Riving Knife VS Splitter- What’s the Difference

Published on: June 14, 2022
Written by David Rowan / Fact-checked by Eric Devin

A riving knife and a splitter both have the same objectives. Both are positioned behind the blades to keep the two sides of a sliced bit of timber from gripping or spinning into it. even if they have similar uses, they have different features, measurements, and usability. So, what’s the difference between a riving knife and a splitter? In this article, I’ll guide you through the varieties of these tools.

Now, let’s get into the main topic. What are the differences between a riving knife and a splitter? A riving knife moves up and down with the blade, guaranteeing that it is always at a simultaneous distance from the blade’s back? Whereas a splitter doesn’t quite move with the blade, the distance between the blade and the splitter widens as the knife is lowered.

riving knife vs splitter

Splitters and riving knives both have the same goals. Both are positioned behind the blade to keep the 2 aspects of a cut piece of wood from pinching or spinning into it. As a result, the piece does not kick back at the user. A splitter rarely changes height, whereas a riving knife elevates and descends with the blade. A real riving knife’s top sits just below the blade’s top, so it doesn’t need to be withdrawn for most non-through cuts including dadoes, grooves, and rabbets.

Is a Splitter as Safe as a Riving Knife?

Splitters have an advantage over riving knives in one way. A riving knife, on the other hand, cannot be converted to an existing table-saw. It’s preferable to have some security than none at all. It’s preferable to nothing.

Splitters are an excellent complement to any saw that lacks a riving knife. However, when the blade is situated to slice through thin material, kickback can still occur. Furthermore, the splitter must be withdrawn when the blade is angled to achieve an oblique cut. Splitters are incredibly tricky to reload, thus it’s all too easy to forget about them.

Since a splitter is stationary, it must be placed much further back on the table saw’s throat plate to avoid interfering with the blade once it is lifted to its maximum height. Because the gap between the splitter and the blade is so short when the blade is elevated to produce deep cuts, the splitter efficiently reduces kickback. Nevertheless, when the blade is dropped, the gap between it and the splitter widens, allowing timber to touch the teeth.

When Should You Not Use a Riving Knife?

The [amazon link=”B09BH9WDX7″ title=”riving knife” /] is attached to the trunnion over most table saws, which is the robust mechanism that raises and lowers the saw blade beneath the table. When pushing freshly cut wood through the blade, this provides for achieving the best result in maintaining the two sides separated.

However, there are instances when you must withdraw the riving knife. Especially. when it’s improper to use. When cutting a dado or rabbet with a stacking dado blade, this is a suitable illustration.

A riving knife would be useless since this sort of blade does not generate a thorough cut. In reality, it would get in the way, preventing the cut from being completed. Furthermore, because most table saw blades are 10-inches in diameter, but most piled dado blades are 8-inches in diameter, there would be at minimum a one-inch gap between the border of the stacked dado blade and the riving knife, rendering the riving knife worthless.

When doing traditional rip cuts and crosscuts with a table saw, however, the riving knife should almost always be utilized. It’s minor, but when combined with other safety features, it makes using your table saw safer.

What Does the Riving Knife or Splitter Do?

A riving knife is a carpentry protective measure that is mounted on a table saw, round saw, or radial arm saw. It is stationary parallel to the blade and rotates with it as the blade thickness is modified. It is connected to the saw’s frame.

A riving knife travels inside the kerf, rotating on the saw’s arbor in proportion to the height of the blade, to keep an even space between the two sliced sides of the screen, eliminating jamming and forcing the wood backward toward the saw’s operator. 

On the other hand, a splitter is a similar device mounted to the saw table and linked to a trunnion on the far side of the saw that must be detached to make any non-through cuts or dados within the depth of the wood.

[amazon link=”B00VPJAPS2″ title=”A splitter” /] is a stationary blade with the same width as the rotating saw blade behind it that prohibits a board from squeezing into the saw kerf and clinging to the blade. This might lead to a fatal kickback. Its thickness should be greater than the saw blade’s body but less than the kerf, similar to that of a riving knife. Knives with a thin kerf relative to their base are more susceptible to grabbing and backlash.

Kickbacks are most commonly caused by a misplaced fence; if the blade is scorching on one side, the barrier may need to be adjusted. Kickbacks can occur during ripping aboard due to stresses in the grain of the wood, which causes it to push on the back of the blade.

Splitters might be up to 2 inches distant from their blades depending on how they’re fitted. Splitters can be up to two inches from their blades, whereas riving knives are always 1/4-3/8′′ apart. They’re designed to keep the timber forced open to prevent this from happening; the wider the gap, the higher the chance of a blowback; the narrower the stock, the higher the chance of a kickback.

Many newer versions allow you to swiftly raise or lower the blade guard while still utilizing the riving knife as a result.

These are the merits of a riving knife above a splitter.

  • Because it does not protrude over the head of the saw blade, it does not need to be discarded when cross-cutting or making a blinded (non-through) slice. If it is not removed, the operator will have to remember to replace it.
  • It rests nearer to the blade’s back part, making it far more efficient — there’s less room for the stock to slip into the blade’s course.
  • In circumstances where the material is being drawn from the outfeed end of the saw, it supplies some extra safety for the user by preventing contact with the rear edge of the blade.
  • Additional blade shields and dust collectors are not required (and would not conflict with that).

All of this is accomplished by being linked to the saw’s arbor, which allows it to move along with the blade when it is lifted, dropped, and tilted. Riving knives are also manufactured for use with several hand-held electrical radials, miter, and cross-cut saws (known generically as “chop saws”).

Can You Use a Table Saw Without a Riving Knife?

The riving knife may sound quite an important feature in this article’s discussion. however, it is merely an additional safety element in your table saw. To put it another way, your table saw will work without it, but cutting will be riskier. As a result, many woodwork professionals now advocate and utilize the knife to be safe. As a result, they’ve become so common that practically everyone expects a riving knife on their table saw.

So, the question is, is a riving knife an absolute must for the table-saw? the answer is, no. but is it an important tool for better application? the answer would be, “yes”. Thus, many specialists encourage using this as a matter of safety and smooth usability. 


Is There Any Specific Distinction Between a Riving Knife and a Splitter?

A riving knife rises and falls with the blade, ensuring that it is always in the identical range from the blade’s rear. Because a splitter does not move with the blade, as you drop it, the distance between the blade and the splitter grows wider.

When Should You Use a Splitter or Riving Knife on a Table Saw?

The riving knife is meant to protect the twin cut parts of the board from closing together, squeezing the saw blade, and producing harmful kickback, as you put a workpiece through the saw blade. Kickbacks are very common in rip cuts, and here is where the riving knife comes in handy.

 What Makes a Riving Knife Better Than a Splitter?

Both are positioned below the blade to keep the 2 aspects of a cut bit of timber from gripping or spinning into it. As a result, the workpiece does not kick back at the operator. A splitter, on the other hand, seldom changes height, but a riving knife elevates and lowers with the blade.


To conclude, a table saw with a riving knife can out-do the credibility and safety of a splitter. Thus, it’s on the better end. However, even though a riving knife can help avoid some of these issues, it isn’t perfect and can’t prevent them completely. The presence of a knife like this does not eliminate all risks.

There’s still the possibility of a kickback. Use protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, and hearing protection if necessary, but stay away from the saw blade. Choose a position that will keep you safe if the board decides to push you about. There’s no excuse why you shouldn’t utilize it.

A limited riving knife, in addition to offering long-lasting protection, has the benefit of never interfering, so you’ll never be tempted to pull it out.

Whether you’re using a riving knife or a splitter, make sure to prioritize your safety utmost.

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About This Writer

david rowan author

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

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