TS riving knife

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Forum topic by Oldschoolguy posted 01-31-2019 12:46 AM 830 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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61 posts in 224 days

01-31-2019 12:46 AM

I’ve heard many pros and cons in regards to using a riving knife. I hear that many contractors don’t use one. Additionally, while watching Woodsmith Shop and This Old House, Norm and Tom don’t use one either. If safety is such a BIG DEAL why do so many NOT use them? Comments and thoughts, please.

34 replies so far

View GR8HUNTER's profile


6076 posts in 1100 days

#1 posted 01-31-2019 01:03 AM

FOR ME I never used one and I think one would be a hazard for me to use now of course my old WT table saw didnt even have an option to put one on so the grizzly dont have 1 either dont forget in beginning I said for me :<))))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View Cold_Pizza's profile


22 posts in 139 days

#2 posted 01-31-2019 01:10 AM

I think the same thing when I see people putting milk and sugar in their perfectly good cup of black coffee.

It’s all preference.

View runswithscissors's profile


3039 posts in 2413 days

#3 posted 01-31-2019 01:12 AM

Maybe you are confusing blade guards with riving knives. It is a time-honored tradition to throw away the blade guard as soon as you discover what a pain in the posterior it is. But true riving knives rarely have to be removed, except for dado stacks, so that they are typically not in the way. A true RK moves up and down, and tilts, with the blade, and is slightly lower than the blade, so you don’t have to remove it for blind cuts. The intended function of a riving knife is to prevent kickbacks, which are the most common type of TS accident.

I surmise that kickbacks are worse with the more powerful (3 hp and up) saws that many people use today. With my dad’s old Sears 1/2 hp TS of many decades ago, the user could over-power the saw if a kickback seemed imminent. Stalling the motor like this usually tripped the motor’s built in overload protector. I don’t miss that saw at all.

There are after market blade guards that can be used with a riving knife.

On older saws lacking a riving knife, lots of people use an aftermarket splitter, or make their own. These partly function like a riving knife, though they don’t hug the blade the way an RK does.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View MrUnix's profile


7387 posts in 2587 days

#4 posted 01-31-2019 08:44 AM

I’ve heard many pros and cons in regards to using a riving knife.

What were the ‘cons’?


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

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1827 posts in 550 days

#5 posted 01-31-2019 11:32 AM

I have been messing around with table saws since the early ‘60s.
very rarely was there a splitter or riving knife on any of them.
a splitter or riving knife will not stop kickbacks by themselves, you must have the
pawls and blade guard in place also to be totally safe.
as I got older, I “tried” to have ALL safety features in place because
I was starting to hear more and more horror stories of table saw
and workshop accidents in general.
after spending 7 days in the hospital last year from a kickback to the face,
I have become sort of an advocate for workshop safety.
because you never know when that 1/10th of a second of distraction will bite you.
have fun – play safe – work safe


-- Failure is proof that you at least tried ~ now, go do it again, and again, until you get it right --

View Peteybadboy's profile


726 posts in 2337 days

#6 posted 01-31-2019 12:09 PM

JS thanks for the advice.

-- Petey

View Redoak49's profile


3989 posts in 2376 days

#7 posted 01-31-2019 12:18 PM

I’ve heard many pros and cons in regards to using a riving knife.

What were the cons ?


- MrUnix

Please where are the cons for using a riving knife? Could someone explain the hazard of using a riving knife? It is not in the way. It will not stop all kickbacks but will prevent a lot of them.

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1827 posts in 550 days

#8 posted 01-31-2019 12:47 PM

the only “con” that I have experienced with the splitter is when
cutting wood that wants to pinch after it passes through the blade.
this results in applying more pushing power which “could” present a safety issue.
other than that – I have never experienced an issue with the knife/splitter itself
being on or off of the machine.
+ 1 for “no pro or con”.



-- Failure is proof that you at least tried ~ now, go do it again, and again, until you get it right --

View OSU55's profile


2300 posts in 2377 days

#9 posted 01-31-2019 01:22 PM

Having used ts’ with and without a RK, I have no desire to use a ts without one. It probably accounts for 90% + of the safety improvemt of the guard pawl rk system.

View Dustin's profile


689 posts in 1128 days

#10 posted 01-31-2019 01:43 PM

The only time I’m not using my riving knife on my Delta 36-725 is when I’m using a dado stack or cross-cutting with my sled. I’ve definitely experience ripping thick stock that releases tension when cut (and starts to close toward the rear of the blade). It pinched on the riving knife and stopped me pushing it. Without that knife, it would have pinched on the blade…bad times for all.

-- "Ladies, if your husband says he'll get to it, he'll get to it. No need to remind him about it every 6 months."

View bondogaposis's profile


5398 posts in 2739 days

#11 posted 01-31-2019 01:56 PM

I think a true riving knife would be a plus, my old Unisaw doesn’t have one. I use a micro jig splitter and that works fairly well.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View HokieKen's profile


9496 posts in 1526 days

#12 posted 01-31-2019 01:59 PM

I think the same thing when I see people putting milk and sugar in their perfectly good cup of black coffee.

It’s all preference.

- Cold_Pizza

That’s not preference, that’s just ruining coffee ;-)

The only “con” I see to using a riving knife is that it has to be removed to use a dado stack. And even that’s more of a minor inconvenience. The only way I can see it being a safety hazard is if it’s bent or positioned improperly and actually pinches the wood to the fence. If your saw has one, I say use it. Mine doesn’t so I have a ZCI for use with my rip blades that has a shop-made spltter.

I’m going to agree with a previous comment too about the blade guard. Get rid of that thing. It may provide a modicum of safety in one respect but I find anything that impedes my vision of what’s going on at the blade during a cut to be far more of a hazard.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Mainboom's profile


90 posts in 145 days

#13 posted 01-31-2019 02:00 PM

I always use my RK since I got my new saw. my old one did not have one. my old saw would get kick back quit often. the only time I have had kick back with my new saw is when it was a piece less then an 1/8 on the offcut side. and its only happened maybe once in a year. So there are no cons to using it. Are there cons to using safety glasses ? its about the same thing.

and as far as tommy and norm not using one. first norm hasn’t had a show in like 15 years and is ill so he does not do much wood working anymore. second contractor table saws don’t have riving knifes. they have the anti kickback shoe. which is part of the blade guard which is just a pain. plus just because you see someone do something don’t always make it the right way. I don’t care who they are. if the manual says to use a riving knife you should use it that is how the manufacture intended the machine to be used

-- CRANE OPERATORS START EARLY because iron workers need their heros ready when they wake up

View Oldschoolguy's profile


61 posts in 224 days

#14 posted 01-31-2019 02:17 PM

Good morning friends, As to my post, I should have said excuses, not cons. Some of the excuses I’ve heard, is that they don’t make a riving knife for thin kerf blades, too much trouble…...what!!!!!. it get’s in my way…...duh!!!!!!. As for the thin kerf blade excuse, I get that one. I have a Rigid 4516 contractors saw and they don’t make a thin kerf riving knife for that model, nor do they make a zero clearance throat plate either. In addition, I have to use a combination square from the back of the table to the fence to check for parallelism. The fence is junk. Anyhow, I’m extremely new to woodworking and don’t have a full comprehension as to many things. That is why I ask so many (to some) stupid questions. I’m immensely grateful, humbled and appreciative of y’all:).

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5205 posts in 4348 days

#15 posted 01-31-2019 02:19 PM

I guess that I’m in the “sissy” crowd. I use the splitter and guard on my saw unless I’m doing non-thru cuts.
Had 1 kick back MANY years ago, and don’t wanna have that happen again.
Having said that, I’m also using all the safety features I can. Hearing, eye, dust, crap on the floor, fire and smoke alarms, zero clearance, etc.
Wish I had a saw with the RK, but the old Grizz contractor saw is dead nuts accurate, and powerful enough for everything I thrown at it.
Be safe all.

-- [email protected]

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