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Avoid kickback on your tablesaw
I am a woodworking rookie and I have a question about kickback. Although I know what happens when kickback occurs on my tablesaw, could you explain exactly why it happens and the best way to prevent it? –Paul Wilson, Seeley's Bay, Ont
Kickback, simply put, is what occurs when the blade, which is rotating toward you, grabs the stock you are cutting and pushes it back in the same direction. There are several factors that can cause kickback to occur.
The cause: If the fence is not set up parallel with the blade, this arrangement can cause the stock to be forced against the blade as you push the wood through the cut. Once enough friction builds from the side pressure, it will cause the wood to be forced back toward you.
The cure: ensure that your fence is aligned with your blade (not your mitre slot). Take a known straight object and place it against your blade and move the fence over until it touches, then lock it in position and check to make sure there is no gap at either end.
Warped/improperly dressed stock
The cause: If you try to rip a board with a warped edge riding against the fence, it will cause the stock to push into the blade, with a result very similar to the misaligned-fence scenario.
The cure: ensure you have a perfectly straight edge riding against the fence as you make your cut. If you have a jointer, you can use it to give you the flat edge you need. Or if you don’t have a jointer, you can attach a straightedge (such as a strip of plywood) to the top face of the board temporarily, slightly overhanging the crooked edge. Make a pass with the plywood strip riding against the fence, then remove the plywood.
Wood movement during the cut
The cause: sometimes lumber contains internal stresses that are released during a cut. Essentially, the board warps after it passes the blade, causing the stock either to bind between the blade and fence or the kerf to close up and pinch the blade.
The cure: ensure your tablesaw’s splitter or riving knife is in place on your saw and be aware of your saw’s signals as you make the cut. If your saw starts to bog down partway through the cut, stop the saw immediately and determine what is happening before continuing the cut.