53 – Reviewing Miter Saw Safety with the Festool Kapex


(jazzy upbeat music) Marc: Now today, we’re going to
take a look at the miter saw, specifically a sliding compound miter saw. Again, these manuals always
come with instructions on general safety, and I
definitely recommend you read those things, it’s going to
be a lot more thorough than my little video here. But let me just show
you some of the pointers that I know keep me safe every
time I turn this tool on. So, as with any tool, you
should, of course, have your personal protective equipment on. At the very least, make sure
you are protecting your eyes. Okay, so a tool like this, you
have to consider some of the things about what you’re wearing even. No long sleeves, okay. It’s very easy for those sleeves
to get caught up in the blade, and you’re going to have yourself
a problem if you do that. Um, the way you approach
the tool – the great thing about a miter saw is it doesn’t
care whether you’re left handed or right handed, so
there’s no excuse for doing things like this, okay,
holding a work piece over here and holding the saw with your right hand. You should never have to do that. Grab the saw with your
left hand, even if you’re right handed, and then hold the
work piece with your right hand and you can go ahead and
do your cuts that way. Never cross your arms. Now another great feature – some
saws have them, some don’t – is a built-in clamp like this. So when you have a work
piece that you need to cut, really the best thing to
do – I’d rather not have my hand anywhere need the
blade if I can prevent it. Of course, we want to have
this imaginary zone that’s probably three or four inches
around the blade that we don’t ever want our digits, our
hands, or anything to be near. So if you have a clamp like this,
have your work piece in place, clamp it down, and now this
thing is pretty secure. And you can – I usually do support
the work piece, but I’m a lot further away than I would be if I
didn’t have this clamp in place, and now it’s safe to go
ahead and make your cut. Now, in a case when you’re cutting
a really long piece, you want to make sure that the work
piece is completely supported. Whatever means you need to
do that, whether you have a built-in fence system
or, you know, let’s say you build yourself a miter saw
station, you want to make sure the work piece is supported so that once you make that cut, it’s not
going to flop to the floor because that can be very dangerous. So, I’ve got the support, I’ve
got a clamp that I’m going to use here, and let’s talk
about what we do with the actual tool itself, okay. A sliding compound miter saw
– some people, and I’ve seen, it’s a pretty scary thing,
they actually start at the beginning of their cut
here, start the motor, and as they’re cutting,
pull it toward them, and that’s really dangerous. That’s the, again, kind
of like the router thing that we explained the other day. It’s the direction that the blade
wants to go, so if you start putting your motion in that same
direction, you’re going to have, you know, something that really
pushes with a lot of force. So, you want to work against
the motion of the blade. You want the blade to put
all its pressure into this work piece so that it
pushes it into the fence and down onto the flat stable work surface. So what I always do is I
come all the way out, okay, and I bring it to its full
extension point, and then I turn the saw on, wait for
it to come to full speed, plunge down, and then
push back, and that’s the motion I go through. You’ll also notice, when I finish
the cut, I let go of the trigger and I let it stop while it’s
embedded in this safe housing here. If you actually bring it back up
while the blade is still moving, you have a chance of creating a problem. There could be some kick-back, you could – the other thing is, the quality
of your cut goes down when you do that too,because those
little fibers at the end of the work piece hit the little
teeth and you wind up getting, you know, a less-than-great-quality cut. So, let’s go ahead and
actually make a quick cut. (saw motor running) Now if you follow that
procedure every time, you’re almost guaranteed
to have a safe cut. Now, let’s say you want to
use a stop block or something to make repetitive cuts, okay. We’re going to cut this
one at about 12 inches. My bionic eye tells me that
that’s about 12 inches. Okay, so, you have an option here. A lot of times you have either
a stop block on the left or a stop block on the right,
and where do you put it? Well, a lot of it depends
on where you’re going to secure the piece from, so
let me show you an example. I have my clamp set up on the left side. What happens if we set up our
stop block over on this side? Now, whether you use these
built-in stops or you actually literally have a block of
wood and a clamp, whatever is, you know, the most convenient
for you is perfectly fine. But, we have the stop on this
side, my clamp is over here, so let’s go ahead and clamp it down. Now, we’ve got a situation here. We’re clamped on this side,
we’re going to make a cut, and our stop is on this side. This piece is going to be
secure, this one is not. So, does anyone see a problem with that? Anybody? Nicole. Nicole sees a problem with that. Very good, Nicole. The problem here is the
loose piece is now sort of bouncing between the
blade and our stop block. Just like in the table
saw, you never want a piece to be loose between your
blade and the fence. Same exact thing here. So, you go ahead and make
this cut, very dangerous. Potentially, this piece
could fly back at you. So, how do we, how do we work around that? Well, what I would do
is one of two things. You just have to decide which
side you want to work from. You can move your clamp so that
it’s on this side and this piece then becomes secure and your
cutoff piece becomes loose, or, like I would do, just
leave the clamp where it is and flip this guy over,
use this as your stop, adjust it so it’s at least close. Now I can add my clamp. My cutoff piece is now free
to do what it wants to do, so if it contacts the blade, it
actually will just bounce away from the blade safely and
it’s not going to kick back. So let’s go ahead and make that cut and you can see how it reacts. (saw motor running) Very stable, it just sat there. It can bounce around all
it wants and it’s not going to fly back at me. Now, while I made that
cut, I actually took notice of something that brings
up another good point. This little piece of material
back here flew back and, now this is not a big
deal, that’s very small, but there are times when let’s
say you’re just cutting a little piece off and now you’ve got a
quarter-inch piece of material that may very well fall back there. It brings up a very good
safety recommendation, and that is to add something
like a backer board. Okay, this is just a
piece of MDF, it happens to be veneered with
cherry, but it’s a cutoff. I just have some double-stick
tape here and I’m going to attach this to the back
of the factory fence. Now, this does a couple things for us. Not only is it a safety issue,
because what it’s going to do is stop those pieces from having
that option to go back there. If they do go back into this little
spot here, a lot of times they bounce around for a little
while until they hit the blade and then they go “vroom”
right out the front, so it’s always a good idea to
install this here and that will make sure that any
cutoffs stay in the front and fall down instead of
hanging out behind the blade. All right? So you install that the first
time and you want to make your first cut to establish
your zero clearance. (saw motor running) Now, with this kerf cut
in here, only the blade can fit through that tiny little slot. There’s not enough room for the
cutoffs to fit through there. And we have the added advantage,
just like a zero-clearance insert on a table saw
gives you a cleaner cut, same thing here. All the fibers on the back
of your work piece are now completely supported all
the way through the cut, which means an absolute
clean cut at the back edge, which is great when
you’re doing finish cuts on your miter saw. Now, I would say the
most common way to get a kick-back incident on a
sliding compound miter saw is when people are using it
to rough-cut boards, okay. So let’s say like this big piece
of wenge here is pretty uneven. Okay, actually it’s not too bad
considering, but a lot of times your rough material, it
doesn’t sit real steady. So you put this on here, even
if you clamp it down, okay, you’re in a situation
where as you cut through, you release all that
pressure, and when everything settles down, these two
halves are going to actually act very differently than the
whole piece did on its own. So when those pieces then
decide to move, once that pressure is released, you’ve
got a situation where now maybe more wood is being
pushed into the blade and a lot of times what
happens is this saw comes right back at you. And a couple things – I
mean usually it’s okay. The saw can only go so
far, but it scares you, and secondly it can really knock your saw out of calibration because
it jolts the whole thing. So when you’re rough-cutting
lumber like this, a lot of times it is
tempting to use this tool. I actually prefer to
use my jigsaw, though. It’s a lot safer: I set up some saw horses and I just cut them down
to all of my rough lengths or cut and organize, and
then once I have some nice clean boards to work with
that sit nice and level, then I come to this
machine and trim them to my final lengths at that point. So, hopefully that’ll serve
as just a very quick review of some of the things you
need to be concerned about with this particular tool. There’s a lot of great
resources out there. One of my favorite is actually
Mark Adams’ Safety Video. He not only covers the miter
saw, but he covers just about every power tool in the shop,
and it’s really comprehensive and covers just about
everything you could possibly want to know about safety
on those particular tools. And his comments and things
on the miter saw were pretty insightful, so I recommend
that as a resource for you. So, we’d just like to take
a minute to thank everybody for watching all the videos
this week and participating and commenting, and all
the bloggers and the pod-casters, the magazine
owners, and Fine Woodworking for supplying us with
some of their videos, and even our sponsor,
Rockler, who was able to supply us with a bunch of
great items for the giveaways. It just turned into an amazing week. Nicole: Yeah, definitely. And what we’d like to
say is even though we had Safety Week this week,
we know that every week is Safety Week. So hopefully what we’ve
done this week has kind of helped you in your shops and
gave you some experiences and even made you laugh a
little bit (soft giggle). Marc: And ultimately, safety
is something that we should incorporate completely into what we do, but we will need reminders. Nicole: Yes. Marc: The longer we work
in the shop, it seems like Nicole: Sure. Marc: And that’s very dangerous.
Nicole: Yes. Marc: So we can all use a
refresher course once in a while. Nicole: So thanks for watching, guys. Marc: Thanks for watching. (acoustic guitar music) An e, an e-mail that I
got… Dammit, I’m rambling. I need a new cameraman. This one’s got some serious attitude. Here’s a safety recommendation: Don’t put a bunch of crap in your shop. As they’re sitting there like this. Nicole: Not every week
– every week? {boing) Marc: Will be on the left side. Mmm, I got a splinter. (kissy sounds)

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Reader Comments

  1. hammerofharpel

    Great vid. Now I solved the old 'why does the piece splinter a bit — shut the saw off before lifting the blade. I felt stupid — and excited to learn the mistake!
    Dave…

  2. Mike McDermott

    Nice Saw! I got my Kapex a few weeks ago, easily the most accurate saw I've ever used -and I've tried them all at one point in time.

  3. jws54

    I learned a few things here today.
    I like the way you teach.
    I would've pulled the saw through the pc for all I knew about it.
    Seems backasswards, so I guess that shows I need to learn some new ways. thanks

  4. The Wood Whisperer

    1- It may impede the dust collection a bit, yes. But it wont completely negate it. 2- Unfortunately that fence is not available in the US. Its one of Festool's products that they sell in Europe but haven't yet brought to the states.

  5. fratsman

    I'm not sure the chick at the end adds much to the overall benefit of this video; in fact, the whole thing could be about half as long…

  6. paulfreefall

    thank you, picked up some very good tips – as well as safety tips. I just bought a very loud compound saw – haven't used it yet but switched it on. scary! cant wait to start building my new kitchen.
    Thanks again.

  7. Jamie Dick

    i have a kapex 120 and find if i am cutting a 150mm high gloss plinth i need to put the blade down at the fence & pull the blade back. otherwise the cut splinters. any tips?

  8. Jamie Dick

    its a 60 tooth festool blade i'm using. some of the kitchen plinth & trims i'm fitting are painted some a high gloss paint & it does chip how many teeth are in the blad you use for fine work. festool do an 80 tooth blade but it's very expensive.

  9. Jill Wright

    i have the kapex and also am a kitchen fitter try using masking tape pulled tight and cut the plinth upside down ,move blade slow an consistent hope this helps works for me…

  10. The Wood Whisperer

    @MsContractor13 There are lots of great saws on the market so its going to be hard to give you advice without knowing how he's going to use the saw and what your budget is. Never heard of the Straight Flush.

  11. The Wood Whisperer

    @MsContractor13 OK well we are talking about three different things here. This video was on a miter saw, you mention a circular saw, and then you asked about a dual saw. I know it can get really confusing with so many types of tools but they are all quite different. I think we are better off taking this to email. Head to my site or email me at thewoodwhisperer at gmail and I would be happy to give you more info on this.

  12. The Wood Whisperer

    @frisbeel0l Your left hand has nothing to do with the cut at this point. But I usually do use my left hand for extra support while I make the cut. But my hand is pretty far from the blade at that time.

  13. The Wood Whisperer

    @frisbeel0l No the stop block side does not have a clamp. In most cases, a miter saw is going to come with only one clamp. So you need to choose which side get the clamp. If your piece is stable enough on the surface, you certainly could use the clamp to secure the cut off piece between the blade and the stop block. But you still need to be very careful b/c those clamps are not foolproof and the piece could still move.

  14. The Wood Whisperer

    @frisbeel0l Its a matter of taking the tool to the wood, or the wood to the tool. Rough wood is usually a little wobbly on the surface. This is not a good thing at the miter saw. So the jigsaw is much safer and much more forgiving. Also, if the board is large and heavy, it can be tricky to get it up on the miter saw. But cutting it down first with the jig saw gives you a much smaller piece that is easier to manage at the miter saw.

  15. The Wood Whisperer

    @ak99372 Honestly, there's a point where it just isn't feasible to make a cut on a power saw. So if you can't some up with some sort of jig to clamp the piece securely, you might be best off going to a traditional hand miter box.

  16. Tyler Harrington

    Everyone in my shop class at school needs to watch this, somehow 70% of the class always has kickbacks on the chop saw and it really puzzles me.

  17. amanda nor

    In my shop class we are required to make 1inch cuts off of 6inch pieces on the mitre saw.. But every time i have tried i have always had major kickbacks, and the pieces went bouncing everywhere.
    Are there any tips on how to not have kickbacks from cutting these small peices?
    … we do not have clamps on our machine and we do not have any clamps that can attach

  18. The Wood Whisperer

    A good start would be to have a sacrificial fence on the saw.That alone should do a good job of eliminating the kickbacks.

  19. Randle Marks Crafts and Customs

    Hey Marc I have a simple 10in compound sliding miter saw and every time i make my cut and let the blade stop i still get grooves in the end grain. How can I prevent that for future projects?

  20. The Wood Whisperer

    Well, assuming the teeth aren't still in contact with the work when the blade stops, it could be calibration or the blade itself. Sometimes replacing the blade with a higher quality model can work wonders.

  21. The Wood Whisperer

    The dust collection is connected to all major large tools. The miter saw is connected to a Festool Vac which turns on every time the tool turns on.

  22. BH Varanus

    A very well done and basic safety video. Keep them coming for all the morons who don't respect moving metal…

    Well done playa, well done

  23. Astro Bob

    who ever your shop teacher is needs to change his requirments! This is very dangerous if you are cutting short pieces off the end with a miter saw with the stock opening on your miter saw which may have a gap of an inch or so. You need to make a sacrificial fence that you cut through and have an opening only as wide as the kerf on the saw blade. The piece is prevented from slipping thorugh that opening on the stock saw and going flying. The blade spins at around 140mph can spit a piece out fast.

  24. The Wood Whisperer

    Yes they are. But I don't recommend them for shop use. They are too easy to knock out of calibration. Great for work on the job site though.

  25. Tom B

    I would highly recommend using the clamp with a sliding compound mitre, especially with cutting small pieces. Last year, I was cutting a mitre in a small piece of stock and kick back occurred. Fortunately my hand didn't get thrown into the blade but I did end up fracturing my hand due to the force of the kickback on my thumb. ย 

  26. pp rr

    Thank you so much for posting these video. I started woodworking recently and totally loving it. Will definitely be keeping these tips in mind.

  27. eyeguyeyeguy1

    Great vid. One question. If you make that zero clearance insert with the double stick tape, and the small kerf, is it possible that if that backer board ever moves a bit during subsequent cuts that the backer board itself could actually come flying back at the user? Would it make sense to clamp that backer board on both ends so it cant move, as I dont know if I would trust just tape to hold the board in place. Thanks

  28. Nerijus Seputis

    Hey, I'm working 3 years and NEVER had flying back peace of wood or something else. Just need to put on a right place a wood and cut it.

  29. A Baller

    Many carpenters like to do a scoring cut by making a very shallow cut while pulling the saw towards you then plunge fully and complete the the cut.

  30. p39483

    I used that pull, drop, push procedure (as recommended by DeWalt) and it's terrible. The rising blade pulls up against the clamps. I took about 1 inch off the end of a board and the cutoff jammed, launched, and damaged the saw. Never had that problem with a non-sliding chop motion, where blade tooth contact presses down instead of up. This problem is exacerbated by tilting the saw, since the upward moving teeth have a sideways component and they seem to be able to pinch the fence easier. Plus your hand is to the side. So I felt bad about damaging my kerf plates until I saw my neighbor's saw. From the cuts on his I know I'm not the only one who's sent wood into orbit.

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