How to avoid table saw kickback

Table saw is surely a useful tool but at the same time it is dangerous too and if you are not using a table saw properly you may face some really serious injuries. This tool must be treated well and if you are considering all the aspects of safety and proper use of the table saw, you must not be worried about any such incident to happen.

In order to make the most out of this impressive tool, you need to work smartly with the presence of mind and with complete knowledge of your table saw. If your table saw is not correctly fitted and set up in accordance with safety concerns, your material may face a forceful projection which is termed as kickback.

It is important to have detailed information about kickbacks, their causes, and how to avoid kickbacks in order to keep yourself and your material safe.

What are Kickbacks and how are they caused?

Many of you may be aware of what kickbacks are but may not know why or how does it happen? Kickbacks are one of the common problems with table saws that are not properly installed or used. Kickbacks happen when your wood material his blade towards the back or binds with the blade. Some of the main causes that give rise to kickbacks include:

  • Board gets wrapped or twisted and binds with the blade.
  • The blade is pinched by kerf closing behind the cut.
  • The blade is not parallel with the fence.
  • Wood and table saw fences are not flat or straight.
  • You are trying to make a cross-cut but the board is not properly supported and it gets twisted against the blade.
  • Cut off is trapped between the fence and the blade.

These are some of the common causes of kickbacks. Kickbacks happen when the spinning blade speed lifts the board and you may witness it flying away hard. The velocity can be too fast and you may face a massive injury if this piece hits you.

Your hands or fingers can get injured if your hands get into the blade along with the board it is grabbing towards it. Kickbacks happen so quickly that you don’t even get time to reach them. Before you get aware of it and think of reacting to it with care, it has already happened and things are out of your hand. Thus it is important to learn how to avoid kickbacks at all.

How to avoid kickbacks?

These are some of the ways that enable you to avoid or prevent kickbacks from happening:

  • Push Sticks: One of the easiest ways to avoid kickback is the use of a push stick. If you have anything which is less than a foot wide, you must use a pus stick. For a wider board, if you think you can control everything, you may use jigs too. When you start working, make sure that you have a push stick. Most of the woodworkers follow this tip in order to avoid kickbacks. The use of appropriate push sticks and jigs can prove to be a great help in avoiding unreliable kickbacks.
  • Use a riving knife or splitter: The use of a riving knife proves to aid in preventing a kickback from happening. Along with the splitter, a riving knife will be holding the kerf open against the blade and so the wood material will not close at the cut. Apart from that, you should use an anti-kickback device that would be holding the material with the table so it would not fly out to give you a dangerous kickback. This can prevent dangerous kickbacks to happen. Many of the new good quality portable table saws these days come with a safety device appointed with them that prevents kickbacks. However if you have an old version, there may be limited features but you can still check reviews and find a good splitter for your table saw safety.
  • Check for a decent dust collection system: Some good quality dust collection systems may also aid in preventing your fingers and hands to travel into the table saw blade but you need to search for a good one. Some ordinary ones may not serve the purpose.
  • Correct use of Fence: Kickbacks can also be avoided by making correct use of offense. You must make sure that the fence is straight and that your material should lay on it flat and straight. The blade must be parallel to the fence. Also, avoid giving wood a freehand cut as this could be really dangerous. You may witness some people doing this but you must not try doing that.

Moreover, the fence must not be used for crosscutting a narrow material as the fence would not be able to control a narrow stock for crosscut. For narrow stock, we recommend you to use a miter gauge that would push the wood.

In order to stop, you can either clamp a small piece of wood to the fence or to your miter gauge. A stop should remain behind the blade as you would not want to get cut-off trapped between fence and blade. It is a must to check the blade to fence alignment and position of the fence.


You must have your table saw properly aligned and in proper shape with continuous maintenance and repairing of your table saw when required. The main setback with the use of a table saw is that it’s a dangerous tool and a kickback when happens is inevitable. Prevention and avoiding it is the only cure.

A piece of wood can be replaced but a dangerous injury to your fingers, hands, or other body parts may result in a lifetime of weakness.

It would take only a few minutes to consider all the safety aspects and to check if everything is in its place before you begin working with your table saw but it is completely worth it for personal safety.