Circular Saw Kickback – What Is It and How Do I Avoid It?

| Last Updated: April 1, 2021

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Kickback can be dangerous and you should always take the necessary precautions to reduce the chances of it ever happening to you.

In the article below, we’ll explore why it happens and ways that you can stop it from happening to you. 

Terminology and Common Concepts

It’s important to understand the common jargon-like words involved when talking about kickback or circular saws, below is a brief explanation of words that commonly come up. 

Kerf - The overall thickness of the cut. 

Non-ferrous - Any material that doesn’t include iron, this includes copper, aluminum and brass. 

Gullet - The space between each tooth, the more teeth a blade has, the smaller the gullet size. 

Chipper - The two blades that sandwich a dado blade, the chipper blades adjust the sizing of the cut. 

Kickback - Kickback is what happens when the wood pinches the blade and becomes uncontrollable to the extent that it’s thrown towards you or others, ultimately causing injury. 

Tear Out - Usually when working with a softwood, the pressure of the blade when exiting the wood can sometimes chip the wood, also known as tear-out. 

Why Do I Keep Getting Kickback on My Circular Saw?

There can be a whole variety of reasons as to why you may experience kickback using a circular saw, below are just a few common examples. 

The Workpiece Hasn’t Been Properly Secured

When cutting a piece of wood, you need to correctly secure the workpiece to make it stable, this means that it won’t move around when cutting. If you don’t have secure control over the workpiece, it’ll be unsafe to work with, the wood will be grabbed by the blade and thrown around which is known as kickback. 

The Blade Hasn’t Been Properly Maintained 

Another way that kickback can happen is by having a dirty or damaged blade. If your blade has a build up of wood resin and dust, these sticky patches can grab onto the wood, resulting in the workpiece being thrown around. 

The Wood Pinches The Blade 

Occasionally when working with wood that’s long, it can bend inwards and both pieces touch the blade, this pinches the blade and throws the wood back. This kickback can be caused by a lack of support for an elongated wood piece that hangs off the table. It’s also caused by a lack of control. 

How Can I Avoid Circular Saw Kickback? 

There are a handful of ways that someone can avoid being at risk of kickback. Below are just a few recommendations to follow. 

Keep Your Workpiece Secure 

You can secure your workpiece by using multiple clamps at once. The clamps will secure the wood to the table, if your wood moves around during cutting, that means it’s not under control and can be thrown around towards you or others. Securing your wood to the table means that if your wood pinches your blade, it won’t move. 

Use A Flat & Large Enough Cutting Surface 

Your workspace should be large enough so that the wood isn’t hanging off too much when it’s being cut. If the wood hangs off the surface too much, the wood can bend inwards and pinch the blade. If your wood is too long for the cutting station, it’d be smart to cut the wood into smaller and easier to handle pieces before you complete the required cut. 

Clean Your Blade Three Times Per Year 

One of the easiest ways to reduce your chances of kickback is to ensure that your blade is properly and regularly maintained. General cleaning of the blade should be carried out at least once every four months to remove any grime or dust buildup. 


Kickback can be a dangerous experience that can cause serious injury. However, if you follow our advice above, you’ll reduce the risk of kickback significantly. It doesn’t take much preparation or maintenance to protect yourself from it. 

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