General Power Saw Tips

  • Never look away from your work when operating a power saw.
  • When beginning, let the saw reach full speed before cutting and support the work firmly so it won't shift.
  • If the saw stalls, switch off the power and unplug the tool before trying to restart it.
  • Stop working and turn off the power saw you are working with if distracted by something or someone.
  • Never use your hands to clear the scraps from a sawing worktable. Instead, use a long stick.
  • When working with metal, secure the metal materials with clamps or in a machinist's vise to keep it from moving.

Tool Specific Tips

  • Table Saws: Adjust the table saw blade to project about 1/8 inch above the wood. Make certain the work piece is out of contact with the blade when starting or stopping the saw. Keep the body out of the way. Use a push stick when ripping narrow strips. Lower the saw blade below the table top when work is finished.
  • Radial Arm Saws: When cross-cutting wood, lay the stock solidly on the table and against the back guide. The saw blade should rotate downward as viewed by the operator. Pull the saw with one hand while the stock is held with the other hand. Never reach across the line of cut. When making miter cuts, secure the locking devices to prevent the saw from changing angles or digging in. Return the saw to the rear position after completing a cut.
  • Band Saws: Keep the saw blade set evenly and with the correct tension. Push the stock through the blade with the hands on both sides of the line of cut. Hand-Held Circular Saws: Do not work in wet areas unless standing on a dry surface and make certain the saw is properly grounded. Do not clamp or wedge the guard in the open position. Keep your finger off the trigger when carrying the saw. Do not cut the power cord. Wait until the blade stops before laying down the saw. When finished, unplug the saw and put it out of the reach of children.
  • Saber Saws: Select the proper blade for the job. Make sure it is sharp, undamaged and securely tightened in place. Do not turn on the saw when the blade is in contact with the work piece. Hold the saw firmly with one hand and steady the work with the other. Keep your hand and other objects clear of the blade.
  • Portable Circular Saw Safety Precautions: Always wear safety goggles or safety glasses with side shields complying with the current national standard and a full face shield when needed. Use a dust mask in dusty work conditions. Wear hearing protection during extended periods of operation. Don't wear loose clothing, jewelry, or dangling objects, including long hair, that may catch in rotating parts or accessories Don’t use a circular saw that is too heavy for you to easily control. Be sure the switch actuates properly. It should turn the tool on and return to the off position after release. Use sharp blades. Dull blades cause binding, stalling and possible kickback, Use the correct blade for the application. Check this carefully. Does it have the proper size and shape arbor hole? Is the speed marked on the blade at least as high as the no-load RPM on the saw's nameplate? Is the blade guard working? Check for proper operation before each cut. Check often to ensure that guards return to their normal position quickly. If a guard seems slow to return or hangs up, repair or adjust it immediately. Never defeat the guard to expose the blade by, for example tying it back or removing it. Before starting a circular saw, be sure the power cord and extension cord are out of the blade path and are long enough to freely complete the cut. Keep aware of the cord location. A sudden jerk or puling on the cord can cause loss of control of the saw. For maximum control, hold the saw firmly with both hands after securing the work piece. Clamp work pieces. Check frequently to be sure clamps remain secure. Avoid cutting small pieces that cant be properly secured and material on which the saw show can't properly rest. When you start the saw, allow the blade to reach full speed before contacting the workplace. When making a partial cut, or if power is interrupted, release the trigger immediately and don't remove the saw until the blade has come to a complete stop.
  • Portable Circular Saws: All portable, power-driven circular saws having a blade diameter greater than two inches must be equipped with guards. The upper guard must cover the saw to the depth of the teeth. The lower guard must also cover the saw to the depth of the teeth, except for the minimum arc required to allow proper retraction and contact with the work. When the tool is withdrawn from the work, the lower guard must automatically and instantly return to the covering position.
  • Switches and Controls:  All hand-held powered circular saws having a blade diameter greater than two inches must be equipped with a constant pressure switch or control that will shut off the power when the pressure is released. Miter Box Saws and Chop Saws  Stay alert to keeping hands and fingers away from the blades path as it has a downward cutting motion Be sure all guards are in place and working. If a guard seems slow to return to its normal position adjust or repair it immediately Use only recommended size and RPM rated blades When installing or changing a blade, be sure the blade and related washers and fasteners are correctly positioned and secured on the saw arbor
  • Cuts and Amputations: Make sure the saw blade is not touching anything before you turn on a saw. Do not drop-start a chainsaw. To start a saw with a starter cord, put one foot on the back handle, put one hand on the top handle to keep the blade off the surface, and use the other hand to pull the cord. OSHA says a circular saw must have a guard above and below the base plate. Keep the blade guard and other safety devices on the saw. Make sure the blade guard goes back to the fully guarded position after you cut. Hold a saw with both hands. Do not use your leg to prop up a saw. To prevent kickback, hold your forward arm straight and do not cut above chest height. After you turn off a saw, hold it away from you until the blade stops turning. Do not prop the saw on your leg while the blade slows down. Turn off a saw before you carry it anywhere.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Power Tool Safety: Choose the correct tool for the job. Power Tool Safety Bulletin #2329 by Dawna L. Cyr, Farm Safety Project Assistant, and Steven B. Johnson, PhD<

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