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My first skill saw was given to me in the late sixties from an older carpenter that was helping my brothers and myself add a two story room addition to my mom's house.. It was an old Porter Cable circular saw with no existing guard. I used it for many years and had to turn it upside down after making a cut because the blade would coast for a very long time before stopping. When they made good bearings. On rare occasions I forgot and it would cut a doughnut on the concrete floors..At the time I didn't know better and everyone used the saw. Nobody was ever hurt with it.This was pre carbide blades and we carried sharpening files to the job.
The skill saw is no more dangerous cutting (letting in) framed wall studs for 3/4 bracing with no guard, probably less, than any one on a ladder reaching out and cutting limbs with a chain saw (with 16" plus two sided no guarded teeth). I use a chainsaw with one or two hands, like my skill saw, depending the circumstances. I also have a permanent swing lock on the skill saw guard to keep it up for certain let in K brace cuts. I am extremely aware of potential hazards, strictly attentive to binding, and use two hands. It's what I do for a living, cut boards/sheet goods to size every day, and regularly make a thousand+ cuts in two days with sheet goods. My eyes are glued to the fingers/blade every cut.
In my years in the trade over half a century, working with untold amount of other carpenters, I have come to the conclusion there are just some people that should not work with power tools that have blades, or can do harm, and should not be allowed in a shop with others. It is not in their genes to understand the hazards, nor have the co-ordination. . I know my own limitations, and there are many things I'm just not qualified to do. When I began as a carpenter, there were very few people that had/used a skill saw, and they were carpenters who learned from other carpenters their use and danger. Today anyone/everyone can (and does) go buy a cordless saw, without having any experience whatsoever in its use, nor the dangers. Thus the overwhelming amount of safety discussion on most wood working forums, and rightly so.
I got rid of my two Delta radial arm saws because I just felt they were unsafe, and I believe they are the most dangerous tool that was in my shop. That large blade can go on attack in a New York second. I do all plywood cross cuts on my table saw, and do not use a sled due to piece size. When doing sub work for a cabinet shop, our trim carpenter cut off three of his fingers using a compound slide chop saw, holding the piece with his hand in the blade path,( huge never do). Same as a radial saw can. They were sewed back with 50% +/- use.
I don't depend on safety devices to be safe
. I do not use splitters or guards on my table saw due to my production methods. For me,
they create hazards, and are difficult (dangerous) to work around. I have in-feed and out-feed tables so can turn loose the sheet anytime. On router tables I have set up with one for each profile, I use ball bearing guides and add side fence and bit cover to minimize danger. Push blocks on joiner, and none on table saw, as for my application the piece is too large. I work hard concentrating to keep my mind on my work, and nor day dreaming during long production. Like the coach says when at bat, keep your eye on the ball (blade
Yes, I have all ten fingers, still, thank you Lord.
Yes, be safe, and be thinking. Not all tools are (safe) for the accoasional handy man.