What Is A Riving Knife On A Table Saw?

what are Riving knives

Learning different parts of a table saw is necessary. In this blog, we’ll guide you on what is a riving knife?

in the latest table saws, riving knives are attached to the saw’s arbor hole, close to where the blades are installed. They are removable so can be changed or completely removed as per the choice or the need of a task.

Moreover, unlike a splitter, the riving knife can be positioned at a selected height according to the application. So we don’t really need to remove this device when tackling tasks like curving as we do with a splitter.

I found this video quite helpful to understand riving knives in a better sense. A must-watch video for you.

Importance of riving knives

Riving knives
Credit: https://www.finewoodworking.com/

If you own a table saw, most likely you are guessing you are a woodworker. 

You will use a table saw for various types of cutting, like cross-cutting, ripping. As such tasks are supposed to be performed using a saw.

During making a cut on a table saw, there are a variety of factors that could result in danger, like kickbacks, or the partially cut boards moving, twisting, or the saw blade’s kerf closing up and binding the blade. All these often tend to happen and there was no solution for them back in 2009.

  • A riving knife is simply a safety device that prevents kickbacks. Knife-like in appearance. These are installed at the backside regardless of saws, a table saw, circular saw or radial arm saw. 

  • A riving knife functions in the safest manner, it rides within the kerf of a saw. In simple terms, it pivots itself on the table saw’s arbor and it’s adjustable so we can always set up its height as per the blade to make more precise cuts while making sure the wood would not shoot back.
  • In addition to protecting against kickbacks, It prevents the stock from getting caught between the blade and fence as well as preventing the kerf from closing when ripping.

  • It is pivoting on the saw’s arbor in relation to blade height, thereby ensuring a level gap between the two surfaces of the board being cut through. By doing so, the saw’s operator can avoid jamming, which can result in the stock being thrown rearward into the saw blade. 

How Does a Riving Knife Prevent kickback?

  • Usually, what happens when we cut a wood material, if we look at the width of the kerf on a saw, as we cut into the wood. It will react by expanding. In fact, they can open up or close, pinch backward depending on whether a knife arrives behind the blade.

  • As they pinch back on the back of the blade, the board may climb up from the table and cause injuries. Known as a kickback, the board is thrown back at you when the blade is pushed back.

  • The teeth on driving knives make it so the board won’t shoot at our faces. In this way, we’re sort of like wearing a belt and suspenders because the riving knife keeps the wood from pinching.

  • By Adding another layer of safety, we could install anti-kickback mechanisms on table saws that would prevent the wood from traveling back toward the operator.

All of this takes nothing away from the necessity of having a guard on the saw, so you should always have the guard in place when using the saw.

  • The added benefit of riving knives is that they keep close to the blade because of how they are set up in order for it to work no matter how high or how low the knife is on the table, it is always equidistant- As they are easily adjustable.

To learn more about this topic, the below video tutorial is worth spending 10 minutes.

Should the riving knife be higher than the blade?

There is no need to keep the riving knives at a higher position than saw blades. In fact, the Riving knife should be below the top of the blade in most cases. Sometimes, they needed to be a bit higher.

Actually, there is not a correct single answer to this, it depends a lot on the project and thickness of the board you’re going to cut through.

I searched for this a lot on different forums and found this answer makes more sense.

Your riving knives can be attached to kickback pawls and blade guards if you keep the knife upright. 

When working in low positions, no through cuts are performed or through cuts are performed with an alternative safety device, like a safety guard.

How thick should a riving knife be?

 It is recommended to keep the splitter and riving knife slightly thinner than the thickness of your kerf. If the kerf is widened while the piece of wood is being cut, it will affect the cut by binding or splitting it.  

  • A thinner knife is usually included as a standard feature or as an optional feature on table saws that have riving knives. However, that is not the case with the many portable table saws at this time.

According to this description, the riving knives should be no thicker than the kerf of the saw.  

I know the answer is quite complicated and I did not cover everything except what is necessary in the nutshell, during my research I found this video tutorial in which the guy did an awesome job explaining how thicker or thinner you should your riving knives.

Give it a try if you really want to learn more about this topic.

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

The purpose is similar for both a riving knife and a splitter, they both are made to keep a kerf open during the cutting process on a table saw.

The most significant difference between them is that the riving knife can move with the blade while remaining at the same distance. On the other hand, splitter-mounted guards are always the same height since they are attached to the table trunnion.

Riving knives always remain at a set distance away from the blade, which we consider a significant advantage over splitters. 

You can learn a lot from this video, and I think you should watch this short video tutorial which explains both in a precise yet perfect manner.

Final note-

There have been rifling knives for a long time, but only relatively recently have they really taken off here in the United States. It’s so great to see that they’re even making their way to portable saws. 

You might want to know how riving knives actually function, there should be some mechanics to be followed which we will underscore here in this section.

The pivot to this idea is all about making a table saw safe and secure so that everyone can use it without any fear of injuries. In fact, the number of personal injuries caused by table saws has been reduced over time to a great extent due to riving knives.

A riving knife as stated above comes attached to behind the table saw blade. It’s a sheet of steel for providing safety. A couple of reasons for this safety are that the piece of steel can fill into the kerf made by the saw blade as the material comes in.

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