Who says miter saws have no kickback?

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Forum topic by Gary Fixler posted 04-06-2009 09:16 PM 1695 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 3381 days

04-06-2009 09:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: miter saw kickback limb log branch dangerous

Title is a riff on padre's post on band saws. Maybe no one says miter saws have no kickback, but they’ve long been regarded by me as ‘the safe circular saw.’

I had the same problem yesterday cutting round stock. After too much work with a great carpenter saw cutting up Eucalyptus logs and branches, I realized my Home Depot-bought Ryobi 12” compound miter saw would make the job go a lot faster. Slowing me down a bit was finding a good orientation for even the straight limbs. There are little bumps and ~1” twig pieces sticking out. On most I found a good position, and used my method of taking short bites, plunging and extracting quickly in little 1/4”-1/2” increments. At the end, I make one last full slice through, quickly, and that gets the blade past the kickback region faster than a kickback can begin. All of my loud bangs have been when not using this, moving slowly through the stock, though I do that when I know the piece is completely secure, or if I need a more finished cut.

I had a too-short log, about 8” long, maybe 5” thick, and used another method of mine to hold it – pushing a 2×2 against it, about 2” from the blade. I just wanted to shave a sliver off the end to get past the checking so I could Anchorseal a clean cut. I spent the day chopping things up and sealing them. This piece wiggled a little on my first plunge, so I repositioned the 2×2, feeling it rock a bit, and thinking “I should probably give up on this one – too dangerous.” But, I got cocky, and on the very next plunge, it launched the log through and out the back of the saw into the wall. This also pulled the plastic shroud/finger guard into the saw, which sliced through it a bit and mangled up the bottom edge of the plastic cover. I unplugged it and took the top apart. I had to chisel a bunch of shredded plastic out from around certain screws to get it to pull back together right. The guard had stopped moving up when the saw was lowered. Still, I got it patched up, if now uglier, and all seemed good.

I switched to manual sawing with the carpenter saw for awhile, ears still ringing from the kickback (kickforward?), but later decided I was tired of that and went back to the miter saw. I did the same thing again. I had a longer log, maybe 2”-3” diameter, 14” long, holding it with a 2×2, because the pressure point that would hold it firmly against the table and fence (against its many little limbs sticking off of it) was too close to the blade for my comfort. I think the blade pulled it down around one of those twigs, using it like a pivot, and with a loud bang, the piece was sent twirling like a thrown baseball bat at my face. I still had my hand in front of it with the 2×2, so it hit that instead. It hit my index fingertip. It hurt like getting my finger caught in a door, but is otherwise fine. Still hurts today, though, if it bangs into something, or if I press on it. Must be bruised.

This also pulled the saw shroud into the saw. It’s now even more mangled up. I didn’t feel like repairing it again. I may be subconsciously using this as a way to upgrade to a better model. I went back to the carpenter saw for the rest of the day. I think I should build a very sturdy clamping jig if I want to do this again.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

4 replies so far

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3753 days

#1 posted 04-06-2009 09:54 PM

Sounds like you need a Reciporcating Saw to help you break this stuff down. A battery powered one might be a good investment, for your collecting habits.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3727 days

#2 posted 04-06-2009 10:21 PM

i think sike has it right. it will make quick work.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3526 days

#3 posted 04-06-2009 11:43 PM

I use the DeWalt 18volt Saw, with a lot of batteries, can’t beat it. BUT be care if holding it pointed toward the ground, the trigger can be turned on quickly. I also have used the DeWalt 12 inch miter saw for cutting up larger branches but I do two things first; one, I limb them all, two, there are two of us, one holding the branch the other doing the sawing. If it is not secure we use a different saw…

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Padre's profile


930 posts in 3488 days

#4 posted 04-07-2009 12:56 AM

I know how you feel! Take care of that finger, and if it doesn’t stop hurting in a day or two get an x-ray, you could have chipped a bone.

I am just thankful that you were not seriously hurt. And thanks for the head’s up. We need to remember ALL of our tools can hurt us.

-- Chip ----------- 6:8

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