Before you read this, please understand I am not asking if it's OK to be
unsafe and have a kickback incident, I just want to know what really
happens to us all.
A post about a year ago from me describes a kickback incident I had that
hurt pretty bad. The board didnt break the skin, but blood finally made
it to the surface of my gut the next day. I never want to have that
happen again, but a recent post titled 'Table saw wood splitter/anti
kick back question' made me wonder what people are actually referring
too when they say stuff like "it'll eventually get you".
How many people here have had a significant kickback incident?
How bad was it? Was it just a 'put a bandaid on it and get back to
sawing' incident or a 'Im not sure I ever want to touch a tablesaw
again' incident? Was it really a life threatening issue?
Mine was a 'put a bandaid on it' (plus a new pair of undies) incident.
A year later and I'm still ultra careful and hate to think what would
have happend had my gut been my head in that instance.
The worst I remember (thank God not first-hand) was about 40-45 years
ago. I was just a kid. A friend of my father owned a lumber yard and
his kid (the lumber yard owner), a teenager, helped out his dad on the
weekends. There was a kickback on the RAS and it killed the kid. I
really don't remember much more than that.
I had a 1x1 piece of hickory kick past me 12' to the wall, put a 1/2"
deep dent in a solid-core door leaning there then bounce back, hit the
opposite wall 25' feet away, and land on the floor in front of the saw.
I've never been hit, because I never stand in the kickback path.
"I don't like dealing with people. I'd rather be back working in Human
So this piece traveled a total distance of 37 feet? It traveled 12' in one
direction, hit a door, turned 180 degrees and traveled 25 more feet??? Was
the second leg of its trip mostly sliding on the ground? How powerful was
the saw and did the piece fly off at face level?
If I follow the description correctly, it went in a triangular path.
12" directly away from the saw, then 25" to opposite wall, then
however far back to the saw. The total distance computation would
require some angles, but has to be more than 37'. If it turned 180
degrees as you assume then the total distance would have been 50' (12
to one wall then 25 going past the saw, then back 13 feet to the saw).
Whew...didn't add one little bit to the actual conversation there, did
I shot a little block of wood out of my garage, 35 feet to the street,
25 feet across the street and plugged it in the sod, about 10 feet in
the neighbor's yard. A couple of these and you will build a sled with
clamps on it ;-)
It fired past me at waist level (Skil bench saw), hit the door standing
against the wall, came back past me, hit the opposite wall (in the air)
and slid on the floor back towards me.
37 feet isn't as far as you think...
Life. Nature's way of keeping meat fresh. -- Dr. Who
Hummm.. The kick back path is anywhere behind the saw. I suspect you have
never been hit because you have been lucky also. I have had a kick back go
out over the fence and to the right side of the saw.
Possible, I suppose. It's more likely I'm cautious and don't like to
attempt dangerous cuts.
The kickback incident I described earlier is the only significant
kickback I've ever experienced, and it was a dangerous cut, and I was
well aware of the danger.
It was also not a cut I would try again.
Life. Nature's way of keeping meat fresh. -- Dr. Who
That is one magic piece of hickory. (Apologies to Oliver Stone).
Seriously, I don't doubt it. My one experience was a small piece of pine,
1x2x~6", that would have taken off a piece of my cheek, lip, and ear if I
hadn't had on glasses and ear muffs. About half my face was numb for two
days. I now wear these things not just because of the danger of flying
particles and hearing damage, but also for the physical protection they
afford. Oh, and I also traded my Craftsman contractor's saw in for a new
Unisaw, in hopes that the fence will stay in adjustment (it has now, for 10
This one wasn't something that happened to me, but a fellow I met at a
yard sale in Anaheim about 25 years ago. He had lost an eye to a
kickback incident with a Craftman table saw, and was suing Sears over
it. The story, as he told it, was that he had removed the blade guard
AND was using the saw without safety glasses. My opinion? He had some
nerve suing Sears when he had clearly used the saw in an unsafe manner.
Mike W. wrote:
In my 35 years of using table saws, I have had a couple of
kickbacks that hurt. Once I was cutting some wood that was
warping as it was going through the blade and kicked back
driving a splinter through the skin between my thumb and
forefinger. The splinter was about 3/8" diameter where it met
my skin. That hurt. Another time I had completed a cut but
hadn't pushed the pieces past the saw blade and was moving the
cutoff (widest piece) off of the table and came into contact
with the piece between the blade and fence. It bound up and
kicked back into my hip. That hurt quite a bit also and left
a bruise that stayed for about a week.
We set up a piece of plywood in front of a table saw once and
drew a target on it. We would leave the fence slightly loose,
run a piece of 1x4 through the saw (to make a 3/4 x 3/4
piece), then push the fence into the piece and send it flying
back (intentional kickback). You can put a 6 foot piece of
3/4 x 3/4 pine about 3 feet through a 3/4 inch thick piece of
plywood from 15 feet away that way. Really makes you respect
the power. Love those Powermatics!
In those 35 years, I have never used a table saw with a blade
guard, splitter or anti kickback pawls. But this is what I do
for a living, so I guess I am just used to saws that way.
Haven't had any other harmful kickbacks. A few kickbacks, but
none that have hurt me. I always stand out of the way.
And that is a sobering realization that most do not comprehend until
it is too late.
I've seen chunks of wood hanging from a hole in a concrete block.
Not in my shop, fortunately...
But it's the little things that will get you.
Ripping 10' x 10" x 2" lumber, never had a problem. You KNOW this is
a tough job and to keep your wits about you. It's that little piece
of hardboard your going to shave a 1/4" inch from the edge of that'll
get you in the end... DAMHIKT
Yep, it left a small cut, but a large bruise on my hand.
Must have hit pretty hard, cause there was bleeding under the skin,
and it hurt like the dickens for weeks.
The cut was through - but I let the piece _just_ kiss the back of the
blade. And it'll never happen again, if I can help it. It was one of
those _What If_ moments, for sure.
That is probably one reservation I held for a while about a more
powerful saw - what if it had been 3HP instead of 1HP.
On a lathe, you can leave the belt a little lose to help cushion the
response to a catch, but you still have to deal with the kinetic
energy contained in the rotating object. On a 3HP table saw, that
isn't an option - it doesn't jam and stall, it rips it outta there and
sends it flying, continuing to merrily spin along, never skipping a
When I first purchased a WWII table saw blade, that thing was _SO_
freaken sharp it was unnerving. It was like 40 little well formed,
scary-sharpened chisels all vying for a piece-o-me. Granted, the
blade's sharpness ultimately means less than it's speed and energy -
they'll all cut your fingers off just as quick - but that thing just
made it seem so ... scary ...
Unless it's a particularly big and heavy piece of wood caught in a kickback
scenario, I wouldn't expect HP to make all that much difference. It's likely
that RPM would be similar between different HP ratings.
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