Does a riving knife prevent kickback?

Have you ever been sawing away at a board when the table saw decides to punch you? You may have been sawing away with ease when suddenly the board flies back and slams into your gut. Even worse, you may have been using your bare hands instead of a push stick, and this directs your fingers straight into the blade. We have all heard the stories of how dangerous a table saw can be, and you’re probably wondering what you can do to prevent the kickback, the most dangerous aspect of the table saw, from happening.

Does a riving knife prevent kickback? You can’t underestimate the importance of a riving knife on a table saw. A riving knife goes up and down with the blade, and it remains at the same distance to the back of the blade, which helps to keep the table saw from having kickback. This safety equipment has protected shopworkers from the dangers of the table saw.

The Proper Use of the Tablesaw

Understanding kickback as a necessary evil of the table saw, you have a couple of things that you can do to prevent it. The proper use of the table saw prevents kickback from happening. Kickback happens for two reasons. First, it happens when a ripped strip gets ejected from the blade. This normally happens with a narrow strip. It shoots rearward like an arrow, and it happens if the push stick slips away from the stock.

The second more dangerous type of kickback happens when the entire workpiece gets thrown upward. This is the more dangerous type of kickback. It shoots back at a fast speed, and this may have happened to anyone who has used it without a splitter. Because of this, you should always wear safety glasses whenever using the table saw because it protects you from the kickback. You should also wear hearing protection because if you work on the table saw a lot, it can start to have an impact on your hearing.

What Happens during the Kickback?

Your push stick will apply pressure forward, and while this pushes the blade forward, it can cause a situation where it comes up against the teeth of the blade. The teeth will carry the board forward and cause it to launch backward at the person putting the wood through the table saw.

What Prevents This Problem?

Want to know the best way to prevent kickback? The best way that you can keep kickback from happening while using the table saw comes from using a riving knife. Either a riving knife or a splitter will work as the best tools for preventing kickback on the table saw. Riving knives differ from the splitter in that they rise and fall and tilt with the blade. You can set the blade below the top-end, and you can set this below its dead center. In this way, the knife prevents the board from wandering as you cut it. You want to prevent the edge of the board from reaching the knife.

As a standard within the United States, all table saws must come with a riving knife. This does everyone a service because the riving knife prevents dangerous kickbacks from happening. You may, for example, be putting the board into the table saw when you suddenly discover that it has vanished. This can send your hands right into the blade. Unfortunately, you can’t retrofit riving knives to the table saw. Because of this, you can get another alternative known as the splitter to prevent kickback. This becomes the best alternative when you have a legacy saw. Splitters don’t rise and fall with the blade, which gives you a few advantages. First, the splitter will not rise and fall with the blade. It sits at a distance, and it gets lowered to help with cutting the stock. The teeth will grab the board before the kerf ever gets to the splitter.

Kickback Happens

Even some of the best shopworkers can experience kickback on the table saw. The riving knife acts as a bit of safety to prevent the kickback that could happen as a result of distortion from the stock. The ideal riving knife that you’d want to install on the table saw will have a curve on it to match the diameter, and it will hug the back of the blade. The blade gets mounted in such a way where it rises and lowers and gets adjusted based on the different cuts. Many shopworkers will tell you that the most important part of the table saw is the riving knife because it acts as indispensable safety equipment. When you use the riving knife correctly, it will eliminate most or all of the kickback that takes place. The ripping kickback is the chief cause of many of the injuries that take place on the table saw. If you use the riving knife in conjunction with the proper techniques, you can eliminate much of the risk.

Popular Usage

Previously, the riving knife has a lot of popularity for use in the European countries, and only recently has it been used on the table saws within the United States. What caused the changes was that recently many of the biggest manufacturers have joined together in an effort to create new standards for the table saw. This new focus on safety is a welcome one because of how it lowers the number of injuries taking place within the industry.

Why the Riving Knife Works

The reason that the riving knife works is because of how it has been designed to prevent the two pieces of wood from closing up around the table saw, which can cause an injury. Rip cuts, in particular, are especially dangerous. A rip cut happens when the saw severs the wood against the grain and sheers the wood fibers. This is especially where the riving knife comes in handy the most because it prevents many accidents from taking place.

Are There Cases Where You Should Remove the Riving Knife?

You do have cases where the use of a riving knife is entirely inappropriate. What are some of the examples where you want to get rid of it? First, a good example is when you want to use a stacked dado blade for cutting a rabbet. With this example, you won’t get a through cut, which is the point of it. In these cases, the riving knife doesn’t serve a purpose. In fact, it could get in the way of the cutting and block the cutting, which can be dangerous. For nearly every other case, however, you should make use out of the riving knife because it could protect you from kickbacks.

Another one of the examples of where you might see it comes from in TV shows. You might see how they have removed the riving knife because it shows you an unobstructed view. Unfortunately, for novices, they may not know that this is only for presentation, and you want to have this on for all other cases.


As you can see, the riving knife does have a huge impact on getting rid of the kickback from the table saw, which has caused most of the injuries. Before you begin to use the table saw, you must understand how it works and the different things that you should avoid when working with it. This will keep you safe. The proper use of the table saw lowers much of the risk associated with it, and you lower the risk even more when you install a riving knife.

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