I recently met with a new owner of the SawStop, and took them through some of the specifics of the machine, including some of the basics of safe operation of a tablesaw. As they were an experienced operator, the focus was certainly around the brake mechanism.
Six months later, and I get a call. Turns out the SawStop mechanism got tested for real. Scared the bejesus out of him – not only when it activated, but more fundamentally, that it happened at all. So we are going to have another session, and this time running through the A, B, Cs of tablesaw use.
Had my own experience last weekend. Not of the SawStop mechanism, but a reminder of basic safe operation.
I try to ensure that I am not standing directly in line with the blade when it is cutting. That isn’t always possible, but it is a good practice, and this time was no exception. I was standing to one side while ripping a piece of timber, and a piece of the offcut splintered from an unknown internal fault in the timber. It got spat out by the blade, and sailed right past my ear. Close enough for me to hear it pass by. Close enough that I felt it brush the ear.
Reinforces why I like standing to one side while cutting! Even if it had hit, it is unlikely to have done any damage, but it is a good reinforcement why we practice safe use. And why eye protection is mandatory.
I finished off the cut – nothing wrong there, so the technique was fine. It really came down to a weakness in the timber.
As much as I was out of the line of fire, it was a full-depth cut. And while having the riving knife fitted helps protect against kickback, having the full dust guard fitted when it was appropriate for it to be used would have prevented this happening at all, at least as far as having a small missile launched in my general direction goes.