Table Saw Accident Stories and Statistics

The statistics of saw accidents...

how and why they happen.


Accidents Involving Kickback

Dado Kickback on a test piece

Middle finger of right hand hit dado blade when piece was kicked out of the saw. The last knuckle of the finger was cut into requiring surgery and fusion of joint.

Material: Lyptus, size 8 x 12 x 1.5; Saw: Cabinet; Blade Dado

A wide shallow rabbit was the desired cut. The strategy was to dado a section, move the fence over, dado another section, move the fence etc. The first dado cut was furthest from the fence, so the piece would be supported inboard and outboard. The Dado was set ¾ wide by 1/8 high. Several cuts were made; a push board did not seem necessary, as there was plenty of room on the piece away from the cutter. The board apparently angled off the dado cutter hit the side of the grove kicking the piece out of the operators hands which flipped over and hit the spinning blade.

Kickback throws piece outside the shop. A car headlight was the only casualty.

The finished ripped piece was caught by the blade and thrown out of the shop into the operator’s car.

Material: Maple, size 1.5 x 1.5 x 20"

“Last summer I was ripping some maple into 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches square, about 20 inches long. My table saw is in the garage, the exhaust port facing the house, meaning my back was to the open garage door (with my Wrangler sitting just outside). You guessed it, the blade caught a piece of freshly ripped maple and hurled it into the headlight of my jeep. The entire headlight assembly had to be replace, to the tune of $90.00. I feel I got off cheap; it could have hit the garage door (had it been closed), my jeep's condenser or radiator, or even worse, me or someone else.”

Kickback throws chessboard into stomach

While making a small trim cut to a finished glued up chess board the operator was startled by lightening causing the pieces to catch the blade and be kickbacked into the operator’s hand and stomach. Operator’s hand was smashed and cut.

Material: walnet & sycamore, size 16 x 16 x 5/8"

“I'm "normally" very cautious when it comes to using my tools...but one lapse in concentration almost cost me some fingers. After final glue up of a solid chess board (walnut figured sycamore) with a 2.5" mitered frame, I was making the final trim cuts just to clean up the 4 sides. Probably one of the safest cuts to make...just nipping ~1/64" off the sides..pushing straight through. On the LAST cut, just as the piece was past the blade, lightning struck right outside the shop (open garage door)....BANG. I must have flinched & jerked the piece back into the blade because the next instant I was doubled over holding my hand and chest. The chess board, about 16" x 16" x 5/8" flew back and hit the back of my left hand and stomach. Hand was never near the blade so all the damage was done by the wood. It smashed and cut my hand pretty good....but it's healing. After some calculations I figured that the teeth on the 10" blade are capable of throwing a kickback at ~124.8 MPH. (4400 RPM) Examine what I did wrong: I'll not use the saw during a thunder storm again. Can't guarantee I won't flinch next time. If my MJ splitter was installed it would have been harder (not impossible) to back into the blade. The 20 seconds it takes to change to the proper ZC insert looks like time that would have been well spent now. Stand to the side stupid.””

Kickback yanks left hand through the blad

While re-sawing stock the board kicked back and the guide hand was yanked into the blade. Multiple fingers were damaged

Material: not specified, size 3 x 1

“I was re-sawing 3"X1" stock, as I led it through the blade I decided it would be wise to guide it with the left hand as it exited the blade, The wood kicked back and somehow brought my left hand through the spinning 3 hp cabinet saw blade. Didn't even know it had happened till I saw blood squirting out of my index finger................ I just got a first hand demonstration of kick back about a month ago, it has taken $13,000 in reconstructive surgery to get the tips of my fingers put back together again. That video ABSOLUTELY gives me chills and makes the tips of my left hand hurt. Happened in a split second and all I could think was "What did I just do". Reconstruction of the pinky and middle finger tip including deep lacerations to the finger nail. Ring finger had a deep laceration across the nail to the bone. Index finger received the worst, complete removal of skin and flesh to the bone, (think hamburger) skin grafts, and lots and lots of pain. I keep these pics hung up by my saw in my shop to remind me. Yes I typed this one handed”

Kickback throws small piece into operator’s face

While cutting a small gauge block the piece cocked and was thrown up into the operator’s face resulting in 4 stitches and extensive bruising.

Material: not specified

“I remember what happened. I was getting ready to do a carpentry job away from the house one day. I needed to make a simple gauge block to help me. I went to the shop to quickly make a couple cuts. And as I pushed the small piece through the blade it got caught on my blade insert that had warped slightly (cheap Borg ply!) and whammo it suddenly flew up into my face just like that. A trip to the hospital and four stitches later."

I've done the same cut a hundred times before

Thumb sucked into blade.

Material: Laminate, 3/4" x 4"

“Ripping down a 3/4"x4" laminate piece and re-cutting (taking 1/16" off from the narrow side) without a push block or any other safety gear. I've been working with the machine for years and was comfortable with the cut, as I've done similar cuts hundreds of times before. I was using my right thumb to push, using my right index finger as the guide. Almost finished with the cut, the saw kicked and sucked my thumb in, cutting the tip almost right down the middle, removing the tissue and chipping the tip of the bone (phalanx) and just chipping into the thumbnail. While pulling my thumb out and up, I must have grazed the blade with my right index finger, that had a minor cut on the side nearest the middle finger, diagonally from the top knuckle to the fingerprint. My thumb looked like a filleted shrimp and my finger had a laceration that grazed the knuckle, oterwise, the finger was just tissue damage. When my phalanx was chipped, it sent a hairline fracture through it. At first I thought the piece I was cutting hit me, until I saw the blood running from my thumb and finger. My first thought was, "Are you kidding me?"... Four stitches for my thumb and five for the finger, but no nerve damge and, despite my thumb looking lopsided (half of my thumbnailsticks out past the tip of my thumb because they had to pull that area of tissue over to stitch it together), full use and range of motion for both. Its been just over 5 months and I'm still working on the scar tissue, but I got lucky. The nurses thought I may need a graft for my thumb, but it wasn't needed, and I healed up quick and thoroughly. I try not to do those types of cuts as often since I've been using the saw again, and in many cases, instead of working with a piece to small to work with, I'll re-cut a new piece so there is more room to work with."

Workplace kickback when ripping plywood

Fingers pulled into blade.

Material: plywood

“I was told to use the saw to rip the cutting of ply with the table saw as it would be quicker.There was a slight kickback my fingers caught the spin of the blade and then again the respin of the blade caught the othher parts of my fingers.There was no guard covering the blade,or was the blade set at an appropate height."

Plywood Kicked Back Into Chest

Kickback knocked me down.

Material: plywood, Blade: Dado

“6" x 4" piece came back and hit me in the chest knocking me down. I have a very intense bruise on my chest"

Bamboo Kicked Back Into Chest

6" Gash and Bad Bruising

Material: bamboo, Blade: General Purpose

“Cutting Bamboo Flooring. Piece kicked back into my lower chest/upper sternum area. Waiting medical results. Very sore, cut across area about 6 inches with bruising."

1.75 HP Contractor saw from Saw Stop

Trying to remove extra piece of plywood to avoid a kickback I stuck my left index finger in the blade. Stood around for a few seconds trying to figure out what happened. Blade dropped. A good 1/8 or so of fingernail and the top of my finger was cut. Cut, but skin was left attached (to the bottom side); blood stopped (relatively) shortly. The blade made it to just past the skin layers before it stopped.

Knot caused kickback

I was cutting the very last board for my project. I was ripping a piece of beadboard. I reached to pull the small piece through about 3 inches wide and 36 inches long. The piece was a little knotty. When I reached to the other side to pull it through it hit a knot and kicked it back about 8-10 inches. I didn't even have time to react. It got my left thumb pad, and required 8 stitches. It wasn't a clean cut, as it ripped the skin away about the width of the blade ***Don't use any more blade than necessary when cutting. Raise it just enough to cut through the board. Someone taught me that when I first started wood working and it's the only reason I still have a thumb.

Kickback while pulling shims out

Hi my Name is Kris and I cut my fingers with my table saw. I was using my 1954 Shopsmith saw to cut some shims for my master shower remodel that I am doing. I was pulling the shims, which are 3" tall 1/4" wide at the widest edge and 15" long, While pulling them it caught and kickbacked at knot and pulled my fingers thru the blade. I had my ring finger torn up on the outerside, my middle finger was detached at the upper knuckle, the index finger was damaged from the end to the first knuckle, and my thumb was damaged on the finger print side only.

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