Kickback - Woodshop News

Kickback

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I had my first real kickback incident this weekend. I didn’t like it. I don’t want another.

Let me say two things. First, no serious injuries. Second, I did nothing to cause it.

That is, I performed no act that made it happen, like binding something between blade and fence or knocking the offcut into the blade. I also did not cause it with an act of omission, such as removing the splitter and anti-kickback pawls or simply not paying attention. It literally just happened, as things sometimes do.

I was doing a simple crosscut, and was doing it properly. My miter gauge and workpiece made the cut smoothly and cleanly, and had cleared the blade. The offcut stopped where it was once the cut was complete – my workpiece was less than 4” wide, so neither it nor the offcut had even engaged the splitter and pawls. I turned off the saw, intending to come back for that offcut once the blade had spun down. As the blade began to slow there was a sudden loud sound (for those who’ve never had one, kickback makes a ka-TANG! sound), and the offcut launched into the air. It struck my right hand, hitting just below the largest knuckle of the middle finger. There was another loud noise as the offcut hit something on the wall behind me and went spinning to the floor. One corner of the offcut was chewed up where the blade had grabbed it. Another corner was smashed where it hit something on the back wall. There’s a blue-green smear at the impact site on the offcut; I still can’t figure out what it hit.

My finger was bleeding from a small cut – kind of a shallow groove, really – but what really hurt was the impact. Now, two days later, the little cut has scabbed over, but my finger has a pretty decent bruise where the offcut hit, and it still hurts.

So, what’s the point of the story? Not sure, really. I did everything right and nothing wrong, but still got a kickback. My guess is that the slightest bit of vibration brought one corner of the cutoff – already barely kissing the blade – just far enough farther into it to grab. Where’d the vibration, if that’s what it was, come from? Who knows?

I guess the point is something I talked about in my June 30 blog (“Great Expectations”) and reiterated a few weeks later (“Afraid of the Dark,” July 24). You can try as much as you can to expect the unexpected, but you still can’t prepare for it.

Till next time,

A.J.

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