The Shark Guard
March 26, 2004
Like many others, I started to work without the safety of a guard and splitter due to the agonizing process of removing and installing the stock splitter/guard. I promised myself when I first started working with a table saw that I would always install the splitter if the cut allowed for it. Complacency got the better of me and I started to work without it more often than I would like to admit. Although the stock splitter/guard unit was effective it was only effective when the unit was in place. I have read this problem is prevalent among all table saws. Naturally, these problems made way for a number of aftermarket solutions.
The BT3X table saw was no exception for the need of an aftermarket remedy to the stock splitter/guard problem. The Shark Guard, created by Lee Styron of the Leeway Workshop, was the answer for the BT3X table saw. Its strength is in its simplicity. First of all, the splitter and guard are separate units allowing the splitter to remain in place when the guard must be removed. The removal of the guard unit is a quick push and lift off the clamp unit. The clamp unit can also be removed with a few quick turns of two knobs. Additionally, with the splitter sitting just below the blade, non-through cuts can be accomplished safely with the splitter in place. In fact, there are only a few times when the splitter must be removed, most notably when using a dado blade. With the absence of the sharp pawls and the awkwardness of handling the large stock unit, removing the shark splitter is an easy task. One of my favorite features is the clamp assembly, which acts as a hold-down for added safety from kickback. The Shark comes with a dust port on top of the guard. Almost all the dust can be contained with the combination of the rear BT dust port and the Shark dust port.
An over arm device is highly recommended when connecting a dust hose to the Shark port. The over arm unit should be sturdy to avoid any side-to-side pressure to the guard. Due mostly to time constraints I created a simple overhead unit for attaching the hose. I am fortunate to have enough shop space to keep my saw in place so this unit served my purposes quite well. The unit is simply two pieces of scrap plywood held together by two steel threaded rods. The entire unit is secured to the overhead joists with lag screws. My only concern is if I need to run stock vertically through the saw that is higher than the lowest point. I currently have 25" of clearance so I do not suspect that to be an issue. The lower horizontal support could move up and down on the steel rods so the only possible interference would be the rods itself. The lower arm makes a nice place to rest the Shark when the guard needs to be removed. My over arm device also serves the router fence dust port. When using the router table I connect the top port to the fence and the rear port hose is moved to the router dust port. I get almost no dust when using this setup on the router table.
The Shark Guard is well worth the investment. It is a product of high quality and craftsmanship that promotes safe table saw usage. And lets be honest, it just looks cool! It is offered in a wide variety of colors and packages. Undoubtedly one of the best aftermarket purchases for the BT3X, the Shark has been a great addition to my table saw.
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