In the past 4 months I’ve had 2 (two!) kickback incidents with my table saw. Now, most people who read this are going to have the reaction of “well, you aren’t using proper technique, duh.” Yeah, you’re right. In those two incidents, I wasn’t. Both times, I was changing from a dado stack to a rip blade for the nth time that day, and didn’t bother spending the extra 3 minutes to put the splitter back in place (because I was going to have to switch back to the dado stack a few cuts later).
Now, i’m SUPER paranoid about the table saw, so I never-ever stand behind the blade, and am very careful about where my fingers are; in both instances the piece of wood flew across the room and that was that. My garage door wasn’t very happy.
However, this is a recipe for getting really hurt. I was lucky both times something serious didn’t happen. This isn’t about HOW to use a table saw safely, it’s about ALWAYS using it safely. And how are you going to always use it 100% safe, every time? Reminds me of this scene from the wire:
Anyways, recognizing my own faults, I’ve decided to at least take a step to make it much more likely that I’ll always put that splitter back in place. I ordered a “snap in spreader” from Biesemeyer. Now, instead of dealing with bolts and wrenches, this thing literally drops in place in a matter of seconds. It’s no riving knife, but I don’t have the money for a new saw right now. It seems pretty expensive for what it is, but I’ve got no excuse for not always running it now, with it literally taking 5 seconds to put in. Laziness is taken out of the question.
And before you start pointing fingers, find a survey on how many people run their table saws with no safety equipment at all. Before riving knives became mandatory, many woodworkers simply removed the splitter and guard when they got home, and never looked at them again. I’m not alone here. So, this is a worthy investment in your safety if you’ve got an older saw that doesn’t have a riving knife.
Be safe! And I swear I’m not TOO accident prone, despite the name of this blog.