router kick back

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Forum topic by Tom Regnier posted 02-16-2015 01:35 PM 2067 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tom Regnier

179 posts in 2574 days

02-16-2015 01:35 PM

I’ve been fortunate as a woodworker to not have had any safety accidents but last night I experienced a router kick back that thankfully only managed to scare the heck out of me and prompt me to share. I was using a 1 1/2 straight bit with a top bearing cutting along a pattern for a curved leg…quatersawn oak 1 1/4 thick. I felt I had done all the proper steps to make a safe cut…slowed the bit speed down…used a pin to help guide…slowly eased the work piece in and only took 1/16-1/8 cut max. I had four legs to cut and the kick back happened on the second one. I reassessed my set up and had a second kickback…I was able to complete the cuts with the grain but decided to abandon the end grain cuts. I searched LJ and found an exact forum entry from Brad in 2011. I’ll throw it out to you all again…was my set up correct…should I have done anything differently or is this just a dangerous cut.
I was following a woodsmith plan for a shop stool and I’ll be honest…I was really uncomfortable finishing the cuts I did.

12 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2541 days

#1 posted 02-16-2015 01:53 PM

Building my guitars, I have to do a fair amount of plunge cuts. Recently, I somehow forgot to let the bit stop before pulling out of the plunged chamber I had created.
Sure as the dickens, the bit touched the side of the chamber while moving, almost throwing the router out of my hands and ruining the guitar body.

What made me pull out before the bit stopped, when I ALWAYS let the bit come to a full stop? Who knows. I always take all precautions when doing plunge – not climb cutting, being careful to take light cuts, especially when the chamber side is edge grain, letting the bit stop in an open area of the chamber before pulling out. Save this one time.

We all do it occasionally, I suppose. No damage to me, but I had to start on a new body and it set the build back two weeks, including the cost of the exotic woods I lost.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1451 days

#2 posted 02-16-2015 01:54 PM

Every piece of wood is different and there is always some uncertainty as to how your tool is going to handle it.

If you have a router table, I think I would feel more comfortable using it to finish the cuts. Just a safer option if you are having trouble IMO.

-- Brad, Texas,

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2831 days

#3 posted 02-16-2015 02:02 PM

Glad to hear you have all your digits. Thnx for reminding us of some of the dangers of our fun hobbies. Everyone, be careful out there.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1299 posts in 1757 days

#4 posted 02-16-2015 02:25 PM

Tom, glad to hear you didn’t get hurt.

Now for the questions. Why did you slow the router speed down?

What was the OD of the router bit?

Were you cleaning up a band saw cut, or were you cutting a straight piece of wood to your pattern?

Is there a curve you are trying to get on the end grain. If not, why cut it with a router?

I’m not asking to criticize you , but to settle my mind on the things you described. I’ve gotten mangled by a router once, and it wasn’t pretty, so when I hear people say they’ve had a bad experience with one, I ask questions…... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View Tom Regnier's profile

Tom Regnier

179 posts in 2574 days

#5 posted 02-16-2015 02:46 PM

Jerry, the cutting diameter is 7/8…I followed manufacturer speed. I was cleaning up band saw cut with a pattern taped on it. The end grain are straight cuts on a curved leg.

I don’t mind the criticism…it’s all about preventing accidents…thanks.

View Albert's profile


509 posts in 3616 days

#6 posted 02-16-2015 02:47 PM

I know first hand of what you speak. I’ve found that only taking minimal cuts at a time helps but does not cure all. I’ve read that using an upcut spirial bit is recommended but have not tried it due to my cheapness. If you try it please let us know.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5140 posts in 1747 days

#7 posted 02-16-2015 02:53 PM

Also glad you didn’t get hurt. I too experienced kickback of sorts while using a circle cutting jig and a 1/4” upcut carbide bit. I had a thin rubber mat (think rug pad) under the work piece and it was just a little too close to the perimeter in one area. The bit caught the mat and broke instantly. The jig being centered in the work piece by a pin kept the router from moving but ever so slightly when it happened, which was very fast. My lesson was less dramatic and only cost me the piece I was working on as well as a brand new bit but was nonetheless eye opening and has since raised my safety awareness.

View levan's profile


472 posts in 3006 days

#8 posted 02-16-2015 04:28 PM

Since you mention using a pin, I assume the router was mounted in a table. I know a lot of people use this method and I occasionally use it also. But on smaller pieces I prefer mounting the work piece and passing the router by hand over it. This way I can safely do some climb cutting for smaller bites.
best wishes

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View jumbojack's profile


1677 posts in 2651 days

#9 posted 02-16-2015 04:58 PM

Just like jointing and planing you have to watch the grain. As your bit was leaving the long grain and entering the end grain, picking up the fibers it will sometimes grab. At least on the jointer and planer all you get is tear out. On the router table kickback. I’ve done this too but did not get much kickback just BAD chatter (I was fortunate). I cured the problem by doing a VERY light climb cut through that portion of end grain. Then it occurred to me to turn the pattern over and rout that section from the other direction. While I still encountered the end grain the fiber direction was running with the rotation and did not chatter. Does this make any sense?

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3335 days

#10 posted 02-16-2015 07:06 PM

1/8” is a lot to take off with a pattern bit…especially on a hard oak that is 1 1/4” thick. I do a good bit of template routing on my router table and found it very advantageous to just take a very small amount off with the pass. I try to cut my wood 1/16” or less when possible…and then I barely let the bit kiss the wood lightly. You should never rush it by pushing the workpiece too hard of fast.. Depending on how the grain is running I flip the template and workpiece over and go from the other side.

I use a Whiteside compression spiral bit and even though it is not cheap it is the absolute best for the job. The cost of a good bit is nothing compared to the cost of what could go wrong…

View Tom Regnier's profile

Tom Regnier

179 posts in 2574 days

#11 posted 02-16-2015 07:08 PM

After the kickback I tried climb cutting and it still didn’t feel under control….but that’s a good suggestion.
I was thinking the combination of the hardness of the oak fibers and cutting a fairly large width led to my issue…speeding up the bit speed was something I was considering but in the end I just nibbled away and once the bearing hit my pattern the cut went better.

View AandCstyle's profile


3075 posts in 2284 days

#12 posted 02-17-2015 12:16 AM

When I was cutting the legs for these chairs encountered significant chatter which made me so uncomfortable that I asked for advise and ultimately used a flat spoke shave to finish the legs. I think I had done everything to minimize the chatter-1/16” cut outside the line, 1.25” diameter bit, climb cut or not depending. I am not a hand tool kind of woodworker, but in this case, I think it is the best option for me. FWIW

-- Art

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