A riving knife is an essential piece of equipment designed to offer the user safety while using a table saw. A riving knife is a flat metallic piece mounted just behind the saw blade of a table saw.
When you are pushing a piece of wood through the saw blade, a riving knife is built to prevent the two cut sections of the lumber from closing up.
This feature is paramount as it ensures that the workpiece does not pinch on the saw blade, thus causing kickback, which could be hazardous. Kickbacks are rampant, especially when making rip cuts using a table saw; the riving knife plays a significant role in preventing this.
This piece will enlighten you on the essence of a riving knife on your table saw.
Is a Riving Knife Necessary on a Table Saw?
A riving knife is an anti-kickback device that plays a significant role in ensuring that a woodworker is safe while using a table saw. This device is much necessary as, without it, you will be compromising on your well-being.
Operating a table saw without a riving knife is hazardous as you will expose yourself to injuries that could result from table saw kickback.
The riving knife keeps the kerf of the workpiece open to avert the cut from closing up around the tail teeth of the saw blade. When the kerf is kept open, the chances of it being grabbed by the rear teeth of your saw blade are much minimal.
The chances of kickback will be minimal as the workpiece won’t be grabbed by the teeth and be sent back to you and injuring you severely.
It’s vital to note that, although a riving knife plays a major role in ensuring that you are safe while using a table saw, it cannot entirely prevent the chances of kickback.
It’s advised that you strictly adhere to guidelines and safety rules regarding the safe use of woodworking power tools.
For instance, you should put on safety gear, including gloves, goggles, safety boots, and face masks, while using a table saw and a push stick while directing the workpiece towards the blade. These safety precautions are meant to ensure the safe use of a table saw, improve productivity, and improve its lifespan.
What is the Ideal Thickness of a Riving Knife?
As a woodworker, you wouldn’t wish for the kerf to be widened while cutting your piece of wood or board. This is because it can compromise the quality of the cut by binding or splitting the wood.
Due to this, your riving knife, normally made of steel, should be much thinner than the saw blades.
This ensures smooth and swift passing of the workpiece beyond the knife and the blade and, as a result, provides steady and smooth cutting of the wood.
To ensure that the distance between the riving knife and the blade is kept constant, the riving knife is held in a fixed position in relation to the blade. The distance is not much to ensure that the riving knife offers protection remains consistent.
Is There a Difference Between Splitter and Riving Knife?
The reliability of the distance between the blade and the riving knife is its advantageous attribute over a splitter. Although both the splitter and the riving knife are built to maintain the kerf open, the workpiece is passed through the saw blade.
What differentiates these two vital devices is that the riving knife is constantly kept at a fixed distance from the saw blade. The distance is usually less than 3/8 inches. On the other hand, when working with a splitter, the distance is usually more than one or two inches from the blade.
This is due to the manner in which the splitter is positioned to the arbor.
For normal and safe cutting of pieces of wood, the riving knife is supposed to fall and rise in unison with the saw blade as you move it. The fixed distance is supposed to remain constant.
On the other hand, the splitter is stationary; thus, the distance between the blade and the splitter is not constant.
Splitter and riving knife are designed to offer the user with extra safety while using their table saws. However, it will be wiser if you opted for a riving knife as they tend to be more superior to splitters.
Additionally, most manufacturers design their table saws with a pre-installed riving knife, while the splitters are optional.
Is there a Difference between a Table Saw Blade Guard and a Riving Knife?
Since you already learned much about a riving knife on your table saw, you should also get to know more about a table saw blade guard so that you might be in a better position to compare and differentiate between these two essential devices.
Just as the name suggests, saw blade guards is a device designed to guard the blade. It averts the workpiece from falling on the rotating blade, among other uses.
Although a saw blade guard will not necessarily your palms from the rotating blade, it’s essential that you keep your fingers away from the blade when the table saw is on.
Riving knife and table saw blade guard is designed to protect the users while using their table saw. However, it’s paramount that you consider all the other safety rules and precautions while operating this power tool.
It would be best to put on goggles, safety boots, gloves, among other protective gear. You also do not operate a table saw under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Additionally, it would be best if you never operated a table saw without a riving knife. This will enable you to prevent the chances of injuring yourself due to table saw kickback.
When should you remove your Table Saw Riving Knife?
Most woodworkers, especially beginners, usually get the wrong impression from woodworking TV shows. The anti-kickback pawls, the riving knife, and the blade guards are often removed on most of these shows.
The reason behind this is to ensure that it’s easier for the viewers to see the steps involved or when displaying how to repair a table saw.
Most viewers end up getting the wrong impression that it is safe to operate a table saw after removing the riving knife. It would be best if you used your table saw after removing the riving knife as this could be much hazardous you will end severely injuring yourself.
However, there are instances where it could be appropriate the riving knife from the table saw, while there are instances where you should not. For instance, when you are using a stacked dado blade to cut a rabbet or a dado.
There will be no need for a riving knife as this blade type does not make a through cut.
Additionally, it will also end up getting in the way and hinder the completion of the cut. Also, a vast array of table saws features a 10-inch diameter blade, whereas stacked dado blades have a diameter of 8 inches.
Due to this, there would be a gap between the riving knife and the stacked dado blade edge, and this would basically render the riving knife impractical.
In almost every woodworking task while using a table saw, the riving knife should always be used to make standard crosscuts and rip cuts. To be safer, using a riving knife should be used when considering all the other safety measures and guidelines.
A riving knife is an essential device put in place to ensure the safe use of a table saw. Operating your table saw without a riving knife could be much hazardous as you could end up severely injuring yourself due to kickback.
Even your table saw has a riving knife, you should also put into consideration all the other safety measures and guidelines to ensure you are safe as you work.