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Ever use your table saw while wearing a flannel shirt? You’d think you wouldn’t make that mistake more than once. Most table saws dust collection systems capture dust generated below the workpiece, but do a poor job capturing the dust that the blade throws above the work piece — usually right at your shirt.

What we need is a way to capture the dust that comes off the top of the workpiece. Blade guard dust collection systems are nothing new, but they’re usually priced at a good percentage of what you paid for your table saw. This blade guard dust collector from Penn State Industries looks to be a solution that the home wood worker might afford.

It can be used on any table saw with an extension, or you can mount it to the ceiling. The guard is large enough to accepts blades up to 16″ — I’d like to see that table saw — and will still cover your splitter and anti-kickback pawls.  It can be used with dado blades and will cover the blade on 45° cuts, too.

The guard portion is a single piece of clear, shatterproof plastic. A 4″ dust collection hose connects to the 83″ steel boom and the mast is made from steel too. The guard is counter-balanced, which makes it easy to position and adjust for different wood thicknesses, and if the guard interferes with your operation you can simply swing it out of the way.

You can buy the dust collection guard for $150 total at Amazon.  If that’s still too rich for your blood you can pick up plans to make your own for $6.

Dust Collection Guard [Penn State Industries]
Dust Collection Guard Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Plans at Amazon [What’s This?]

15 Responses to Table Saw Blade Guard And Dust Collector

  1. Steven says:

    ShopNotes had a plan for one of these too. Vol. 16 Issue 92.

    Here is a video of someone who made one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOQ7EU2cbmY

  2. Michael says:

    What’s a blade guard?

  3. fred says:

    We have a Delta Uniguard on one of our Unisaws (one without a sliding table) – and would have liked that it had come with dust collection. This looks like it might be a fairly inexpensive alternative.

  4. turtleman1 says:

    Norm Abrams’ flannel shirts don’t seem to attract saw dust.

  5. Dave P. says:

    Norm’s saw is properly set up (fence parallel to blade), and he uses a riving knife. The back of the blade doesn’t contact the wood. That’s also one of the primary reasons Norm still has his fingers.

  6. rg says:

    @Michael –
    A blade guard is a handy storage item when turned upside down. Keep one within easy reach of your saw. It makes a great container for severed fingers, which is easily grasped by bloody stumps, on your way to the emergency room.

    Take it from me!
    -“Lefty”

  7. fred says:

    Blade guards and other safety devices are important but only the second line of defense. Safety equipment is best if you have proper training and have a mindset that is up to the job at hand (paying attention.) We have job safety discussions at the start of each work day. We talk about what we are doing, discuss any special or new concerns, what tools we will be using, look over set-ups and PPE required. We also try to instill the notion that “you are you brother’s keeper” and everyone needs to call time out if they see a serious safety issue. We try to get each of our crew members to look out for each other – so everyone goes home at the end of the day – tired but not injured. We try to make safety supervision everyone’s job – not just our lead carpenter or crew boss. Some of these same principles apply when you are working alone. Also – speaking of tired – we try to undertake operations that require most attention – when everyone is fresh – trying to avoid starting difficult tasks during those typical lull periods after lunch.

    All this being said – I think that the saw manufacturers (Bosch, Dewalt, Makita et. al.) have done the right thing by incorporating riving knives and more convenient/usable guards on their jobsite table saws. I’m hoping that they refine these further as they get feedback from their user community.

  8. Michael says:

    I take off blade guards. The plastic distorts viewing the cutting and setup. I grew up on a what would now be a 50 years old radial arm saw. The first rule to learn is where the blade is and where your fingers are.

    Fred’s view is the best. Have your mind on the work. Check your cutters. Triple check your setup before you cut. And always know where your fingers, work and cutters are.

    If you think there is going to be kick back, prep for it. I have a combat grade flak jacket and welders mask and don’t put your body in the plane of the cut.

    If your doing a multi person job like laying flooring. Have one guy measure, one cut and one install. Rotate positions every hour or so to prevent mental fatigue from setting in.

  9. paganwonder says:

    This looks like a good dust collection idea. The person who thinks a blade guard makes a saw safe is the same person who thinks the safety on a pistol renders it harmless. The only reliable safety device in the shop is the blob of goo between your ears- be aware or be sorry. 30 years of power tool use in many settings and still all body parts intact- and I’m not just lucky.

  10. Michael says:

    I’m old school on dust collection. The floor and a leaf blower.

  11. Brau says:

    I’m with Fred and Michael. In my experience care and attention are the two most important safety regulations whether working with power tools or even hand tools for that matter. Without those two observations, nothing will save your fingers, scalp, eyes, whatever. 40 years working with tools, well before all these new safety devices, and I still have all my fingers, thanks mostly to the incessant instruction of my father to remain patient and calm, resisting the pressure to rush, at all times.

    He said over and over: Slow down! Think through what you are about to do, then rethink it to be sure.

    I read a news story a while back about a weekend warrior who cut his left arm off with a brand new 12″ Makita chop saw (safety shield, automatic brake) when rushing to get the job done. With one baseboard left, he brought the saw down with his arms crossed rather than take the time to reset the angle for right handed use. By the time he realized his dumb error, it was over.

  12. Brau says:

    Just as an aside to what I wrote above:

    I’ve sometime wondered if all these safety features sometimes conspire to lull people into a false sense of security. Would the weekend warrior have made that mistake if the 12″ blade was still free-wheeling in the open (without modern brakes or cover shield) a few inches from his face? I know the old Delta radial arm saw I used to own had my complete respect for the utter danger it could wreak if it ever grabbed. The blade would spin for minutes after each use.

  13. fred says:

    @Brau

    As they say – you might be able to make things fool-proof – but you can’t make them damn-fool proof. You need to engage your brain – and that brain needs to be trained so as to be aware of the inherent dangers. We have more and more automated equipment in the shop – that helps eliminate some – but not all of the risk. We like to think that our OSHA incidence rate is so low – beacuse we take positive actions every day to keep it that way

  14. jeff says:

    I worked in a production wood shop for 3 years and worked with all kinds of table saw tools and routers. Seems to me the best dust collector was my big German nose!

  15. FB says:

    I don’t use a guard either just a splitter. I would say the #1 important job of this accessory is to collect the dust coming off the blade. Saw dust is a known carcinogen. You need to protect your lungs. I didn’t quit smoking 28 years ago to get lung cancer from my table saw!

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