Help me overcome a somewhat irrational fear - and turn it into respect!

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Forum topic by Jenine posted 11-12-2013 05:30 AM 3260 views 0 times favorited 59 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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146 posts in 2504 days

11-12-2013 05:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question tablesaw

My big question for all of you woodworkers out there is this: Has anyone ever been injured by a table saw, WHEN ALL OF THE SAFETY DEVICES ARE INSTALLED CORRECTLY?
Here is my problem:
I bought my Delta 36-650 about a little more than a year ago. I put countless hours into giving a full tune up, there is no part of that saw I don’t understand inside and out. I keep it in superb condition, waxed, clean, etc. I use the stock guard/splitter/kickback pawls that came with it (awful as their are). I use a variety of push devices well suited to the task at hand, I inspect boards for knots or crazy grain that could indicate an unstable board. THE WORKS.
Here is the thing – I almost never use my saw. I want to, I get close to it, I make it few blissful cuts with it and then the paralyzing fear washes over me and I go do something else.
The paralyzing fear is thinking that people have all kinds of injuries all the time with their full compliment of safety gear on! But I have never really known if those are true.

We all know what goes wrong when we don’t use devices…but there is no info on what happens when all the gear is on…

So, I ask the lumberjocks community. With all safety devices installed, have you had a scare or accident at the table saw?

-- - Montana sucks. Tell your friends.

59 replies so far

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 4252 days

#1 posted 11-12-2013 05:42 AM

Fear can be debilitating and dangerous. Confidence is necessary to realize a plan or method. You’ve begun. I have no idea of your situation or circumstances. Small accomplishments and repetition can only build confidence. The support and mentoring of someone with these qualities would speed the process safely.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4429 days

#2 posted 11-12-2013 05:56 AM

Well, kickback, but that’s not using pawls or any anti-kickback
device. I usually use a guard.

I recommend you get a band saw and focus on that. It’s
a safer tool in my opinion and very versatile.

View GT350's profile


379 posts in 2763 days

#3 posted 11-12-2013 05:58 AM

I have been using tablesaws for 30+ years. I was originally scared of them also until I started using them more frequently. I always use the guard when possible, the only times the guard is not on is pretty much limited to non through cuts. Some people will tell you that they can’t see the cut with the guard on but I don’t worry about that, I set the cut up ahead of time so I know it is cutting what I want it to. I have never been cut by the tablesaw but I also realize why they call them accidents. I had one minor kickback that threw a piece of wood at me and I was lucky I had a heavy leather tool belt on so it didn’t cause any injury. I have had several times when a piece tried to kick back but I was able to stop it because the saw was only a 1.75 hp. I do know someone who cut three fingers off using a tablesaw. He was very experienced but was not using the guard which would have prevented the injury. My advice, respect the saw, use the safety equipment, keep sharp blades, adjust the fence properly and think about the cut you are going to make. If it feels unsafe it probably is, find a different way to do the cut. Also, enjoy the saw and what it can do, they really are great tools.

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3832 days

#4 posted 11-12-2013 06:35 AM


I bought my saw in 1972; a 9” Sears bench top. I’m still using it and yes, it has hurt me. I was big and strong so the piece oy 1/4” ply that kicked back left only severe bruises on my stomach and a lacerated left thumb that I was trying to block it with. I was shaken, but recovered nicely.

I had taken off the primative guard as it caused more problems than it solved. I haven’t had a close call since. Thing is, there’s a little voice in your head that tells you a procedure is wrong or dangerous. Listen to the voice. Step back, look at it and analyze the problem. Guards, splitters, etc. can’t save you from yourself if you do something dumb.

ALL the people who are injured in the shop, if they are honest, will tell you they ignored the voice. Respect your saw, don’t fear it. I tell my grandson (7) to respect screwdrivers. Any tool will hurt you if you use it improperly. Work slowly and methodicly, don’t hurry. Start with simple tasks and move on to more demanding ones. Build your skills and your confidence, but NEVER get cocky. Relax, but stay alert.

Tie back your hair (ALWAYS IN THE SHOP), roll up your sleeves, don’t wear jewelry, don’t hurry and NEVER WORK WHEN YOU’RE TIRED. Think through each step completely but don’t obsess. Listen to thr voice. If it’s quiet, you’re probably ok.

Funny thing about my kickback episode, I KNEW it was dangerous. I was behind on a Christmas gift for one daughter, was dead tired and the voice was screaming. Only you can save you from dumb. Pay attention, have fun in the shop and make stuff you family will fight over like a pack of wolves over a dead moose.

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View darthford's profile


612 posts in 2705 days

#5 posted 11-12-2013 07:10 AM

You want to remain keenly aware that a table saw can chop off multiple fingers in a fraction of a second or launch a board into your face at high velocity. That’s respect, not fear. As such I always have two thoughts in mind when using it, #1 I know where my hands are positioned at all times in relation to the blade. #2 I stand to one side so that if the saws kicks back or something goes wrong I can dive out of the way and let the saw and wood fight it out.

View Joseph Jossem's profile

Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 3050 days

#6 posted 11-12-2013 07:12 AM

Fear is the worst thing.Incapable of handeling the saw is another.I had a guy work for 4 years and he was still afraid of the ts.
Do what is best for you repition builds skill.

View Richard's profile


11309 posts in 3814 days

#7 posted 11-12-2013 07:30 AM

I had one accident on my Table saw MANY Years ago. All the Devices where in place. Something went wrong with the motor when I was Half way through Ripping a Board. It started to Speed Up to an Incredible speed!

Scared the Living DOO DOO out of me! I slammed the Off Switch. Got Mad at it and gave it a good “What For”!

I THINK that eliminated any Future Fear of Operating it again, as odd as that may sound. (Actually It’s NOT Odd)

I put a new Motor on, gave it another …... “You ever do that again and you’re going to the Scrap Metal Yard!”

Away We Went. No More Problems. & NO Fear of using it again.

In Psychological Terms It’s called “Positive Reinforcement.”

I THINK You’re experiencing “Negative Reinforcement”. IE: Every time you Don’t use the saw you’re Reinforcing Your Fear of Using it. The more you do that the worse it’s going to get.

So ….. Go find it, Get Mad At IT, for doing that to you, throw something at it. Yell at it, Give It DOO DOO!!.

Then get a Board and CUT IT with Complete Confidence! You can then say. “Okay. You’re Forgiven” Just don’t KISS The Damn Thing!!! ...LOL..

If you got a bit of a Laugh from this. Subconsciously that might Help also.

Just so you know. Yes. I have a Degree in Psychology. I never pursued that line of work but I’ve assisted a few other people get over what is usually called ”Irrational Fears”. IE: Spiders, Snakes, Closed Spaces Etc.

One guy would FREAK OUT if you mentioned the word SPIDERS. Guess what …. YEP! He now has an Incredible Collection of them.

As they say …..... JUST DO IT!!!

PS: At first I tried using My Saw with all the Goodies on it. The Guard drove me Nuts. I couldn’t Clearly see the Blade. Off It Came. The Pawls & Splitter stayed there to prevent Kickback. I threw away the Push Stick that came with it. It was too Long and Lacked Control. I made 4 new ones from wood, varying lengths. Worked just fine for me after that.

However! If I find myself Rushing, a little voice says STOP! I do that, Concentrate on what I’m doing and everything is fine.

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View darthford's profile


612 posts in 2705 days

#8 posted 11-12-2013 07:38 AM

Rick LOL that’s the spirit, don’t take guff off your tools! I like the lumberjock here who recently cut a board with the table saw blade on backwards now that’s not taking no for an answer! Now help me overcome my fear of bees I run away swinging my arms wildly when they buzz bomb me.

View Richard's profile


11309 posts in 3814 days

#9 posted 11-12-2013 08:39 AM

I’m not sure that’s an “Irrational Fear”. Unless you noticed them BEFORE they Bombed you and you have an Actual Fear of Bees.

Insects & Animals can detect Fear & a lot of other emotions in a Human. They usually act Defensively.

I’m not afraid of Bees Myself, but if they started to Buzz Bomb Me … I’d RUN like Hell also!! ...LOL..

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View Woodknack's profile


13409 posts in 3161 days

#10 posted 11-12-2013 09:00 AM

Fear of the tablesaw is not irrational, it’s a powerful and dangerous machine that can be used safely. But fear makes people timid and lack of assertiveness gets people hurt… that and stupidity and lack of focus. You have to be the master of the saw and you sound like one in every way except psychologically so either get rid of it before you hurt yourself or pretend to be it’s master until you really feel that way.

-- Rick M,

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 3165 days

#11 posted 11-12-2013 09:07 AM

If you really WANT to use a table saw long-term and get over the fear but keep the respect, I would second the advise to spend some time working on a table saw with a very experienced woodworker. Try to find one and just ask to watch him work…you’ll see what he does, and doesn’t do, and how he does it. Ask questions, and have him watch you use the table-saw and give you advice on technique…This will keep you from always second-guessing yourself, wondering if you are doing something wrong.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3742 days

#12 posted 11-12-2013 10:55 AM

12strings has a good idea. Do you own a car? It is more dangerous than a tablesaw.

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1925 posts in 2750 days

#13 posted 11-12-2013 11:57 AM

How about making some easy cuts first? A nice flat piece that has the fence moved away about 12 inches and cutting small strips off of it. Just get the feel. I make my living teaching and playing guitar so needless to say my hands are important (everybody’s is). I use 18 inch push sticks even for even the safest of cuts. It’s a machine that had me the same way when I began using it and I always treat it with a huge amount of respect.

Or like Loren said, use a bandsaw instead. You can do almost anything a table saw can do with a bandsaw except a few things, and it will not kick back on you

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2856 days

#14 posted 11-12-2013 12:02 PM

Hi Jenine,

If like me, you weren’t around power tools growing up, it’s perfectly reasonable to be a bit more wary than others. I’m still getting used to my TS but have gained a lot of confidence in the past year. I actually practiced turning it off with my knee and hitting the button without looking.

I did take the blade guard and pawls off for a short while and tried to ignore the ‘voice’. There is no doubt that sometimes the safety features are annoying, but I suspect typing with several digits missing is more so.

For me, the blade guard and pawls come off for dados and other non-through cuts and when using the crosscut sled of course. Then it goes right back on again.

I’m not sure if you have a crosscut sled, but I’d highly recommend building one. It’s actually made the TS more ‘pleasant’ to use.

The more I use my TS the more comfortable I get, but I don’t think I’ll ever ‘like’ it the way I like my bandsaw.

Here’s what works for me apart from the safety advice mentioned by others.

-I get full sheets of plywood ripped or crosscut into smaller pieces before I ever bring them home.
-I think through the cuts I’m going to make before I turn on the TS.
-I use a crosscut sled whenever possible
-outfeed support is crucial
-featherboards featherboards , featherboards

Keep at it and stay safe. I never understood the concept of the TS being the ‘anchor’ of the workshop, but I’m starting to get it.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Marcus's profile


1165 posts in 2801 days

#15 posted 11-12-2013 12:12 PM

Hey Jenine -

To answer your question, yes, even with all safety precautions in place, accidents can happen. It sounds like you’re doing everything right though and are as safe as possible.

I’ve had a terrible fear of the lathe for the longest time. I bought one use, let it sit in the garage forever because I didn’t feel comfortable spinning it up and shoving a chunk of steel into some wood. Last weekend, I took a class on how to properly use the lathe. It turned my irrational fear into a good deal of healthy respect but a lingering amount of fear that I am assuming and hoping will go away with use. Have you considered taking some sort of woodworking class? It may be pretty rudimentary for where you’re at, but having someone there with you telling you that you’re doing everything right and safe might help get you over the hump with the table saw.

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