I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve safety and efficiency in my shop. My late 90’s Delta Unisaw came with an adequate stock blade guard for its time, but, like many saws from that era, it was tricky to remove, reinstall, and align with the blade.
The Shark Guard is designed to provide improved protection, along with simplifying the installation/removal process. As a bonus, it offers an optional dust collection shroud that can capture dust that evades the under-table collection on a table saw.
The Shark Guard was simple to install, and within 30 minutes of opening the box, I was up and running. I just removed the mounting blocks for the stock blade guard and installed the single mounting block for the Shark Guard. A single mounting block simplifies the installation and removal, and the convenient hand lever means height adjustments can be made quickly without tools.
The Shark Guard is made using high-quality Lexan, with material that is 70% thicker than the stock guard on my saw. It is built with modularity in mind so that if there is ever damage to a component, it can be easily replaced. The modularity also allows for add-ons such as dust collection or an LED light, whether they are purchased with the unit upfront or added down the road.
To get the Shark Guard’s full benefit, there are optional dust ports that can be added so that your dust collection system can pull directly from the blade guard housing. There are three standard sizes to choose from; 2-1/2″, 3″ or 4″. A dust port can be added to the Shark Guard in a few minutes by simply removing a few screws.
Optional LED light
To help you keep an eye on the blade, an optional LED light can be added to the front area of the blade guard. This is a neat feature and really lights up the area in front of the blade.
Manual riving knife
Riving knives are a great safety feature that sits directly behind the saw blade to prevent a workpiece from shifting into the blade and kicking back. A true riving knife maintains a consistent gap between it and the blade, moving with the blade as it raises, lowers, and tilts. Riving knives differ from a splitter, it doesn’t raise and lower with the blade, so when the blade is lowered, the gap between the blade and splitter increases. As the gap increases, so does the risk of kickback. Riving knives have been a required feature on any table saw sold in the US since 2008. Unfortunately, my saw is one of many saws still in service that do not have this feature in place.
While a true riving knife cannot be easily retrofitted, the Shark Guard provides the closest thing that I’ve seen, with what the company refers to as a “manual riving knife.” This feature shares some similarities to a true riving knife, including the ability to adjust the height and proximity to the blade and following the radius of a blade to maintain a consistent gap between the splitter and the blade. That can dramatically reduce the chance of kickback occurring because it supports the workpiece directly after passing the blade. The difference is that the height adjustments have to be made manually, compared to a true riving knife that moves with the blade.
There are different thicknesses of riving knifes available to accommodate various blade kerf sizes.
Using the Shark Guard
The Shark Guard has proven to be convenient to use. I can go through the entire process of removing the guard, making a height adjustment, and reinstalling the guard in less than 30 seconds. For the few times that I will have to make this adjustment throughout a typical project, I feel that an additional couple of minutes is well worth the additional safety.
I have felt uncomfortable resistance from some older style stock guards when the workpiece reaches the blade guard, leading to unsafe actions to lift the guard. The Shark Guard has a thoughtful design in this area that I really like, which is the roller positioned near the front, along with the gentle slope of the lower front of the guard. This makes it very smooth and easy to feed stock through the saw, with no disruption as the workpiece ducks under the guard to approach the blade.
The Shark Guard comes in various configurations to fit most saws and dust collection systems and saw blades. If you can’t find your exact configuration on the Shark Guard web site, I would encourage you to pick up your phone and call, as you will find the level of service with the Shark Guard team to be impressive.
Shark Guard Delta ARK package: $240
Light Kit: $40
Throat Plate: $30
Photos by author