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Thread: Riving knife VS splitter

  1. #1
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    Riving knife VS splitter

    Got a question. First off, I know what a Riving knife is and how it works. But what I don't understand is what makes them so much better than a splitter? I mean it's just an improved splitter.

    The only advantages I see are, that is pretty much stays on the saw. It's closer to the blade for that rare time a board clamps down quickly. Not knocking them, but I don't see it as such a huge improvement.

    On another forum there are people saying they won't buy a new saw unless it has one. OK, fine. But whats so improved? What am missing? Or is it they just have the Wants and a bad case of Stuffitus?
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  2. #2
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    For me, the biggest difference is that a riving knife doesn't sit above the top of the blade. This means I won't have to remove it for non-through cuts such as cutting rabbets or kerfing or tenon shoulders or other kinds of joinery. If I don't have to take it off as often, I'm less likely to forget and leave it off for the next "splitter-friendly" cut.

    That, to my eyes, is an enormous benefit to the safety of the saw. Most of the reason folks take their splitters off is because it gets in the way. A riving knife rarely gets in the way, thus increases the likelihood that it'll be in place when it needs to be.
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  3. #3
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    The ONE thing I understand that is better about a properly designed riving knife is that it can be used on a non through cut, where a splitter can't. But I have also heard some talk about the riving knives on their saws being taller than the blade, which won't work with a non through cut. Don't remember the brands that were being talked about.
    I personally think that I would like a riving knife on my next saw, but only if it is what I would term a true riving knife. If it is just a built in splitter that goes up and down with the blade, then I'll pass. Jim.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Beam View Post
    For me, the biggest difference is that a riving knife doesn't sit above the top of the blade. This means I won't have to remove it for non-through cuts such as cutting rabbets...
    But since most dado sets are 8", you'd have to remove the riving knife anyway, wouldn't you?
    Jim D.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim DeLaney View Post
    But since most dado sets are 8", you'd have to remove the riving knife anyway, wouldn't you?
    Sure. A dado's about the only kind of cut I can think of that would commonly be used. I wouldn't be cutting rabbets with a dado head, myself. I forgot that many folks do use dados for their rabbeting. I was thinking more of the two-cut rabbeting methods.
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Beam View Post
    For me, the biggest difference is that a riving knife doesn't sit above the top of the blade. This means I won't have to remove it for non-through cuts such as cutting rabbets or kerfing or tenon shoulders or other kinds of joinery.
    Lets try this again.

    This is the pretty typical of the Riving knives I have seen.





    How do you do a dado without removing it?
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
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  7. #7
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    I never said you could use a dado without removing the knife. Maybe I wasn't clear, though. I would want no saw that had what you've pictured and claimed they were true riving knives. My opinion is that a riving knife MUST sit below the top of a normal sized blade and never be more than 1/4" away from the teeth at any given hight or tilt. I believe I formed this opinion after reading anecdotal definitions of the standards applied to European saws. I don't know if the numbers are exact, it's just what I've got stuck in my head as my opinion of a true riving knife.

    I don't know of any riving knife that would stay on with a dado head that was smaller than the designed blade size. Say, a 10" dado blade on a 10" saw - that'd be a nifty dado but would take quite a few horsies to push.

    My response was to explain why a riving knife was much better than just a regular splitter. If it's a true riving knife (one that is defined as above), a user wouldn't have to take it off for most non-through cuts made with a standard blade. Maybe that's where I created confusion? I didn't specify standard blade size. I made no reference to a dado in my original response, but I guess that mentioning a rabbet implied it to some folks. That was not my intention. I apologize for any confusion. I'd meant cutting rabbets with the two-cut method using a standard sized blade.
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  8. #8
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    I'd agree with Jason. The two pics Jeff posted look like splitters to me, since they are taller than the blade. To my understanding a riving knife is no higher than the blade.
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  9. #9
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    I also agree, Jeff, those are splitters

    I have a riving knife on my Festool TS55 circular saw, that thing works all the time every time, perfectly!



    If you had something similar on a table saw, yeah, I can see that being an asset.
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  10. #10
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    I agree with Jason. To me, a riving knife doesn't have to be removed for any cut except when you change to a dado head. Even when using a sled, the riving knife can be left on the saw.

    A riving knife should not stick above the blade and it should rise and tilt with the blade.

    The advantage I see with a riving knife is that you'll leave it installed. With a splitter, you have to remove it for many different cuts. Some splitters don't tilt so when you want to do an angle cut, you have to remove it. Most of the time, when you want to use a crosscut sled you have to remove the splitter. When you want to make a thin cut, one where you'll use a push block and push it completely through the cut (and the saw will cut the push block), you have to remove the splitter or you couldn't push all the way through. When cutting tenons, you have to remove the splitter.

    Because of all the "put it on, take it off" of a splitter, most people take it off and leave it off. At school, they're anal about the splitter so people (including me) use them. But at my home shop, I don't use one.

    I'd love to have a TS with a true riving knife. When I buy a new saw, it'll have one or I won't buy.

    Mike

    [The best safety equipment is that which never has to be removed.]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 03-08-2008 at 06:58 AM.
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