One of the most dangerous things about wood working is table saw kickback. Without warning, your saw can bind, causing the piece you are cutting to suddenly and abruptly fly back at you. Now I don’t have to tell you how painful and potentially life threatening a piece of wood flying at you from a sad running somewhere near 5000 rpm’s. It’s a given that at the very least, you’re gonna have a bruise and some blood to show for it.
Kickback isn’t completely avoidable. Even the most experienced woodworkers have dealt with it. Instead of trying to remove the possibility of kickback, let’s examine some safety measures we can take to help limit the possibility and more importantly, remain safe in the event of table saw kick back.
Before we get started, I want to be clear. Anything I say here won’t prevent kick back. In fact, I can’t even guarantee that you’ll not be injured by kickback. Too many variables are at play with kick back. This is just a few tips I’ve used to help minimize the possibility of kick back happening and how I’ve stayed safe in the midst of kickback.
1) Leave all safety equipment on your table saw.
I’ve never understood why people take safety gear off their table saws. These are pieces of equipment that the saw manufacturers have installed to help prevent accidents. They are there for your protection. So why remove them?
Every manufactured table saw comes with a riving knife. Often called a splitter, this feature is designed to keep the wood away from the blade after it has been cut. As the piece of material passes through the blade, there is a split created when the blade cuts through the material. The riving knife (immediately behind the blade) ensures that new but pieces don’t stray inwards, towards the blade, which would then catch it a throw the work piece back at you. KEEP IT INSTALLED!!!!! There are other pieces of safety like the Anti Kickback finger, which is just a piece of metal that has sharp points on it to hold the piece of material down after is passes through the blade. KEEP THEM INSTALLED!!!!
2) Never stand directly behind the piece that you are cutting.
It seems obvious, but the path in which the material is going to travel during kickback is most likely….. directly backwards! If you are standing directly behind the piece, you are giving the saw a perfect target.
Instead, stand off to one side of the piece you are cutting. This will ensure that if the saw kicks a piece of wood directly back, you aren’t in harms way. Sure it may put a hole in the wall, but that’s better than a hole in your stomach.
3) Use accessories like push sticks, feather boards and push blocks.
These are are extremely helpful. Push sticks and push blocks can give you a level of control on the top and back of the material you are pushing through the saw. Feather boards on the other hand are design to place pressure on the side (or in some cases the top) of the material. This will keep the material pushed up against the fence, preventing the material from twisting or moving when run through the blade.
4) Stay calm!
Easier said than done, but it is important for you to keep a level head when experience kickback. As the piece begins to bind, it is common to feel some sort of panic. Fear and panic will not help. Instead, stay calm and immediately shut off your saw. That is, if you can do so without taking your hands off the work piece. That is why you often seem people will a shut off button located in a place where they can hit it without removing their bands from the work piece. Turning the saw off and remaining calm while the blade spins down can be a life saver. Many people will take their hands off the piece. When you do that, you are removing any resistance the work piece and the blade have. Immediately, the piece will fly backwards. So stay calm and get that saw off ASAP.
Hopefully this has been informative and helpful for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment blow. Stay safe!