Monthly Safety Report

Steve Eikenberry

As we look to the New Year ahead, the Safety Department will be focusing on increased safety measures in our shops. Shop members come with a wide variety of woodworking experiences and habits. Our goal is for every member to enjoy their time in the shop, stay safe, and keep others around them safe.

As we go into 2024, our mantra is ONE SHOP, TWO LOCATIONS. You will see an increased presence of our Yellow Badge maintenance team at Rolling Acres similar to the team developed at Brownwood. At both shops Yellow Badge members will be helping members with shop use and monitoring shop safety.

Table saws are one of the most used machines in our shop, and also one of the most dangerous to human injuries. Nearly every member who has any previous shop experience has owned a table saw and developed their own “ways of doing things.” Sometimes those historic ways we “always did it this way” aren’t the safest or compatible with established VWC methods. If you’re asked to change a method you’ve used outside our shop, please keep an open mind that our goal is to keep everyone as safe as possible. 

Below are VWC table saw guidelines we want every member to follow. If you have questions about any of these, please ask a safety team member for an explanation.


1.    Blade Guard with anti kickback dogs and riving knife
a.    Whenever possible, always keep the guard in place
b.    There are very few operations that require removal of the guard

2.    Kickbacks: when a board gets pinched between the fence and the blade
a.    At a minimum, always use a riving knife except for dado cuts
b.    Whenever possible, use a guard with anti-kickback dogs
c.    Never use the fence as a stop block
d.    Always attach a board to the fence to create a stop block. This allows space for the cut off board to be free beside the blade and not get pinched, causing a kickback

3.    Push sticks:
a.    Only use ones that push down on lumber
b.    Once a push stick is chewed or cut, throw it away
c.    Only apply the push stick after the lumber is all the way on the saw table
d.    Keep your push stick to the right of the fence where it’s easy to grab
e.    Only push between the blade and the rip fence

4.    Feather boards:
a.    Always use when ripping lumber
b.    Never use your hand as a feather board
c.    Never use a handheld stick as a feather board

5.    Cutting lumber that is not jointed and planed straight
a.    No rough sawn rough sawn lumber on table saws
b.    Any rough sawn lumber too wide for the jointer should be cut on the band saw…not the table saw
c.    No cupped, warped, twisted boards, period! Milled lumber only on tablesaw
d.    Use band saw and radial arm saw for cutting rough sawn lumber
e.    Only jointed and lumber on the table saw: one flat side and one jointed edge

6.     Cutting Thin Strips
a.    Two jigs available for cutting thin strips
b.    Always use one of the jigs depending on the width of the strips being cut
c.    Best Practice: use the bandsaw instead, and use thickness sander to fine tune dimensions.

7.    Cutting Freehand
a.    Never do it…period!
b.    Cutting freehand means not using a support for the lumber being cut
c.    Ok to do on a bandsaw…never on a table saw

8.    Blade tooth height
a.    Just so the bottom gullet clears the wood is OK
b.    Best practice: Just so the top of the blade is above the wood
c.    Never have the blade high…there is no advantage and plenty of disadvantage

9.    Standing in the correct position
a.    Never stand directly behind the blade and the fence
b.    Stand on the left side of the blade, using your right hand on the push stick. This promotes pushing wood into the fence.

10.    Boards wider than they are long
a.    Never rip boards wider than they are long…never rip the short side of  a board
b.    Use sled or miter gauge for boards wider than they are long

11.    Using the fence as a stop block
a.    Never use the fence alone as a stop block. This allows cut off wood to become pinched between the blade and the fence.
b.    Always use a block of wood clamped on the fence as a stop block. This allows the cut off wood room to be free and not get pinched between the blade and the fence

Steve Eikenberry
Safety Department Manager