What is a riving knife on a table saw?

How many times have you been unsure about what a part is on your table saw and decided to just Google it and see if anyone has an answer? If you do this, chances are that the first page of results will say something along the lines of “requires additional safety hardware” or “requires advanced skills.” Even though these definitions may be true, they require the reader to already have a good knowledge of what a riving knife is. In this article, we hope to clear up any confusion you may have about your table saw thus creating safer work environments for users everywhere.

This tool is used with most modern table saws and prevents kickback that could cause serious injury. When using a blade on your table saw, the wood may tend to be pushed towards you. If this happens, this tool is designed to lift up and prevent the material from kicking back at you.

Riving knife vs. Splitter or anti-kickback pawls

All modern table saws are required to have an anti-kickback device which typically consists of either a splitter or multiple vertical pieces called anti-kickback pawls. The riving knife is just another type of anti-kickback device that is used with a cabinet saw whereas the splitter and anti-kickback pawls are used with contractor table saws.

What does a riving knife do?

A riving knife is designed to prevent kickback by forcing the material to follow a different path than what the blade is cutting. When the knife is lowered, the pieces of wood are pushed down toward you rather than up and back toward you. The riving knife also helps to keep your workpiece stable when passing it through the saw

Do I need one?

The short answer is yes. Although, on contractor table saws the anti-kickback devices found on this type of machine are sometimes sufficient enough to prevent kickback from occurring.

If you do have a cabinet table saw, however, the riving knife will add an extra level of safety by making sure your material isn’t going anywhere but through the blade.

The best way to find out if you need one is to check your user’s manual for specific instructions on how to install it. Many contractor table saws are typically shipped without this tool so you will typically have to purchase it separately.

If you don’t own a table saw or consider yourself not very knowledgeable about woodworking, you may want to consult with your closest home improvement store to see if they plan on installing one before you purchase it. This cuts down on the shipping costs and ensures you get exactly what you need.

In conclusion, a riving knife is an essential tool if you own a cabinet table saw. It lowers the risk of kickback occurring during use and is one of many safety features included with this type of tool.


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