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.
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 --- www.sollows.ca