Just wondering... Why is it so rare to find a used table saw with its riving knife included?

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Forum topic by Nashvillian posted 08-05-2021 10:55 PM 895 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 156 days

08-05-2021 10:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: riving knife splitter table saw question tablesaw

I’ve been looking at listings for used table saws (mostly on Facebook Marketplace) and very rarely do I find one that still has its riving knife or splitter. What’s the deal with that? Why do so many people remove them? (And why, if they do remove them, do they then lose them?)

Just wondering…

9 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile


8770 posts in 3438 days

#1 posted 08-05-2021 11:04 PM

Riving knives, which are just easier to use splitters, were not required until 2009. Unless the machine is very, very old, it will have had a splitter from the factory. People remove them because splitters cannot be in place for non-through cuts, and many were difficult to install/remove, so they just got left off.


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

View Aj2's profile


4066 posts in 3037 days

#2 posted 08-06-2021 12:59 AM

When I bought my first cabinet saw it was the delta unisaw. It didn’t take me long to want the splitter gone.
Finicky to set up and sometimes wood would just bind for reasons unknown to mankind.
My current saw doesn’t have a splitter built in but I do have a throat with a pin built in for the very special woods.
I rip all rough lumber on the bandsaw then prepare it for the tablesaw .
Good Luck

-- Aj

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4886 posts in 2733 days

#3 posted 08-06-2021 03:27 AM

Riving knives, which are just easier to use splitters, were not required until 2009. – MrUnix
+1 Riving knives are new technology in WW tool world. lol

didn’t take me long to want the splitter gone. – Aj2
+1 IMHO there are zero OEM combination blade guard/splitters that are pleasant to use. Especially on lower cost contractor TS.

As to why they are missing?
Losing stuff in work shop is easy. Don’t tell me you never stashed parts in a drawer, sold the tool, and magically found the parts a year later? :-)

Used tool splitter options FWIW:

Delta has the PN 34-868 disappearing splitter for right tilt Unisaws. They were sold as part of the Unifence with overhead guard and dust collection system commonly bought for commercial use. They are still sold today by Delta parts, but can be hard to find occasionally. They are a popular option among Unisaw restoration folks. I use mine all the time, as it is easy to use and easy to store.

Delta sold an OEM designed Unisaw removable splitter, PN 1349941S for the Biesemeyer clone T-Square fence. You can still find these sold by Delta parts outlets. There are couple posts in WWW where folks have adapted the mounting bracket to other saws.

Delta never made a left tilt version of the disappearing splitter, as they bought Biesemeyer and they had a popular removable splitter and couple patents. Delta sold the Biesemeyer removable splitter as PN 78-431 (left tilt), and PN 78-961 (right tilt). The removable splitters were mostly sold with thick knife for full thickness (0.125”) saw blades on 3-5HP saws. This prevented folks from adapting them on contractor saws. The Biesemeyer spiltter’s are no longer sold, and scarce in used market. Many are lost as saw heads to auction, since they were NOT stored inside the saw like disappearing splitter.

Biesemeyer sold same removable splitter design with a different mounting bracket to fit Powermatic 66 saws. Only live ~15 miles from where Biesemeyer mfg the splitters in Mesa Arizona, and I have never seen one in person? Looking to buy one for my PM66, if someone happens to know where one is hiding? Delta sold the PM66 splitter as PN 78-441.

Biesemeyer sold removable splitters for other cabinet saws. This snip from model year 2000 catalog on Vintage Machinery shows some PN at time:

Most folks wanting to add decent splitter and/or riving knife to older tools have a couple options:
- Pray you find a used Biesemeyer splitter.
- Shark Gaurd makes aftermarket splitter and guards for many brands of TS.
- Micro-Jig sells a splitter that installs in the ZCI of TS with enough room behind the blade to fit. Generally all TS, except small job site saws.

Hope this helps.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Kudzupatch's profile


297 posts in 2447 days

#4 posted 08-06-2021 01:24 PM

Have to basically agree. Riving knife is new.

Splitters were usually a part of some sort of guard that was highly annoying. I totally understand why someone would get feed up with the factory guards and remove them.

On my saw, I took the old guard and cut it up. Cut of everything but the metal that made the splitter. Reshaped the splitter and put it back on the saw. Now I just have a splitter that works like it should. No annoying guard always in the way.

-- Jeff Horton * Kudzu Craft skin boats*

View SMP's profile


4814 posts in 1144 days

#5 posted 08-06-2021 02:23 PM

Somewhere there is a land full of hills and valleys as far as the eye can see. in the valleys there are piles of single unmatched socks, table saw splitters, keys from old cars, eye glasses, and tv remotes.

View tvrgeek's profile


2281 posts in 2888 days

#6 posted 08-06-2021 09:42 PM

People remove the old splitters because:
They are in the way, poorly designed and can still allow kickback. I know personally.
The are stupid.

A DIY short splitter or MJ splitter works quite well. Still, after a couple of close calls I bought an newer saw with a proper riving knife. And paid way too much extra for a thin kerf knife, but for some unknown reason you can’t buy a blade guard thin kerf from the OEMs. I still have a couple thin blades for specialty issues.

View bobfromsanluis's profile


63 posts in 1911 days

#7 posted 08-07-2021 02:57 AM

On my third table saw, this one will be the keeper. Started in ‘73 with a Sears contractor saw, the splitter was okay, but the guard was pitiful. Had to remove the splitter for all non-though cuts (dados mainly) and used the saw for over thirty years, quite a few years of that it only collected dust. About 4 years ago came across an ad on local CL for a Delta hybrid type enclosed motor saw, it did come with a riving knife, I really enjoyed using the saw for the most part, was still underpowered as it was using a motor similar to a bench saw. About a year ago came across an ad for a mid-sixties vintage Powermatic 66 for $800; the seller had picked it up from a school, changed out the 3 phase motor to a 3 HP single phase, added a biesmeyer fence system to it. After bringing it home, I ordered a Shark Guard splitter/blade guard. The splitter is a system, came with three different heights of splitters, a low one for non-through cuts, a medium and tall height that both allow the guard to attach, and there is a 4” D/C port on top. Expensive, but is designed really well, changing over to a different size splitter is quick, and I feel very safe using this on every cut I make.

View azwoodworker's profile


74 posts in 3021 days

#8 posted 08-08-2021 02:56 PM

I always thought they were removed as they got in the way of the Dado blades and were just a pain to get on. Never see them on E bay. I have a Delta Unisaw now found one aftermarket conversion just too expensive for my taste.

View dschlic1's profile


515 posts in 3208 days

#9 posted 08-09-2021 05:20 PM

I have an old Craftsman job site table saw with cast iron table. The splitter/guard removes with one thumbscrew. So I can remove and replace very easily.

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