Author Topic: How safe are plunge cut saws?  (Read 12059 times)

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Offline mastercabman

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How safe are plunge cut saws?
« on: September 23, 2012, 07:53 PM »
I was doing some research for someone who like to invest in a track saw system.He's not sure if he can spend that much money for a Festool yet,so i told him that there are other alternative,such as the EZ smart by Eurekazone.
So i went to their web site and started to look around to get some idea on how much,what he would need and so on.
I then went to the forum and started to read some of the topics.
I came upon a topic that asked about a Festool TS 55 saw.The first reply was saying that "plunge cut saws are not safe" 
This person went on saying that if you use dust collection on the saw,saw dust built up and can send the saw flying.And some other things
I also read other thread stating that plunge cut saws are not safe.
I have had my saw for about 7 years now,and never came close to an unsafe situation.Personally i think they are safer than a regular saw
Has anyone read or heard anything like it?   Are there been major injuries reported from using a plunge cut saw?
I don't understand!?! I keep cutting it,and it's still too short!

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Offline Peter Halle

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2012, 08:04 PM »
I can say that in all honesty this forum is the largest in the world regarding Festool and we have a policy of only moderating posts that do not meet the guidelines which are posted.  NOT included in those guidelines is anything about posting negative things about Festool.  The only catch is that the post must be polite.

With over 12,000 members here at this point in time I have never read about an injury from a TS saw.

Have there been posts about kickback at the start of the cut.  Yep.  But the design of the saw and the physics of the kickback work to retract the blade in combination with human reactions.

This are my observations.

Peter

<<Edit:  Festool offers an accessory for those who do plunge cuts to prevent the possibility of kickback in those situations.  Those are also helpful with doing sopped cuts with the routers is using the guiderails.>>
« Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 08:13 PM by Peter Halle »

Offline tjbnwi

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2012, 08:18 PM »
I am an active member and moderator at JLC. Dino (the owner of Eurekazone) has posted there that the plunge saw is unsafe. I'm not sure why he makes this claim. Ive made many cuts with my TS that I would have been apprehensive about with any other saw.

Any cutting operation has its risk, I know, I cut the tip of a finger off with a razor knife when cutting drywall.

I believe Dino uses bots that track his name and Eurekazone, he may stop by to respond.

Tom

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2012, 08:22 PM »
I am an active member and moderator at JLC. Dino (the owner of Eurekazone) has posted there that the plunge saw is unsafe. I'm not sure why he makes this claim. Ive made many cuts with my TS that I would have been apprehensive about with any other saw.

Any cutting operation has its risk, I know, I cut the tip of a finger off with a razor knife when cutting drywall.

I believe Dino uses bots that track his name and Eurekazone, he may stop by to respond.

Tom

This post is not a post against Dino's product.  Unfortunately due to repeated violations of the posted guidelines of the forum he is unable to stop by an d offer his input.

Peter - moderator

Offline tjbnwi

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2012, 08:24 PM »
I did not know he is a former member.

Tom

Offline Bob Marino

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2012, 08:27 PM »
   Years ago  on some  of the WW forums, the battles between the Festool and EZ adherents had to be closed by the Moderators. Take what you'd read on the EZ site  - especially those posts written years ago with the proverbial grain of salt.
  Having said that, I am not familiar with the Dewalt and Makita versions of the track saws, so I will confine it to the Festool saws.
  You will first have to hear the obvious first admonitions - all tools are/can be dangerous - and of course that's true, especially if there is carelessness on the part of the operator. There isn't anything in the shop that can't do damage.
 Having said that, the plunge cut saws offer obvious safety features over standard Circular saws..
 They are stabilized with the track, not free handed - lessening chance of kickback.
 You must "press, then plunge" to engage the saw.
 During the cut, the blade is shrouded and when pressure is released from trigger, the saw stops and retracts into it's hood.

  I've never heard anything of the sort about dust collection being anything but a benefit to safety and health.
 Again, this isn't to say that unexpected things can't happen. Years ago, while at a woodworking show, I was demoing the ATF 55 saw, making very, very thin strips  and at the finish of one cut, that thin piece of wood shot out and hit an      observer's hand; nothing serious, thank the Lord. A bandaid fixed it right up, but made me more aware that even after making dozens of such cuts, accidents can and do happen.

 My most serious cut occur ed from carelessness  - I had the Rotex locked into the on position, connected to the CT but I shut it off by pulling the CT plug from the wall - laziness on my part. Picked up the Rotex, plugged in the CT and the Rotex loosened from my grip and sliced my other hand - no biggie, just a nasty slice,  but my long winded story reiterates that any tool can be dangerous if proper caution isn't taken.

 Bob
 
Former Festool  Dealer since 2002; user well before that!

Offline Kevin D.

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2012, 09:43 PM »
Used without a track versus a traditional circular saw, yes, I see a plunge as being a more dangerous venture.  I've never done it myself for that matter, nor would I think I'd ever want or need to, but I've read of others doing it.

Insofar as the dust extraction causing jam-ups in the housing, maybe the element NOT mentioned in such scenarios is someone using the saw with a bricked bag, or in fact a shopvac with the guts of a Dustbuster.
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Offline rustynail

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2012, 11:08 PM »
I had a 55 saw for years that I got when I purchased a cut table from BradBerry Industries (Panel Saw Cut Table) and never had any problems or ever had a kick back.

Rusty
« Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 11:35 PM by rustynail »

Offline sheeschen

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2012, 11:10 PM »
I can only imagine it's the idea of a plunge cut that's unsafe, and maybe some people think if you've got a plunge cut saw, that's what you're going to be doing all the time.

When I've suffered kickback with my ATF55 (twice - I'm a slow learner), I was left with a few tooth marks on the tracks and a shot of adrenaline.  I was amazed I wasn't hurt and that I didn't do more damage, but the combo of the braking electronics and the spring to snap the plate over the blade minimizes damage.  For the record, one of those times was ripping (I now own a Panther blade) and the other time was actually plunge cutting - I was cutting a square out of the middle of a piece of plywood so it would fit over a window.  In the second case, I knew the risks, and was positioned beside the blade, not behind it, while plunging slowly.

I can see it possibly being less safe than a standard circular saw guard - imagine the kickback sending the track plate into something with enough force that the momentum of the motor weight compresses the spring a little.  That might expose the teeth enough to cause some damage.  I don't know if the saw would kick back with enough force to do that, but maybe.  A standard circular saw guard would only open up if the saw were moving opposite the direction of kickback.  Maybe the plunge saw is less safe in that and some other situations, but in general, when combined with the track it seems much, much safer than a normal circular saw.

I don't quite understand the sawdust problem.  Does the person mean the sawdust is totally filling the area around the blade, and then somehow causing the blade to lock up and torque the saw out of your hand?  That seems like a big stretch.  Maybe that could happen, but it sounds like complaining that a vacuum doesn't work after the bag fills up.  With any tool you need to make sure it's in good shape before you use it and monitor it while you're using it - stop using a sawblade if it starts smoking like crazy, stop drilling if the bit breaks or the battery heats up too much.

Once I got my plunge saw, I stopped using my old circular saw very much and eventually sold it off.  The times I used it felt less safe than with the plunge saw on a track or a miter saw, so I just didn't want to use it any more.  Just my opinion and experience - I know to continue treating the power tools with respect, because nothing's 100% safe.






Offline ScotF

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2012, 11:14 PM »
I think that plunge cut saws are extremely safe when used properly.  The riving knife, retracting into the housing, DC, etc... all work to make them safe cutting tools.  Any tool can be dangerous and working with machinery of any kind is inherently dangerous but I feel very safe using my TS75 over other circular saws and my table saw. 

Scot

Offline Rick Christopherson

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2012, 11:16 PM »
This is a very old topic from way back when Burt and Dino were members at the WoodNet forum. (They got banned there too.)

Making a plunge cut is dangerous with any saw. Unfortunately, these two guys have changed this around to say that plunge cut saws are dangerous. They use it as a marketing ploy to confuse people, because you cannot make a plunge cut using the EZ guide system. It's actually a negative against the EZ guide system, but they've put a spin on it to sound like a positive safety feature.

However, most cuts with a guided saw are not plunge cuts. A plunge cut is when you are plunging the blade down into the middle of the workpiece where there is un-cut material behind the blade. The reason why this is a dangerous cut is because the back of the blade is making a "climb-cut" and will tend to lift the saw off the rail if you are not using the back-stop (provided with all Festool saws).

Here is a screen capture I extracted from my video on using the TS55 saw showing the setup for a plunge cut. The cut is made between the blue tape lines. However, notice that I have the backstop installed on the guide rail.

55785-0

Oh, I suppose I should post the whole video. Oops. This section on plunge cutting begins at around 11-1/2 minutes into the video. (Oh that's funny. The preview image of the video is from this plunging scene.  [tongue] )

« Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 11:26 PM by Rick Christopherson »

Offline Jesse Cloud

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2012, 11:28 PM »
Any tool can be dangerous if used outside of spec.  When used as designed, I feel safer with the TS than any other saw I have ever used.

Any circular saw can potentially have kickback.  I have seen it in standard circ saws and know people who have had serious injuries.

The only safety situation I have personally had with the TS, after several years work, was once when I started much sooner on the track than I should have, clearly in violation of Festool's manual.   The saw jumped and left a mark on the track but stopped immediately.  The only damage was to my underwear.

The dust collection theory sounds like total hooey to me, while the dust problems from a regular circ saw are very serious..

Offline promhandicam

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2012, 12:46 PM »
snip. . . The reason why this is a dangerous cut is because the back of the blade is making a "climb-cut" and will tend to lift the saw off the rail if you are not using the back-stop (provided with all Festool saws).

Is that all Festool saws sold in the USA - because I didn't get one with either of my saws bought in the UK.

Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2012, 01:31 PM »
IMHO its safer than a table saw!

Of course that doesn't combat blatant user ignorance.  (and now another famous tangent from me).

One example is not fully supporting both the keeper and offcut sides of the workpiece.  All you need are two tables (yah yah TWO MFT's will work but you don't even need MFT's to cut a full sheet regular folding tables will work too).  You can also use foam on the floor, but I hate kneeling.  That doesn't mean clamping both sides of the workpiece (that isn't good), just need to SUPPORT both sides and potentially clamp the keeper side.

I've had a guy 'borrow the saw and guide for a cut' on site to cut a sheet of ply.  An older fella with all ten fingers and years of experience in the construction trade so I assumed he was reasonably intelligent.

I look away for a second turn around and the guy already starts the cut right down the middle of the sheet...with only about half of the sheet supported on a table!...quite a lot of pinching on that riving knife towards the end with him holding one hand under the offcut side of the workpiece to try and support half a sheet and the other on the saw, but the motor just slowed down and never did kick back (Lucky fella)!  Obviously, I had a conversation with him so he wouldn't cut his hand off with a regular circular saw after I snatched my T75 back out of his hands and told him he really should go to some safety training good lord!  Seriously, power tools are dangerous; respect them!

Learn how to use them and your chances of injury are going to reduced 90%.   Sometimes I wonder if that should be MANDATORY before you are allowed to work on site (where your ignorance can possibly injure more than yourself) here in the states.

I've seen fellas do some really really stupid things with circular saws (like the above---or cutting through knots---pull cutting; drop-into the wood cutting), miter saws (pulling instead of pushing through the stock---with their heads right over the piece so they can 'see the cut better' or worse yet, using the miter saw as a table saw....sigh, throwing sheets of ply through those cheap contractor table saws WITHOUT A FENCE; without a splitter/riving knife in a sloping driveway perpendicular to the slope.... without glasses, with one guy pulling the piece on the other side....sigh sigh sigh).  Sometimes I feel like I'm the safety police---probably saved a few extremities and maybe a life or two---mostly I get dirty looks and 'Hey relax its no big deal'....I'm concerned about my own safety when working around such ignorance, those pieces could come flying at me (pieces of wood or pieces of him!); so with a few more words they realize it IS a big deal.

I digress, I think the Festool track saw is one of the safer tools out there for ripping (and or crosscutting for that matter)---go take some training at one of the Festool training locations to really get all you can out of it, and learn a little safety while you are at it.

With a non-clogged Festool extractor and plunge, I've NEVER had any trouble ripping/crosscutting.  I've never plunge cut though.

Christopher




Offline ccarrolladams

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2012, 01:34 PM »
As usual, Rick C is absolutely correct. At least in North America both the TS55 and TS75 include 1 of the limit stops, cat 491 582.

Those are shown on page 53 of the 2011/2012 catalog.

When placed at the end of a cut, the limit stop defines where the cut will end.

To prevent kick-back while plunging, the limit stop is installed behind the saw such that it actually traps the saw base so it cannot lift off the rail.

I have purchased a second limit stop for all of my TS55 and TS75

Offline Rick Christopherson

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2012, 01:46 PM »
snip. . . The reason why this is a dangerous cut is because the back of the blade is making a "climb-cut" and will tend to lift the saw off the rail if you are not using the back-stop (provided with all Festool saws).

Is that all Festool saws sold in the USA - because I didn't get one with either of my saws bought in the UK.

I cannot confirm this for other countries, but I would expect that it should be standard on all saws because it is a safety device. Maybe it wasn't done long in the past.

It is actually handy to have 2 of them. Then you can use the second one as a front stop to make a blind plunge like the picture I showed. It will control where you start and stop the cut.

edit: Oh, I just remembered that my original ATF55 may not have come with one. I gave that saw to my dad so I can't be sure any more. Oops. I take that back. I show one in the ATF55 manual, so therefore I did have one with that saw.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 01:51 PM by Rick Christopherson »

Offline Tom Bellemare

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2012, 01:51 PM »
There are many people that work on the theory that if you state inaccurate information, definitively, enough times, it will be perceived as fact.

In reality, no matter how loud you tell a lie or how many times it is stated, it is still not true. Unfortunately, the world is about half full of people who don't seem to realize that.


Tom

Offline Nigel

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2012, 02:04 PM »
snip. . . The reason why this is a dangerous cut is because the back of the blade is making a "climb-cut" and will tend to lift the saw off the rail if you are not using the back-stop (provided with all Festool saws).

Is that all Festool saws sold in the USA - because I didn't get one with either of my saws bought in the UK.

I got one with my 75 but not the 55 both UK machines.

Offline Alan m

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2012, 02:59 PM »
no stops here either.
i think a plunge saw is one of the safest saws out there.
the only time i had a kickback was my own fault. i was cutting a door. i presumed the middle vartical rail was glued. when i cut it free it mooved forward and pinched the blade. the saw flew back and up. everything was good in the end because by the time the saw landed  again the saw had unplunged itself  so i was protected from the spinning blade.
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Offline Ari

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2012, 03:00 PM »
Safe.

My experience about plunge cuts comes from Makita SP6000. I plan to buy a TS75 but for now, it is SP.

I feel very safe using the saw for plunge cuts, respecting all the safety rules. Never had any thing that I can report here about any accident or incident.

Rick, your "class video" is sooo good. Thanks

Best from

Ari
Art is science in the blood...

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Offline Rick Christopherson

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2012, 03:13 PM »
no stops here either.
i think a plunge saw is one of the safest saws out there.
the only time i had a kickback was my own fault. i was cutting a door. i presumed the middle vartical rail was glued. when i cut it free it mooved forward and pinched the blade. the saw flew back and up. everything was good in the end because by the time the saw landed  again the saw had unplunged itself  so i was protected from the spinning blade.

This is actually why a plunge cut saw is safer when a kickback happens. If my worm-drive Skil saw had a kickback, the blade guard would close, but if the saw landed on my leg (for example) the blade guard could still re-open. On a plunge-cut saw, the sole plate will slam closed and will lock closed unless you're holding the release lever.

I don't want to start an EZ Smart bashing, but to the best of my memory, their baseplate will actually prevent the blade guard from closing if the saw is lifted off the rail during a kickback. I haven't looked at them in a couple years, but the original design defeated the factory blade guard when you mounted the saw onto their baseplate.

Offline Tinker

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Re: How safe are plunge cut saws?
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2012, 03:47 PM »
IMHO, the ATF 55 I have in my shop is the absolute safest saw i have ever used.  I have posted the following thought/description several times on the FOG.  the wording is different, but the action described is accurate.

When i first brought my ATF 55/MFT 1080 home, i had never operated a track saw or a plunge saw.  I had made many plunge cuts on site with my old Milwaukee 8-1/4 and 7-1/2 saws.  Not something i would recommend, or allow my workers to try while on my clock.  I never ran into any problems doing so, but I was always very aware of possible kickback, especially if the saw would get pinched.  I took precautions against such pinching and never had any problem.

When i first noticed the ATF at my local toy store (Woodcraft in Norwalk CT), John, the owner showed me the saw and instructed me on how it worked and how to use it.  When i got the saw home and set up along with the MFT, I made several dry runs with the saw in hopes that i would make no mistooks with the blade spinning.  All was fine.  i felt i had everything down fine and plugged in to the wall plug.  Whenever i plunged with my Milwaukee, I always placed the nose of the plate firmly on the wood, possitioned myself so if there was anty kickback, it would allow the saw to move in a direction where I was not.  With blade turning top speed, I would carefully lower slowly into the surface of the wood or masonry surface until the blade was thru the surface. 

Once i had made my dry runs with my ATF, I was confident.  Of course confidence and excitement are not always reliable bed fellows.  I raised the saw up sot the front of the plate was still on the guide plate and started the machine.  With my old Milwaukee, I never tried plunge cutting with saw above my ankles and with me well out of line for any kick back.  With my ATF mounted above my waist (yeah, I ain't all that tall  ::)) I, after raising the whole saw plate and then lowering into the wood, I was in for a surprise.  By raising the saw forward as I had done, the saw lowered, not into the wood as intended, but right onto the edge of the guide plate.  I still have that original guide plate with the scars from the saw teeth.  If it had been my Milwaukee, those teeth marks could very well have been on my own anatomy.  I don't really know if the ATF kicked at all, but if it did kick, by the time it may have been airbourne, the teeth of the blade were tucked all the way back into the saw housing.  That safety factor was not going to happen with any other saw. 

I am with those who suggest that any problem with any of the tracksaws is due to poor/bad procedure. 
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker