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What Is Table Saw Kickback? A dangerous side effect of using a table saw, so read this guide on what it is and how to prevent it.

What Is Table Saw Kickback?

Table saws are obviously some very useful tools. After all, any carpenter or woodworker would probably be lost without one of them. They are used for making joints, crosscuts, ripping, and making all kinds of other cuts.

The thing is that a table saw is a high powered tool with a very sharp and very fast spinning blade. This means that there is obviously a certain amount of danger involved. One of these dangerous aspects is something called kickback. So, what is kickback and how can it be prevented?

What Is Kickback?

Kick back on a table saw occurs when a piece of wood or other material gets caught in the saw blade and gets launched backwards at you. This happens when the teeth of blade get caught in the wood, thus digging into it slightly and causing it to fly up off of the table and right at you.

Tablesaw kickback can occur due to a number of reasons. One thing that can cause kickback is if you are not using a push stick or holding the wood down properly. You need to have a firm grip on the wood and apply a decent amount of downward pressure to the work piece.

The saw blade can easily cut through wood, but there needs to be pressure applied. Kickback can also be caused by warped or bent wood. The warped wood won’t be straight after the cut, which can result in the wood closing behind the blade and pinching it, thus causing kickback.

Moreover, table saw kickback can also be caused by a dull or warped blade. This is because if the blade is not straight or sharp enough, it won’t have the smooth cutting power to make it through the piece. Instead of cutting a piece of wood, a dull or warped saw blade will get caught in it, thus launching it up off of the table. Also, a piece of hardwood with a really bad knot in it can also get caught on a slower moving saw blade, thus causing it to lift up off of the table top.

Kickback can also occur when the rip fence is not aligned perfectly parallel to the blade. The fence is what you rest one side of the work piece on while you feed it through the blade.

However, a crooked or misaligned fence will cause the wood to be fed through the blade crookedly instead of straight. When the teeth then hit the wood at an angle, it can cause kickback. As you can see, kickback can be caused by a variety of things. Luckily there are some easy fixes and preventative measures you can use to ensure that this does not happen.

Here we actually have a video of kickback in progress. As you can clearly see, it’s pretty dangerous!

How To Prevent Table Saw Kickback

Here are some good tips you can follow in order to help prevent table saw kickback. Remember, the difference between following these tips and ignoring them could very well mean a lost eye, a broken facial bone, or your fingers or hands being pulled into the blade.

  • Make sure that you have properly aligned the rip fence with the blade. The blade and rip fence absolutely need to be perfectly parallel in order to prevent kickback.
  • When cutting small pieces, make sure to use a push stick or stop block. This is so you can apply adequate pressure to the workpiece in order to keep it down on the table. Kickback often occurs when working on small pieces because people use their hands to hold the piece, but don’t want to apply much pressure or get their fingers too close to the blade, thus resulting in inadequate pressure, and thus kickback.

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  • Make sure to have either a riving knife or splitter combined with anti-kickback pawls. Most table saws will come with anti-kickback pawls. These are like little teeth which sit to the left and right of the blade. If wood does start to kick back for any reason, these teeth will dig into the wood as it starts to lift off of the table, thus forcing it to stay on the table instead of flying at your face. At the same time, your table saw should for all intents and purpose have either a riving knife or a splitter.

We aren’t going to go into too much detail here, but a riving knife and splitter are very similar thins which more or less have the same purpose. The riving knife or splitter is designed to keep the cut open once the blade has passed through it.

Kickback can be caused when the freshly cut piece of wood does not split properly, thus closing on the blade, getting caught on it, and ultimately causing kickback. The riving knife or splitter will ensure that the cut stays wide open and that the two resulting cut pieces don’t close on the blade. The splitter will also be able to take care of bent or warped wood which can close on the blade.

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  • If you are making an angled or beveled cut, make sure that the blade is angled away from the rip fence as opposed to towards it. If something does happen, the board will most likely lift up and away from the blade instead of into the blade, which can cause kickback.

Here we actually have a little video on how to prevent table saw kickback!

Conclusion

Remember that kickback is not just a myth. It is something very real and it can be extremely dangerous. So, always use caution, make sure your table saw is set up properly, use the necessary tools, and always be safe. It only takes one slip or one stray piece of wood to turn a creative day into a trip to the hospital!

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