Table Saw Safety 101 – Beginner’s Guide

| Last Updated: March 1, 2021

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Safety should always be your number one priority when operating any piece of machinery.

However, sometimes people overlook and underestimate the safety basics.

In the article below, we'll discuss some important safety basics that you should all be following when working with a table saw. 

Tool Tango's Table Saw Safety Basics  

By following even the most basic safety precautions, you could potentially save yourself and others from nasty injuries. Below are some safety basics to follow. 

  • Always wear your safety equipment 

  • Keep your power disconnected when changing blades 

  • Loose-fitting clothing increases the risk of serious injury

  • Use a push block if your hands get too close to the blade

  • Don't remove your table saw safety features when cutting 

  • An effective dust extraction system will protect your respiratory system

Table Saw Terminology and Common Concepts

In this section, we'll highlight and explain the various terms, and jargon words that float around the table saw community. 




The groove between two blade teeth


A narrow cut on your wood, sometimes used to refer to thickness of a cut

Blade Guard

A guard that covers the blade but moves as you cut wood

Allows users to cut wood at an angle while holding the wood steady


Attachment or accessory, used to hold things

Feed Rate

The speed a user pushes the wood through the blade

Feed Force

The pressure at which a user puts on one end of the wooden piece


The component that the blade attaches to

Arbor Assembly

The system that controls blade position

Table Saw Safety Features

In this section, we'll discuss some key safety features that you'll find on your table saw. These features have certainly saved a few fingers over the years. 

Riving Knives 

The function of a riving knife is to prevent and protect the user from kickback. When cutting wood, sometimes the workpiece can put pressure on the blade after its cut, which results in the workpiece then flying towards the user. 

The riving knife is there to act as a separator between the two cut pieces of wood and stop them from pinching the blade to cause kickback.

Kickback can also force the user's hand to hit the blade. The riving knife sits just behind the blade on the saw's arbor and will move relative to the blade. 

Blade Guard 

The blade guard is simply a barrier between the blade and your hands; it can protect your hands from accidentally touching the blade when you're not paying attention. A guard can also stop wood from falling on top of the blade if you accidentally drop a piece. 

A blade guard sits on top and over your blade. The lid will be adjusted just enough to get your workpiece through to cut. Many people don't like blade guards as they can get in the way, but with enough practice, you'll not notice this issue. It's always better to be safe than sorry. 

Kill Switch

If you're ever using your table saw, and a workpiece begins to jam, or something just goes wrong, you need to turn the power off as fast as possible without losing control of the workpiece. 

This common issue is why most modern table saws come with the option to switch off the power without using your hands. A kill switch usually comes in the form of a small bar or frame that you can press easily with your leg, foot, or elbow for an instant shut down. 

Emergency Saw Brake 

Many modern table saws now have skin detection safety features that will sense that human skin is too close to the blade, resulting in the blade powering off and lowering into the machine within milliseconds. One of the best-known examples of this technology would be the SawStop brake. 

Essential Table Saw Safety Gear

There are some essentials that you'll need to purchase before you go ahead and buy that table saw. 

Push Stick

A push stick allows the user to direct wood through the saw without having their fingers come too close to the blade. They're great for when the wood you're working with is narrow and doesn't have much of a surface to hold on to. 

Feather Board

The purpose of a feather board is to hold your workpiece in place; it works by applying pressure to the wood, which keeps it steady. A feather board can be attached to a table saw by a clamp or magnet. 

Eye Protection

Eye protection is often overlooked when working in carpentry. Wearing protective glasses will prevent any splinters of wood from entering or irritating your eyes. Most understand how uncomfortable this can be when not properly protected. 

Ear Protection

Ear protection is another overlooked piece of safety gear as you don't first imagine how a table saw can affect your hearing. If your table saw is emitting high decibel levels when in use for more than ten minutes per day, this can severely hinder your hearing over time. Therefore, it's safer to wear suitable ear protection. 

Dust Mask

It's well documented that when people inhale dust and other particles created by machinery like table saws, it can increase their chances of respiratory issues later in life. However, this is only when you're not wearing a dust mask

Protective Gloves

Cut-proof gloves are a great way to protect your fingers and hands from a saw blade. You'll want a pair that is a skin-tight fit so that you can retain as much of your natural touch sense as possible. These gloves are usually made with multiple protective layers with materials such as Kevlar. 


You shouldn't operate tools or machinery without understanding the relevant safety basics associated with that tool or equipment. The information we've provided is the safety basics of operating a table saw; hopefully, we save you a few fingers.