Got Riving Knife? Tablesaw Kickback Demonstration Video For Class... Wow

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Forum topic by Nicholas Hall posted 01-17-2014 05:58 PM 4437 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2670 days

01-17-2014 05:58 PM

Eugene posted a video in another thread that I thought was pretty amazing. The topic was anti-kickback pawls, and Eugene posted the following video produced by Kelly Mehler of the Kelly Melher School of Woodworking where he demonstrates kickback for a class using a piece of styrofoam. The intentional kick-back demonstration occurs at 11:55 into the video.

I didn’t want to threadjack the original post, but I thought the video was so good that it deserved it’s own. I know that there are many new lumberjocks like myself who have never seen kickback in the wild, and who could certainly benefit from seeing it happen in real time.

I for one have gotten way to complacent with my tablesaw, and although I know theoretically that I should upgrade to a riving knife, this video really sealed the deal for me.

+1 if you think the video is worth watching. I think there are a lot of new lumberjocks like myself who have heard about kickback, but have never seen it happen, and should see this clip before firing up their table saws this weekend. Sobering stuff.

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

13 replies so far

View Marcus's profile


1165 posts in 2583 days

#1 posted 01-17-2014 06:51 PM

Interesting talk about riving knives. When I’ve had a few friends ask me what they should look for in a used table saw, the first thing I say is a riving knife. It’s a deal breaker on a used saw for me.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 2812 days

#2 posted 01-17-2014 07:23 PM

Same here. A riving knife (not a useless splitter) is a deal breaker for me. I will admit I do’t use overarm guards but the only time my riving knife comes off is for dado cuts


View pintodeluxe's profile


6017 posts in 3377 days

#3 posted 01-17-2014 07:27 PM

It would be great if all saws came with a riving knife. If yours doesn’t, make use of splitters built into a zero clearance insert, or a featherboard. The magnetic featherboards are so easy to use, there is no excuse not to.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View knotscott's profile


8346 posts in 3939 days

#4 posted 01-17-2014 08:53 PM

I’ll agree that a riving knife is a “better mousetrap” than a splitter so it speak, but lack of a riving knife would not be a deal breaker on a good saw at the right price for me. A riving knife has a few advantages over a splitter and is a plus for sure, but both essentially accomplish the same task. Unfortunately traditional stock splitters tend to be pretty cumbersome, and therefore are less likely to be used, which is a problem, but there are some decent aftermarket splitters that will fit many of the common saws that don’t have riving knives. There’s even an aftermarket riving knife called the “BORK” that can be retrofitted to many saws that don’t have a riving knife, and it works pretty well if setup correctly.

Biesemeyer Splitter:

Merlin Splitter:

Sharlguard Splitter:

Microjig Splitter:

Homebrew splitters:

BORK Riving Knife:

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

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2850 days

#5 posted 01-18-2014 06:19 AM

I’m with Joe on this one. I think a problem with most splitters is that they don’t work with bevel cuts, although I agree they are better than nothing. So, yeah… no riving knife would also be a deal breaker for me on a used saw.

As would be a right tilt arbor. This isn’t a safety issue per sé, just an inconvenience because I don’t like to work with the fence to the left of the blade.

Luckily, there’s lots of table saws on the used market so everyone should have an opportunity to buy a saw that best suits their needs.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 3620 days

#6 posted 01-18-2014 11:56 AM

I’m afraid to watch the vid. I’ve had a kick back injury that sent me to the ER. Thankfully not too serious, but we should all think safety and good woodworking practice. Thanks for posting on this important topic.

-- Glen

View knotscott's profile


8346 posts in 3939 days

#7 posted 01-18-2014 01:37 PM

”I think a problem with most splitters is that they don’t work with bevel cuts, although I agree they are better than nothing. ”

Any of the splitters that are fixed to an insert won’t bevel, but the Merlin, Biesemeyer, and Sharkguard all work with bevel cuts, as do most stock splitters. The only thing they don’t do is raise and lower with the blade, so can’t be use for non-through cuts. I’m not trying to defend splitters as much as I’m trying to help clarify what the options are to folks who’s saws don’t have riving knives. Given my druthers, a good riving knife is the way to go…I just don’t think I give it as high a priority as some.

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

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2850 days

#8 posted 01-18-2014 05:09 PM

Fair enough.

-- John, BC, Canada

View spcbike's profile


40 posts in 2537 days

#9 posted 01-19-2014 10:09 PM

I have had a few kick backs happen over the years, luckily I was located on the side of the blade when they occurred. Looking back, I don’t recall one that I didn’t have a warning before it happened, and actually had the opportunity to change course, but decided to proceed instead.

View toddbeaulieu's profile


842 posts in 3568 days

#10 posted 01-19-2014 11:51 PM

This is a good thread. I bought my cab saw used and it had no safety guards. When I gave away my little makita saw I later found the guards… Brand new, unused, wrapped in paper. Duh.

I had kickback with some plywood once that left me on the floor of the bar holding my crotch, wondering how badly I was mangled. Of course, being married it wouldn’t have changed much, but still. ;) bad bruising, but ok.

I recently ordered a shark guard mostly for dust collection above the table, but after watching this video i find it interesting how little I know about safety at the saw and how little effort I’ve put into learning, heck, while ordering it I mentioned Irving knife and he replied that it was a splitter and not a knife. Instead of putting any thought into it, I just changed my terminology and didn’t learn anything.

When I get my shark guard in a couple of weeks I’ll have to commit to educating myself.

View Ben's profile


302 posts in 2894 days

#11 posted 01-20-2014 12:10 AM

I have a homemade riving knife on my saw and a few weeks ago I forgot to replace it after I took it off for a non -through cut. I got to experience kickback for the first time in my shop. It was an inch wide piece that shot out and put a large dent with a small hole from the corner of the piece. Had I been in the way, it may have been quite painful. Good thing I’ve adopted another habit through the years… stand to the side, clear of the path of the blade. Learned my lesson with the splitter for sure.

-- Welcome to downtown Coolsville, Population: US! --Hogarth Hughes

View DrDirt's profile


4600 posts in 4306 days

#12 posted 01-24-2014 05:57 PM

My High School Shop teacher did the same demonstration each semester (1980-84 for us)

He used a 2 inch thick piece of foam then…. just most common, but sure made the same nice acc as it ejected the foam.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3828 posts in 2815 days

#13 posted 01-24-2014 07:03 PM

Good explanation and demonstration of kickback. I learned that I have experienced ejection but not kickback before. Thanks for posting the topic and the video.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

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