Table Saw Kickback Video

Inasmuch as the table saws might be the most dangerous tools in woodshop (not trying to start a debate), this video should be required viewing as part of every Woodshop 101 class.

Great reminders here. As I check the blade alignment on my saw.

On a related note, removing a riving knife and not replacing it should be a suspended-from-woodshop offense. There is virtually never a reason to remove one unless you just hate Ralph Nader for no reason.


Thanks for sharing! As someone who’s never received any training on a table saw, these are all extremely helpful tips.

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I’ve never been injured but have had a couple wickedly scary kickback incidents in (too many) years. One was after my father-in-law removed the riving knife from my saw because he wanted to make some weird freehand crosscuts with wood flooring. I guess he thought the table saw was like a bandsaw.

Another time was at DMS and a piece of plywood flew back but I wasn’t standing in its path. I honestly don’t remember what exactly happened but it was an un-fun reminder.

And people need to remember that the SawStop does nothing to prevent kickback.


Glad to hear you’ve never been hurt. Sometimes those scary reminders are what we need so that we don’t get complacent! Of course, freak accidents can still occur even if we are being diligent.

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At the 7:30 point in the video, he talks about where to place the push stick. This is a point I had issues with in the Woodshop classes. The standard instruction at the time I took the class was to keep fingers 5" from the blade. That often resulted in users pushing on stock near the fence when the board was not very wide. Doing so can cause kickback as is shown in the video. Especially at DMS where the alignment of blade and fence can get out of whack at any given point in time, a user could elevate the risk by following the 5" guidance.

The table saw scares many a novice user and I’ve seen too many try to cut material by pushing right by the fence no matter how wide the stock. While that was keeping their fingers as far from the blades as possible, it creates a very real kickback risk.

My perspective is to use a push stick that gives you vertical clearance from the blade and push the stock not at the halfway point, but from a point closer to the blade than to the fence. Doing so emulates pushing a wide piece of plywood thru the saw … you push from the side & corner farthest from the fence so the stock is constantly pushed into and along the fence.

My two cents.

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+ one to removing riving knife and not replacing it being a serious offense.

I’ve taken it off for exactly one material, and that’s particularly thick plastic cuts where the expansion of the plastic from heat when cutting can cause it to bind on the knife and lock things in place. I personally prefer to cut it using Multicam passes now when I can.

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Pushing close to the blade can cause binds as well (can push the top right corner into the fence), especially with wider stock. I was always taught to push in the middle between the blade and fence to ensure you are pushing it square through the cut. Even when cutting large stock you push through the middle with right hand and left hand is just lightly pushing to keep it going through square.

Using a push stick (like we have at the space) that puts pressure both on the back and downward on the piece will keep it from riding up the cut as well. I do not advocate using the notched sticks (like the ones on the band saws) on table saws.

Not my experience re: causing binds. I always want the top right corner riding against the fence.

Table saw is typically a poor choice if the stock is significantly wider than it is long. But if used on a table saw anyway, your point about binding can apply. That issue was covered early in the video when he was using the miter gauge and fence together. There really is no “safe” way to use a fence to crosscut stock that has a short dimension riding the fence.

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My preference, for better or worse but I think I have the mechanics correct, is to push stock from behind with a push stick w/ a cleat and use a rubber-tipped push stick to push stock toward the fence from a position between the blade and fence (but not always within the diameter of the blade - depends on piece). Keeping the piece between the blade and fence firmly against the fence is the goal.

Pushing stock toward the fence is never a problem as long as it doesn’t rotate the piece in an unhappy way.

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Speaking as someone who has suffered exactly the same injury as in the picture, I can tell you that it wouldn’t have happened if I’d had a riving knife in my old Unisaw. It happened to me for the first and only time after 20 years of working with a table saw. I pushed a small board through the saw, it turned into the blade, and I got walloped in the gut. I now have a nice little hernia where it tore my stomach muscle. I’m darn lucky it didn’t hit me in the face.

As for removing the riving knife, I have these thoughts: Unlike European tablesaws, riving knives in American saws are mostly retrofits. The manufacturers just tacked on the riving knife to an existing design. The saws weren’t designed from the ground up with the riving knife in mind. As a result, they can be can be clunky and get in the way, or not work at all, like when using a stacked dado. (The Sawstop’s design looks to be much better, but I don’t have as much experience with it as I do older tablesaws.)

However, I agree the riving knife is the best way to protect all woodworkers (not just inexperienced ones) at the tablesaw. The default state of our tablesaws should be to have them in place. If a member ever removes one, they should be required to put it back.

The only kickback incident I’ve ever had was when I removed the riving knife from my own table saw. It had somehow fallen out of whack with the blade and, instead of fixing it, I figured it was safer to just remove it at that point in time.

Was cutting some purpleheart and the blade slung it up into my head. One trip to the ER and a few stitches later and I figured out how to put the riving knife back on. :roll_eyes:

I worked in the scenery shop at the Dallas Theater Center back in the 80’s. The shop manager demonstrated to us newbies how bad a kickback could be. He fired up a 5HP cabinet saw and laid a 6 foot 2x4 on it. It shot across the shop and went halfway through a cinder block wall. Kinda still amazed he did such a risky thing.


This was how my Junior High shop teacher taught us. He did it on the table saw, router table, and jointer. Looking back I think part of it was the shock factor and part of it was to show how serious kick back paths are.


That is what I stress in my Woodshop classes - riving knife needs to be in place before making a cut. The only exception is when using the dado blades. I know there are other instances where you might want to remove it, but in those cases you [should] already know what you are doing.

The riving knife on the SawStop is really nice - it fits well and designed well. The Powermatic is more of an after thought.

This x1000! My own stupid mistake, but I didn’t check for the riving knife and cut a few pieces of acrylic on the old delta. The first few pieces had no issues, but I shot the last cut right back across my stomach. Thankfully it rode the blade a bit an only barely cut me. I am still a nervous table saw user, but lesson learned! Sadly now, even with the knife, I tend to avoid using a table saw if possible.