Most woodworkers use table saws for their projects.
These are essential power tools found in nearly all wood workshops.
Because of its power, it is also one of the leading causes of many injuries and accidents, mainly due to table saw kickbacks.
What causes table saw kickbacks?
Are there ways to prevent it from happening and avoid damage to both machine and the user?
What Is Table Saw Kickback?
A table saw kickback is when the wood you are working on gets caught on the saw blade, throwing it forcefully back to the worker without warning.
Kickbacks come in two types.
The first one, which is less dangerous, is when a small cut-off wood catches the blade and causing it to fly into the air.
The more dangerous type is when the whole workpiece gets caught on the blade, violently throwing it back to the operator.
There are various reasons why these accidents happen.
As a woodworker, it is worth knowing each one to prevent it from happening to you.
How Fast Is a Table Saw Kickback?
As we have said, saw blades come in different sizes and speeds.
It is a known fact that 15% of the blade’s speed is lost during operation.
If your table saw comes with a 10-inch blade, its circumference measures 31.4 inches.
It usually has a speed of 4,800 RPM or revolutions per minute.
This means that its teeth travel at a speed of 150,720 inches per minute or 142.72 miles per hour.
Even if you remove the 15% loss, the rate will still be 120 miles per hour.
That is how fast a piece of wood launches into the air during a table saw kickback, making it extremely dangerous for the user.
Lastly, you have to wear any hearing protection against the extreme noises coming from the table saw machine.
What Causes Table Saw Kickback?
The table saw is one of the most versatile power tools of a woodworker, but it is also quite dangerous when mishandled.
Knowing why a kickback happens helps you avoid any unfortunate mishaps.
Here are some of the notable reasons why a table saw kickback happens.
Ignoring the User Manual
Operating the table saw without first checking the user’s manual is a recipe for accidents and injuries.
Make sure to read and follow all the instructions to prevent possible accidents associated with using the machine.
Pressure on the Wood
The tension may prevent the initial slit on the wood from getting entirely cut as the blade gets trapped in between.
As a consequence, the whole block of wood may jerk and fly towards you.
In some cases, a chunk may pop off during the process, moving away from the blade.
Using Damaged Wood
The wood must stay firmly fit at a specific angle on the table saw’s fence for a more fluid movement.
Trying to cut a bent or distorted board can cause a table saw kickback accident.
Cutting wet wood is also not recommended, as it can create unnecessary friction across the saw blade.
Using a Defective Blade
Ensure that the blades on your table saws are always in excellent condition.
Do not use bent, broken, dirty, or dull blades.
Defective blades typically create friction, which may lead to overheating.
The wood edges might get stuck on the faulty blades, causing the machine to malfunction.
Incorrect Blade Installation
The saw blade is an essential part of your equipment and should always fit perfectly.
It must align with the machine’s other parts for it to function the way it should.
Using the Wrong Blade
Blades are essential parts of your equipment and are available in variations.
Using the wrong type for the task at hand loses the efficiency and safety of your machine.
Using a New Blade
Typically, most blades that come with your machine have a thin width, which may not be suitable for all types of tasks.
Making Free Hand Cuts
Plan every cut you intend to make before starting.
In this way, you would prevent stopping midway through, which may cause a kickback.
Remember to always use a fence when cutting a board to guarantee it stays aligned against the blade.
How Do You Stop a Table Saw Kickback?
Table saws have caused thousands of injuries over the years, primarily due to kickbacks.
Here are some tips on how to avoid kickback on a table saw.
1. Use the right blade for the job.
When using any type of saw, make sure you use the appropriate blade for the wood’s thickness.
Additionally, only use suitable accessories to prevent kickback and ensure it will work efficiently.
2. Routinely inspect the equipment and its accessories.
Before starting any cutting task, make sure the blade is fitted correctly and that all of its safety accessories are in their proper places.
Furthermore, the user must know how to operate a table saw equipment before using it to avoid accidents.
3. Only cut wood in excellent conditions.
Always consider the board’s condition.
It should be in perfect condition and does not have any foreign objects that may hinder the blade from cutting through.
4. Ensure glued surfaces and joints are dry.
Before you start cutting your boards, check that all the glued parts are dry.
In doing this, you would prevent the wet adhesive from sticking to the blade.
5. Use a push stick and hold it firmly.
One of the safety accessories you can use when operating a table saw is a push stick.
It lets you hold down the stock and push the wood, keeping it aligned to the blade.
6. Clean and maintain the table saw.
Like any other power tool, make sure the machine is regularly cleaned and maintained.
Routine maintenance checks help you note any issues concerning the blade and its other parts and nip them in the bud.
7. Stand on the left side of the machine.
Here’s expert advice: look for your most comfortable position on the left side of the table saw and not directly behind it.
The saw blade must be between you and the fence, reducing the risk of being hit in case of kickback.
8. Wear safety accessories.
Make sure to utilize anti-kickback safety accessories when operating a table saw machine.
It is a thinly-shaped metal similar to a surfboard fin placed behind the saw.
A riving knife helps prevent the wood from getting caught as it falls, rises, and tilts along with the blade.
Alternatively, you can use a splitter, also called a spreader.
It looks like a nub and is added to a throat plane with zero clearance.
It has the same purpose as a riving knife but is placed at a fixed position behind the blade.
You can also utilize a crosscut sled.
It helps keep the user’s hands away from the saw blade while moving the fence to the edge’s front.
9. Rip fence alignment.
Ensure that the rip fence on your table saw blade is aligned parallel to the edge.
The distance between the barrier and the blade must have the same measurements from the rear to the front.
10. Use a feather board.
A feather board is set up in front instead of behind the blade.
It is not as effective as the splitter or a riving knife, but it also helps prevent kickbacks from happening.
11. Wear PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)
Never forget to protect your eyes.
Some table saws have dust extractors, while others don’t.
It is always best to wear safety glasses while operating the machine.
Aside from kickbacks, you should also avoid getting splinters by wearing heavy-duty work gloves.
It also makes wood handling easier.
How to Make Different Types of Cuts
Knowing the different types of primary cuts gives you an idea how you can prevent table saw kickbacks and other accidents.
It is the type of cut made across the grain using the miter gauge by placing it into its appropriate slot.
Support the workpiece around the miter gauge using both hands and apply pressure on one side to push it forward, avoiding injury.
A rip cut means you have to slice through the whole length of the wood.
This classic type requires you to use the fence for accuracy and support if you want a square-edge result.
You must keep the lumber square and level with both the blade and the fence.
Rips cuts are riskier than cross cuts as your hands come closer to the edge.
To keep your hands safe from the saw blade, remember to use a push stick when the end of your workpiece is nearing the table’s edge.
Woodworkers use a dado cut when the project requires a trenched or wide style of a workpiece.
You need to switch out the blade for this type.
The blade’s height dictates the extent of the dado’s cut.
Don’t use the fence and the miter gauge at the same time when making a dado cut.
The blade might bind in the wood if you do.
Why Does My Table Saw Kickback?
So, we have learned what causes table saw kickback.
All woodworkers have experienced this accident at one point.
Professionals or newbies alike should know how to avoid kickback on a table saw to ensure safety when using the equipment.
Another useful tip is to make sure you get the best table saw for home shops.