and operating freely. Check the action of these items before starting work.

Work should be released only when it is past the blade. Releasing work too early is an invitation to kickback as it is possible for the blade to grab the part that has not yet gone by.

Whenever the stock is lifted or tilted above the surface of the table, the saw is able to shake the stock. If this happens, and you lose your grip, duck down and hit the stop button because losing your grip on the work means it probably is going to come back at you.

Check stock before cutting. Look for nails, knots, screws, or stones. Such fun items may become projectiles. If they hit, they smart, and may cause serious injury as well. Also, damage to carbide tipped blades can be major, even if all it does is scare you.

The fence and the miter gauge are not meant to be used together. Under some circumstances, you can use both (see above on stop blocks), but the fence then needs an auxiliary fence added. That fence or stop must end just before the saw blade.

Don’t mess with the fence adjustment when the saw is running. And a general addition, which goes for all tools and all techniques in a wood shop: if a procedure feels unsafe, it probably is, so don’t use it. Find another way to do what has to be done.

-- Bert

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728 posts in 3756 days

#4 posted 02-12-2013 01:55 PM

Get a good blade. Make sure the blade is parallel to the miter slot(give the saw a tune up). This will give you better cuts and a safer saw(less chance of kick back). Check for a stiff belt if the saw vibrates. You can buy aftermarket splitters or make your own. Search the site for info and reviews. Good luck. -Jack

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8600 posts in 4561 days

#5 posted 02-12-2013 02:17 PM

Check out Marc at , he has some very good video regarding safety around the shop and regarding certain machines.

It’s a good thing it scared the crap out of you – means you still have a brain.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View brtech's profile


1068 posts in 3835 days

#6 posted 02-12-2013 02:22 PM

A Cman 113 is a good saw.
First things first – does it have the factory blade guard? If it does, you have a splitter as long as the guard is on there. Depending on model, it likely has anti-kickback pawls. While there are some cuts you can’t make with the guard on, lots of cuts work with the guard, so use it.

If you don’t, the BORK is great. The other thing you can do is buy or build a Zero Clearance Insert (ZCI) and install a Micro Splitter.

IrreverentJack is right on – get a good blade and then tune up the saw to make sure the blade is parallel to the miter slot and the fence is parallel to the miter slot. There are lots of threads here on how to do that. I like using a dial indicator, because you can get really good accuracy. I was able to get my 113 series blade parallel within a thou or so using a Harbor Freight DTI and a shop made holder (look for a video from Garagewoodworks).

Make sure the pulleys are lined up and you have a good belt. Lots of folks upgrade to a link belt (HF is a good source). Make sure the table extensions are flat to the cast iron surface.

Then, it’s where you stand, use of push blocks when appropriate, feed rate and paying attention. b2rtch has it right.

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4920 posts in 3961 days

#7 posted 02-12-2013 02:33 PM

For splitter is use Micro Jig SteelPro Splitter , I am very happy with them.
Personally I had no luck withe BORK and I would not recommend it.

-- Bert

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380 posts in 4420 days

#8 posted 02-12-2013 02:46 PM

You showed great instincts for acknowledging your fear. That bodes well for you being safe in the shop. There are lots of things to read and watch, but nothing beats having someone show you proper technique and safe practices. If you’ve got classes in your area, that would be ideal. Also, woodworkers tend to be generous people, so contact a few in your area and see if they’d be willing to help you. I know that if I lived in your area, I’d be more than happy to show you a few things about how to use a saw. Look around on Lumberjocks for people in your area. Find out if there is a local guild. Do you have a Woodcraft store near you? Again, you’ve got great instincts. Starting out with a sense of respect for the power of power tools is a great way to start.

-- Mitch, Also blog at

View SamuraiSaw's profile


513 posts in 2877 days

#9 posted 02-12-2013 02:51 PM


There are a couple of Woodcraft stores in your area. Stop in and get to know those folks, they will be a great asset. They will also know if there are any woodworking guilds in your area and how to contact them. Worst case scenario, if you’re ever in North Texas let me know and you’re more than welcome to visit my shop.

Edit: Just did a quick search and found these folks;

If they’re close, this would be a great start!

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas....

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1630 posts in 3689 days

#10 posted 02-12-2013 04:32 PM

You have some great advice and tips there…blake you would do well to read, reread and memorize those suggestions.

Be wary of your TS, appreciate it’s abilties, but not afarid of it….

-- Mike

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4920 posts in 3961 days

#11 posted 02-12-2013 04:48 PM

Thank you Mike.

-- Bert

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987 posts in 4438 days

#12 posted 02-12-2013 05:27 PM

I teach wood shop classes to highschool kids. I tell my kids that they should respect the saw, it has the power to do serious damage to wood or people. I tell them that it is ok to fear the saw as long as the fear is rooted in respect of the machine. If they act like “little girls seeing a spider” they shouldn’t use the tool, if you are jumpy/scared you are likely to jump at the wrong time and get hurt. (Although, typically this type of fear is only an act in order to get attention, there are some students who are that afraid)

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167 posts in 3288 days

#13 posted 02-12-2013 05:37 PM

I’m reminded of what Steve Ramsey says (Woodworking for Mere Mortals) Safety Third. Safety is important, but if we were so concerned about safety and wanted to ensure that NOTHING would EVER happen, we would never build anything out of wood. There is inherent risk in using the tools that we use. Even a chisel, as simple as it seems, can kill you.

One piece of advice I use in the shop is that I never work tired. EVER. If it’s been a long day and I really, really want to go out there and do something, I rest first. Play with the kids, do the dishes, read a few forum posts here, etc. Just to get my mind refreshed and ready to focus on what I’m doing in the shop. It also helps me to remember that I have young kids. Kids that want me around and that someday will be in the shop with me using these tools. If I am unsafe now, I will be unsafe then and I’ll likely pass along my bad habits because they learn more from watching what I do than listening to what I say. I approach it from the view that if I am being safe in the shop, then someday my kids will be safe in the shop because they grew up watching me be safe.

No piece of furniture is worth an arm and leg, or even “just” a finger.


-- Dad: Someone was supposed to pick up his toys! Son: My name isn't "Someone".

View bwoods's profile


41 posts in 2854 days

#14 posted 02-12-2013 06:05 PM

All of this is incredibly helpful, and several people in my area have contacted me about being resources for me, so I may be taking you guys up on your offers. I think the table saw caught me a little off guard having never used one. I turned it on and suddenly came to the realization that if I wasn’t careful and didn’t know what I was doing really bad things could happen. Along with this apprehension came a shiver of anticipation and excitement as well, at the the possibilities a tool like this opens. I can’t wait to start using it, but I am going to… until I have a better understanding of how to use it without losing anything essential to playing baseball with my son in a few years.

Anyone have experience with using an after market splitter with the Craftsman 113, or with making their own?

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3961 days

#15 posted 02-12-2013 06:13 PM

I strongly recommend these splitters as they are inexpensive and very effective:
Micro Jig SteelPro Splitter

The video for installation is a little confusing but in fact the installation is very easy.

-- Bert

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