I don't think the blade guard even comes close to being a safety feature. I think it was mainly designed to keep someone from cutting themselves on the spinning blade - but it is so awkward to have in the way. The only good thing most do is to provide the splitter and anti-kickback device at the back-end. I think if someone put their mind to it they could come up with a true safety guard.
I took mine off the day I bought the saw. It's lost somewhere in the shop now. :)
The couple of incidents I have had with my table saw would not have been prevented by the blade gaurd as it would have had to have been removed to make the cuts I was making. The equivalent of a splitter on my saw stays inplace whether I am making through or non-through cuts, it moves with the blade, up and down and tilts over for bevel cuts. Its front is curved with a radius just larger than that of the blade and is set about 1/4" behind the blade and just slightly below it. Similar setups are found on most European style table saws. Why other U. S. makers and importers have not gone to the system, I don't know.
The gaurd and kickback pawls were removed from my saw shortly after I got it.
I do wonder sometimes if it isn't the lack of guard sometimes, but the intermittent occasions where it's sometimes on and sometimes off that cause danger.
Relying on it being there only to find that you forgot seems like it could be more dangerous than never having it there at all because in your mind, that blade is ALWAYS uncovered.
I'm HUGELY jealous of Marks home made overarm guard, but I've found that the guard and splitter have been truly awful on both cabinet saws I've so far tried, and now I find myself using a hardwood splitter of my own devising, and no guard at all as it not only obscures the cut, but doesn't seem to operate very well to allow the wood into the cut in the first place.
The splitter is difficult to line up, and removal is a pain in the arse. The anti-kickback pawls scratch the hell out of the wood too so I just gave up on it as so many others have and I do feel like I've rather let myself down in doing that, but it's just SO crap.
The newer Uniguards seem a little better though I've never tried one, and if not they're at least transparent.
So...hardwood splitter in a home made zero clearance insert and feather-boards here and a one day hope of having the money to buy or access to a friend with welding abilities who could build me an overarm guard that's been designed with cutting wood in mind.
It does make me uneasy to use it without a guard, but in a strange way, more uneasy to use it with one...that feeling of forcing the blade guard to open while the blade is spinning. Nyeh...I don't like the thought of what could possibly happen without it, but I also don't have a spare 200-500 dollars for a really good overarm setup either.
I find I mainly tinker with scraps of wood these days as money is tight.
..So all I can do is hope all goes well and I am very careful.
As careful as I know how to be anyway.
As things stand with my guard, I'm convinced that using it would be more dangerous than not, and this goes against what I've always believed about guards too.
God, they're just so poorly designed, and call me old Mr cynical, but I do wonder if they're more an aid to prevent law suits to saw makers than any real safety design for the user.
I always use mine on my dewalt. It has never really bothered me at all. The only real hassle is taking it off and putting it back on when changing to/from a dado blade. It requires loosening two 10mm nuts, but it only takes a minute or two. Obviously the most important thing is keeping your fence parallel to the blade and using the splitter, and then the pawls. I keep mine wrapped with tape; they still function and will bite throgh the tape in the event of a kickback but don't really mess anything up. The plastic guard I like just because you never know what can happen if you slip with a push stick, or accidentally lose your balance somehow, lose focus of where one of your hands are during super delicate cuts, etc. If I were to slip sideways in any way I wouldn't contact the blade itself. Wood is a natural material and can on rare occasions react unexpectedly with a saw blade. Recently I was cutting some 3/8" shoe moulding I made for glazing on my 12" SCMS. I was holding it by hand and made the cut and the end just exploded into pieces and jerked towards the blade some. Did it twice on that piece, it was very strange.
It's encouraged me to try to go ahead with my home made overarm guard at least.
I think if I try to go ahead with an overhead ceiling mounted version, I might get away without needing any welds at all which is the stumbling block I can't get past.
I really don't think I'm going to give the stock guard another look though, it's marginally better than the powermatic one, as it's more weighted toward the rear with cast iron at the pivotal point which helps it lift, but they're both dreadful clattery things that completely obscure the cut.
I remember the PM had this laughable piece of transparent plastic at the front to both block, and I presume aid in viewing the cut which snapped on the first piece of wood I cut. ha.
"Tools get rusty. It's one of the things they do best. But they don't have to stay rusty.- First, store tools in a dry drawer or toolbox. Use silica gel packets to keep this place even more dry .But...