What Causes Circular Saw Kickback – Easy Fix

what causes circular saw kickback

Kickback during cutting can be extremely dangerous and it’s something you want to avoid at all costs when working with circular saws

Sadly, if you do woodworking jobs long enough, you’re bound to have it happen to you sooner or later. 

Quick Summary

In this post, we will discuss what kickback is, why it can happen and what you can do to ensure it never happens to you. 

So without further ado, let’s get started.

What is Kickback?

Kickback is what we call a sudden reaction that a circular saw blade can have due to the blade being pinched. A pinched condition causes your portable circular saw to lift up out of the wood and towards the person operating it. 

There are a number of reasons why kickback can occur such as incorrect operating procedures, poor conditions of the circular saw and much more. 

Precautions You Can Take to Prevent Kickback

In this section, we’ve listed some of the precautions you can keep in mind to ensure you don’t experience kickback. 

We’ve also explained the reasoning behind these precautions and how they prevent kickback from happening during the circular saw operations. 

These precautions are: 

  • Ensure that your saw blade is kept sharp: As soon as it starts to dull, take the appropriate measures to sharpen it again. When a sharp blade starts to get into a pinching condition, it is able to cut its way through and thus, prevent kickback. 

  • Make sure that your blade has adequate enough teeth: The tooth set of your saw blade determines the clearance between the blade and the workpiece. Choosing the adequate tooth set will ensure that the blade does not bind to the workpiece. Thus, that’s how it will prevent kickback.
  • Clean your saw blade regularly: This is by far the most common reason why many operators experience kickback. Having residue, resin, gunk and sap on your blade can increase its thickness. This, in turn, increases the friction between the blade and the wood. Hence, a dirty blade significantly increases the chances of kickback. 
  • Work slowly when cutting warped wood: Whenever you are working with wood or any material that is warped, bent or pitchy in some way, exercise caution. Work extremely slowly as these types of materials can definitely create pinching conditions and cause kickback. 
  • Make sure that you hold the regular saw with both hands during cutting firmly. 
  • Release the trigger of the saw immediately if it stalls or binds: As soon as you start to think that something is going wrong such as if your saw stalls or if it begins to bind, you should let go of the trigger. Please note that you must only let go of the trigger but still hold the saw itself firmly in your hands. 
  • Never remove the circular saw from a cut when its blade is moving: When you want to remove the circular saw after a cut is finished, let go of the trigger and let the blade stop. Once the blade has stopped, only then should you remove it from the workpiece. 
  • Inspect your circular saw blade thoroughly before each use: If the circular saw blade is bent, warped or broken in any way, do not use it. Replace it with a new one immediately. Using a warped blade greatly increases the chances of kickback. 
  • Take small breaks during long jobs: Cutting pieces with a circular saw causes friction. This friction can cause your circular saw blade to overheat. As a result of this, it can get warped out of shape and that can cause kickback. 
  • Never set a blade deeper than what is required to cut the workpiece: Typically, 1/8th of an inch or a quarter of an inch more than what the thickness of the stock is more than sufficient. This minimizes the saw blade surface that gets exposed. Hence, if a kickback does occur, its severity is kept to a minimum.


  • Place the saw shoe on the supported portion of the workpiece: This way, pinching will be kept to a minimum and the freshly cut piece will fall off freely.

Some More Safety Precautions for Circular Saws


In addition to preventing kickback, here are some other circular saw safety precautions that you should also be aware of: 

  • Make sure to protect your eyes, nose and mouth. Wear safety goggles every time you cut wood to ensure nothing goes into your eyes. You can use a full face mask as well when it’s needed.
  • Use a dust mask of some kind if you work in an enclosed space. We do recommend that you avoid working in enclosed spaces as well and try to have as much ventilation as possible.
  • Do not wear loose clothing, jewelry, bracelets or anything similar that may get caught in fast-moving, rotating blades. 
  • If you have long hair, tie them up before operating anything.
  • Don’t use any saw that you can’t easily handle and control. 
  • Use sharp blades with all the saws that you have. Dull blades are much more dangerous than sharp blades since they can cause kickback and other unexpected interactions.
  • Check blades carefully before each use for proper alignment and any possible damage that could have occurred to them. 
  • Ensure that you inspect your saw before each use to make sure nothing has been damaged. Check any screws that may be loose and tighten them properly before use. 
  • Check your saw’s blade guard to ensure that it’s working properly before each use.
  • Check to ensure that the saw’s blade guard comes down immediately after you use it. If it takes a long time to come back or if it gets stuck, make sure that you repair it, replace it or get it repaired by a professional.
  • Never remove the guard of the circular saw to expose the blade. 

Gather all your tools beforehand.

Wrapping Things Up…

We hope you have a better understanding of what kickback is, why it happens and what measures you can take to avoid it. 

It can be extremely dangerous which is why we’ve made this thorough post for you to go through to ensure it does not happen to you. 

If you have any questions about kickback, please reach out to us in the comments below. 

Take a look at our website for more posts like this.

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