I was in the midst of whistling along to Whiskey In the Jar while cutting plywood on the tablesaw when, quicker than Jerry could pluck a banjo string, I was on my back, staring at the shop ceiling. I just been struck in the abdomen by a 10xfourteen” piece of plywood at 110 MPH.
I had just fallen victim to the cutback. Anyone operating a tablesaw is aware of its capability to eat fingers, but what’s often forgotten (and perhaps, more dangerous) is kickback.
So what exactly is kickback? When milling wood on a table saw, wood is guided along a fence the desired length away from the blade. The wood is essentially pinched between the saw blade and fence, which means should the working piece be twisted or skewed, it may be grabbed by the blade and projected in the direction of the blade (which is you.) Solid stock wood can also have a tendency to bind, meaning it could pinch the blade, also causing kickback. Riving knives look like a shark fin that sits directly behind the blade and is used to prevent binding. I’ve watched this simple piece of metal prevent countless kickbacks and wouldn’t consider milling stock without it. Especially now.
More info about KICKBACK: The Nightmare Explained