The tablesaw can truly be your best friend or your worst enemy. While it is one of the most versatile tools in the wood shop, it is also one of the most dangerous if used improperly and without the proper safety devices. In the past, we have discussed the use of Featherboards & Pushsticks as well as the benefits of using something like MicroJig's GRR-Ripper. But the one safety device we have yet to focus on, which could be considered the most important, is the tablesaw splitter/riving knife.
The purpose of the splitter/riving knife is to prevent kickback as it physically stops the wood from making contact with the back of the blade (the source of kickback). If your saw came with a good quality splitter or riving knife, I certainly hope you are using it. Sadly, many saws on the market today come with a complicated metal and plastic dinglehopper contraption that is intended for safety, but actually resembles a medieval torture device and is probably better suited for that task. It's no wonder these things are usually taken off the saw and never put back on. And if you happen to have an older saw, you probably have no splitter at all. So what's a safety-minded woodworker to do?
In my opinion, the simplest and most inexpensive solution is MicroJig's MJ Splitter SteelPRO. The beauty of this system is that it works on just about any tablesaw, regardless of age or quality level. The splitter can be installed into any zero clearance insert so the installation process is incredibly simple and fast. Optional features like the “mini featherboard” and the Kerf Keeper make this deceivingly simple system very customizable and versatile. The video will go into detail on both of these optional features. The MJ Splitter SteelPRO comes in both full kerf and thin kerf versions, depending on what type of blade you run on your saw.
As much as I like the MJ Splitter system, you won't see me using it on the show and I thought this deserved some explanation. The reason is because I already have a standard riving knife installed on my saw and it works great for my purposes. As I mentioned above, this product is great for folks who either have no splitter at all, or who's splitter is a piece of junk. Coming in at under $40, you'd be hard pressed to find anything else that gives you more bang for the buck in terms of safety!