University of Southern California (Daniel)

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    Table Saw Question

    Daniel Jan 12 '06 11

    Faithful readers will remember yesterday's troubles with finding wood. I spent most of today in lazy apprehension about this, since I didn't want to show up to class the second day of the semester with incomplete work. But, having no car, friends in my new section, or knowledge of where to pick up wood, I certainly didn't have many prospects. Settling on the plan to complete as many high-quality diagrams as possible, I left the woodshop alone.

    In the end, someone did pick up some wood for me--not wood, in fact, but particle board, which is NOT what I wanted--and so I was able to use the woodshop tonight and teach myself how to use the table saw. I've never used powertools (or wood, for that matter), so that was a new experience for me. Thus, in a desperate attempt for comments to validate my existence, I have a question for all those with experinece: do you have any tips on using a table saw? I ended up ruining quite a bit of particle board, but I have a dreadful feeling that my instructor will tell me I should have been using plywood all along and I'll be redoing all these pieces next week. I'm still further along in the project than anyone else in my section, though.

    Comment comment comment! [/shameless]



    • Marlin
      Jan 12, 06 3:28 am

      The poster should read:

      Wear Goggles. Wear Goggles. Wear Goggles. And there's no such thing as a stupid question. Architecture with four fingers and one eye sucks.

      Jan 12, 06 3:30 am

      That didn't help. I think that meant to read: ask the shop guy a lot of questions. They're getting paid by your tuition.

      That probably didn't help, either.

      Charlotte Bell
      Jan 12, 06 7:39 am
      Take your time. At every step. This is really important.

      Take time to check your set-up before every cut to make sure your fingers are out of the way and your piece is secure and not likely to kick back.

      Take time to set up jigs if they'll help keep your work in place. Work slowly - never hurry.

      Don't talk to someone else and use the saw at the same time or do anything else that will distract you.

      If you're really sleep deprived, don't use the saw.

      If you start to get even a little bit frustrated, stop until you are completely calm again.

      Make sure you have the right blade for the kind of cut you are making. Make sure the blade is sharp. If it has black burn marks on it, it's probably dull, but ask the shop guy about this. A dull blade will kick back the work. Take the time to change the blade if you need to.

      Take your time. Be patient.

      liberty bell
      Jan 12, 06 9:41 am

      Charlotte and Marlin are right on. Get some help - the table saw is not a tool your should just "teach yourself to use" as you can with software!

      There must be a shop monitor there - make that person show you safe use of the tool. And follow all of Charlotte's tips.

      You're better off with a lot of great diagrams and all your fingers than with one blood-covered particle board model.

      Oh, god, Daniel, the mother in me is now going to be worried until you report back that you are safe! Motherhood sucks sometimes.

      A story: My husband carved models for my wedding and engagement rings and we had them custom made. And only partly because he's a sculptor and wanted to do it that way; the other reason is my ring finger first joint is freakishly large and deformed-looking - a regular rign wouldn't work on this finger - because a piece of wood kicked back on the table saw and hit my finger before continuing across the room to smack into the wall. My shoulder got knocked a little out of whack too because my arm was flung backward by the force of the wood. And that's a bloodless table saw accident!

      Please be careful, and wait until someone can show you proper tool usage.

      Charlotte Bell
      Jan 12, 06 10:09 am

      Power tools have an enormous amount of power, more than you think - liberty bell's board kicked back and flew across the room! What if someone had been in the path. Take these tools very seriously.

      LOL, liberty bell, on the mom-worry. Mom-ness does that to us, and also makes us spew forth more advice than anyone wants to hear. But we are wise.

      liberty bell
      Jan 12, 06 10:20 am

      Yeah - my best friend's kicked-back board - true story - flew across the same woodshop and hit her now-husband in the crotch. Just slightly off-center enough, thankfully, that there was no serious damage - and they now have a beautiful daughter!

      Charlotte Bell
      Jan 12, 06 10:32 am

      That ought to make you properly respect the saw, Daniel! Be safe.

      liberty bell
      Jan 12, 06 10:36 am

      A more helpful comment, too - you don't want the wood to be "trapped" between the blade and two guides. For example, if you're cutting plywood and the wood is being drawn in between the fence and the blade, don't also have a continuous piece of wood as a push stick, so the wood is framed on three sides - this is a good way for the wood to snag and get stuck and kick back. Use the push sticks that should be provided - and they should just be sticks, with a nice notch cut out to firmly hold your material.

      It's hard to describe helpful tips - so much easier to show you. (That's why you need to talk to teh shop monitor!)

      Lower the blade to about 1/4" above the top of the material you're cutting - you want the least surface resistance possible and if the blade is up high you get more.

      If you're cutting large sheets and someone else is helping you by holiding on to the end of the amterial as it comes out of the saw - tell that person NOT to pull the material - they should be providing support only NOT force. Push the material through gently from your side.

      Gosh what else? It's been a few years since I used one.

      liberty bell
      Jan 12, 06 10:38 am

      Wear eye protection every time you step foot in the shop. ANd, maybe a cup!

      Jan 12, 06 12:23 pm

      If you haven't used power tools before at all, you sure picked arguably one of the most dangerous ones to start with. Be super careful and follow the above advice. If you can do your job with a band saw, that is probably a better way for a beginner.

      Jan 12, 06 9:40 pm

      Thanks so much for all the advice (and concern!). I survived well enough, and the shop director gave us a good introduction so I knew basic safety. I wore eye gear, used a notched push-stick, and only used one guide. It worked out very well, and my teacher was very impressed today. Post to come.

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