Tablesaw kick back, learnig perspective.

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Forum topic by Eric posted 01-09-2012 07:27 AM 2692 views 1 time favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Eric's profile


55 posts in 3592 days

01-09-2012 07:27 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tip safety

I was standing there minding my own business…........................................when I was attacked by my tablesaw.
At least that is how it felt. My pride took a big hit as well as, my chest/abdominal area, just below diaphragm.

I was helping my stepdaughter put the finishing touches on a pingball launcher. So, I was ripping a peice of 3/4” thick, by ~16” long, by 5” wide birch plywood, down to 3” wide. As I was pushing the piece of wood through the cut (with a push stick), the cut off piece began to travel back towards me,(slowly) on the tablesaw. This is were I lost control. Thinking I had pushed the piece, that was between the blade in the fence past the blade, I moved the push stick to push the cut-off piece away from the spinning blade. In retrospect, the piece between the blade and fence, must have still been on contact with the spinning blade. The piece shot back, towards me, once it cleared the riving knife the blade picked the piece up and propelled it towards me at an amazing rate of speed.

So, the piece of 3/4” x 3” x 16” hit me in my diaphragm. Yes, it hurt like h**l. My step daughter was across the room and stood there with shock and awe. Once I was able to stand straight up, I took a time out to gather my thoughts, to let my pride heel and caught by breathe.

So why did this happen? I use a Delta Unisaw. The newest model. Riving knife was in place, but the blade guard is in the draw. If the blade guard had been in place, the cut off piece would have never move back towards. Thus, I would not have had a brain-fart, with the need to move that piece away from the blade. The blade guard would(should?) not have let the piece between the blade fence back toward, either. At least that is my understanding.

I consider myself a very seasoned wood worker. I have been doing it for about 25 years. I originally got into wood working when I borrowed a friends crappy bench top tablesaw for a project. That was the last time I experience kick-back, while trying to rip a piece of wood on an unparallel, blade to rip fence, saw.

I felt the need to share, because I have spent the last few hours reading about kick-back and other tablesaw safety issues. I wish I was wearing my old kevlar vest, but had to turn it in at retirement from the military.

To all, may you never experience kick-back on your tablesaw. Please be safe and take the time to review your safety guidelines.


-- Eric "That's all very well and human, but when will you stop having to apologize and start doing your very best you can? When will you begin?"

23 replies so far

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3527 days

#1 posted 01-09-2012 07:40 AM

Thanks for sharing. It was a similar experience that convinced me to endure the “headaches” of using the blade guard whenever possible. It turns out that none of the “headaches” of having to work around the blade guard ever hurt near as much as my ribs did after stopping a kick back launched piece of hardwood so I’ll keep using mine.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View ChuckV's profile


3237 posts in 4032 days

#2 posted 01-09-2012 09:55 AM


I am glad that you were not hurt any worse. Thank you for telling us about your experience.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Nighthawk's profile


556 posts in 2862 days

#3 posted 01-09-2012 12:43 PM

I had one other day… but that was my fault as I was really 100% consentrating on what I was doing. (or as you put it a brain fart) Was ripping a piece maybe a bit long on my own… there was a bit of a bow in the plank being ripped (I didn’t notice this till after) so when the plank came to the bow it start to ride the saw a bit an bang… lesson learnt…

I don’t have an off feed table yet… I am in the process of designing one for it as we speak… But the uneven dirt floor in my basement does not help one bit. Realistically I should have waited for a friend to help with that rip… he turned up about 10 minutes later to finish anouther project we are working on.

I was lucky and it was a wake up call… even after doing this for so long lack in consentration can be well dangerous. Whilst I class my self as a novice woodworker, however I have about 15 years capentry skills and use to table saws all the time (out on site etc… ) But I have only had my own little saw for about 3 months… (long story) Though I am now a graphic artist strange how life changes…

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ...

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3347 days

#4 posted 01-09-2012 03:14 PM

I never use my blade guard. Quite frankly, on my Ridgid TS3650, it is designed so that a majority of the time, when working with small parts as I do most of the time, it creates a more dangerous situation than not using it at all. To make matters worse, as the saw came from the factory, it was impossible to use the splitter without the guard. So I wound up removeing the guard assembly from the splitter so I could have the option of using the splitter by itself.
All that being said, I have been hit enough (once was enough) with offcut pieces. Since it happened to me once in the same way as your accident happened, I have had a new shop table saw rule for myself. I always move the piece I’m cutting past the blade and move it away from the blade area before even attempting to move the cutoff piece. Also, if the cuttoff piece is small, I cut the saw off and wait for the blade to stop spinning before attempting to move it.
For what it’s worth, I’ve been hit in the head with small cut off pieces. If your accident didn’t make you think hard about how you remove cutoffs from the table saw, I guarantee a shot to the head will.


View Viking's profile


881 posts in 3700 days

#5 posted 01-09-2012 03:24 PM

A splitter inserted into your zero clearance insert helps a lot when you have work with your guard removed.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 3198 days

#6 posted 01-09-2012 03:50 PM

“I was standing there minding my own business…….....................................when I was attacked by my tablesaw.”
Yup that’s when it happens! Let the mind wander for just a moment, a nanosecond and …. As a friend of mine said and as I often quote “Machinery is very very patient. It will wait a long long time and then someday when you least expect it, it will get you.”

-- See pictures on Flickr -[email protected]/ And visit my Facebook page -

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3372 days

#7 posted 01-09-2012 03:54 PM

Kick back happened to me a while back. It happened so fast that I couldn’t believe it. One second I was pushing it the other second it was no longer there. i went back to work about five minutes after it happened but I kept looking at my fingers and wiggling them to insure they were ok. My fingers were just a little numb for a short while but were ok. It didn’t hit me fortunately but hit a cabinet behind me and knocked a bad gash in the wooden side. I’ve been using table saws for over 40 years. It can happen to anyone and I’m glad you weren’t hurt any worse.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Bertha's profile


13567 posts in 3198 days

#8 posted 01-09-2012 04:28 PM

I’m sure they make a SharkGuard with pawls for the Uni. Might be worth the very reasonable price. Glad you survived this one.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View HorizontalMike's profile


7797 posts in 3419 days

#9 posted 01-09-2012 05:18 PM

I had my first kickback last week when ripping/cutting 1/4in x 1/4in stock for window pane retainers. I was standing to the left side of the TS when all of a sudden POW! and the piece disappeared. Found it outside in the driveway ~50ft behind the TS.

QUESTION: At what point is it TOO dangerous to rip 1/4×1/4 off of a larger piece? One inch wide?... Two inches?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Bertha's profile


13567 posts in 3198 days

#10 posted 01-09-2012 05:20 PM

^I use the width of my push stick to decide that, Mike;) In fact, I made a very slender stick for that purpose, lol. In a total lapse of judgment, when setting up my new router table. I dropped a board between the bit and fence (behind the bit). It tore out of there like a rifle shot; I’m surprised it didn’t bring my finger with it. I’m due for a very bad injury.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3679 days

#11 posted 01-09-2012 05:23 PM

Something tells me that lots and lots of us have been hit by offcuts.

Mine happened, when using my tenoning jig, on the TS. Luckily, I was wearing my leather shop apron, at the time. Rather tough to use that jig with the guards…..

I try to use my guard/pawls, when I can. If I CANNOT, I try to stand clear left of the table.

At times, though (eg, small pieces), a kickback is all but inevitable. At that point, I like to see if I can hit my RAS, across the room, and get that 25-point “PING !” sound that I’ve come to enjoy so much !

Thanks for sharing. The reminders … keep us safer !

-- -- Neil

View jmos's profile


916 posts in 2875 days

#12 posted 01-09-2012 05:24 PM

I’ve had good luck using the Gripper for thin cuts. You can set it up to hold down the work piece and the offcut. I’ve got two for hand over hand feeding. Gives much better control than a regular push stick.

I don’t use them all the time, but they come in really handy for some cuts.

-- John

View bunkie's profile


412 posts in 3652 days

#13 posted 01-09-2012 05:26 PM

I’m not sure a splitter would have made any difference in this case as the riving knife was in place. I’m guessing (and this is just a guess), from the description that the workpiece was actually slightly past the blade and in trying to push it further, Eric got it slightly askew and the corner of the piece made contact, causing the blade to grab it and throw it forward.

Splitters and riving knives help when the workpiece closes around the blade. With plywood, this almost never happens. What does happen is that the workpiece comes slightly away from the fence and near the back end of the blade, it doesn’t take very much for the launch to begin.

This is why I always use my blade guard when cutting plywood. The anti-kickback pawls on it exist for this very reason.

Eric, that push stick likely saved your hand. Had you been using your fingers to guide the piece, your hand might very well have been pulled back into the blade (another good reason to use the blade guard). I’m glad to hear that you weren’t seriously hurt.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View Bertha's profile


13567 posts in 3198 days

#14 posted 01-09-2012 05:27 PM

Neil, my tenoning jig almost got me once, too. I pushed a little offcut into the blade (I couldn’t see it for the bulky jig). It really just rattled and hummed a little bit but it made a noise like the apocalypse.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3679 days

#15 posted 01-09-2012 05:36 PM

Bertha: I consider that about the longest couple of seconds in the life of the woodworker—watching that little cutoff dance, and listening to that rumbling sound.

There’s a momentary instinct to “get it outta’ there.” That must be resisted, at all costs :-)

-- -- Neil

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