Table saw-standing on the left or right side. - Router Forums
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post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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Default Table saw-standing on the left or right side.

The only reason I dare to mention this, is, on a machinist site, a fellow wondered- Why do wood workers tend to stand on the left side of the saw?

On many saws, the controls, and switch are on the left side.
Most wood workers use the left side miter slot.

Iam a machinist also, most metal working machines are made to be operated from the right side, such as lathes and milling type machines.

I dont want to seem critical on this subject, just curious.

One example is the radial saw,
Most often, it is seen where the operator uses the right hand on the saw head, the left hand doing things on the blade side.
Iam very uncomfortable doing that,
I use the left hand on the saw head, feed the work with the right hand using a slim push block for under the motor clearance.

On the Table saw, Iam much more comfortable doing most everything on the right side of the blade.
When ripping for example, I keep myself more on the right side of the fence, never in front of the work piece or the blade.
Iam much more comfortable using the miter in the right slot.
About the only time, Iam on the left side is when using a tenoning jig, then hanging pretty far to the left.
It just seems safer to me, maybe just because Iam more used to the metal working machines.

Don
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post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 11:52 PM
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It may be just because of your background that the left side feels better to you and it may be that I am just used to doing it the other way. However, in most cases I would be trying to control my workpiece with my left hand by doing it your way and I am right handed. I have a friend who is left handed and he finds most power tools to be backwards for him. One of the differences between using stationary machines to machine or woodwork is that your workpiece is clamped down on machine tools whereas on table saws and router or shaper tables you are usually pushing your work past the tool. On drill presses and wood lathes you work on the right side but you are not handling the workpiece, it's clamped down as with machine tools.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 03:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sawdust Don View Post
Why do wood workers tend to stand on the left side of the saw?
Hi Don

It's probably because they are right handed and it is much easier to control the cut accurately with the right hand than the left. Unlike metalworking machines where the pressure exerted on the tool/workpiece is either from a power feed or threaded manual drive on a saw it's all down to muscle power

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Originally Posted by Sawdust Don View Post
One example is the radial saw,
Most often, it is seen where the operator uses the right hand on the saw head, the left hand doing things on the blade side.
Again for a right handed user that is the correct way to operate. Ideally you need to be able to see the cut line (on safety grounds) which you cannot do if you work from the right side of the saw. the stance which should be taken uses the left hand to hold the work against the fence whilst the right traverses the saw head. You should have the left hand no closer than 12in to the blade. If you work the other way round the saw motor tends to foul the right hand.

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Originally Posted by Sawdust Don View Post
On the Table saw, I am much more comfortable doing most everything on the right side of the blade.
When ripping for example, I keep myself more on the right side of the fence, never in front of the work piece or the blade.
But how on earth do you control a rip cut that way? Pressure in ripping is in two directions combined. Firstly you are applying a small amount of sideways pressure to keep the timber butted up to the fence, secondly you are pushing the timber forwards through the blade. If you are standing to the right of the rip fence (positioned conventionally to the right of the blade) then the rip fence plate would obscure your view of the material. You'd not be able to see if the work was running tight against the fence and pulling the material against the fence puts your left arm in the firing line if there is a kickback

Sound like you could be a candidate for a left tilt saw, too

Regards

Phil

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post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 08:59 AM
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Dominant eye, dominant hand and safety precautions. You can best read the speedometer on a car from the driver's seat. Statistically speaking more people are right handed. I have guns that are ideal for me (being right-handed), that would be painful or even dangerous for a person to use left-handed; and conversely left-handed guns (which are less common) would be painful or dangerous for me to use. The same goes for many tools. Line-of-sight is of utmost importance for safety and workmanship reasons and since more people are right-handed, more tools are set-up in this manner. My (Hitachi C10FL) table saw is ideal for either left or right-handed, but most of my users are right handed. No piece of wood is worth an injury. With respect to guns and tools, many left-handed users simply "adapt" to using their right hands. BE SAFE.

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post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 11:39 AM
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Hej. Is it not a question about what you are used to or find a safe way to work with your tools ? I for instance have a combi machine made in the EU. I rip to the left and cross cut to the right. One has to learn how to used it the safe way.
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post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 12:00 PM
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Leif, that made me queasy just looking at it; I'm right handed and I want to keep it that way...

Over the years I've seen so many left handed carpenters struggling with Right hand circular saws rather than cough up the extra dough and order a Left hand model. Maybe an extra $30-$40?
If this is a Left hand model illustrated than I'm officially losing it:
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post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 12:34 PM
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To me the most obvious reason is on the left side you are standing clear of the flying projectile should a kickback occur.
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post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 01:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leifs1 View Post
One has to learn how to used it the safe way.
Hi Leif

Using any circular saw without a crown guard is inherently unsafe. Doing rip cuts without a riving knif/splitter is also unsafe. Not a very good example of safe sawing IMHO

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If this is a Left hand model illustrated than I'm officially losing it:
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Hi Dan

At least you have the choice. Over here we only started to see LH saws when Makita cordlesses became available. We have still to see any corded left handers.

My own cordless circular saw is a "left hand" saw in the same way that one is, despite my being right handed. The main reason is that with a LH saw I can use a speed square held against the edge to guide crosscuts - because I can see the blade, and the distance twixt blade and square is less then it really is easier to control the saw. It's probably the only example of "wrong-way" usage I can think of which is actually easier, faster and at least as safe if not safer. For ripping, however, I find a conventional RH saw easier and safer to use

Regards

Phil

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post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 02:15 PM
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I agree with Stan.

On a typical rip operation the rip fence is to the right of the blade. Kick back is often caused when the piece to the right of the blade gets pinched between the rip fence and the blade. This happens when the rip fence isn't parallel to the blade and the far end section of the rip fence is closer to the blade that the close section of the fence.

As the work piece is cut it is being pinched between the fence and blade. As the cut is complete or near complete the portion of the work piece to the right side of the blade is fired back in the general direction of the operator.

If the operator is behind or immediately to the right of the blade the flying wood scrap will hit him or her in the chest or other vital parts of the body.

That can really smart!

Ben

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post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Ha Ha! It seems when machinist get old, they start wood working!

When ripping, I keep my hips just to the right of the fence, left foot forward, more standing abit sideways facing toward the left.
I can peer down watching the board edge against the fence. I always use some form of push blocks, or a long push block, then finaly pushing the work past the blade with the left hand.
The blocks have hand holds taller then the fence.
It seem to me, and from a few incidents, I have had wood break in pieces a couple of times, the pieces flew out past me, as the fence was a barrier of sorts.
The last time that happened, the force pushed me back, the push blocks were blown out of both hands.
With my left foot more forward along the front of the saw, this kept me from falling back into the blade.
The wood was a hundred yr old spruce beam, that I resawed first on the band saw, ran through the jointer, then was truing the second edge on the table saw. The wood showed no cracks, but is very brittle.
The first wood that came apart like that on me, was black walnut with really nice looking grain pattern. I didnt get hit, but my hand was cut by the wood. So, after that, no bare hands on the wood.
Those were pretty eye opening incidents, no time to react, just bang, and pieces are flying.
The first time that happened, I was blown back, then fell back with a hand hitting the blade gaurd. Glad, I had the gaurd on there!

Now, I expect that can happen, so I try to keep my body balance in the opposite direction of the blade, as the second time that happened, the blade gaurd was blown to the up posistion.
With my left foot more forward, I didnt fall back into the blade.

Perhaps there is no truly safe place to be when things go wrong like that, hope for the best, try to be prepared for the worst.

Don
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