How to Avoid Kickback with Plywood
Recently, I was ripping a 12"-wide piece of 1⁄4 " oak plywood on my tablesaw. As I was just about finished, the plywood climbed up the blade, turned to the left, and became a missile, injuring my left hand. What did I do wrong? Are there any hold-downs that would have avoided this?
—Roy Tiefisher, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
First, eliminate saw misalignment as the problem, Roy. Double-check that the fence runs parallel with your saw blade to prevent binding. Next, if you're not using your saw's blade guard and splitter, reinstall them to further prevent binding. (Ours is omitted for photography purposes.) Also, avoid using the fence in combination with a miter gauge.
As another precaution, clamp a hold-down strip to the fence about 1⁄8 " above the panel, allowing it to slide freely, as shown above. Then set the blade to no higher than 3⁄8 " above the surface of the plywood. Finally, use a pushblock designed to ride on top of the wood with a heel on its base to push the plywood through the cut.