Riving Knife vs Splitters
All table saws manufactured for sale these days are required to have a riving knife instead of a splitter. The difference between the two is that a riving knife moves up and down with the blade keeping the same distance from the blade, while a splitter mounted guard remains at a fixed height in relationship to the blade.
In addition the new requirements say the riving knife must be able to be removed easily, installed easily and when installed it will be in line with the blade without any adjustment needed.
Why? Research shows that when a splitter is used it is often times removed, say to make a dado cut. Seldom, if ever, was the splitter reinstalled. Research further reveals that most table saw injuries are the result of kickbacks. The importance of using effective safety procedures cannot be overemphasized.
Kickbacks are generally caused by a fence that is not aligned properly, burning on one side of the blade is a warning your fence may need adjustment. Sometimes kickbacks can occur when ripping a board, sometimes the material wants to spring back together due to stresses in the grain of the wood causing it to pinch on the back side of the blade.
Both riving knives and splitters are designed to keep the wood forced open to reduce this from happening; but, a riving knife is always a fixed distance from the blade usually 1/4-3/8″ whereas a splitter can be a good 2″ from the blade. The thinner the stock the larger this gap becomes.
Realizing most woodworkers will remove the blade guard most new designs allow you to either remove or raise the guard easily while leaving the riving knife in place.
Think for a moment. Was your last close call or injury caused by a kickback?