Adding a Riving Knife for Table Saw Safety

What in the world is a riving knife? Just the one thing that might save you from a very bad day in the shop. But if your table saw doesn’t come with one, fret not — with a little wherewithal you can add a riving knife to almost any table saw.

For those who have never experienced kickback on a table saw, we can assure you that at a minimum it will set your heart pounding. At the worst, it will suck your hand into the spinning blade and send your fingers flying, or perhaps embed a piece of wood in your chest or forehead. Riving knives mitigate such catastrophes by preventing the stock from touching the blade as it rotates up out of the table. Contractor table saws like [Craft Andu]’s little Makita are often stripped of such niceties, so he set about adding one. The essential features of a proper riving knife are being the same width as the blade, wrapping closely around it, raising and lowering with the blade, and not extending past the top of the blade. [Craft Andu] hit all those points with his DIY knife, and the result is extra safety with no inconvenience.

It only takes a few milliseconds to suffer a life-altering injury, so be safe out there. Even if you’re building your own table saw, you owe it to yourself.

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Table Saw Kickback Video Ends Badly

Our comments section has been pretty busy lately with talk of table saws and safety, so we decided to feature this sobering video about table saw kickback. [Tom] is a popular YouTube woodworker. He decided to do a safety video by demonstrating table saw kickback. If you haven’t guessed, [Tom] is an idiot – and he’ll tell you that himself before the video is over. There are two hacks here. One is [Tom’s] careful analysis and preparation for demonstrating kickback (which should be fail of the week fodder). The other “hack” here is the one that came breathtakingly close to happening – [Tom’s] fingers.

Kickback is one of the most common table saw accidents. The type of kickback [Tom] was attempting to demonstrate is when a board turns and catches the blade past the axle. On a table saw kickback is extremely dangerous for two reasons. First, the piece of wood being cut becomes a missile launched right back at the saw operator. We’ve seen internal injuries caused by people being hit by pieces of wood like this. Second, the saw operator’s hand, which had just been pushing the wood, is now free to slid right into the blade. This is where a SawStop style system, while expensive, can save the day.

The average 10 inch table saw blade has an edge traveling at around 103 mph, or 166 kmh. As [Tom] demonstrates in his video, it’s just not possible for a person to react fast enough to avoid injury. Please, both personal users and hackerspaces, understand general safety with all the tools you’re using, and use proper safety equipment. As for [Tom], he’s learned his lesson, and is now using a SawStop Table.

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