I have been a woodworker of various sorts most of my life. No matter what incarnation of working with wood - whether it be carpenter, cabinetmaker, or woodturner, each will sometimes require the use of a table saw. Years ago, guards on a table saw were not that common. Even today, as safety conscious as we are, there are times when the guards must be removed to make certain cuts.
About 25 years ago, I was working as a carpenter and one of my co-workers (who was a fine craftsman) came up to me as I was cutting a bunch of plywood and hardwood on a table saw and offered me a piece of advice which I took to heart and have made a habit ever since. Most table saw fences have a top lip which (assuming you are right handed and the fence is positioned to the right of the blade) you can curl your 2 little fingers over the top of, thus locking your hand to the fence. The thumb and other fingers are free to push and guide the stock through the blade.
The number one advantage of this hand positioning is that you lock your hand to the fence so that if anything goes wrong, your fingers and hand will not be drawn into the blade. The other advantage is that you gain more control of the stock, and it helps keep the stock tight against the fence.
This has become second nature to me over the years. And, I still have all my fingers!
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