Kickback #1: So How Fast Does That Piece of Wood Launch from the Table Saw?

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Blog entry by Chris Moellering posted 683 days ago 2369 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Kickback series Part 2: Table Saw Kickback Part II »

Since I bought my first table saw about 6 wees ago, I have managed to keep all my fingers firmly attached to my body. I did managed to get smacked by the off-cut that kicked back once leaving a bruise on my forearm.

This got me to wondering, “How fast does a table saw launch wood?”

Well, my saw says it runs at 5,000 rpm.

It uses a 10” blade.

So, the circumfrence is 31.4” (10×3.14)

So, if it was a wheel, it would be moving at 157,000 inches per minute. (31.4×5,000)

That’s 13,083.33 feet per minute. (157,000 / 12)

Or 785,000 feet per hour. (13,083.33×60)

Which comes out to 148.7 miles per hour. (13,083.33 / 5,280)

That’s the maximum theortical speed, not taking into account drag and other factors.

No wonder it left a mark. ;o)

-- Grace & peace, Chris+

12 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


112011 posts in 2204 days

#1 posted 683 days ago

That’s really something, now we have to get a radar gun and confirm the speed for sure. :)) Who knows it might become a new category in the Guinness world record book ? Only one problem, who gets to create the kick back ???

-- Custom furniture

View BTimmons's profile


2110 posts in 1112 days

#2 posted 682 days ago

The Mythbusters fan in me says use a high speed camera. I’m pretty sure you’ve got a theoretical top speed worked out, but any piece that encounters kickback will move slower than that depending on how it’s hit and what it weighs.

And no, I wouldn’t want to stand in the way to test that. That’s what they have Buster for.

-- Brian Timmons -

View WhoMe's profile


1106 posts in 1870 days

#3 posted 682 days ago

Well, another mystery of the universe solved….lol

Since I have been fortunate to have had only 2 kickbacks and neither impacted body parts, I never thought of trying to figure out how fast it might have been going.
That makes me all the more careful and use all the safety equipment and common sense I can.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies and the wall gets in the way.. - Mike -

View cabmaker's profile


1307 posts in 1436 days

#4 posted 682 days ago

Chris, I am sorta nervous for you. How did you manage to get an offcut launched at you ? Good luck !

View Grumpymike's profile (online now)


1058 posts in 942 days

#5 posted 682 days ago

Chris, sit down, take a deep breath and think about this … ya got to much time on your hands, ... Now, go to the shop and make something, with out the calculator. ;)

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View derosa's profile


1533 posts in 1463 days

#6 posted 682 days ago

It moves fast enough to partially crack an asphalt block with a small piece of purpleheart. Made me very glad I wasn’t standing in the way.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View NormG's profile (online now)


4094 posts in 1631 days

#7 posted 682 days ago

I’m submitting to Myth Busters for confirmation

-- Norman

View bullhead1's profile


228 posts in 876 days

#8 posted 682 days ago

I can add some more info for your calculations. My first kick back came back and hit me in the chest and laid me out flat. I was 5’ 9” and 180 pounds and standing approximately 1 foot from the table. I can’t remember which direction the wind was coming from but I know the sun was not in my eyes. I just know I was stupid and pushing the board through with pressure left of the blade. Once you have a kick back like that you never forget about it.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13741 posts in 965 days

#9 posted 682 days ago

The piece that got me left a bruise and split the skin on my chest. I had a heavy shirt over a T shirt. I would hate to think if I had less on.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


14721 posts in 2303 days

#10 posted 682 days ago

AS I recall, that speed sounds about right. Fortunately, I was standing to the side when a 2×4 struck the wall behind me. I don’t recall exactly why it happened, but I’ll never forget the lesson learned.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Chris Moellering's profile

Chris Moellering

224 posts in 1275 days

#11 posted 682 days ago

I looked a bit at formulas for angular inertia and such last night, but it was more than my 20-some year-old high school physics skills could grasp. Otherwise, one could do a better calculation figuring in the mass of the piece being “shot.”

I don’t remember the details on how I managed to shoot myself. But I know I haven’t done it again! Since then I’ve added a sled and a featherboard, both of which help in their applications.

-- Grace & peace, Chris+

View Tootles's profile


683 posts in 1129 days

#12 posted 682 days ago

An interesting calculation as a theoretical top speed, but I think it is probably quite a lot less.

I worked backwards from the power of the saw (ignoring losses and inefficiencies). I also had to assume a duration of “contact” between the wood and blade during the kickback in order to calculate the energy transferred (E = P * t). So with a 3kW saw spinning at 5000 rpm, I calculated that a 5 ounce piece of wood (i.e. the weight of a baseball) that was in contact with the blade for 1 revolution would be kicked back at “only” 48 mph.

The speed increases as saw power and contact time increases, but decreases as the weight of the wood increases. The relationship follows a square root curve – it is not linear.

Of course, I could be completely wrong. I didn’t get much sleep last night and haven’t eaten well today so my head is particularly fuzzy at the moment. I’m sure there will be someone smarter than me who will correct me if I am mistaken

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

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