In all the time that I've maintained this blog, I haven't made any posts regarding workshop safety...especially around power tools. Well, that's going to change right now.
Today I had a serious mishap in the workshop. Fortunately, I am fine...but I believe this is largely due to the emphasis I place on safety at every step of the construction process. I wear eye protection every time I fire up any power tool and I make it a point to consciously respect the terrible damage these tools can inflict. But even with this conscientious approach, mishaps do happen. The good news is that, when using these tools safely, they don't get the opportunity to harm life or limb.
To get to the point, I had a fragment of material come off a piece of MDF board I was cutting and it caught on the circular saw which drew it into the saw housing. Near as I can tell, the piece struck the blade housing in such a way that it became unstable and warped into the rotating blade. What happened after that was complete housing destruction, warping of the feeder plate and impact deformation of the blade itself. All of this happened within a fraction of a second.
The red-colored bent plate you see here is the feeder plate. This was originally flat by design, but now it is clearly bent. The damage was apparently caused by the force of impact from the blade housing fragmentation and from what appears to be glancing impact from the saw blade.
What you see here is all that remains of the saw housing. As can be seen here, it was completely destroyed in the mishap.
This is where the feeder plate (shown above) used to be mounted next to where the saw blade spun. This is why I always have the eye shield lowered over the blade when it's in operation. It's certain that parts must have flown out the top opening. Fortunately, my eyes were double shielded by the blade cover and the eye protection I was wearing.
This is a view of the underside of the table saw. The blade housing is completely gone. Near the bottom edge of the blade you can see the remnants of the housing. That's all that is left.
This is where the saw blade housing was. Just to the left of the blade you can see the mount bolts for the housing. They were both severely bent by the force of the rotating blade destroying the housing. It was rather unsettling to see this kind of destruction occuring in such close physical proximity not only to my face, but also near my legs.
So the moral of the story is, always utilize strict safety practices in the shop! You never know when failure of a component will occur and sometimes the only way you can prevent injury is by constantly giving these tools the respect they demand. Taking safety for granted at any point can have disastrous results. While I'm none too happy that my table saw is out of commission, I am just glad that the only thing that suffered for the mishap was the machine itself. This incident was just too close for comfort.