Table Saw kickback and trimmed finger (Graphic description & images)

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
Sorry to hear about the injury!

But thank you for posting, I'm sure everyone who's read this will be a bit more cautious next time they're on the table saw, which is definitely a good thing.

Hope the recovery goes well.
 
While it wasn't a factor in this instance,I do wonder if we ought to periodically remind people that learning from American youtube videos can be dangerous as they do have a huge reluctance to use crown guards.We have had them mandated for industrial use for a long time and for good reason.If professionals need them,don't amateurs have an even greater need?I'm not sure if there is an easy link to the HSE guidelines but if there is,would it be an idea to locate it prominently somewhere on this page?

I was reading a few weeks ago that American hospitals deal with some kind of circular saw incident every nine minutes.A truly shocking piece of information.
 
If you use the wrong blade then you are just asking for trouble, as you said you noted extra resistance and this would be down to too many teeth which cannot clear their gullets so clog up and then you push harder which can lead to an accident, also blunt or dulled blades can be just as bad.
Extra resistance will occur if the blade wears to be the same or smaller thickness as the riving knife. This can cause a sudden stop especially if the board after the knife can twist or sway. It's not always obvious that the blade is worn as it may be cutting satisfactorily. Worth checking thickness of knife and teeth from time to time.
 
As a total amateur/DIYer I’ve had to learn what little I know from places like here, Reddit, and YouTube (not the greatest of resources). My attitude is that “you don’t know what you don’t know” so although I could feel like I know what safe practices are, it could just be a case of ignorance is bliss, and that gap in my knowledge could result in a gap in fingers.
That is excellent self awareness.
Until you experience the "bang" when a tablesaw grabs something and spits it out faster than you can see, I don't think you ever quite appreciate the risk.
The priority then is to survive the experience without damage.
I confess, I used to think I was being safe, keeping fingers back from the blade, keeping a hand hooked around a fence while feeding so that I was anchored against a potential kickback but I've seen enough videos etc now to realise that I really wasn't being safe enough.
Hands can be pulled a long way during a kickback and in unexpected directions. Things like sheet material riding up the back of the blade, rotating and being propelled sideways as the teeth work like a high speed feed roller.
Chap got his hands pulled in and cut even though he was over a foot away to the side of the blade totally out of what anyone inexperienced would think of as the line of fire. He just had his hands on the surface of the sheet...
Looking at that one, if he had had a crown guard set low enough to stop the board getting on top of the teeth, he'd have been OK.
Complacency is one of the things that catches us out. We'll all last a little longer thanks to threads like this shaking us up from time to time.

Nowadays I'm with Jacob and others here. I've come to rate the two push stick method. Hands well away.
Most of my sticks are just straight offcuts from ripping, most importantly they're more like 2 feet long, 30cm is nowhere near enough for my tablesaw.
Pop a notch in the front end if it needs it and do knock off the edges and round the back because if the stick gets kicked back at you, it's quite a slap in the hand and corners and edges hurt.
 
Last edited:
Even though some might think the HSE advice isn't perfect it is probably the best advice out there.

Might be good if the HSE guide on Table saws could be made an obvious permanent link somewhere, thinking about it maybe a link to the full HSE woodworking machinery regulations as it does cover planers, spindle moulders etc.
 
I'm suggesting that they ignore their TS advice which shows one peculiar design of push stick and a a video of a chap just using one.
Your link entirely misses out the option of having crown guard attached to riving knife and the need for two push sticks. Very simple, cheap, effective safety measures. Basically bad advice by omission, but also presents a weird inadequate push stick design.
Jacob, I do agree with you regarding the use of two push-sticks. I said that in my earlier post. I don't think there's anything weird about the HSE's drawing of a push-stick; all the ones I've used are of much the same pattern. There's many a saw manufactured that doesn't attach the crown guard to the riving knife, so that's not always an option. In those cases the crown guard has some sort of linkage allowing the operator to position the crown guard correctly. Again, I've used plenty of saws of that pattern, including saws dedicated to ripping.

The point I was making to scruples who had said, rather fatuously I thought, that HSE guidance, etc only applies to business situations is that there are lessons that the non-professional woodworker can take on board from studying HSE guidance. I agree that HSE's guidance for circular bench saw use could be improved, e.g., the use of two push sticks, but their guidance, imperfect as it may be, is a hell of a lot better than much of the stuff put out on YouTube, especially the nonsense North Americans get up to on their table saws, most of which is cringeworthy. Slainte.
 
Last edited:
Hands can be pulled a long way during a kickback and in unexpected directions. Things like sheet material riding up the back of the blade, rotating and being propelled sideways as the teeth work like a high speed feed roller.
Chap got his hands pulled in and cut even though he was over a foot away to the side of the blade totally out of what anyone inexperienced would think of as the line of fire. He just had his hands on the surface of the sheet...
This. 100% agree.

To put some real numbers on this; looking at a few manuals for various table saws I calculate blade (tip) speeds of between 2,000 to 3,000 meters per minute. That means the top of the tips of the blade are (potentially) able to fire material towards you at a speed of around 50m (150ft) per second. Granted this doesn't account for the acceleration time of the material; but in terms of table saw motor + blade vs small or medium sized stock I think we can be confident that the rate of acceleration will be "lots".

The very best cyclists in the major Tours can average in the region of 400 to 500 Watts of output. Even a small 1hp table saw equates to 750 Watts.

So, if you're 50cm in front of your saw blade, and think you can avoid/dodge/stop something coming towards you with the power of a super human cyclist, taking a fraction of your reaction time to reach you, then you're better than me ;)
 
How appropriate, my sister literally just sent me this one...
406013742_3650103421926066_3292576101335510129_n.png


Stay safe everyone...
 
This. 100% agree.

To put some real numbers on this; looking at a few manuals for various table saws I calculate blade (tip) speeds of between 2,000 to 3,000 meters per minute. That means the top of the tips of the blade are (potentially) able to fire material towards you at a speed of around 50m (150ft) per second. Granted this doesn't account for the acceleration time of the material; but in terms of table saw motor + blade vs small or medium sized stock I think we can be confident that the rate of acceleration will be "lots".

The very best cyclists in the major Tours can average in the region of 400 to 500 Watts of output. Even a small 1hp table saw equates to 750 Watts.

So, if you're 50cm in front of your saw blade, and think you can avoid/dodge/stop something coming towards you with the power of a super human cyclist, taking a fraction of your reaction time to reach you, then you're better than me ;)
The only TS accident victim I know got a TCT tip in his eye. Riving knife, crown guard, push sticks all in place but it somehow bounced its way out! You can't win! Hence avoid sharpening your own take it to a saw doctor for closer look!
 
The only TS accident victim I know got a TCT tip in his eye. Riving knife, crown guard, push sticks all in place but it somehow bounced its way out! You can't win! Hence avoid sharpening your own take it to a saw doctor for closer look!
That’s terrifying, was he wearing safety glasses?
 
The surgeon is operating on 2 to 3 hands a week all from table saws..

That sounds like a problem in Scotland, maybe an epidemic and they need some serious safety training on the use of the table saw. Tablesaws are very dangerous but luckily they are stationary apart from the blade so cannot come after you, the only way they cause injury is from misuse or bad operator practice. Where were your push sticks and fingers do not count ?

not a specifically Scottish issue... My wife is a hand consultant and there is a reason I have been discouraged from buying a table saw (chainsaw / circular saw / angle grinder). Just the other day she went in (on her day off) to do a c. 12 hour operation through the night sewing someone's entire hand back on after a slip meant that they fell onto the table saw which was running... I am in awe of the reconstruction she can do, it is phenomenal...

Since I have taken up woodworking she has had interesting conversations with her patients to understand how they managed to use a tool I own (and which she thought was safe) to injure themselves - almost 100% of the time it is laziness (e.g. not switching off a machine while un-jamming it), over-familiarity and therefore carelessness, or simply tiredness - and of course some utter stupidity!

As a result, if I am tired I don't go in the workshop (other than to pootle and tidy up), every time I use a tool I plan what I am going to do and run through it in my head before doing it - not foolproof, but will hopefully stop me from becoming complacent - if I injure myself it will probably be on the bandsaw or something I see as more innocuous and therefore give less respect... so I try to remember that and respect all tools... it might mean a slight limitation in the functionality I have (though I have a router table which is potentially dangerous), but I would prefer to compromise than risk losing a finger (and the embarrassment of my wife having to deal with it!

To date the only finger injury I have had was a cut from a tape measure retracting too fast - there were three hand surgeons in the house at the time and they were very disappointed that I treated the cut myself with a plaster - though I did remind them that I am the only one with a first aid qualification :)

OP - hope it heals very quickly...
 
My wife is a hand consultant and there is a reason I have been discouraged from buying a table saw (chainsaw / circular saw / angle grinder). Just the other day she went in (on her day off) to do a c. 12 hour operation through the night sewing someone's entire hand back on after a slip meant that they fell onto the table saw which was running... I am in awe of the reconstruction she can do, it is phenomenal...
Got a friend who's a surgeon. On a social visit many years ago I picked up a book she was reviewing (on reconstructive surgery). Every other page had photos showing either the most gruesome things you'd ever seen, or an example of incredible repairs... and sometimes both.
 
That is excellent self awareness.
Until you experience the "bang" when a tablesaw grabs something and spits it out faster than you can see, I don't think you ever quite appreciate the risk.
The only table saw incident was when I was an apprentice. They had a large sliding table saw with outriggers (wadkin, can’t remember model no.) so you could cut 10’x4’ sheets by yourself. Guard attached to riving knife, saw occasionally got used for grooving so both were removed (before my time) and never went back on.

One day, I was cutting a piece of 3/4” blockboard and an off cut of roughly 18” square. Stupidly, I left the off cut right next to the blade whilst I retrieved the cut piece I needed.

BANG! blockboard in the air (and it was a weighty piece). BANG! straight into a steel set of drawers about 12ft back from the saw. It hit the top drawer, which was about 5ft high, and put a decent dent in in it. Oh, the telling off I got was biblical. Made even worse by me trying to shift the blame onto whoever removed the knife and guard.

Still makes me wince contemplating about the pain if I’d got that in the face.
 
There but for the grace of God. And the hse! Is it possible to avoid all risk whilst using a table saw? Maybe those Sawstop devices should be mandated. Tbh I'm mostly scared of the type of saws that you see on the middle aisle. There spinning a 8 or 10 inch saw blade but everything is dodgy literally only the choppy bit is adequate. The fence the table the legs everything is shoddy how can these be OK.? Anyway I hope for your speedy and good recovery.
 
Thank you for posting. I liked to think that I used the TS safely, normally using two push sticks, both of which have nibbles where they have touched the blade, but I am sure there have been occasions where I have had one hand too close to the blade if something had happened.

Your experience has made sure I will always be using two push sticks in the future.

I hope you recover quickly.

Thank you.
Kevin
 
Easy to avoid losing fingers - never have them nearer than the length of a push stick away from a TS blade or spindle cutter. Also push sticks very low cost.
Saw-stop looks like madness to me - extremely expensive, can be switched off, might fail even if switched on, doesn't help on the other 99.999% of machines which don't have it.
Rather censorious, Jacob. Likewise, seatbelts and airbags don't prevent injuries from falls. Got it?
 
I'm with Jacob on using 2 push sticks I like this style, I got a plastic one with a machine these are ply templates from it and cut out on scroll saw

20231206_152031.jpg
 
Firstly, thank you for sharing your accident.
Secondly, I hope you recover quickly and are not put off from woodworking with power tools. They can be very useful, especially as we get older!

It's a positive reminder to always use push sticks. And, of course to make sure the tools are set up properly and the work area is safe.
Accidents do happen, let's just try to make them as infrequent as possible.

Thanks again for the reminder!
 
Rather censorious, Jacob. Likewise, seatbelts and airbags don't prevent injuries from falls. Got it?
Got what?
Crown guards protect injuries from "falls" and other accidental movements.
 
Back
Top