What is Table Saw Kickback and How to Prevent It? (Helpful Examples)

A table saw kickback is one of the most crucial and versatile power tools used by amateurs and woodworking experts. This tool should, at all times, be handled by a healthy level of respect and fear. One of the primary causes of accidents in most workshops is the table saw kickback.

This is a situation whereby wood gets picked by the blade of the table saw and viciously thrown back to you; it happens so fast that you may not have a chance to dodge it. This mainly occurs when the workpiece gets stuck between the rip fence and the blade. Or when it gets pinched on the blade.

What is Table Saw Kickback?

Chainsaw Direction of Blade
Chainsaw Direction of Blade

Table saw kickback is a situation whereby wood gets picked by the blade of the table saw and viciously thrown back to you; it happens so fast that you may not have a chance to dodge it. This mainly occurs when the workpiece gets stuck between the rip fence and the blade. Or when it gets pinched on the blade.

What Causes Table Saw Kickback

  • A wood workpiece can get stuck between the backside of the blade and the rip fence. Then, as the blade of the miter saw spins, the workpiece can be viciously thrown back at you. This mainly occurs when the fence of the table saw is not correctly aligned with the blade.
  • When the piece of wood you are working on comes in contact with a tooth at the rear side of the blade, it gets lifted on top of the table saw blade and thrown back at you with excessive force. In worst scenarios, you can get amputated if your hand gets drawn into the blade. Unfortunately, you won’t have a chance to react as this happens so fast.
  • During a rip cut, a board can kickback on instances where it goes halfway via the saw, and the kerf begins to pinch the blade. If you are lucky, the saw will stall. However, if the table saw is robust enough, the blade will propel the board back to you or flip it up towards your face causing serious injuries.

How to Prevent Table Saw Kickback

Below are some safety precautions and tips to eliminate the risks of hurting yourself as a result of table saw kickback:

1. Put Basic Safety Precautions in Place

Contemporary table saws come installed with safety features that are intended to prevent the users from hurting themselves. A riving knife is one of these features. This is a piece of metal positioned close to teeth at the rear side of the blade.

It thwarts the workpiece from getting in contact with its teeth on the back or from pinching the blade. The impressive aspect of this feature is that it goes up and down in correspondence with the blade. Thus offering support irrespective of the height at which the blade is positioned.

A riving knife is supposed to be fixed at all times, even when using your table saw for minimal functionalities. If you are using conventional table saws and do not have a riving knife, you may opt to use a splitter which helps to prevent the blade from being squeezed by the workpiece. However, splitters are less effective as compared to riving knives as they do not move when you adjust the height of the blade.

Another safety feature on the table saw is the blade guard. This helps to reduce the chances of kickback, thus keep the user safe.

Although most woodworking enthusiasts think the function of the blade guard is to prevent contact between the blade and your fingers, the main functionality of the blade guard is to help the user from dropping the workpiece on top of the table saw blade.

2. Free-hand Cuts Should be avoided at all times. 

All table saws come pre-installed with miter gauges and rip fences for an important reason. A rip fence is there to help you make rip cuts by supporting your workpiece as your push it via the blade. For crosscuts, a miter gauge is specially designed to help you with that. With that in mind, do not rip the fence and crosscut using the miter gauge simultaneously. The workpiece will get jammed in the process, thus causing a table saw kickback.

3. Make Use of Push Stick

To improve your safety while using a table saw and to eliminate the chances of kickbacks, it is ideal that you use a push block or a push stick every time you are cutting. A push stick will help to keep your hands from getting into contact with the blade.

Moreover, a push stick will serve as a counter-measure for kickback as it offers you excellent control of the stock.

There are important factors that you should put into consideration while using a push stick. First and foremost, you should position the stick in the middle of the board.

If you push the stick sideways, it can twist, thus going back to the direction of the blade. When pushing the stock, you should not apply force towards the blade but rather on the side of the fence.

Be extra cautious when pushing an immense workpiece, especially if it tends to hang off the side of your table saw. Downward pressure should not be applied to the end of the stock.

If this happens, it will be forced to upsurge on the other side; the back teeth of the table saw blade would lift up and thus causing serious injuries to your face. To be safer, you could opt to use two push sticks on both ends to guide the board.

4. Never Use a Dull Blade

A table saw with dull blades is unsafe to use. When a blade is dull, it will have difficulties cutting the workpiece, and thus it warping and overheating. In the process, misalignment between the fence and the blade thus causing table saw kickback. To avoid this problem, always ensure you use sharp blades and replace them when they get dull.

5. Never Crosscut with the Rip Fence

Table saw are preferred by most woodworkers because of their ability to make rips cuts easily. However, when making crosscuts on boards with varying lengths, you should not use a rip fence to serve as a supporting barrier during crosscutting. This will make the workpiece get stuck between the blade and the fence, causing kickback.

The problem can get worse if there is a misalignment between the blade and the fence. Ideally, it would be best if you comprehend the dynamics of dimensions in your working area.

The safer way to make crosscuts on a table saw is by using a stop block to clamp the workpiece to the fence. This helps in improving accuracy in length measurement. Ideally, you may guide your stock using a miter gauge through the blade. This helps to reduce the dangers of your stock getting squeezed between the blade and the fence.

6. Do not Cut Crooked Workpieces. 

When you attempt to cut a crooked or uneven workpiece, there won’t be continuous contact with the gauge miter or the rip fence, and the saw blade goes through the crooked workpiece.

It releases pressure at the point where the board is crooked, twisted, or warped, putting much pressure and thus causing the kickback. It would be best if you also were extra careful when working with boards.

This is because they have numerous knots, which can cause the blade to be pinched. You are required to be attentive while using the table saw, not be hurt. You should also not operate power tools under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Bottom Line 

Kickback is one of the most hazardous incidences caused by a table saw, mainly when safety precautions are not observed. Therefore, you must observe the safety guidelines to avoid this type of accident. The tips mentioned above and guidelines are much helpful when followed as they will help prevent the cases of table saw kickback.


Table saw kickback

How to prevent table saw kickback

Table saw kickback and how to prevent it

Sokna Chan

Welcome to WoodWorkingToolsHQ.com Carpentry is my passion. I understand that it can be challenging for those seeking to venture into this industry, especially if you are a novice. I hope you enjoy and get a lot of ideas from my website. Thank you so much for your time.

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