I recently got "Table Saw Magic" and boy-oh-boy Jim Tolpin is the Table Saw
I have gotten a set of "board buddies" and am making some additonal jigs for
the bies.... He is very specific about use of a splitter and the danger of
not having one. So, this set off an alarm - I've NEVER had one on any of my
saws. My bad? I've never had a kickback, knock on, well, you know... but
am wondering how serious an oversight this is.
A merlin splitter for the general is a hundred. Can I use a short length of
1/16 or 3/32 drill rod or make a wooden splitter out of a narrow ripped
piece that I insert into the throat plate?
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
John ... Bad!
You have been lucky - no kick backs. Absolutely you should be using a
splitter and they're easy enough to make up. The use of a drill rod could
present some dangers "if" it ever came loose and got turned into a
projectile. I don't have a site for you to jump to at the moment but you
can make them out of hardwood, aluminum and certainly steel stock. It
should be the same thickness as the blade - not thinner according to the
experts. So that rules out using the Bies splitter like I have on a
If I can find the sites that show how to make them, I'll repost.
When you make one, don't use a material that is as hard or harder than
your saw blade. In the event that the splitter comes in contact with
the spinning blade - better the blade eat some of the splitter than
the other way around. Carbide projectiles aren't a good idea either.
Aluminum is quite a bit softer - fortunately.
I'd set the shaper fences very close to the cutter, did a test cut
and had to move the fence back a bit. Forgot to check the clearance.
Very loud and horrible noises - metal on metal and me screaming -
during the few seconds it took to hit the panic off button. I'd
created a zero clearance fence (aluminum) and the knives sustained
(That was a 5.7 on the sphincter pucker meter for those who collect
Fear Factor emperical data. There must be visible blood to get
to 6 on the scale. Lost digits will get into the 7 range, the loss
of one or more limbs is the threshold for 8s, the loss of one or
more senses into the 9s and loss of life - yours or some innocent
bystander to get to 10. Don't ask how the actual measurement is
The things people do for the sake of science.)
I guess someone has already mentioned this but be sure to make your
splitter the diameter of your blade; a 1/8" spliitter will not work on
thin kerf blades. Found this out when I bought a $125 Bies splitter to
find out it DEMANDED 1/8" sized blades so my thin kerfs will not work
with it. Maybe when I remove the splitter but that is usually when I
am ripping some thick stuff and do not want a thin kerf blade for that
I have found this to be an interesting predicament. The local BORGs
sell cheap table saws, but the blades they sell are thin kerf Freuds -
which of course, render the OEM splitters/riving knives unusable.
OTOH, if you want to use thin kerf blades, you can always thin the
riving knife to the thickness of the blade - although with some
designs, this is easier said than done. I build my own riving knife
assembly to replace the crappy thing that came with my saw - easy to
swap the blade with different thicknesses to match the blade kerf.
The Delta Removeable Splitter was on the workbench for installation when a
chunk of walnut kicked back on me last winter, about three weeks after I
got the big saw. The bruise on my shoulder took a month to clear up. I
was finding glass from the two overhead light fixtures which broke for
maybe three months thereafter. And it was only a small chunk of walnut!
The second link is to an article, Kelly Mehler's writeup from maybe two
years ago? If he isn't the best, he's in the top 5%. In his book, (The
Tablesaw Book, ISBN 1-56158-426-6, Taunton Press, 2003) he shows making one
from wood, and recommends it as much better than going without.
What he REALLY likes, however, is the Euro riving knife idea.
Unfortunately, those are standard on the big iron tools, which are
generally for serious money making, and money investing, operations. There
doesn't seem to be a reasonable retrofit for the
Unisaw/Powermatic66/General North American type of saw. If it's available,
though, I'd like to look at it.
BTW, I really use my homemade saw sleds a lot lately.
Safe woodworking. I REALLY hate to read those Stupid Accident Threads
I assume you're talking about a splitter which moves up and down with
the blade, and is curved to fit the contour of the blade, with a very
I know everybody makes fun of the Ryobi BT-3000, but that lowly machine
has exactly such a device. I modified mine by cutting off the pawls and
guard, leaving a riving knive that is just slightly lower than the top
of the blade arc. It never had to be removed, even for non-through cuts.
It is one of the features I miss now that I've upgraded to a Unisaw.
I don't see how you could possibly retrofit something like that to a
Unisaw or anything of that basic design. The way the arbor elevation
mechanism works, there's just no place to mount the knife where it would
ride up and down with the blade. The BT-3000 uses an entirely different
type of design. I can only assume the fancy European saws are closer in
design to the BT-3000 than they are to the Unisaw.
Like you, I have been splitterless and for that matter completely
guardless all along. the one saw I ever bought new (bt3000) had a
usless POS guard that I never even bothered to install. all of the
other saws I've used, my own and those in use in other peoples shops
have had tops that were free and clear of obstructions ; ^ )
I have had a couple of kickbacks, both when I was quite a bit younger.
both were the result of my attention having wandered from what I was
my saw these days is a powermatic 65- which has a splitter mount that
doesn't tilt and is pretty far back from the blade. I got the saw used
(not surprising... it's 1 year younger than I am. I wasn't in the
market for new machinery that year....)
I made one of the splitter in the throat plate devices and it works
fine. What I did was locate the spot where I wanted it, drilled a
pilot hole and drove a somewhat oversize brass screw in it. I cut the
head off of it, then I used a file to flatten the sides of the screw
until I had just the clearance for the kerf to slide smoothly through.
I built something like this a few months back. I feel much safer with
it installed knowing the back of the board can't get pinched by the
John, in Minnesota
I did the exact same thing for my Grizz 1023SL, even down to the cheap ruler
that I cut the metal from. I think it is very similar to Tage Frid's, but I
may have seen your web page before I did it. I keep a wrench on a rare
earth magnet on top of my fence so I can remove it quickly. It didn't take
long for me to lose the original nut that held the splitter on. So, I
soldered a bolt to the support, now removal and replacement can be done with
On Sun, 11 Jan 2004 07:09:39 -0500, "Montyhp" <montyhp at yahoo.com>
Not sure what you meant by "your web page before I did it."
It seems like a clarification might be in order. The site I posted is
not my site. I would need to know a lot more than I do to have a site
with so much good info. It's just something I ran across searching
for who knows what. I felt it was a good design to steal some ideas
from. Instead of the wood blade guard I used a piece of 3/8 clear
plexiglass about 3 X 10 inches. It really keeps the sawdust off you.
If your interested I could post a few pictures.
John, in Minnesota
12 to 13 years ago when I installed an overhead guard
to my tablesaw and had to discard the OEM splitter I drilled a hole in my
zero clearance insert and "pressed" a nail up from the bottom of the insert
..to a height of 1/4 inch..
After all these years... AND extensive use... it is still functioning
perfect...and is as tight today as the day I pressed it in place...
I do not think I would just ram a nail up thru the insert however...I used a
small hydralic press to insert the nail..
In any case I view the splitter as much more important in preventing a kick
back..then the guard..which does nothing to prevent a kickback..it only
protects you from the result.. Thankfully I have never had a kickback ..
I missed the top post... of the messages I did read I didn' t see mention of
the Biesemeyer anti-kickback snap-in splitter. I just orderd my second one
as I was very happy with the one my Jet Contractor Saw. Figuring that I'd
put the Biesemeyer on right from the start I didn't bother to install the
Jet guard/splitter today when I put the new Jet Cabinet Saw together...
See the following link for a source and picture.
...just passing on info, not a stakeholder in Mike's.
Kickback cause my tablesaw injury back in Oct/Nov. However, I was
cutting a rabbit, and a splitter wasn't possible. BUT, before that, I
never used one for through cuts anyway. Since then, I have made my
own splitter which is glued into a homemade zero clearance insert.
Even if you don't give a damn about safety, it works great just for
holding the piece against the fence as you push it through. Much
: ...............................Can I use a short length of
: 1/16 or 3/32 drill rod or make a wooden splitter out of a narrow ripped
: piece that I insert into the throat plate?
There has been a very nasty accident in which the kerf closed onto a riving
knife. When the workpiece was drawn towards the sawyer the knife and
attached guard was ripped from its fastening, caught by the up-running teeth
The knife hit the worker in the jaw.
I can forsee a similar occurence with the setup envisaged.
There's more about riving knives and splitters on my web site. Please look
under 'Circular Sawbench Safety' .
Jeff Gorman, West Yorkshire, UK
Email address is username@ISP
username is amgron
ISP is clara.co.uk
I will piggyback on John's post and make a couple of queries about a
specific tablesaw, the Dewalt 746 tablesaw. I can find no commercially
available splitters and the original "3 in 1" splitter/blade cover/
anti-kickback pawl interferes with every operation that is not a
straight 90 degree rip. I think I will have to fabricate one of my own
and then send pix to Dewalt and ask them to get it together to offer
something similar for everybody.
I have it as well, a good read, but the jigs are a bit overblown for
I don't use a splitter often because I use a lot of jigs/fixtures.
There is one operation, however, that I absolutely will not perform
without a splitter/riving knife - ripping wood. Cutting plywood and
crosscutting small widths of wood don't generally pose much threat of
a binding kickback. Ripping long boards, especially those that are
case-hardened, poses a real and genuine threat of blade binding and
Yes, as long as it is very firmly affixed, and AT LEAST the width of
the blade kerf. A length of aluminum or even soft steel about 1"->
with a sharpened front edge is to be preferred.
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