In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about miter saw safety. We will first go over how to safely use a miter saw
- How to safely use a miter saw
- What miter saw PPE to wear
- Miter saw safety features to look for
- How to safely cut small and large wood
- How to safely change the blade
How to safely use a miter saw
- Use clamps and keep hands away from the blade
- Do not force the blade through the wood
- Use an outfeed table when needed
- Turn off the saw when changing blade and making adjustments
- Wear proper PPE
One of the main causes of injury in many settings is distractions. You want to make sure you do not have any distractions when operating a miter saw. Use the miter saw clamps and make sure your hands stay away from the blade.
Additionally, if the blade will not easily cut the wood, do not force it. Turn the saw off and access the situation to see what could be preventing the blade from cutting the wood. Sometimes it may just be a tough wood knot and will require you to retry the cut but go in small passes.
If the wood is long then use an outfeed table and if the wood is short use a miter saw jig. One example of a miter saw jig for small wood pieces is this auxiliary fence for the miter saw. To learn how to make this jig, check out my article here.
You should always unplug the saw when changing the blade and making adjustments. Turning off and not only unplugging the saw will prevent injuries.
What miter saw PPE to wear
- Dust mask
- Hearing protection
- Closed toed shoes
Glasses will protect your eyes from injuries/complications ranging from irriation from wood dust to blunt force trauma from flying wood pieces.
A dust mask will prevent wood shaving from entering your repsiroatory system. A surgical mark, a.k.a. Covid mask, will suffice to prevent you from breathing in airborne dust particles.
Hearing protection will protect your ears since the miter saw is well over the recommended 85 decibel rating.
Closed toe shoes are useful to prevent injuries from falling workpieces and can prevent trips and falls.
To learn more about different types of PPE and how to choose the correct PPE for you, check out my article “Woodworking PPE”.
Miter saw safety features to look for
- A way to secure the saw to a workbench
- Workpiece clamps
- Blade guard
You want to be able to clamp the miter saw to a miter workbench if you are using one. This is because the miter saw is heavy, and if it falls it can damage the tool or injure someone. Even though it is unlikely to fall due to its weight, being able to secure it to the workbench is a necessary safety feature.
Secondly, workpiece clamps will clamp the wood to the miter saw. These clamps help keep the wood flushed to the tabletop and miter saw fence. This prevents the wood from falling to one side after it is cut, prevents kickback of the blade, and prevents injury to the user.
Lastly, a blade guard is a necessity for any miter saw. I am sure all miter saws are sold with blade guards. The only time you will really need to make sure your saw has this feature is if you are buying a used one on a second hand website.
How to safely cut small and large wood
- Use an auxiliary miter saw fence
- Use an outfeed table
To safely cut small pieces of wood, you will need to use a miter saw jig. The jig that I use is the auxiliary miter saw fence jig. To learn how to make this jig, check out my article here.
To safely cut large pieces of wood, you will need to use an outfeed table to keep the wood level. You can purchase saw horses and plywood, set the miter saw on the ground and use 4×4’s, or use a woodworking workbench.
How to safely change the blade
- Unplug the saw
- Remove the nut using a wrench
- Replace the blade
- Tighten the nut to the recommendation
The number one thing to do to safely change a miter saw blade is to make sure the saw is unplugged. Once the saw is unplugged then you can continue with changing the blade by removing the nut, replacing the blade, and tightening the nut. You want to make sure you tighten the nut correctly and not over or under tighten it.
Common miter saw Injuries
- Lacerations/deep cuts
- Blunt force trauma
- Hearing injuries
- Respiratory injuries
- Eye/vision injuries
While all of the injuries on this list are severe, lacerations, deep cuts, and blunt force trauma are instant injuries. These are injuries that you will know happen almost immediately. Lacerations and deep cuts commonly come from accidents with touching the blade in one way or form. Blunt force trauma commonly comes from kickback where the wood is shot at the operator.
Hearing, respiratory, and eye/vision injuries are compound injuries that may not happen in a day. Some of these are tinnitus, noise-induced deafness, pneumoconiosis, tuberculosis, dry eye syndrome, and prolonged eye and respiratory irritations.
Wearing the correct PPE will prevent most miter saw injuries like hearing, respiratory, and eye/vision problems. Following the correct protocol and not being distracted will prevent other miter saw injuries like lacerations and deep cuts.
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