Table Saw Splitter vs. Riving Knife: What’s The Difference?

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A riving knife is included with every new table saw you may purchase. This metal component attached to the saw’s arbor prevents wood from contacting the blade’s teeth. The fresh blades may not be as intriguing to those who still utilize an old-fashioned splitter. After all, both methods are designed to keep kickback to a bare minimum. Despite this, there are several key distinctions between the two sorts of safety equipment. 

Detailed comparison of Splitter and Riving Knife

The riving knife of a table saw is an important safety feature. A riving knife is a thin, flat piece of metal that sits behind the saw blade and serves as a riving guide. When you pass a workpiece through the saw blade, the riving knife prevents the two cut sides from closing on the saw blade, producing a potentially dangerous backlash. When doing rip cuts, it’s critical to use the riving knife since they are more likely to kick back.

However, even when using a riving knife to minimize the danger of kickback, it may not be eliminated. When utilizing a table saw, it’s critical to follow the manufacturer’s recommended safety measures at all times. Make every effort to be safe when operating power tools. When using a chainsaw, ensure that you are dressed appropriately, wear certified safety glasses and ear protection as needed, keep your hands away from the blade, and stand so you’re less likely to be injured if the board shifts suddenly.

A splitter, on the other hand, seldom varies in height; while the blade of a riving knife does. Because the top of a real-riving knife rests on the blade, non-through cuts such as grooves, rabbets, and dado don’t need to be removed. Every table saw comes with a splitter (which supports the blade guard) as standard equipment.

The splitter knife must be simple to install and remove, which makes things even more difficult.

What is the best way to keep a splitter in place while making a dado cut? According to studies, most splitters are lost during dado cuts. The splitter was rarely if ever switched out, and when it was, it was only to conserve space. According to more recent research, most injuries caused by table saws were due to kickbacks. It’s impossible to emphasize enough how vital it is to follow good safety procedures.

Backgammons are frequently the consequence of a wobbly fence; if one side of your blade is on fire, your fence may be out of alignment. Kickbacks may occur when ripping a board because of the stresses in the end grain, pushing against the back of the blade.

Splitters, on the other hand, maybe up to 2 inches away from their blades since they are installed. Riving knives are always 1/4 to 3/8 inch away from their blades, but splitters may be up to 2 inches distant. The thin stock is used to keep the wood open, which helps avoid kickbacks—the wider the gap and the higher the risk of a kickback, the thinner the wood.

For this reason, many contemporary designs allow you to rapidly raise or lower the blade guard while still utilizing the riving knife.

When the blade is lowered, the gap between the edge and splitter widens because it does not rise and descend with the blade. So, if anything catches on the rear of the blade, or an offcut skews around it and makes contact, there’s a higher risk of kickback.

You may construct your riving knife on a table saw, but there are also ready-made aftermarket riving knives.

Instead of a standard splitter, you might create several interchangeable throat panels with their own customized typical or curved splitters set to a specific blade height. This is superior to using a basic splitter, but it’s still not as good as employing a genuine riving knife.

Which one is better?

Knives with Riveting Edges Are More Versatile Than Those Without

Because it is linked to the saw’s frame, the riving knife goes with the blade when lifted, lowered, and tilted. Keep a riving knife at least one inch away from the rear of the blade when using it to avoid damaging your saw.

Riving knives are available in both high- and low-profile versions. Use high-profile riving knives, which are usually part of a larger blade-guard system, when making through cuts. The handle of a low-profile riving knife is shorter than the blade. Riving knives are used to cut dadoes and rabbets. Depending on the type, riving knives may be utilized for straight as well as curving cuts.

A riving knife is less likely to need to be removed when using a circular saw, making it safer for all of your cuts, not just a few of them. It’s flat, metallic, and readily cuts with a saw blade. When you feed the wood through the saw blade, the riving knife prevents the split portions from closing.

Kickback is a common problem with table saws, especially those that are used heavily for woodworking. This is the type of encounter that will make your heart race. The worst-case scenario is that your palm will be drawn into the blade, and your fingertips will fly across the room. If the danger is greater, it may discharge a piece of wood at your chest or nose.

A riving knife may help you avoid such a catastrophe. When using a riving knife on your saw table, keep the following points in mind: Make sure the material is as thin as your blade. When the blade wraps around it at close quarters, it must rise and fall in time. To make matters worse, the knife’s top must now protrude below the handle.

Although a riving knife can help with these issues, it is not ideal and cannot prevent all of them. A knife like this does not eliminate all danger. There’s still the potential for a kickback to occur. However, if you must, use safety equipment such as gloves, goggles, and earmuffs. Avoid the saw blade at all costs. Decide on a strategy for if the board decides to push you about.

There’s no need to let it go to waste. A low-profile riving knife, in addition to offering continuous protection, also has the benefit of never getting in the way, so you’ll never be tempted to remove it.

Only a Little Security Is Provided By Splitter Splits Only

Because a splitter is a fixed piece of equipment, it must be placed much farther back on the table saw’s throat plate to avoid interfering with the operation of the blade when it is raised to its maximum height. Backlash may be reduced by utilizing a splitter with an elevated blade. Despite this, lowering the blade widens the gap between the blade and the splitter’s teeth, allowing the wood to come into contact with those teeth.

When the blade is turned to make an angled cut, the splitter must also be removed. It might be difficult to reattach splitters, so they are easily neglected. 

On the other hand, riving knives have one distinct advantage over splitter-trainers: they can’t be converted to an existing table saw. It’s better to have some than no protection at all.

It’s better than doing nothing at all. The addition of splitters to any saw without a built-in riving knife will make it more effective. However, when the blade is set to cut through thin materials, there may be a reaction.

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