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Most people are familiar with how table saws can kickback when pushing wood through it. I'm talking about a wet table saw with the blade that is housed below the table and protrudes up (as opposed to a chop saw type orientation that other wet table saws are in).

Despite a table wet saw being nearly identical in design, I've never seen any actual kickback evidence with them when cutting a tile. Also likely related, I've been countless people cut tile on a table saw and never seen anyone use a push stick ever. Perhaps the risks of wet saws is far less than a 'standard' table saw.

I'm wondering if kickback is just extremely unlikely to happen, or perhaps due to the diamond blade without teeth, it just basically never happens in reality.

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    Are you asking if it ever happens or the extent of the kickback it happens but not like a table saw it usually breaks the tile but thats all and it’s from feeding two fast or was the times it happened to me.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 14 at 18:37
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    Depends what you're cutting. If tile then it is likely to break before a kickback condition can occur; you might get small shrapnel flung at you. If you are using it to cut stone or brick then that has the potential to kickback at you.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jul 14 at 18:39
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    Tile doesn't bend or flex as you cut it and doesn't pinch the blade like wood does.
    – brhans
    Jul 14 at 19:28
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    Agreeing with @brhans, table saw kickback is caused by pinching at the kerf. Tile does not bend/flex and so does not pinch the blade. Jul 15 at 5:41
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I've cut plenty of tile and don't recall kickback occurring, at least in the sense we think of with table saws. For one thing, the rotating mass of a 4" diamond wheel is a small fraction of that of a 12" table saw blade. For another, it's almost physically impossible to get the kind of sudden engagement of blade to material with a diamond wheel and tile. For yet one more, the motor on a wet saw is usually much weaker, so you're more likely to just stop the blade.

All in all, they're very low-risk tools. Wear ear and eye protection and keep your tile stable on the trolley and you'll likely never have an issue.

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Kickback yes.

Kickback like most have experienced trying to push a 4x8 through a crappy table saw... no

What you will get with a tile saw is more of a blip. And the structure of the saw or table may "move" but it won't be with any umpphhh. What will happen more likely is that your tile will jerk (a tiny bit normally but I have seen guys have tiles pop up) and this will either damage the tile or start throwing the cut off.

Really just three reasons I have seen this happen...

  1. Pushing too hard.
  2. Blade is damaged or very dull.
  3. Lack of water (blade/tile heating).

If tiles are popping up or blade is stopping on a tile it is either user error or bad blade. You can only pass a tile through so quick. And if you push and there is blade resistance you have to pause take a look at possible malfunctions and if you start up a few seconds later and you still have resistance you need to just stop. Either what you are cutting is really that hard to cut (doubt it) or your blade needs to be replaced.

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Kickback on a toothed saw occurs because you're forcing more material into the tooth than the cutting force can handle, so the cutting force is translated into movement force.

A tile saw has no teeth. It's an abrasive cutter (hence why it's a wet cutter as well). It's not impossible, but as DMoore notes, it's either a function of over-pushing or dull blades. The one thing he didn't mention is a bit more common on thinner cuts: sharding. It's in the same wheelhouse as a kickback, but it only throws a small piece of the material at you instead of the whole thing, and only when you're cutting small pieces off. Wearing eye protection is important in both situations.

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    Also occurs more with wood because wood is not 100% homogeneous and predictable - it has grain, knots, etc. Tile is pretty much the same from any angle, and has consistent density throughout (possible exception of the glaze being a bit tougher than the main body of the tile). Jul 15 at 15:06
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    @DarrelHoffman Quite true. The one time my miter saw did to me I hit a knot I couldn't see in the middle of a board that sheared three teeth off the blade and threw the board across the room. I was lucky it didn't hit me or a window.
    – Machavity
    Jul 15 at 15:10
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There is a fin (aka "riving knife") behind the back of the cutting wheel, and it holds the splash guard.

If the fin is mis-aligned with the wheel itself, then sideways pressure of the tile (at the cut) against the wheel will occur, causing the tile to lift.

This lifting is the equivalent of the incipient stage of kick-back on a wood table saw.

Since the cutting wheel has no teeth, but is an abrasive surface instead, it generally will not firmly grab the tile at the far end, like the teeth of a wood saw blade would.

The grab can be exacerbated for a wooden workpiece, if the separated part of the wood pinches the back of the blade (where it rotates upward), due to tension within the wood fibre, or if the teeth have a kerf that is much wider than the blade. Finer blades with more teeth and narrower kerf tend not to cause kick-backs as much as the coarser ripping blades.

Also, the momentum and kinetic energy from the rotating 4in tile blade is far less than that from a 10in wood saw, and so there is less energy for a sudden kick-back or kick-up of the work piece.

Usually the tile will just lift in the back, and the splash guard will keep it from lifting higher.

If this occurs apply sufficient downward pressure, and make sure your back fin is aligned with the cutting wheel.

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    Thanks @Criggie, I knew that fin must have a name that I could never guess, but couldn't quickly find it.
    – P2000
    Jul 16 at 16:01

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