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Tablesaw Kickback - What Did I Do Wrong?

by WoodGoogan
posted 04-18-2020 05:47 PM


37 replies so far

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

3494 posts in 3998 days


#1 posted 04-18-2020 06:07 PM

Let’s start with the dimensions of the wood. If, for example, you are talking pieces that are only six inches long, that’s a recipe by itself.

Second, if the fence veers a tiny bit, it’s another ingredient.

The push block, probably helped, up to THE point.

Obviously, once the back of the blade starts the grab process, it’s over in a half second from there. IF you could have both pushed with the block and from the side (up against the fence), you might have pulled it off.

Anyway, wasn’t that exciting? If nothing else, you, now, have an even greater appreciation for push blocks.

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

2498 posts in 1642 days


#2 posted 04-18-2020 06:08 PM

Looks like you pressed down too hard on the heel. This pivoted the workpiece up into the blade and BANG!

Work slower. Plan your steps, this groove should have been made before cross cutting. Thing your cut thru. Know if, when & how you will change your grip. Don’t stand between the fence and blade. THINK

You should have had the dado away from the fence and not close. This amplified the twist and let it get away.

By the location of the damage on your push block I can tell the block was tight to the fence. This prevented you from pushing the stock into the fence, thus allowing the stock to twist. The push block should really only contact the stock.

The dado at 1/4” fights the push 2X. Your push block doesn’t have a heel to prevent the piece from slipping.

I use a push shoe with a heel and a tapered side stick. The tapered side stick ends at the center of the blade. The shoe block helps push down on the leading edge. The tapered side stick keeps the stock against the fence and prevents the stock from twisting into the blade.


My go-to safety devices.

I count 7 errors:
  1. Workpiece too small
  2. Pressing down too hard on the heel when feeding
  3. Rushing
  4. Dadoing near edge
  5. No heel on push block
  6. No feather board or side stick
  7. Push block was against fence allowing twist into blade

Don’t let the desire to avoid scrap make you take risks.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

896 posts in 3012 days


#3 posted 04-18-2020 06:09 PM

Hard to tell from that picture… but, most kickbacks are from the same issues.

- Your piece is not properly pushed against the fence, using a stick can slip too easily
- Your material to too small, or much wider then it is deep (which twists in and left easily)
- You are not using a riving knife, or again, too small to engage it

The wood catches the back of the blade and then there is not much you can do but keep your hands away from the spinny sharp bits. So glad you are ok.

Do yourself, your family, and yourself a favor! Build a crosscut sled! Feel free to look at mine in my projects. That tings has saved body parts and is a dream to use! My favorite item in my shop is that sled.

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

896 posts in 3012 days


#4 posted 04-18-2020 06:11 PM

... and what Kelly said, make sure you are a few thousandths wide on the backside of your fence. Toed in is trouble.

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

6345 posts in 3867 days


#5 posted 04-18-2020 06:12 PM

If you can’t groove the parts while the board is still extra long, try large push pads. I use the Bench Dog brand. They’re big and orange and really help control the workpiece.

That said, working short pieces on the tablesaw is inherently dangerous. Avoid it when you can.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View LesB's profile

LesB

2951 posts in 4497 days


#6 posted 04-18-2020 06:12 PM

Check out this posting about a “safe” push stick. https://www.lumberjocks.com/topics/308922

Another thing Kelly left out above is that your were cutting with a box joint blade which is wider than a normal saw blade and has fewer teeth which only increases the chance of problems developing. It might have been a good idea to make the cut in a couple of passes to get to full depth.

-- Les B, Oregon

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

4334 posts in 2548 days


#7 posted 04-18-2020 06:28 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks!

Sorry to read about your kick back event. Never any fun.

Hard to tell what you did wrong? This article might help you figure it out:
https://www.woodcraft.com/blog_entries/preventingtablesaw-kickback-it-s-not-an-acceptable-risk

There are many more articles on WWW about avoiding kick back, if this randomly selected one does not make sense to you.

For me, the two things that stopped 99.99% of kick back were:
1) ALWAYS use a splitter, or riving knive on newer saw
2) Never cut across the wood grain with board wedged between fence and blade.

Best Luck figuring out what happened.

Cheers!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View OnhillWW's profile

OnhillWW

299 posts in 2286 days


#8 posted 04-18-2020 06:37 PM

Obviously a riving knife is not applicable to your situation, so ignore that recommendation. That said, everything else everyone has said is good advice. Proper hold down, steady even push through, avoid small pieces when you can. Also check that your throat plate does not wobble, if it moves at all – with small pieces like that it is a recipe for an accident. I would have cut the dados in two passes, shallow followed by at full depth.

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

2498 posts in 1642 days


#9 posted 04-18-2020 06:40 PM

It was a DADO cut. Splitters and riving knives do not work cutting dados. Thru cuts yes, but dados, no.

Look at the pictures before commenting. He doesn’t need general advice, he needs to know how and what caused this particular accident. Splitters or riving knives (installed or no) had NOTHING to do with THIS!

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

896 posts in 3012 days


#10 posted 04-18-2020 06:50 PM

I’m reminded of what the block button is for…

I don’t think anyone is trying now to help and I bet most people here know what a riving knife does. It is hard to tell from that picture what is happening, looks like a picture of a Bench Dog push block, doesn’t it Willie. Just looking at that again. It looks like the push block was injured! Yikes.

If you look at the bottom of the image, a rabbit was cut, it turned and caught the block on the way back…

True, a riving knife is not relevant to that use case. Not is a crosscut sled. A router table would probably be the best bet or some other jig to hold that thing in place.

Be careful everyone. Hospitals should be avoided right now.

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5978 posts in 3405 days


#11 posted 04-18-2020 07:00 PM

Those work pieces are too short to feed through a table saw, it is very easy for the rear of the piece to tip into the back of the blade, kick back is what you get when that happens. Also now would be the time to tune your saw and make sure that the rip fence is parallel to the miter slots and that the blade is as well. When work pieces are that short you have to look at alternative methods to make your dados, using a router table would have been much safer. Part of safety is considering the proper order to make your cuts, typically one of the last steps should be cutting to final length. I hope you didn’t ruin your box cutting blades but sometimes a kick back will spring a blade out of shape. Don’t ask me how I know that.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View WoodGoogan's profile

WoodGoogan

3 posts in 361 days


#12 posted 04-18-2020 07:07 PM

Thanks everyone! All good advice…

Madmark2: I think you’re right about pushing down on the heel and along with a short, mitered piece of wood which could have (and likely) pivoted the piece…

The push shoe you pictured (“The Hand Guard”) looks like it has an adjustable heel which would be super beneficial. The cheapo one I have has a heel too small and I always feel like it’ll slip while pushing.

bondogaposis: Any way I can tell if my box cutting blades are ruined?

All—it seems the short piece (and my lack of forethought) is the culprit…

Thanks again for all the replies.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

4334 posts in 2548 days


#13 posted 04-18-2020 07:09 PM

Newbie woodworker here… I proceeded to cut grooves on each of sides individually holding it down and against the fence (also at 1/4”) with a short push block.
- WoodGoogan

IMHO – The mistake was simple: cut across the wood grain with board wedged between fence and blade.

With cross grain cuts it only takes the slightest error to push a small piece sideways and get caught by blade, resulting in kick back.

Either use a cross cut sled, or use miter gauge and use a spacer block attached to fence to set the required 1/4” depth, so that as wood is pushed forward it is no longer touching the block or trapped against the fence.

Thanks for reading my 2cents opinion.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

3494 posts in 3998 days


#14 posted 04-18-2020 07:21 PM

I missed the obvious – YES, as Capin noted, the cut should have been near the fence. The thought of doing it on the outside scares me.

View tvrgeek's profile

tvrgeek

1754 posts in 2703 days


#15 posted 04-18-2020 07:27 PM

I have started to use sleds for any small part. Parts secured to the sled.
If not on a sled, feather boards in two directions.

Small parts are just plain scary.

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

896 posts in 3012 days


#16 posted 04-18-2020 07:57 PM



CaptKlutz: This was a ripping accident. A crosscut sled is not used for rips.

Jeeze look at the OP s pic.

- Madmark2

Is there another place you can cut people down?

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

View Foghorn's profile

Foghorn

1148 posts in 440 days


#17 posted 04-18-2020 08:06 PM


CaptKlutz: This was a ripping accident. A crosscut sled is not used for rips.

Jeeze look at the OP s pic.

- Madmark2

I must have a different saw. I could cut those grooves on a piece like that easily on my crosscut sled.

-- Darrel

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

4334 posts in 2548 days


#18 posted 04-18-2020 08:28 PM

CaptKlutz: This was a ripping accident. A crosscut sled is not used for rips.
Jeeze look at the OP s pic.

- Madmark2

LOL More like Badmark2?

I use my ‘cross cutting’ sled for ripping small pieces where my fingers might be at risk. Especially when making both cross and rips cuts on small square pieces. Can clamp the small pieces to back fence or jig base better than I can on factory miter gauge. I value my fingers, and small pieces on TS are some of the most dangerous cuts.
Even have a sled sized for my Freud box joint dado blade. Prefer to be safe, not sorry or mad.

Is there another place you can cut people down?
- BroncoBrian

Brain, please do not compound someone else’s questionable tirade. Flag, and move on.

LumberJocks.com Blog #5: Respect For Others


In this community members are expected to treat each other with respect at all times.

There will always be disagreements and fusses between members. It is simply human nature. We truly encourage members to discuss and openly share their thoughts on a topic. It is how we all learn and life would be pretty boring if we all felt the same way.

That being said, this is not grade school. We don’t gang up in little groups to take sides or encourage others to do the same.

If you were at a local get together and got into a disagreement with someone, I am guessing you would take it outside instead of ruining the party for everyone. I expect the same here.

Best Luck to WoodGoogan.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

3764 posts in 2852 days


#19 posted 04-18-2020 08:50 PM

When I cut small piece with my table saw I clamp it firmly to my miter gauge. Or I find another way to make the cut.
Your lucky that chunk of Purple Heart didn’t hit you in the face.

Good Luck

-- Aj

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8652 posts in 4702 days


#20 posted 04-18-2020 09:08 PM

For any smaller pieces like this I would go with a sled.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

2498 posts in 1642 days


#21 posted 04-18-2020 09:25 PM

Do you really do dado rips on a crosscut sled? With a miter on the end? That sounds more dangerous. How do you keep the piece perpendicular to the sled (parallel to the blade)?

You shouldn’t use tools for other than their intended purpose. They call it a crosscut sled ‘cause it’s for crosscutting, not ripping.

If you must use a sled to rip, use one designed for ripping.

If the OP had done the dado when the workpiece was long, this crosscut discussion would be moot.

If there is one thing worse than no safety advice, its bad safety advice.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View LeeRoyMan's profile

LeeRoyMan

1680 posts in 781 days


#22 posted 04-18-2020 09:52 PM

.

View woodman71's profile

woodman71

194 posts in 4378 days


#23 posted 04-18-2020 09:55 PM

Well I think everyone have give you good advice, I read comments the first page here what i see your using Freud box joint blade set that not a dado blade your trying to cut dados . Box joint blade are for cutting ends of boards to make box finger joints . All I’m saying is for the future choose the right blade set up for cut also don’t trying make you dados our any other joints cut in one pass do it in a series of pass. You said your a new to woodworking great i hope you stay with it but here some advice if you want to make wood joint like dado, box joint,or mortise and tend joints do it on large project until you get comfortable. One more thing about blade choice use correct blade for cut until you get enough experience to know what you can do or know you comfort zone good luck

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

3494 posts in 3998 days


#24 posted 04-18-2020 10:24 PM

Whether he’s mad or just a little ticked, I have to agree with Mark, the idea of dadoing or plowing on my crosscut sled scares me more than doing a cut, near the fence, on a short pieces.

If I put a 3/4” fence and could lock the piece by way of it (e.g., a toggle hold down), then it’s more than just a cross cut sled.

I confess to making such cuts, but they’d be next to the fence, while I’m on the back side of the fence. I’m WAY out of line from the cut and a potential launch, and I have the fence as a stop if some magical vortex started. Again, I’d be working hard to keep the item against the fence and, like the original poster, doing it with a push block.

MEANWHILE, we have a first – the new kid is the first one to ever forget a part of his build sequence, and forced to get around the slip.

[Okay, that might not be true – any of us who have made any significant amount of sawdust might have gone there before him, again and again.]

View WoodGoogan's profile

WoodGoogan

3 posts in 361 days


#25 posted 04-18-2020 10:43 PM

I appreciate everyone’s input!

FWIW—A couple of comments and questions…

1) I use the Freud box joint blade as a mini-dado (1/4” & 3/8”) as I don’t have a full-size TS. Is this wrong? As Madmark2 said, I probably wouldn’t even question anything had I done it on a long piece of wood and then cut (as pictured):

2) I do have a sled but fitted for my “regular” blade. I didn’t want to widen the “zero-clearance” by using the “mini-dado” blade. If this particular blade can be used as a mini-dado, I can make a new dedicated sled but not sure how much it’d be used versus a miter gauge (for the cross cuts and box joints). For these rips, I’d probably not do a small piece again! :)

3) Not sure what the consensus is on them, but would a Micro-Jig Grr-Ripper have prevented this?

Again—thanks all for your input.

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

2167 posts in 3237 days


#26 posted 04-18-2020 11:02 PM

Why would a dado cross cut sled be dangerous? It holds the workpiece against the back fence, and you can use hold downs on the piece to keep it square to the fence and blade.

Same thing for ripping small pieces on a cross cut sled. It’s a hell of a lot less sketchy than holding a small piece between the fence and blade.

I’ve done both, and they’re no more dangerous than doing a regular rip cut (meaning, crazy dangerous if you aren’t paying attention and not taking safety precautions). Like WoodGoogan, I use the Freud box joint set as a mini dado, and use a purpose built sled to cut tenons and dados.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

3494 posts in 3998 days


#27 posted 04-18-2020 11:11 PM

I think the only danger is if the piece can move left or right. That’s why I suggested a piece for it to rest against (going from the front to back of the sled).

My push shoes/blocks also support pieces at the back of the cut, but the problem came at the back of the blade, not where it was being pushed. If the top moves left or right, it’s going to get exciting.

Do you lock the piece down, shampeon?

You may be right. I cannot give a written guarantee.

Meanwhile, like WoodGooga, I wouldn’t want to open the kerf of the sled with a dado or box blade, until I get around to routering it for a zero clearance insert.

View Tony_S's profile (online now)

Tony_S

1458 posts in 4137 days


#28 posted 04-18-2020 11:45 PM



.

- LeeRoyMan

Damn straight! Glad someone said it.

-- “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

1491 posts in 2013 days


#29 posted 04-19-2020 12:06 AM

That should have been done on a router table or even a router with a groove bit. I ran a blind dado back in 1985. Didn’t work too well and learned that if I didn’t like the procedure to find an easier and safer way…

View LeeRoyMan's profile

LeeRoyMan

1680 posts in 781 days


#30 posted 04-19-2020 12:11 AM


.

- LeeRoyMan

Damn straight! Glad someone said it.

- Tony_S


It was a lie, I couldn’t leave it there.
Truth is, I would have just used my hand and a push stick and it would have been done. After the first cut I would have determined if I needed to lower the blade and make multiple passes or not.

But that aside, nothing wrong with using a sled if you had a hold down and or a way to lock the piece in.
You wouldn’t have to leave your zero clearance plate in the saw, but you would make a bigger kerf in your sled.
I probably wouldn’t want to ruin, (I use the term “ruin” loosely), my sled.

View Tony_S's profile (online now)

Tony_S

1458 posts in 4137 days


#31 posted 04-19-2020 12:23 AM



Truth is, I would have just used my hand and a push stick and it would have been done. After the first cut I would have determined if I needed to lower the blade and make multiple passes or not.

- LeeRoyMan

Me too…for shame…

-- “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

3494 posts in 3998 days


#32 posted 04-19-2020 12:24 AM

Just for reference, when I was talking zero clearance in my post, I was talking about on the sled. Like LeeRoyman said, the plate for the saw is a non-issue, with the sled.

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

2167 posts in 3237 days


#33 posted 04-19-2020 01:24 AM

I lock it down for rips on the cross cut sled if it’s narrow. For cross cut dados, I hold the piece down with my hand.

I guess in this thread I have to clarify that I hold my hand where I’m sure the blade isn’t, which is pretty easy since there’s a clear slot for it in the sled….

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View ruger's profile

ruger

142 posts in 1149 days


#34 posted 04-19-2020 01:31 AM

purple heart is a very hard-dense heavy wood. it’s hard on blades and router bits.I use a lot of it, sanding it seems like your sanding concrete. I take extra caution on my table saw ripping it. I can see how an accident can be amplified working with it. it’s not like ripping a piece of black walnut. a lot of good advice here.

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

1661 posts in 1233 days


#35 posted 04-19-2020 02:15 AM

Obviously the best way would be groove it before cutting.

Otherwise make a sled for the job and keep your fingers.

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

2973 posts in 3692 days


#36 posted 04-19-2020 05:53 AM

You could have cut that groove with a plough plane in 1 minute, with perfect safety. Look into getting a few hand tools and embrace hybrid woodworking. If you need a groove 4 feet long or a dozen long grooves, use a power tool. For 4 inches, use a hand tool. I would have done it with my Stanley no. 50. Now a few years ago, I would not have thought of that, being at that time power tool only.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

896 posts in 3012 days


#37 posted 04-19-2020 07:02 AM


.

- LeeRoyMan

Damn straight! Glad someone said it.

- Tony_S

Lol, Tony. Laughed good at this.

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

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