Heres a simple question: Why make a free-hand cut on a table saw? Ever?
This is not a discussion of the recent table saw lawsuit, but it does involve safety. At the heart of the lawsuit, the victim was performing a free-hand rip cut that was at the root of the accidents cause. But the question remains: Why?
My neighbor (one of the good ones, not the harpy with the lawnmower fetish) is having some work done, and a contractors van has been in his driveway the last few days. Theyve set up a work area on the driveway with a portable table saw up on horses, and have been using it a lot. I cant tell what theyre cutting might be molding, might be flooring, might be cabinet trim but its mostly narrow stuff, and most of the cuts have been rips.
Theyre not using a fence. And for the life of me, I cant understand why. Can it save time? Hardly, since theyre making the cuts very slowly, presumably for accuracy and what passes for being careful. But again, why? If you take the two seconds to attach the fence and lock it, you can make a rip cut far more quickly, plus the accuracy is then built-in. It would take them LESS time and provide MORE accurate cuts if they used a fence. And its safer. So why cut free-hand?
Tapered cuts, maybe, that are hard to do with a fence? OK, maybe. But if youre doing work where you do a lot of tapered rip cuts, there are inexpensive taper guides available that let you make tapered cuts as quickly as straight ones. Again, its faster and infinitely safer to do it with a fence. Maybe they dont have a jig? Again, OK maybe. But if you do a job more than once that requires tapered cuts (as flooring and molding installers do), why wouldnt you invest in one of these jigs? They just arent that expensive and they help get the job done faster. Isnt that the goal?
Same goes for free-hand cut-off tasks. Using a miter gauge its fast and accurate for any angle you set. Without a miter gauge you have to cut slower, you dont get accuracy, and its insanely unsafe. Again, the job is faster, more accurate and safer with a miter gauge, so why free-hand?
Im not talking a one-time cut I suppose I could understand that, maybe, sort of Im talking repeated, one-after-another free-hand cuts like these guys over at my neighbors house are doing. Why?
Im not joking here, I really dont understand. Can anyone give me a good answer?
Till next time,