Riving Knife vs Splitter- What’s the difference?

Splitter vs Riving knives

These days it’s common for almost every table saw to have a riving knife installed. 

Back before, it was a splitter which is now improved and in turn, we got riving knives for the same safety purpose – repealing kick-backs when cutting pieces of wood.

What is the difference between a riving knife and a splitter?

The only difference between a riving knife and a splitter is, a riving knife is a moveable part that moves up and down correspondence with the blade. 

Whereas a splitter is a permanently fixed part that remains anchored regardless of a blade turns up or downward and is mounted to a trunnion on the table so it accompanies the blade as it goes in and out. 

Remember that both riving knives and splitters allow the wood to remain forced open in order to reduce the possibility of kickbacks. 

However, a riving knife is always positioned a fixed distance away from the blade, usually 1/4-3/8″, where a splitter can be mounted as close to the blade as two inches. 

What is a splitter on a table saw?

The most common definition of A splitter is, it is just an ordinary stationary blade. With the same thickness as that of the blades installed on a table saw- the exact thickness can be varied but commonly the thickness is the same as the rotating blade a saw has.

 Attached behind the saw blade from a distance of 2 inches ideally, and designed to prevent boards from getting stuck in the kerf, eventually reducing the risk of kick-back triggering.

What is a riving knife?

Riding knives are supposed to prevent kickbacks by acting as a safety mechanism. It’s just like a splitter made of metal and mounted behind the blade.

Only because it has a Knife-like appearance, they are named riving knives. These days every saw has installed riving knives in the US, regardless of saws, a table saw, circular saw, or radial arm saw. 

It protects not only against kickbacks but also against a number of other situations.

Among the features it offers are, safeguarding the stock from being caught between the fence and the blade, as well as stopping the kerf from closing so a workpiece would not be stuck.

Why is a riving knife preferable to a splitter?

Well, you will find most of the carpenters are giving preference to riving knives over splitter. And what I get only, there is nothing so special to give preference about. As mentioned above, riving knives are just an improved version of a splitter.

However, it’s also true a riving knife does more than just moving upwards and downwards correspond to the blade installed. 

Due to the fact that the riving knife does not sit above the blade. This allows us to perform non-through cuts such as cutting rabbets, kerfing, tenon shoulders, or kinds of other cuts that can be made without removing them off. 

For me, this is the biggest advantage I can say so far. In my opinion, the ability to make through-cuts without removing them off is ideal for woodworkers due to the fact that they can spend more time on making these cuts rather than wasting time using splitters that have to be removed for making such cuts.

Why should you use a riving knife over a splitter?

The only thing that a riving knife does and a splitter cannot save you time while making different cuts, stated above in the context.

Apart from that thing, there is actually no need to sacrifice your table saw which doesn’t have a riving knife but has a splitter. It still can do the main job which is preventing causes for kick-backs that might hurt you real bad.

To explain things in more detail.

If you just need to make a small incision on a piece of natural wood with a splitter you will be at disadvantage for certain work. I’m talking about the cuts where you have to push the push block all the way through.

The splitter on your saw must be removed or you may not be able to push all the way through. As well, when it comes to cutting tenons you will have to remove them, again. Such a frustration.

That’s the only reason we always suggest whoever the person asks should I use a riving knife or a splitter. Our preference is given to a riving knife because it’s a real pain to remove or put on them while you want to rather focus on your wood project, it becomes a disturbance.

Does a splitter prevent kickback?

A big yes, Splitters can prevent the danger of kickbacks if properly adjusted. They are no different than a riving knife when judging them on behalf of what they are supposed to do, not comparing what a riving knife can do better.

Because splitters same as riving knives, come in metal plates made of steel or other depends on the brand, these plates are affixed behind the blade. When it is aligned properly, the workpiece is held against the fence so that the rear teeth of the saw cannot be reached.

Can you explain kick-back to me?

When the blade of a table saw picks up wood and viciously throws it back at you, it’s a table saw kickback. The blade can be so fast, you may not have the time to avoid it harming you since it will be too late for the operator to dodge the piece of wood coming straight. 

The piece mostly becomes trapped between the rip fence and the blade when it gets stuck. In the case of a blade pinching it.

Table saw kickback causes:

  • The first cause of happening kick-back is when a wood workpiece is stacked between the blade and the rip fence. It can violently be thrown back at you as the blade spins super-fast. A common cause lies in the incorrect alignment of the fence and blade of a table saw.

  • The second cause of a kickback occurs, when a piece of wood hits a tooth in the back of the blade, and lifts onto the blade, resulting in excessive force being applied to it.

  • The third reason that can trigger a kick-back is, if a board is halfway through a rip cut and the kerf begins to pinch the blade, a kick-back may occur. 

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