First Kick-back

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I’ve read about table saw kick-back, I’ve seen the kick-back demonstrations on YouTube and other woodworking video sites, and I’ve even read the kick-back warning sticker on my own table saw. In short, I understand why kick-back happens and the precautions to stop it happening.

table saw kick back warning

Yet today I experienced my very first kickback and the power with which the exposed blade threw the wood over my should was awesome. So what happened?

Firstly, I was experimenting with dado-making using a regular cross-cut blade so I had the splitter and blade guard off the saw. I’ll point out had the blade guard been in place the kick-back would not have happened but of course it needs to be off since I wasn’t cutting all the way through the piece.

Secondly, I wasn’t cutting a board. Most of the internet videos demonstrating kick-back using a square piece of foam or plywood. While I was using a scrap 2x4 I wasn’t expecting to be any safer but in theory there may be less opportunity for kickback with a smaller piece of wood.

Thirdly, while the blade guard was removed, I was being extra careful having never used the table saw without this critical piece of equipment. In short, I was not standing directly behind the blade but off to the side and I was being careful not to twist the work piece while applying sufficient pressure to stop the blade lifting lifting it off the table.

Finally, as mentioned, I was using a regular cross-cut blade to kerf out the dado; this meant taking pass after pass to arrive at the correct width. To keep moving, I would take one pass and leave the blade spinning while sliding the work piece back to the front of the table for the next pass.

The dado making went quite well, apart from the v-grooves from the blade. As I stood back for a final check of the union between my scrap “shelf” piece (another 2x4) and my new dado, I fumbled and dropped the shelf piece. It landed on end in front of the blade and before falling forward onto the still-spinning blade.

Although it crossed my mind to lunge forward and knock the piece out of the way before it hit the blade, I thought better of that idea and stood back while the drama unfolded. As you’d expect, when the wood made contact with the blade it was gone before I could blink. Just for “kicks” (sorry!), the impact dislodged the metal throat plate and it got mixed up with the blade. HPIM2001

I was standing to the right of the blade and the piece of 2x4 (which was about fifteen centimetres long) ended up in the back corner of the garage with a thump. When I later went to find it, the gash from the saw was deep and rough. Again, very impressive.

In one sense, I hoped to never experience kick-back but at the same time I did want to know what it’s like to really experience this mythical event. Having been there now, I can honestly say I hope it never occurs again and I’ve learned to shut down the saw unless I’m working with it directly. I’ve also been meaning to get a decent leather shop apron to shield my torso if I were to even get hit directly.

In normal operation, the saw’s safety items would be in place and I’d probably be using feather boards and push sticks as well, if not clamping the work piece to the mitre gauge.


Unknown said...

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