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Kickback contusions and conclusions: I’m still hurting from this one

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Forum topic by Sark posted 07-04-2020 03:15 PM 1464 views 0 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Sark

297 posts in 1160 days


07-04-2020 03:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: splitter riving knife table-saw safety kickback

I was ripping about an 8” piece of 2×4, and was using a push block, though the cut was a fairly wide 3”. Evidently I didn’t finish pushing past the blade, and that piece of wood kicked back straight into my push block with enough force to bruise my palm, slightly sprain my wrist and torque my shoulder.

Then the projectile bounced off the push block, smacked my stomach, leaving a 4” gash and lots of black and blue bruising just above the waist on my right side. The 2×4 ended up somewhere across the garage.

As is typically mentioned in such cases, it was over before I knew I was injured. A week later the palm of my hand still has a big sore lump, shoulder hurts more and the gash on my stomach is healing nicely but it will be weeks before the bruising goes away. Looks really nasty but doesn’t hurt anymore.

Conclusion: using the splitter would have prevented this accident. But the older Unisaws do not have an integral splitter. I have the Delta add-on splitter which needs to pushed down if you are making an angled cut, narrow cut or a cut which does not extend all the way through the wood. Which is to say, the splitter stands proud and is frequently in the way and thus does not get used to full potential. No good carping about the stupidity of this manufacturer and its short sided decision to not provide such an integral splitter until way too late in their company lifecycle. Delta has already been severely punished by the market-place for this omission.

Second conclusion: Time to shop a new saw with proper safety features. SawStop is calling.


37 replies so far

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GrantA

2648 posts in 2207 days


#1 posted 07-04-2020 03:37 PM

If you think that sort of thing can’t happen with a sawstop you need a new hobby. You have an excellent saw, we have a member here who has developed a riving knife you can add (assuming it’s a right tilt I’m not sure if he has a left tilt version and I seem to recall it makes a difference).
You may also want to look into a grripper push block which will push both sides of the material.
You were ripping a piece of construction lumber which is extremely unstable and liable to pinch back together, yes even on an 8” board. Always pay attention and adjust or stop accordingly.
I hope this is the worst injury you ever get, stay safe friend

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JackDuren

1253 posts in 1759 days


#2 posted 07-04-2020 03:38 PM

Pushing the wood completely through would be my first option….

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Aj2

3165 posts in 2597 days


#3 posted 07-04-2020 03:44 PM

I also used to get hit from my unisaw. Twice it got me really good.
The solution is a bandsaw. If it need to have a smooth surface it rip oversized on the bandsaw then final trim on my table saw.
No ripping warped twisted unruly bowed wood on the tablesaw.

Good Luck

-- Aj

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ChefHDAN

1695 posts in 3649 days


#4 posted 07-04-2020 03:48 PM



No ripping warped twisted unruly bowed wood on the tablesaw.
Good Luck
- Aj2

Agreed, after a few stress releases from a 2×4 on the TS, I pretty much will only use them for framing and cut them in the CMS

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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CWWoodworking

860 posts in 978 days


#5 posted 07-04-2020 04:05 PM

After not having riving knife, then getting one, I’d never go back. It just isn’t worth it.

SS does not prevent kickbacks. But most people think they are great saws.

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northwoodsman

263 posts in 4546 days


#6 posted 07-04-2020 04:05 PM

I have a similar story that happened to me 4 months ago, however it will effect me the rest of my life probably. I have been woodworking for over 40 years, and I considered myself to be very safe. On the forementioned day I was in a hurry and cutting some 3.5” x 3.5” blocks out of 1/2” Baltic Birch plywood to put under the legs of a new bed. Instead of using a miter gauge I was using the rip fence for the final cuts. Wham! On the last piece, kickback. I had a huge gash in my stomach from the block of wood that tore through my short and t-shirt, and a bruise the size of a large dinner plate. I don’t think anything of it other than it bled for 3 days and hurt very badly for a week. On day 8 after the incident I woke up early in the morning with a splitting headache. I got out of bed to take some Ibuprofin and realized that I was having a stroke. Evidently when the piece of wood hit me my head snapped back tearing a vertebral artery in by brain stem. I had no idea this had happened. As it healed, a clot formed and was released while I slept and blocked the flow of blood into my brain. I spent almost 2 months in the hospital and in rehab learning how to walk and get around again. Don’t think that his can’t happen to you, because IT CAN! And some day IT WILL! I am one of the luckiest stroke victims that I know because 4 months later my life is back to about 90% normal (back to work, driving, wood working, etc.). I may never get that other 10% back however. By the way, I have a SawStop now and like a previous poster said, they won’t prevent kickback, only you can prevent that. There is an upside to this story, the stroke occurred 2 days before the U.S. shutdown for Covid-19 so I didn’t have to fight at the grocery stores for toilet paper, canned goods, hand sanitizer, etc. I came out into a different world that’s for sure. It did suck that I couldn’t have visitors for 6 weeks while in the hospital and in rehab.

-- NorthWoodsMan

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MrUnix

8141 posts in 2998 days


#7 posted 07-04-2020 04:53 PM

But the older Unisaws do not have an integral splitter. I have the Delta add-on splitter which needs to pushed down if you are making an angled cut, narrow cut or a cut which does not extend all the way through the wood.
- Sark

I am confused by this statement… all Unisaws since their introduction in the late 30’s, had a splitter and guard. And they all tilt with the blade, so could be left in place for angled cuts, including the disappearing splitter it sounds like you have. The only time they need to be removed (or lowered) is for non-through cuts. I have the disappearing splitter on mine and rarely lower it, and usually when I do, it’s in a situation where a splitter/riving knife would not do any good anyway (like when doing dado’s or using a molding head cutter).

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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JackDuren

1253 posts in 1759 days


#8 posted 07-04-2020 05:08 PM



But the older Unisaws do not have an integral splitter. I have the Delta add-on splitter which needs to pushed down if you are making an angled cut, narrow cut or a cut which does not extend all the way through the wood.
- Sark

I am confused by this statement… all Unisaws since their introduction in the late 30 s, had a splitter and guard. And they all tilt with the blade, so could be left in place for angled cuts, including the disappearing splitter it sounds like you have. The only time they need to be removed (or lowered) is for non-through cuts. I have the disappearing splitter on mine and rarely lower it, and usually when I do, it s in a situation where a splitter/riving knife would not do any good anyway (like when doing dado s or using a molding head cutter).

Cheers,
Brad

- MrUnix

What are the options for the 30 year old unisaws?

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Madmark2

1450 posts in 1387 days


#9 posted 07-04-2020 06:41 PM

SawStop would not have prevented this error. It is not the tools fault you didn’t complete the cut before easing up.

2nd safety violation was you weren’t standing away from the blade. Kickback occurs between the fence and blade – don’t stand there!

Splitter also would not have prevented this as early release of the push block causes the stock to climb causing the blade to catch and throw. Neither a splitter nor a riving knife would have made any difference.

3rd error (suspicion only) was that you were rushing.

How much blade was showing above the stock? More than the bottom of the gullets?

Now splitters, riving knives, guards are all well and good. But an honest failure analysis should put this fail where it belongs – with the user, not the tool. If you don’t honestly assess the cause you’ll spend lots of $$$ on fancy safety gear that won’t prevent the fault from happening again.

Since there was nothing intrinsically unsafe in your cut, the failure can only have ONE cause – operator error. Save your SawStop $$$ and invest in some safety classes.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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SMP

2233 posts in 705 days


#10 posted 07-04-2020 09:25 PM

“Best block, no be there “ – Mr Miyagi

Even Mr Miyagi knew not to stand in the line of fire. Its kind of like smacking your thumb with a hammer, where did you think it was gonna go? Lol

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nickbatz

526 posts in 880 days


#11 posted 07-04-2020 09:32 PM

My sympathies. Hope you feel better soon!

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JackDuren

1253 posts in 1759 days


#12 posted 07-04-2020 09:39 PM

Stand were you have the most control. Don’t stand anywhere else…

If one feels better standing awkward and out of balance to make cuts then maybe one needs a new hobby…

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Tony_S

1335 posts in 3882 days


#13 posted 07-04-2020 10:08 PM



Stand were you have the most control. Don t stand anywhere else…
- JackDuren

100%

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

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Redoak49

4794 posts in 2788 days


#14 posted 07-04-2020 10:09 PM

Would a SawStop prevent this…maybe. The SawStop as well as most other saws these days have good riving knives that would likely have prevented this accident. They move with the blade and are designed to prevent such kick back.

Having a conclusion that it was the fault of Delta for not having a riving knife seems a bit wrong.

View Sark's profile

Sark

297 posts in 1160 days


#15 posted 07-04-2020 11:51 PM

Yes a better saw with built-in riving knife most likely would have prevented the accident. I pointed out that I wasn’t using the riving knife that the saw has now, and I can’t blame Delta for that, can I? Sure the accident could have happened had the splitter been in place…but it wasn’t so that’s my prime suspect in the failure analysis.

And Redoak, not Delta’s fault for having an old design on old saws, I totally agree. But it’s always been an annoyance I’ve had with Delta for not doing better sooner.

Northwoodsman, wow, quite a storyI. Sorry that happened. And I do hope for your continued improvement and recovery.

Madmark2 & SMP, I was not in the line of fire. The wood struck my push stick, ricocheted off at an oblique angle, struck me and kept on going. My push stick is shaped like a handle for a traditional hand-saw, so it provides excellent grip. My hand could have been severely injured without such a push stick.

Operator error is always the number one cause of accidents. However, to expect operators to never make a mistake in a lifetime of working machinery is not a reasonable standard, in my opinion. Some machinery designs are just better with regards to safety.

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