Why Does My Table Saw Kickback?

A table saw kickback is one of the primary causes of accidents in many wood workshops. The accidents may occur due to the negligence of a woodworker. However, in most cases, they happen due to ignorance since most people don’t know much about the table saw kickbacks. They are also unaware of the injury they could cause to the table saw user. To understand how kickback accident happen, you need to learn more about Table Saw Blades.

The other day a rookie carpenter had a minor kickback accident. Thank God, no limbs were lost. I went online to find out more about kickback injuries and how to prevent them. Dive in to see what I found. Will you?

Why does my table saw kickback? Kickbacks occur when wood gets stuck to the saw blade, hurling it back to the operator in the process. In most cases, the stock bids itself on the side of the edge or gets stuck in the blade’s teeth. A dull saw blade or a blade with an incorrect height may result in kickbacks. Also, inferior quality wood or wood with many knots or nails can cause a saw kickback. In most cases, kickbacks occur when ripping wood more than when cutting across the grain.

Kickbacks make wood fly at high speed, causing damage to equipment in your workshop as well as injuring you or other people on the premise. You must know the various causes of kickbacks to prevent them. Kickback injuries are very severe and may result in loss of limbs to the person working with the saw.

Below are some of the common causes of kickback accidents. They include:

1. High Tension on the Board

Tension may keep the kerf of wood getting cut from fully opening. Consequently, the ends of the cutting pinch together, trapping the blade between the wood, making it come to you at high speed. On the other hand, it may occur the other way round. Tension causes a block of wood to pop off before the blade has finished its work. The second one is not as dangerous compared to the first one as the wood moves away from the blade. However, it’s a traumatic experience none the less.

2. Using Defective Wood

Using a warped or twisted board may cause a kickback accident. If the wood fails to remain tight to the fence, it may drift into the blade at an angle, making it get stuck into the blade. It’s, therefore, crucial to ensure that your wood is perfect before introducing it to the table saw to reduce the occurrence of kickbacks.

3. Using Defective Blades

Using defective blades that are warped, dull, dirty, broken, or bent may cause saw kickbacks accidents. Usage of the above blades may lead to friction and heat as the blades make more contact with the stock. When the defective saw blade comes into contact with the wood, there is a high chance of the edge getting stuck, resulting in kickbacks.

You must repair a bladed or replace it if it’s beyond repair. If it’s dull, sharpening it will do it some justice while cleaning your dirty blade will save your limbs from kickback injuries.

4. Proper Blade Installation

You should always fit the saw blade perfectly. It should be parallel to the miter slot and rip fence. Fastening everything into place ensures that the saw fence remains parallel to the saw blade. The wood is less likely to bind with the saw blade making it hard to have kickbacks.

5. Use of Insufficient Power Saw Blades

When cutting a thick piece of wood, use powerful saw blades. Using saw blades with less power on a hardwood makes it tough for it to penetrate it. The above is dangerous and could cause kickback accidents. Always increase the blade speed should you feel that it does not have enough power to attack the stock.

6. Using a New Blade

A new blade has a thin width resulting in little downward pressure on the wood getting cut. As a result, the material in question may rise, causing a kickback injury to the user. You need to be very careful when working with a new blade to ensure the saw blade doesn’t get caught up between the wood’s kerf.

7. Ignoring the User Manual 

The user manual is clear on the proper use of a table saw. Should you fail to use it properly, especially when it comes to configuring the miter gauge and the fences, kickback may occur, which could lead to injuries. It’s, therefore, essential to ensure that you set the table saw as per the user manual.

8. Using the Wrong Blade on a Material

Sometimes woodworkers use worn blades to cut a material it’s not intended for either through ignorance or just arrogance. While you may get away with it, it’s not a guarantee that this will always be the case. You must use sharp blades on hard materials to keep accidents at bay.

Related Questions

What Causes A Saw Kickback Injury?

A table saw kickback injury is the injury caused by a piece of wood propelled backward to the table saw user at high speed without any warning. Kickback injuries may result from the wood striking you on any part of your body. The upper rotating blade may cut off your limbs if you get pulled towards the high rotating table saw blade.

How Do I Prevent Kickback Injuries From A Table Saw?

You can prevent Kickback injuries by observing safety measures like using the appropriate tools, servicing, and inspecting the saw regularly as well as using the saw for the correct purposes. Kickbacks could also get avoided by using lumber with few or no knots. Also, check whether the lumber has external materials like nails as they may cause saw kickbacks.

We have discussed the various cause of kickback injuries below, so read on…..

1. Use appropriate tools for your job

When using a table saw or any other saw, use the correct blade for the stock you are cutting. Also, always ensure to mount blades, heads, and collars designed and sized for that particular saw. Failure to do so could result in kickbacks as the blade and the wood may not be properly aligned.

2. Regularly inspect your saw and its safety accessories

Before commencing on any sawing job, you must ensure that

a) The saw is fitted with all the safety accessories like Anti-kickback pawls, Riving knives and splitters, Anti-kickback devices, and Push sticks.

b) The saw and its safety accessories are in perfect condition

c) The user of the saw should get properly trained

d) Documentation on inspection and service dates of the saw are in place

3. Use wood that is in perfect conditions

It’s essential to use a stock that is in excellent condition. Check for splits, cracks or knots as they may cause kickbacks. Also, ensure that the stock is free of foreign materials like nails or other metal pieces that may prevent blade penetration.

4. Ensure glued surfaces are dry

Before working on wood, always ensure that all the glued joints are dry. Wet glue may stick to the blade, causing kickbacks.

5. Hold the push stick firmly

Whenever you are ripping a wood, it’s essential to ensure that it’s tightly secured to a table for safety. Holding it down ensures that it remains aligned to the blade reducing the risk of kickbacks.

6. Service and maintain your saw regularly

You need to clean your saw and maintain it regularly. Cleaning it will reveal cracks on the blade, missing teeth, and even spoilt or worn out accessories like the riving knives and blade guides. Sharpening the blades and clearing rust will also reduce the risk of kickbacks when working with the saw.

7. Avoid deep cuts if you can

Deep cuts increase the risk of saw kickbacks occurring, especially if you are working with thick stock. Therefore, always use a blade that is suitable for that work to prevent kickback injuries from happening.

8. Observe proper personal safety while working with the saw. 

We have discussed the best personal Safety measures in detail in another article. Feel free to read them here.

9. Always stay at the back, or the side of the saw during the cutting process 

It’s advisable to keep at the back or the side of the saw. This way, you will protect yourself from kickbacks or from flying stock as a result of the table saw kickbacks.

10. Cut stock of the same thickness

You may be tempted to cut stock of different thicknesses to save time. However, it’s advisable to cut stock of the same width at a time to prevent kickbacks from happening. In most cases, the thinner stock tends to kick back compared to thicker stock.


Kickbacks are a common cause of woodwork accidents. They occur very fast, which gives you little time to think. It’s important to note that they can get avoided if you follow the correct safety procedures while using the saw. After reading this article, I hope that you know and understand what kickback is and how to prevent it from happening.




I am a woodwork enthusiast who is in the Financial Industry. I come from a woodworking family and started handling woodwork tools from a young age. For me, it's not a hobby. its a way of life.

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