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First Kick Back Experience

3085 Views 16 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  jussdandy
I am a true novice in the shop, and it almost hurt me and my wife. I want to warn every semi-new comer to this hobby that you need to REMEMBER EVERY SAFETY STEP. You cant "take a play off".

I have a portable table saw so ripping large sheet goods is impossible without help. I disconnected the splitter to make a zero clearance insert. After doing that, I called my wife out to help rip a piece of ply wood (giving 1/3 sheet straight edge).

Well, with her guiding the back end for help, and me not putting the splitter back on, it twisted. The piece was heavy (3/4 in Ply) so it wasnt flying, but this came straight up at my face.

The picture shows the claw marks. I almost hurt myself (which I could have lived with), but more importantly, my wife. Which would have been devasting.

Anyone want to share how they go through their safety check list? Maybe something will help me.

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I don't know if this is helpful, but I break down all my sheet stock with a "skill" saw. I have a couple of 2×4's I use as a support base across two saw horses. Lay the plywood on the 2×4's, mark the layout lines (slightly larger than the final size) then cut with the "skill" saw. Set the saw blade depth to cut through the plywood and slightly into the 2×4's. Then I go to the table saw to get the final size.

Instead of 2×4's, you can get some 2" Styrofoam insulation panels. Lay them on the floor. Put the plywood on them and make the cuts as above. It's is sometimes easier to be able to crawl on the plywood than to try to reach across the piece.

Hope this helps.
I also have a small table saw. I quit trying to cut large pieces of ply on it and use other methods for large pieces.
Good hand saws or a skill saw with straight guide, work well. Live and learn, carry on….........
It's hard to push a full sheet of plywood through a portable table saw without having the result you had. I would highly recommend using a circular saw to make your initial cuts and reduce your workpieces to more manageable sizes.

In general, whenever I am getting ready to make a cut on my table saw, I ask myself these three questions:

1) What could possibly go wrong with this particular cut?
2) Have I done everything I can to keep that from happening (using featherboards, push blocks, etc.)
3) What is the best way to position my hands and body for this cut so that I won't be injured if something goes wrong?
I know what you feel like, I had a quarter sheet of ply come back at me like that and hit me right in the gut.
This was years ago and ever since then I do just the same thing Charlie does.

It was a shocking experience and don't want it to happen again…..................

first and foremost - thanks for sharing this. this is a good reminder to all of us that these things can and will happen if caution is not taken.

I personally DO NOT run full sheets of ply on the table saw - definitely not on a portable one! I'll cut sheet goods down to manageable sizes on the floor (raised off of the floor on some MDF braces) with a CIRCULAR SAW! then if I still need to clean some cut lines - I'll take the smaller parts on the table saw - only if needed… I usually get good results with a straight edge and the circular saw alone (with a good blade in it) that I don't really need to do any clean ups.

another thing - I NEVER , EVER , EVER use the table saw without the riving knife in place - NEVER! sure, I'll use the TS without the blade guard, which at times , I'm not really happy to do, but never without the riving knife. not sure if you have that, or a regular splitter, but this is something that I highly recommend you research on - use the splitter if you have no other options, or in the long run - install some sort of riving knife to protect you from kick back.

do more research, and know why kick back occures - and learn how to prevent it.

glad to hear you both are ok. be safe!
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Pretty scary stuff. Ditto on the cutting the ply on the floor with a circular saw, or if you're just doing one or two sheets you can get the home store to chop it down with their panel saw. That can also help you get it home if you don't have a truck.

Fortunately I've never had a kickback with that large of a piece, just the small "bullets" you get if a small piece gets wedged between fence and blade. I have a dent in my drywall that I keep there to remind me never to stand behind the blade, and look for a safer way to do the cuts.
My saw is called a dimension saw and is designed to take a full eight foot by four foot sheet which it does.However this is not easy for me to do and I have also utilised all excess space so getting four foot confortably behind the saw with one man is not easy.So invariably I (with help) cut it before hand with a circular saw or by hand then saw the smaller pieces perfect.It is always easy to find a solution keep making sawdust guys n gals.Alistair
I have a fullsized tablesaw that ins in my shop in the basement. I can barely cut full sheets on it do instead I will cu them up to more managable sizes prior to bringing them down to the shop. Once in my shop (sometimes with the help of my wife) I will use featheb doards or board buddies, something to help increase the safety factor.
I agree with what everyone has said. Even with a full size cabinet saw and outfeed/side table, I still find it difficult to cut a full sheet of plywood. I usually cut it down too before running it on the table saw. I agree with PurpLev always use the riving knife. I rarely use a blade guard, but I learned the hard way about the riving knife. I think I posted this on here before, but before I got smart with the riving knife addition many years after starting woodworking. I was cutting a small piece of cherry for a drawer front and the cut-off piece started sliding towards me from the left of the blade. No big deal, it was just slowly sliding towards me. I stepped to the right to get out of the way and let it fall to the floor. When I did that, I accidently moved the piece I was cutting towards the blade and the saw grabed the wood and whipped the piece right at me. It came so fast I didnt have time to even think about what was happening. I got hit in the chest and I believe it rotated down my torso to my stomach and hit the floor. My saw is 3 HP and it just knocked the wind out of me and I had no feeling from my neck down to my belt line for a minute or two after. After a couple of minutes the feeling came back, but to this day I still have a thin mark on the chest and stomach where it hit me.

The half moon mark on your plywood is the classic kick-back blade mark where the blade grabbed the wood and spun it at you.
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You're fortunate that no one was hurt. I had a bad kickback similar to the one you had….but ended up with 2 broken fingers.
I purchased a track saw just for the purpose of breaking down sheet goods….I bought the festool TS55 and have not once regretted the decision. I just lay up a track…use the great clamps that come with it….and slide the saw along the rail…it even has a sacrificial strip for eliminating chip out….I can do this solo without any effort and I built a nice break down sawing rack for my sawhorses to lay the goods on while I saw them….

I get excellent straight cuts…in fact I use this saw for a lot of final cuts…instead of roughing it out for the table saw…These cut much better then my old circular saw by far.

It was the best and safest decision I could make…especially as my back is banged up from so many years of heavy construction work and lifting the goods up to my table saw without help (which I rarely have at the times I can get into my shop) is nigh impossible.
I use a skilsaw and a straight edge too, but I like 35 gallon plastic garbage cans for sawhorses. They are big enough to give good support and can't hurt the blade.
This is one of those experiences that stays with you for years. Back in 2002 I was cutting a hexagon for a aquarium stand, and thought the 16 inch edge against the fence would be OK, but the piece moved away from the fence, and I got the same tooth pattern on the ply that you got.

Never would have happened with a splitter in place.

I am curious from your picture, it looks like you have a strip glued to the Plywood to run in the Miter guage slot. Much like a cross cut sled, and if that is the case - did the it somehow coue out of the slot - because riding in the groove should have prevented kick-back.
Thanks for all the posts. Any more tips on how you "keep safety on the mind" are appreciated. To answer a couple questions.

1. I had already used a jig saw to cut down sheet to "manageable" (ha ha) size. The kick back was on 1/3 sheet.

2. I forgot to put splitter in place. I always use it, just forgot after putting on zero clearance.

3. After kick back, I continued working on building my table saw sled. So the claw marks came before the runner. Maybe it will help me keep safety on the brain.
I always break down full sheets on my full size TS. Never have any problems with kick back on full sheets, just ensure you are keeping your sheet tight against the fence and if everything is aligned properly then there should be no problems. But with a portable saw, no way… I once was ripping a full sheet on a portable saw (my rookie days!) and almost tipped the saw over on it's back while pushing the sheet through, somewhat scary. My full sized TS now seems to present me with little kick back issues when cutting full sheets, though I have had a few kick backs on smaller stock, only happens when I am moving to fast and not paying close attention to the work piece like I should, thus allowing the board to move off the fence and end up pinching between the fence and blade, I just get out of the way and watch the board fly and remind myself to wake up…

What do they say??? 'It is not if you will have an accident, but when!'
I agree with the majority of comments, but truthfully I NEVER let anybody touch a board Im cutting anywhere, to me thats asking for disaster, Ive had kickbacks because of this, I can easly cut full sheets by myself, but I have a large table built around my unisaw, told my brother that wants to help, do not grab the end and pull, just stay away, now When I see him walk in, Ill turn the saw off right where Im at on the cut and just look at him, I think its hurts his feelings but better than either of us loosing fingers.
a this morning I was out in my shop, My little woman came out which she never does, but to wish me Happy Birthday and proceeded to tell me to never cut wood with out one of those pushy sticks lol I guess she had seen it on HGTV which she watches a lot of.
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