Monthly Archives: February 2012

As good as new; Earl Kent works his way down the pier with the pressure washer.

By Tony Owen

Taking off the horrible old mildew and moss! Earl Kent, still at it with the pressure washer, has singlehandedly transformed the pier walkway benches and pickets into like new condition. Earl is a new volunteer at the Center and has undertaken many jobs with wonderful vigor! In Earl’s spare time he is a volunteer dog walker with the SPCA in Duncan.

Tony Owen puts some fir through our new saw; SawStop technology helps prevent table saw injuries

We are delighted to announce that we have a new table saw with SawStop technology. This is an important step in improving our member’s safety. We decided it was time to introduce a new “norm” in the way we view safety, especially as we have a wide range of individuals using the shop, from complete novices to seasoned woodworkers.

The table saw is potentially the most dangerous piece of equipment in any woodworking shop and gruesome injuries are not uncommon. There are typically 40 amputations caused by table saws each year in BC alone, plus numerous injuries from “kick-backs.”

WorkSafe BC is quite clear on table saw safety.

“Blade guards on table saws, and to a much lesser degree panel saws, cannot be used in every circumstance. The OHS Regulation allows for the temporary removal of the guard, where its use is impracticable or where the guard itself creates a hazard. The term impracticable means “that which is not reasonably capable of being done.” Impracticable does not mean inconvenient; there should be few situations where it is impracticable to use the guard.

In some cases, however, the guard may physically obstruct the cutting process (for example, when cutting dados or narrow pieces of material). In these cases, the guard may be temporarily removed, but another safety device (or devices) must be used, such as a push stick, push block, feather board, or similar device. Note that the operator’s hands are not an acceptable alternative to a push stick, push block, or similar device. Replace the guard once that cutting operation is completed.”

Returning to kick-backs, consider that the tips of a 10” blade are travelling at around 220kph, and if the blade happens to catch a piece of lumber because you are not using a riving knife, or a guard with anti kick-back pawls, then that piece of lumber is likely to end up heading towards you at 220 kph! I have seen a sliver of lumber narrowly miss a saw operator and then penetrate 2 layers of drywall!

Before using the saw please ask me to show you how the SawStop feature works – important as accidental activations are expensive! I recommend looking at the where there is an impressive video on their home page of the technology in action. Basically, if any part of your body makes contact with the blade, an aluminum block is fired into the bottom of the blade, stopping it instantly and retracting it into the table; this all happens in a few milliseconds! You will also find the excellent manual for our Professional Cabinet Saw model at

A hard copy of the manual can be found in the rack just inside the tool room door, together with manuals for the other shop machines. Read it and you will learn a few things – I certainly did. Remember that even SawStop technology won’t protect you from kick-backs if you remove the guards!

The saw was assembled with Collin Craig’s help and we were both very impressed by the build quality of this machine and we are sure you will all find it a pleasure to use.

We have some quality equipment in the shop for member’s use. There are still things we need to improve, and a few more tools that we would like to have (aren’t there always!) and those will come in good time.