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Avoid Saw Kickbacks: Cut-off Saw Safety

Kickbacks occur when the blade on the saw pinches or stalls in the material you are cutting. The force of the blade causes the saw to be thrown out of the cut and in some cases back at the operator. By knowing how to safely use your cut-off saw you can avoid kickbacks and be more productive. 

Saw kickbacks - Prevent cut-off saw kickbacks

 
1. Let Your Saw Do The Work

Applying too much pressure when cutting can cause the segments on your blade to wear faster than normal. If the width of the segments is smaller than the width of the steel core then the blade has a greater chance to pinch in the material you are cutting increasing the chance of a kickback. 

Excessive Pressure when cutting

 

2. Don't Use A Worn Out Or Broken Blade

If you notice chips, cracks, or missing segments on your blade, remove that blade from your saw immediately and dispose of it. These faults are very dangerous and can potentially lead to a kickback situation. Make sure you have the right blade for your cutting situation by following the 5 Steps When Selecting Your Diamond Blade

Worn out diamond segments

Top Blade: Worn Segments... Bottom Blade: New Segments

 
3. Properly Support The Material

The cut needs to remain open during the entire cutting process to avoid a pinch. Support both sides of the material so it does not shift and pinch or bind the wheel. Use a wedge if necessary to keep the material open. Be sure you are cutting on a level surface. If you are cutting pipe, cut 90 degrees around the pipe, roll over and repeat the process until the pipe is fully cut. When cutting in a trench, support the bottom of the pipe with bricks or wood blocks or a lanyard with a tie to an excavator or another machine to support.

Support the material when cutting

Illustration from STIHL TS 410, 420 Instruction Manual, Page 13, Copyright Andreas Stihl AG

 
4. Have A Safe Cutting Stance And Firm Grip

Secure good footing and balance during the entire cut. Position the machine so your body is clear of cutting attachments and never stand over the material or bend over the machine. Lock your left elbow when operating. Firmly grip with both hands. Be sure your thumbs are wrapped around the handles. Always cut with two hands. Place your left hand on the front handle and right hand on the rear handle and throttle trigger. When reentering the cut, do not turn the wheel at an angle or push the wheel into the cut or a pinch could occur.

Proper Cutting Stance

 
5. Cut With The Lower Quadrant Of The Blade

Always cut with the bottom (lower) quadrant of a blade because in a pinch situation the saw will pull away from you. Never cut with the top (upper) quadrant of the blade. Never adjust the wheel guard past the stop. Always introduce the cutting wheel with extreme caution into the cut, without twisting or pushing.

Kickback and Danger Zone

Illustration from STIHL TS 410, 420 Instruction Manual, Page 13, Copyright Andreas Stihl AG

 
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