Popular Woodworking 2007-08 № 163, страница 41

Popular Woodworking 2007-08 № 163, страница 41

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erhaps when you think of table saws, the names that first come to mind are ones such as Delta, Jet, Grizzly and so on. Perhaps you're unfamiliar with brands such as Rojek, Felder, Mini Max, Laguna or others from Europe Or maybe you're unaccustomed to the look of the European machines, the features or the price tags.

How are European table saws different than U.S.-style table saws? In this article we take a look at the real differences between these types of saws so that we can understand our choices. We will consider differences in the features that affect efficiency, effectiveness, user-friendliness, safety and cost. By understanding which table saw features are possible and which ones are desirable to woodworkers, we may encourage table saw manufacturers to make changes that benefit the end users - you and me.

General Differences: Electrical Safety Specs and Table Saw Power

There are many power-tool accidents that happen when the cutter runs longer than necessary. There are a couple of regulations for table saw electrics required in Europe that we don't have pertaining to table saw safety. On European saws the blade is required to stop in less than 10 seconds from the time the stop switch is engaged. The saws accomplish this by either an electronic or a mechanical stop to the motor.

Unusual but effective. Features of European saws rarely seen on U.S. models include riving knives, blade guards with dust collection and sliding tables.

Superior switches. European switches are placed at the top left of the cabinet, a convenient place for the user. This switch has an extra "on" button for the saw's scoring blade.

The power and stop switches are required to be positioned at the front top-left corner of the cabinet. On larger panel saws they can also be on the top-left side or above the saw. We have no such requirements and until recently many saws had the switches on the right front. We typically work at the left side of the saw so it makes sense to have the controls in easy reach. I always felt vulnerable when I used an older Unisaw and had to reach over the machine with my face in line with the blade at table height. Additionally, European table saws are required to have a separate power switch that cuts all power to the tool and can be locked with a key or a lock. The off button is fairly standardized as a largish round red button and once it is depressed it has to be intentionally released before engaging the start button. These requirements aren't inconvenient and they help protect the user.

In Europe 220 volts (v) is standard, as is more-efficient three-phase power. In the United States, 110v is the standard voltage for contractor and portable saws that are typically under 1% horsepower (hp). The 220 voltage is the minimum for over 2 hp. A table saw user benefits from having the additional power for the larger motor that 220v offers and the added cutting power that such voltage allows, particularly when cutting hardwood stock.

Safety at the Blade

Europe an table saws have a workable guarding system at the blade that is standard issue. U.S. table-saw regulations call for three devices for our safety at the blade. They are a blade cover, anti-kickback pawls and a splitter. U.S.-made

table saws have chosen to implement these regulations into one device that is commonly known as "the guard." The guard comes on all U.S. table saws. As readers of this article may know, many woodworkers don't use this device. From my years of teaching about the table saw, anecdotal feedback has informed me that the overall average for woodworkers using the guard on U.S. table saws seems to be around 5 percent. The necessity to remove the guard for many cuts and then reinstall the device means that many people just don't bother. Even though the guard is not the most workable design for everyday woodworking, it does work for its intended safety purposes. (I believe that most woodworkers don't use the guard because they have been conditioned not to do so through seeing examples in many settings of professional woodworkers using an un-guarded table saw. But that is another discussion.)

On guard. A U.S.-style guard actually on the saw is a somewhat unusual sight. Here you can see the splitter and blade cover.

50 ■ Popular Woodworking August 2007

G0460 SAW PHOTO COURTESY OF GRIZZLY INDUSTRIAL, INC.; REMAINDER OF PHOTOS BY AL PARRISh

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