Kickback. A scary piece of wood flying at you with speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour. Should that worry you? Yes. Can it be prevented. Of course!
Almost every woodworker has experienced kickback on different machinery. The table saw is usually the largest culprit of kickback, but it can happen on almost any machine. The router, shaper, planer, joiner, and anything with a blade can cause serious kickback that can cause major pain or even cuts and stabs.
Why does kickback happen and how do you prevent it? Kickback occurs because of one major reason – you have a blade spinning toward you. It would be ideal if the blade (not just a table saw blade but any blade such as a shaper, etc) were to spin the opposite direction, this way the woodstock would fly into the other direction on a kickback. But so far, they haven’t figured out how to design such a contraption, so we have to devise means to prevent the wood from hurling into your body.
We are going to use the table saw as the basis for kickback here in this article. But keep in mind these points can be used on almost any machine in the workshop.
TABLE SAW KICKBACK
One of the main reasons people get kickback on their table saw is because of not feeding against the fence. When you are pushing the stock through, make sure that it is held against the fence firmly by putting pressure towards the fence. Once you establish good contact with the fence, you can begin feeding it. Don’t let the piece of lumber hit that blade until it is against the fence of the saw or the fence of the jig or sled.
By using a featherboard, you will ensure that the wood is against the fence tightly, but the featherboard on the table itself does have limitations. It can be used horizontally only and in front of the blade. You can always have a featherboard clamped to the fence itself as well, and this will prevent the stock from raising above the blade. If you had two featherboards in place, then that would be ideal. Of course this can’t be the case at all times.
Other reasons for kickback can be a dull blade. This is because of cutting the wood, it is chewing at it. This can make the blade stick into the wood instead of cutting it, and will hold it, pulling it into the air and throwing it at you when it reaches the top of the blade.
Also make sure the blade is clean and clear of pitch. This will increase friction on the blade and giving more cause for kickback.
Be careful when cutting wet lumber. This can create wet sawdust and friction as well, and this could be a reason for kickback.
Pitchy, knotty, and warped wood. Again – be careful with these conditions. Wood that isn’t straight or is bowed is a possible spring when cut, and can fly when the tension on it is released.
Overheating of a blade can warp it. A warped blade can cause kickback.
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Ted Leger –
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