Kitchen Island Project #7: Kickback up close and personal

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Blog entry by Jim posted 07-13-2009 06:01 PM 1844 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Why didn't I pre-finish? Part 7 of Kitchen Island Project series Part 8: Drawer Faces Complete »

I’ve been woodworking for over 20 years and have never experienced kickback on the tablesaw. I’ve heard about it, seen video clips about it … but never experienced it … this was about to change.

I was completing the drawers for the kitchen island and had dry fit everything together. The drawers looked good so I went ahead and glued the joints. I was in the process of clamping when I noticed one of the drawers had a slight 1/16” gap in the joint. The panel for the base of the drawer was slightly too long and I didn’t notice it in dry fit. It only appeared when I added the clamps. “Aw nuts!” I said to myself … ok my words were slightly different but lets stick with that for the blog.

The glue on the joints probably had several minutes before it would begin to set, so I had time. I whipped the drawer apart and slid out the 18”x20”x1/4” bottom panel. I quickly took it to the table saw. My Ridgid table saw has a wonderful guard and splitter that works well and goes on quickly without tools. I rarely use the saw without it but the last thing I had done was s dado so he guard was off. The clock was ticking on the glue covered joints over on the work bench. It’s just a 1/16 trim cut off the edge I thought, so for the sake of time I positioned the fence and blade.

I switched the saw on and started the cut. I was about 3/4 of the way through when I felt something go wrong. The board had started to twist. There was NO chance to correct the situation. Suddenly there was a BANG as the panel was ripped from my hand, and at over 100 mph it impacted me right at the belt line. Bouncing off me it flew into the far wall of the shop. The blow knocked me back, hard, and threw me off balance. It felt like I had been hit by a truck!

I regained my balance and turned the saw off. Quickly assessing myself for injury, I realized that I was very lucky. The board had actually hit my leather belt. An inch higher or lower would have been really nasty. For a couple hours it was quite painful but now a day later, I’m still a bit bruised but I learned a valuable lesson about kickback.

My errors:

I was in a rush! It would have taken less than 30 seconds to mount the guard on the saw. My attention wasn’t completely focused on what I was doing, I was distracted, thinking about the drawers and drying glue rather than on the panel I was running through the saw.

Here is a photo of the panel showing the classic arc that kickback causes. I’m going to stick this on the wall of my shop as a reminder!


-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

10 comments so far

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3336 days

#1 posted 07-13-2009 06:23 PM

got a few wall hangings myself ,
wood is replasable ,
tools are replasable ,

body parts are NOT .

take your time to be safe .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 3322 days

#2 posted 07-13-2009 06:26 PM

Man that looks nasty. Quick question….I know you addressed the “I was in a hurry and not paying attention” part….but did you remove the glue from the panel before putting it in the saw ??

-- Don S.E. OK

View Jim's profile


253 posts in 3640 days

#3 posted 07-13-2009 06:32 PM

There was no glue on the bottom panel, it was free floating. I never glue panels into the bottom of a drawer to allow for wood movement. Gluing it in can cause the drawer to warp and even worse, pull itself apart over time.

-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

View bigdave's profile


27 posts in 3280 days

#4 posted 07-13-2009 07:38 PM

Ouch! Glad you’re OK man. Thanks for the lesson.

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 3322 days

#5 posted 07-13-2009 09:22 PM

Sent you a pm Jim.

What I meant to say was did you check to see of any glue had gotten “onto” the panel when you took it apart…this happend to me once. Took something apart for a small trim…got some glue on it and did not notice….when I put it through the saw the glue kind of drug on the saw bed causing it to bind up as I pushed which caused a massive kick back.

-- Don S.E. OK

View rustfever's profile


752 posts in 3305 days

#6 posted 07-14-2009 12:39 AM

It takes only one kick-back to make a believer out of a woorworker.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#7 posted 07-14-2009 01:31 AM

Hey Jim
That was a close one .I think you know what you did wrong besides rushing but for those who don’t know .It looks like you were free handing a cross cut with the thin part of the cut pinched between the blade and the fence, as I’m sure you know it’s much safer to cut the thin side of the board so it’s fall of and not wedged between the blade and fence. The other thing that would have helped is to use a sled or miter gauge. I’m sure the biggest factor was rushing, we all are guilty of that sometimes it can be very costly to our health.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Jim's profile


253 posts in 3640 days

#8 posted 07-14-2009 01:59 AM

Hi Jim, nope I had the thin part of the cut 1/8” on the outside of the blade. I didn’t use a mitre guage because the long side of the panel (20”) was riding against the fence.

-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

View JenWoodworking's profile


128 posts in 3066 days

#9 posted 03-01-2010 08:22 AM

Ouch, thanks for the reminder
and also the tip about not glueing the bottom panel on a drawer, thanks.

-- Jen loves wood!

View Jim's profile


253 posts in 3640 days

#10 posted 03-01-2010 08:26 AM

Thanks for the tip but I’ve never glued in the bottom panel on a drawer.

-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

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