What is a Riving Knife on a Table Saw?

By comprehending the role and significance of a riving knife, you’ll enhance your confidence while operating a table saw and ensure your safety by mitigating potential accidents. So let’s embark on this journey of understanding and answer the question: “What is a riving knife on a table saw?”

Are you curious about the function and importance of a riving knife on a table saw? If you’re new to woodworking or unfamiliar with table saws, the term “riving knife” may leave you scratching your head.

A riving knife is a thin, metal plate positioned directly behind the saw blade on a table saw. Kickback occurs when the workpiece pinches between the blade and the fence, causing it to forcefully move backwards.

This ensures the knife maintains its effectiveness even when adjusting the blade height. The riving knife minimizes the risk of binding, kickback, and potential injury by staying near the blade.

Riving Knife

A riving knife is particularly crucial when performing rip cuts, where the wood is cut parallel to the grain. During a rip cut, the workpiece is more prone to closing in on the back of the blade, making kickback a significant hazard.

The presence of a riving knife greatly reduces the likelihood of kickback by preventing the wood from getting trapped behind the blade.

riving Knife on a Table Saw

A riving knife is an indispensable safety feature for your table saw. Its presence significantly reduces the risk of kickback during rip cuts by preventing the workpiece from pinching behind the blade.

How Thick Should the Riving Knife Be?

Introduction: The thickness of a riving knife on a table saw is an important consideration regarding its effectiveness and compatibility with different blades.

This allows the riving knife to pass through the kerf without causing excessive friction or binding. Generally, the thickness of a riving knife falls within the range of 0.08 to 0.12 inches (2 to 3 mm).

Choosing the correct thickness is essential for maintaining proper alignment and preventing the riving knife from interfering with the wood being cut. If the riving knife is too thin, it may not effectively prevent kickback or adequately support the workpiece.

It is crucial to note that different table saw blades have varying kerf widths. When selecting a riving knife, it is essential to consider the specific blade you intend to use and ensure the knife’s thickness is appropriate for that particular blade.

The thickness of a riving knife should be slightly less than the width of the table saw blade kerf. This ensures smooth operation, prevents binding, and allows the riving knife to effectively prevent kickback. Choosing a riving knife that matches the kerf width of your specific table saw blade is vital to ensure proper alignment and functionality.

What Is the Difference Between a Riving Knife and a Splitter?

While a riving knife and a splitter are safety devices used on table saws, they differ in design and functionality.

A riving knife and a splitter are both safety devices that help prevent kickback on a table saw, but they have distinct characteristics

Riving Knife

It offers improved protection by preventing the workpiece from pinching behind the blade during rip cuts. A riving knife can be used for both through and non-through cuts, such as dado cuts.


A splitter is typically thinner than a riving knife, often around 0.04 to 0.08 inches (1 to 2 mm). A splitter is primarily used for through cuts and is less suitable for non-through cuts.

What Is the Difference Between a Riving Knife and a Splitter?

While a riving knife and a splitter aim to prevent kickback, a riving knife offers more advanced safety features, such as better alignment and versatility for different cuts. It is generally considered the preferred option due to its enhanced performance and a broader range of applications.

A riving knife and a splitter are safety devices that prevent kickback on table saws. While they share the same objective, a riving knife offers superior protection and versatility compared to a splitter.

The riving knife’s ability to move with the blade, maintain alignment, and handle various cuts makes it the preferred choice for enhanced safety during woodworking operations.

What’s the Difference Between a Riving Knife and an Ordinary Table Saw Blade Guard?

A riving knife and an ordinary table saw blade guard are safety features designed to protect woodworkers using a table saw. Unlike a blade guard, a riving knife remains in place throughout the cutting process, moving up and down with the blade.

The riving knife’s proximity to the blade ensures its effectiveness even when height adjustment.

It clarifies the cut portion and the remaining stock, reducing the chance of binding and kickback.

Ordinary Table Saw Blade Guard

An ordinary blade guard is a protective cover that encloses the table saw blade. It typically consists of a transparent shield or covers attached to a support arm or frame. It is usually hinged or adjustable, allowing easy removal or repositioning to accommodate different cuts or blade heights.

While a blade guard offers protection from accidental contact and flying debris, it does not directly address kickback prevention.

The key difference between a riving knife and an ordinary blade guard lies in their primary functions. A riving knife focuses on kickback prevention, ensuring the workpiece remains aligned with the blade and minimizing the risk of binding.

On the other hand, an ordinary blade guard primarily offers operator protection by covering the blade and reducing the likelihood of accidental contact or flying debris.

A riving knife and an ordinary table saw blade guard differ in their primary functions. While a riving knife prioritizes kickback prevention and alignment, an ordinary blade guard focuses on operator protection and debris containment.

Both safety features play crucial roles in enhancing table saw safety, and it is recommended to utilize them together for optimal protection during woodworking operations.

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