I’ve heard about it, I’ve read about it, I know it can happen, but today is the first time that it has actually happened to me.
Today I needed to rip a piece of Radiata (i.e. Monterey) Pine on the table saw. The piece was 400 mm long x 140 mm wide x 19 mm thick (16” x 5 1/2” by 3/4”). I did all the right things – I used a featherboard and a push stick, I stood off to the side and I checked that there was nobody behind me (school workshop). Then I pushed the piece of wood into the blade. It went in for about 6” and then just stopped. I kept pressure on the wood but realised quickly that it wasn’t going to move any further so I just hit out for the stop button. Once the blade had stopped came the interesting bit, pulling it backwards off the blade. It didn’t want to come and took quite some tugging to get it out. This is what I saw, can you see it too?
The kerf at the top is about half the width of the kerf at the bottom. The wood sprung closed onto the blade. The fact that I didn’t actually experience a kickback is probably just lucky.
Now let me add a bit more information:
- The saw does have a riving knife, even if it is improperly adjusted and, I think, too thin. The blade was raised enought that the riving knife could have helped except that the cut had not yet progressed far enough for the wood to reach the riving knife.
- The overhead blade guard was in place.
- The saw in question has a large (i.e. 15”) blade. This, I think, is what saved my underwear as the cut had not yet progressed far enough for the wood to come into contact with the teeth as they rose out from under the table. If they had, and I reckon they would have on a saw with a smaller blade, I think the blade may have picked the piece of wood up and tossed it.
I can speculate about how far and fast the wood may have been thrown had the kickback occurred, but I have no idea what would have happened to me in the process. I do not believe that I would not have made contact with the blade though. The blade guard and the position of my hand holding the push stick would almost certainly have prevented that.
All the same, I count myself lucky today.
-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking