Table saw safety

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Forum topic by Pitt30 posted 11-06-2016 10:42 PM 1532 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 1366 days

11-06-2016 10:42 PM

Hello everyone I’m sorry for this to be my first post but I’m looking for some info. I’m am just now starting out in woodworking and have found an jet xacta 3 h.p t/s for sale. Saw us in great shape had the jessum board rollers on it with some other extras. My question is the owner said the saw came out 2 yrs before they made a riving knife for it, it has a splitter but will not accept a r/v. I have looked for an aftermarket option but haven’t been able to find one. Can anyone give me any info or option on what to do as far as making my saw as safe as possible. Thanks

26 replies so far

View Madmark2's profile


1450 posts in 1387 days

#1 posted 11-07-2016 12:03 AM

ZCI (zero clearance insert) will make your saw much safer …


-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 2364 days

#2 posted 11-07-2016 12:04 AM

No safety feature will make a saw safe. I suggest finding someone to show you the ins and outs of working behind a table saw or take a class.


View Pitt30's profile


4 posts in 1366 days

#3 posted 11-07-2016 12:45 AM

Thank you all very much for replying. I was just wondering if anyone has any knowledge of this saw and if there is an aftermarket r/k for it. And how will a zcl help with the pinch behind the blade before it gets to the splitter? Sorry for all the kiddy questions just trying to get all the information I can. Thanks for any help.

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2794 days

#4 posted 11-07-2016 12:55 AM

I don’t believe the zero clearance insert has anything to do with wood pinching. I riving knife is better because it follows the blade up and down, but a spliter can still be used with a lot of cuts. Better than nothing. There are ways for kickback to still happen with a riving knife or with a splitter, so you’ll need to be careful either way. If the saw is in good shape and significantly enough cheaper than a new similar saw, you can learn to use it safely within its (and your) limits.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1719 days

#5 posted 11-07-2016 02:43 AM


I am not convinced that a riving knife is superior from a safety stand point over the splitter. In my opinion a splitter that is integrated with the blade guard is far safer than a riving knife with no blade guard. But to avoid any misunderstanding, either a riving knife or a splitter is necessary safety equipment when making a table saw through cut.

My view is that a blade guard with a splitter is one more way that keeps my fingers from contacting the spinning blade. An unguarded blade with a riving knife can prevent kickbacks by keeping the saw kerf open throughout the cut, but the riving knife alone does nothing to keep fingers out of harm’s way. It only takes a split second of inattention or a careless movement for finger to be lost forever. With that in mind, I have learned to simply put up with the inconvenience of a splitter/blade guard, keeping it installed for all through cut operations, always.

The zero clearance offers two advantages. The first is that it aids in keeping thin strips cut from a board from becoming trapped between the blade and the insert’s kerf opening. The second advantage is that it supports the wood as it is cut and thereby reduces tear out on the underside of the workpiece. The disadvantages of the zero clearance insert includes the inability to tilt the blade without making a new zero clearance insert. The second disadvantage is that air flow around the saw blade is reduced. This result is less effective dust collection. As bbasiaga stated, it will do nothing to prevent kickback resulting from the work piece pinching of the blade unless also outfitted with a riving knife or used in conjunction with a splitter.

If you opt for keeping the blade guard and splitter in place for all through cuts, the Jessem roller guide system will be of limited use, mainly when ripping narrow stock. For wider stock I think it would work well.

If safety is of paramount concern, then the SawStop blade brake system may be a feature that you would like. The claim is that the blade will almost instantaneously stop and retract below the table when the spinning blade contacts flesh. However, the blade break can also activate when contacting wet lumber like pressure treated lumber straight from the lumber store. A stopped blade requires replacing the saw’s breaking mechanism (downtime), which I understand is free of charge. I also understand that a stopped blade must be replaced. I do not own a SawStop table saw but a number of LJ’s do. Perhaps one of these owners will chime in to correct any misunderstanding I may have regarding this remarkably innovative line of table saws. But even if these disadvantages are true, I would still give serious thought to paying more and buying a SawStop just for the added margin of safety.

In summary, the table saw is a scary piece of equipment. It deserves every bit of healthy respect. But with thoughtful care, a properly tuned table saw can be used safely everyday with no mishaps.

View knotscott's profile


8382 posts in 4175 days

#6 posted 11-07-2016 10:29 AM

A splitter and riving knife essentially do the same thing. A good splitter wouldn’t be the reason I didn’t buy a good used saw at the right price… just need to be mindful that you use it. A new Grizzly G1023RL is ar< $1400 shipped to your door, and is a very good saw. If the Xacta saw is anywhere near that price, I’d grab the Grizzly with the warranty and a riving knife.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Pitt30's profile


4 posts in 1366 days

#7 posted 11-07-2016 02:19 PM

Jbrow that’s pretty much the way I had understood the difference in a splitter and riving knife. Just wanted to get your guys options on if that was a deal breaker by it not being able to have one. I know several people who have older saws and things work just fine. As for as price goes it is close to the grizzly in price but the jet has a new motor mobile base, 3 1/4 h.p Bosch router mounted to a Mlcs table, and the deluxe miter gauge from highland for $1300.00.

View dmo0430's profile


70 posts in 1802 days

#8 posted 11-07-2016 02:34 PM

There’s a company called shark guard that makes after market riving knives & guards for table saws. It’s pretty custom so you’re paying for that and not every saw can make use of the setup. I have no affiliation with the company except that I have toyed with the idea of buying one.

View Robert's profile


3781 posts in 2280 days

#9 posted 11-07-2016 02:45 PM

Sounds like a heck of a deal. I have an older model Jet Xacta cut. I use a splitter (Microjig) which works fine. Only drawback is it just doesn’t work for angled cuts.

I understand what Jbrow is saying is by the book, but I would venture that >90% of people do not use a blade guard for various reasons. BUT – in the case of a beginner, I would absolutely recommend using one. If there is no blade guard call Jet. Keep in mind the blade guard/splitter that comes with this saw is a POJ IMO. If you get one the first thing you want to do is remove the anti kickback cauls. (BTW so is the miter gauge).

I wouldn’t “not” buy the saw because it doesn’t have a riving knife. My advice to you is watch some safety videos and even better, take a class if one is available to you.

I can’t begin to tell you far ahead you are thinking about safety.

Remember the best safety feature on any machine is between our ears.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View jayseedub's profile


146 posts in 2764 days

#10 posted 11-07-2016 02:46 PM

I have a table saw (Ridgid 2412) that doesn’t have a riving knife—but it does have a splitter, blade guard, and anti-kickback pawls. I feel (within reason) very safe when using the splitter (it needs to be set up correctly, note!)—and the anti-kickback pawls have engaged a time or two.

Of course, the only time the splitter doesn’t work is when cutting dados and rabbets (non-through cuts).

I have a ZCI that I used with the MicroJig MJ Splitter system when I’m not using the blade guard, and that’s an “OK” compromise on “complete” safety. I really do wish I had a riving knife—but not because my splitter isn’t good—mostly because I don’t have full confidence in my “OK” compromise on the MJ Splitter! You could make several custom ZCIs that have a minimal opening (just long enough for a 1” high blade height, for example)—and make your own “riving knife/splitter” that immediately follows behind the saw kerf (see Frank Howarth, for a start, toward that idea).

Short answer: Use the splitter, and you’ll be as safe as you can be. A riving knife is nice, but certainly not a deal-breaker.

Just always be thinking and anticipating, and watching—and trust your gut (and then act on whatever your gut tells you!!).

View MrRon's profile


5921 posts in 4043 days

#11 posted 11-07-2016 05:45 PM

I’ve been cutting on table saws for around 50 years and never used a riving knife or splitter. In all that time, I have NEVER gotten a kickback due to a pinched kerf. As long as I maintain pressure on the work, I can push the work through the blade without the tendency for the wood to grab and fly back. If I were to lighten up on the feed pressure, I would lose control and it would most certainly kick back. To me, it’s all about keeping control of the situation and not putting all my dependence on “safety” devices, some of which serve as a “fear” factor. I know most will disagree with me, but at 82, I don’t intend to change the way I have done things successfully. I still have my hair, teeth, 2 eyes and 10 fingers, so I must be doing something right. Sometimes safety devices can become a hazard; a saw guard that hides the blade is an example. I think most saw owners and users don’t use a blade guard. I had a brand new blade guard that was never used in 25 years; I finally threw it away.

As a disclaimer, don’t do what I do; use your own judgement.

View Pitt30's profile


4 posts in 1366 days

#12 posted 11-07-2016 05:53 PM

Thank you all very much for your opinions and advice. I am going to look into the sk system and at franks videos and just go from there. Just new to a lot of this and want to make sure that I start out correctly.

View hotbyte's profile


1001 posts in 3775 days

#13 posted 11-07-2016 07:27 PM

One problem I had with splitter on my previous Craftsman contractor saw is that it was annoying to deal with. It was removed majority of the time. I finally made a ZCI that incorporated a splitter and used it all 90* cuts. The micro jig splitter mentioned above is a similar commercial solution. The riving knife on my new Delta 36-725 is much easier to use so it stays on the saw for all thru cuts.

View MrUnix's profile


8141 posts in 2998 days

#14 posted 11-07-2016 07:36 PM

The riving knife on my new Delta 36-725 is much easier to use so it stays on the saw for all thru cuts.
- hotbyte

That is the only real advantage it has… most splitter/blade guard setups are not designed to be installed/removed easily – so a majority of the time, they never get put back once removed. The riving knife removes that problem by making it so you rarely, if ever, have to remove it – and it’s typically easier when you do have to. But they both serve the exact same purpose.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30556 posts in 3137 days

#15 posted 11-07-2016 07:56 PM

Learn to use all tools safely. No safety device can replace you.

Welcome to Lumberjocks

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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