All Replies on Is the Blade Guard really necessary ?

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Is the Blade Guard really necessary ?

by fstellab
posted 01-11-2013 04:32 PM

1 2 next »
55 replies

55 replies so far

View Manitario's profile


2629 posts in 2847 days

#1 posted 01-11-2013 04:40 PM

I have had a couple of TS with similar “issues” with the blade guard; I too ended up removing it and using a riving knife. My current TS has a very good guard that allows me to see the work well and isn’t flimsy; I use it as much as I can; it’s just one more level of protection from absentmindedly contacting the blade.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3122 days

#2 posted 01-11-2013 04:46 PM

Fred…I have a Sharkguard for my Unisaw…I hate it. I feel it doesn’t do any good unless it’s snug over the blade and if I do that, all the thin waste cuts get caught under the guard. I just haven’t gotten comfortable using it and feel that if I can’t properly see the blade that it’ll be a bad thing. I try to keep the splitter on, however. I think that’s the more important part.

-- jay,

View Wiltjason's profile


56 posts in 1926 days

#3 posted 01-11-2013 04:49 PM

As much as I hate to admit it I haven’t seen My blade guard in years. Knock on wood I haven’t had an accident with my table saw in which the blade guard would have saved me though.

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Monte Pittman

28908 posts in 2302 days

#4 posted 01-11-2013 04:56 PM

No blade guard on mine either

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4182 days

#5 posted 01-11-2013 05:05 PM

I have to admit, my blade guard rarely sees any use. However, I do have a splitter installed.

I want to be clear for any inexperienced table saw users out there: If you have the type of saw where the blade guard also functions as the splitter, you should NOT remove it unless you install a splitter that attaches to a zero-clearance insert, or a similar safety device to avoid have the wood pinch the blade.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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170 posts in 2135 days

#6 posted 01-11-2013 05:09 PM

I think what you would find that the majority of regulars on this site would be proponents of safety measures due to the sheer number of beginners that visit.

I would bet that less than 1/3 use them on older saws in private residence. My old grizzly 690 that I got off of CL was used primarily as a Dado saw in a shop and the guy had lost it. So I got the adjustable micro jig and just respect the saw.

I wont lie, I think very hard every time before I hit the power button. where I am standing, floor clear, ensure that my tables are clear, ect.

I’ve had two kick backs, one where I got a decent bruise in my hip… I now stand in a different spot and never push wider than long stock thru without using the Miter.

-- Brian

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424 posts in 3026 days

#7 posted 01-11-2013 05:09 PM

Ridgid R4512 for me and I never use it without the blade guard (at least when not using a sled), which I like, except for those metal parts that force me to keep my miter gauge further away. Don’t see a valid reason to remove the blade guard and do away with that added safety.

-- David - Tucson, AZ

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2531 days

#8 posted 01-11-2013 05:12 PM

same here. I wish I could use it, but just can’t.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5620 posts in 2777 days

#9 posted 01-11-2013 05:13 PM

Ever notice on woordorking shows they saw “The blade gaurd has been removed for clarity” yeah, right.

The two biggest things you can do for TS safety (short of buying a sawstop), are…
1. Only run straight, freshly jointed stock on your TS.
2. Make use of featherboards and push sticks whenever you can.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View knotscott's profile


7980 posts in 3339 days

#10 posted 01-11-2013 05:18 PM

IMO the splitter/riving knife is more important than the guard because it helps prevent kickback. I’m sure it’s better to use both, but many stock blade guards are so cumbersome and obscure the view that I tended to not use them. A year or so ago I added the BORK Blade Guard to my BORK riving knife and actually like it because I can see… so I use it!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3283 days

#11 posted 01-11-2013 05:29 PM

This is what I had in my old shop, I blogged about it a couple years ago…

WHile you might think the hanging dust collector is in the way, I got used to it really quickly, and it afforded me some degree of protection from the saw blade.

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2531 days

#12 posted 01-11-2013 05:57 PM

Milo, I’ve often thought about building the overhead dust extraction blade guard. Still thinking…....but its a good idea.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View AJLastra's profile


87 posts in 2192 days

#13 posted 01-11-2013 06:04 PM

I am an absolute safety nut about every machine in my shop. HOWEVER, i must admit that I haven’t used my blade guard in many years. With the exception of a Brett Guard, any other guard just made it more potentially harmful than helpful because I want to see that saw blade at all times. I use antikick back wheels and a Micro jig splitter. I push my stock through with a GRRIPPER push block system. and the most imprtant thing I do just like breathing is unplug the saw after each and every cut when I turn off the saw. i’ve had one kick back incident and that was years ago and it scared the hell out of me and thats what made me get the antikick back wheels. I know. The blade is still exposed even with these other things. If you’re going to work without the guard, you’d better make a habit of prepping yourself for each and every cut you make, being fully aware of what you are going to do, how and for how long. I think if you decide on this mindset going in, working without a guard is safe. You have to keep track of how tuned the saw is and that may mean, for your own peace of mind, checking the squareness of everything once each month. you can never be too careful when it comes to safety with these machines. Just my two cents worth.

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15280 posts in 2582 days

#14 posted 01-11-2013 06:24 PM

I’m one of the 2/3 that Brian ^ identified: User of an older saw that doesn’t have a blade guard. Is it ideal? I guess not. It is what I’m used to, though. Is it inherently safe? I think we all know the answer to that is no. Can it be used safely? You bet. As much as anything, I suppose.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View fstellab's profile


86 posts in 2049 days

#15 posted 01-11-2013 06:29 PM

Thanks folks,

As a newbie, not on a schedule, I take a good amount of time prepping for each cut. I recently ordered 30 BF of very expensive hardwood (Macacauba) for a closet organizer project, so I will definitely setup each cut into that wood. I found some Poplar on ebay that I am using to practice cuts when I started noticing what a pain the guard is. Crosscuts don’t seem to be a problem, but the 1/2” rip cuts I really want to see the blade.

Mio, I really like that Guard-dustcollector—That will become my next project if not sooner.

-- Fred Stellabotte (

View Loren's profile


10252 posts in 3612 days

#16 posted 01-11-2013 06:46 PM

Since I usually use a blade guard, I just bend or squat so my
eye level is lower if I want to see a mark on the part I’m
cutting. I do this a lot when crosscutting to a line, starting
a little to the waste side and taking a couple of nibbling
cuts to get the mark right in line with the left edge of
the saw blade teeth.

In terms of seeing the wood as it’s being cut by the table
saw through the whole cut… well, in my opinion that’s
not necessary.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2152 days

#17 posted 01-11-2013 06:51 PM

I like Knotscot’s reply. The Safety Police will freak out at even the mere suggestion of removing a guard but the reality is that a lot of guard are awkward and probably actually hinder safety in some situations. Then there’s the SawStop crowd, who go one step further. Use your brain, and you’ll be better off than all of them any day as that technology works on all machines.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2074 days

#18 posted 01-11-2013 07:10 PM

My blade guard is in place about 90% of the time. It’s an Excalibur overarm guard.

The reason why it’s in place so often is that it swings in and out of position in seconds, without tools.

The 10% of the time it’s not there include narrow rips, fence riding jigs, and box corner spline jigs. For narrow rips, I use disposable push blocks, made from scrap plywood or MDF strips 6-8” wide, with a hook cut out of the bottom. They’re long enough to both hold the work down and push, the blade cuts through the hook. My hands are never near the blade. The other devices hold the work, and my hands are rarely within a foot of the blade, so the missing guard is not a problem.

This particular guard is capable of locking into a “hover” to clear crosscut sleds, taper sleds, etc… I leave it in position, but lock it high enough to clear the device and stock.

My saw also includes a true riving knife independent of the guard. The only time the knife is off is when a dado set is installed.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2648 days

#19 posted 01-11-2013 07:36 PM

I agree with Monte…IMHO my older Delta guard introduces more risk than it eliminates.

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1200 posts in 1959 days

#20 posted 01-11-2013 07:41 PM

I have the rigid 4510, which is a portable. I’m not sure if the guards are the same, but mine has a way to lock it ‘up’ so that I can see how my piece aligns with the blade. It still provides protection from a slip or fall that would topple me over on to the blade (i cringe thinking about that). I feel I still have good visibility with it on there. There are some cuts, however, where it is just not an option. Unless you want the blade very high when cutting thin material, the guard has to come off. I hate cutting that way, but have no other option. The same is true with the anti kickback pawls on my saw…unless the blade is about 2” up or more, you can’t use them.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View tomd's profile


2148 posts in 3734 days

#21 posted 01-11-2013 07:42 PM

Blade guard, blade guard, I don’t need no stinkin’ blade guard. Seriously my lasted about 2 weeks and that was 20 years ago, I know it’s in my shop somewhere. I also had a vision problem seeing the blade.

-- Tom D

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1880 posts in 3525 days

#22 posted 01-11-2013 08:38 PM

Never have used mine.

-- Joe

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540 posts in 2335 days

#23 posted 01-11-2013 09:49 PM

Dust Collection is the only good use for a blade guard – They have probably caused more accidents than prohibited; however, the Dust Collection is a compelling reward for having a 2/3rds blade guard. Less than 1.0, as the guard would remain about 1” above the table.

I’ve become a believer, and advocate, for dust collection at source; rather than an overhead air cleaner or floor sweep system.

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2072 days

#24 posted 01-11-2013 10:06 PM

I have the same saw, and I find that the blade guard is so easy to add/remove that I just use it on an as-needed basis. If I’m cutting something that isn’t likely to burn or bind (say, 3/4” plywood) I keep the guard on. If I’m cutting something harder or thicker, or if there seems to be internal stress, I pop it off.

I like keeping the guard on because it’s a good physical reminder of where my hands ABSOLUTELY should not be, and if anything wacky does happen and my hands jerk involuntarily I want them to hit that guard first. My view is that as long as the wood is moving smoothly, the blade is doing it’s job; my job is to keep that wood tight against the fence. (Not to say that I don’t keep an eye on the blade, as much as possible.)

I guess I just don’t see it as a big issue, considering it only takes a few seconds to add or remove that guard. I’d probably have a different view if it were more of a hassle to adjust.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View waho6o9's profile


8162 posts in 2541 days

#25 posted 01-11-2013 10:21 PM

Rip on a band saw and cut to final dimension on a table saw.

A rip blade is recommended for doing a rip cut.

Riving knife but no blade guard.

View Woodknack's profile


11479 posts in 2344 days

#26 posted 01-11-2013 10:35 PM

I tried to use my blade guard when I bought my saw but ended up removing it every other cut so it’s been off for over a decade. Unless your blade guard has dust control it isn’t necessary although I would say use it in the beginning until you get used to the idea of not sticking your fingers in the blade.

-- Rick M,

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3 posts in 2032 days

#27 posted 01-11-2013 10:49 PM

I’ve been woodworking for over thirty years and the best piece of safety equipment can be found right on top of your shoulders. I’ve seen a number of injuries in shops over the years and the cause can mostly be attributed to lack of attention to the task at hand and ill conceived setups. Prior to turning on a piece of equipment clear your head of all those nagging thoughts and picture the task you are about to perform. If you can’t do this then it’s time to leave the shop and clear your head. If I get one of those “iffy” feelings when starting to perform a particular operation I step back and re-evaluate the situation and tend to find a better way. Most of us can anticipate an accident before it happens, such as “it’s just one cut…I don’t really need safety glasses do I?” Every time I find myself asking that type of question it means I already know the answer and make the time to remedy the situation.

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Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3357 days

#28 posted 01-11-2013 10:49 PM

I work as a cabinetmaker at a 15 men shop and saw’s guards simply get on our way.
I guess manufacturers design guards because any person can buy and run a table saw.
But if you have common sense and perhaps good woodworking skils, keep the guard in the box. I personally consider safer to look at the blade all the time.

very interesting question!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View John's profile


47 posts in 2037 days

#29 posted 01-11-2013 10:53 PM

I have a 1999-ish Delta contractor saw, and I punched out the pin that held the blade guard and anti-kickback pawls on my splitter many years ago. I tried to be a good boy and use all the safety equipment, but those parts got me in trouble a few times, so I dumped them. I use the splitter whenever it’s physically possible. I’d like to build an overarm guard for dust collection primarily, but also for an extra layer of safety, but I haven’t found a design that will work for me. I really like the system on the SawStop models I’ve looked at, but I’ll have to figure out a way to build that myself since I’m not going to buy one of those any time soon.

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808 posts in 2466 days

#30 posted 01-11-2013 11:16 PM

When I was a teenager my Dad bought a saw and I tried to encourage him to use his blade guard – they had taught us that way at school. He didn’t and put his thumb over the top of the blade one day as a result.

When I use a saw at school (I teach), the blade guard absolutely has to stay on, even though I am the only person using it. The consequences of an accident with it removed are too great, and I do not mean in terms of personal injury. It does limit the work that can be done on the saw, but that is just a constraint that we work around.

At home, the guard does come off when the cut requires it (i.e. rebates, finger joints, splitting tops off boxes etc.), but I do still generally use mine when the cut permits.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

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Rick Dennington

5804 posts in 3158 days

#31 posted 01-11-2013 11:51 PM

No bladeguard…no splitter….no riving knife…..nada….I ‘m just livin’ on the edge….!!

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

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228 posts in 2213 days

#32 posted 01-12-2013 12:46 AM

I worked in a small cabinet shop for ten years after I semi retired. The guard was never on the table saw when I started. One day I had to pick up the owner’s son’s finger off the floor. I was just there the other day and guess what? The guard was on the saw. He’s been in the business over thirty years. After that experience, I never take the guard off unless I have to.

View Oldelm's profile


75 posts in 2139 days

#33 posted 01-12-2013 01:33 AM

I have a shark guard on my saw and use it most of the time unless the task won’t allow for it. I use it to have over and under dust collection also. The guard just takes seconds to remove or replace leaving the knife in place. Thin strips will catch under the guard sometimes but that happens without the guard unless using a ZCI. I feel I can see all I need to see with the guard in place. I think I depend more on sound and feel sensations rather than seeing the whole blade when something is going awry.
+1 for suggesting to anyone new to tablesaw use to keep the guard on as much as possible.
Oh and 50 years tablesaw experience and still have to count to ten on fingers.
And yes I have experienced several kickbacks all most all were before the active use of riving knives as a safety feature.

-- Jim, Missouri

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Cole Tallerman

392 posts in 2149 days

#34 posted 01-12-2013 04:49 AM

I just use the riving knife. A blade guard will not stop the saw from whatever its going to do and IMO it makes it more dangerous

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John Ormsby

1283 posts in 3701 days

#35 posted 01-12-2013 05:24 AM

With two 7 1/2 HP table saws, you can bet they have blade guards on them. One has an overhead type and the other has a guard that hooks onto the riving knife.

Safety first is a must.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

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2724 posts in 1989 days

#36 posted 01-12-2013 09:07 AM

All I can say is, why do you think they call me runs with scissors?

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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David Craig

2137 posts in 3073 days

#37 posted 01-12-2013 09:20 AM

I have the Ridgid 3660. Splitter and paws are part of the package and I use the blade guard religiously. I have no problem with visibility as I set up my fence and crosscuts before lowering the blade guard. I am not sure why visibility during the cut is important since alignment and setup is done with the saw off. When the saw is cutting into the piece, well it is a little late to change your mind IMHO :)

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Fettler's profile


200 posts in 1961 days

#38 posted 01-12-2013 09:52 AM

My older unisaw has no blade guard. I’ve been looking at shark guards but only from the perspective of dust collection. I think understanding conditions that create kickback/ binding is important; it’s pretty startling when it happens.

For safety I use push sticks, push blocks and feather boards. I keep my hands away from the blades always and l keep the trunnion low. As a hobbyist, and a full time computer worker, if I lose fingers I can’t easily bring home the bacon.

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

View Richard's profile


400 posts in 2655 days

#39 posted 01-12-2013 10:27 AM

I bought my TS second hand and the balde guard was and is all chewed up from what looks to be unexpected encounters with a spinning blade. And I can see why, it’s practically opaque. First thing I did when I got it home was remove it.

-- "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2878 days

#40 posted 01-12-2013 12:37 PM

I have never used my “splitter.” That said, I always use the dedicated OEM Riving Knife on my G0690, PLUS I use Yellow “Board Buddies” on my fence. I back the fence off when using my TS SuperSled but the riving knife stays in place. Also use disposable push sticks made of soft cedar which are more forgiving.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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1101 posts in 3577 days

#41 posted 01-12-2013 02:44 PM


-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

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6759 posts in 3332 days

#42 posted 01-12-2013 06:31 PM

The only times I remove my blade guard are when I don’t make through cuts and when I change the blade; otherwise the guard is always in place.

Don’t know why I got into this “habit” but I guess it is one of better ones!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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424 posts in 2577 days

#43 posted 01-12-2013 08:05 PM

I often usa the bladeguard on my TS because it helps wrangle dust and also because it has good anti-kickback pawls. When not using that assembly, I use the riving knife which is also a great thing.

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

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334 posts in 2871 days

#44 posted 01-12-2013 09:02 PM

I have the Delta contractors saw too. When I got it I took off the guard and installed a ZCI and the MJ splitter and I use the Gripper. I fact a while ago someone posted here that they were opening a WW school for kid and couldn’t until he got a guard for his saw. Same model as mine, so I sent it to him free of charge. In return he sent me a cutting board and a clip board the kids made.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View Woodknack's profile


11479 posts in 2344 days

#45 posted 01-12-2013 11:48 PM

When the saw is cutting into the piece, well it is a little late to change your mind IMHO :)

No it isn’t.

-- Rick M,

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384 posts in 3956 days

#46 posted 02-04-2013 04:25 PM

So I know i haven’t posted on here for a while and found this thread while looking into the GRR-per while I am never fond of bumping old treads I just had to give my two cents here.

I have been in the hobby now for almost 20 years and despite severing my thumb 19 years ago or so “with the guard in place I might add” I operated with out the guard for 15 years or so. I have to say I really did try to use the Guard but I kept braking them almost every time I tried to use the cheep ones that came with my delta contractors saw.

Now that sied fast forward to about 4 or 5 years ago. i got a smashing hot deal on a used unisaw which had with it an over arm blade guard. and now its in place for 95% my cuts. I think the main reson folks don’t use the blade guards that come with there saw is well their junk. They get in the way and they are hard to take off and put on.

My over arm guard on the other hand is simple and easy to use. Its clear and easy to see thru. and when not needed I simply lift it out of the way and it lock up out of the way. moving it is easy and simple and putting it back is simple so if I could encourage the original poster in to making there own or buying one I would say whole hartedly had I had a blade guard like my bessy when I had my run in with a saw blade it would have saved me allot of sugary and pain

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

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324 posts in 1961 days

#47 posted 02-04-2013 04:42 PM

I learned to use a table saw in high school shop class over 40 years ago, there were no guards splitters or riving knives. The old boy who taught the class was a stickler for safety who had all of his fingers and I don’t recall anyone ever getting hurt. I feel if one obeys all of the old timey safety rules all of the time he or she should be ok, problem is they don’t teach or even print those old rules anymore. The other problem is any stock guard and splitter I have run into is worthless junk. I am sure some of the after market ones are usable on most cuts and I am thinking about buying one.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View aaroncgi's profile


33 posts in 1940 days

#48 posted 02-05-2013 10:20 PM

I thought I’d chime in here, as I have finally begun using my R4512 within the past couple weeks. This is my first table saw ever, not counting a miniature tile saw my brother loaned me last year. Even before I had finished setting up the Ridgid, I already had on hand a pair of the GRR-200s, as the online videos plus user comments and praise had convinced me they were the safest and best way to rip – at least for certain pieces.

So far, I have yet to use the GRR-Rippers and have had no trouble using the stock safety gear for ripping, with the addition of a Kreg featherboard in front of the blade. You can actually see the blade on the R4512 directly through the guard – there’s about 1/4 to 1/2” space between the left and right separately moveable clear guards. Of course, your eyeballs need to be mostly in line with the blade, so if you’re standing way off to the side you might not see it. But honestly, I don’t see the need to watch the blade anyway. I just set the fence to the dimension I want, then attach the featherboard and go. I don’t find the guard particularly flimsy or cumbersome on this saw, but have no experience with other guards. The guard, anti-kickback pawls, and riving knife all remove and reattach easily and quickly without tools.

I do have one note however – the stock ‘riving knife’ is technically a ‘splitter’ when used with the other safety equipment, albeit one which raises/lowers/tilts with the blade, and is curved to fit closely to the back of the blade. It has two height positions – just below the top of the blade, ie ‘riving knife’ mode, and a couple inches above the blade, ie ‘splitter’ mode. Ridigid says to ONLY use the guard and anti-kickback pawls in splitter mode. However, as long as the blade is high enough, I really don’t see why you couldn’t use the guard and pawls in riving knife mode. Though, I also don’t know what the advantage would be of having it lower, if you’re making a through cut. Ridgid’s contention is that if you need the knife lower than the top of the blade, then you’re performing a cut which can’t use the guard or pawls anyway, makes sense. To use the GRR-Rippers, you would have to use the lower setting.

I expect my use of the GRR-Rippers will probably be restricted to very thin rips, possibly from small stock, rips from short pieces, or specialized cuts like making a groove in a dowel. I imagine they would make great push blocks for cutting dados, too, though a bit of overkill. :) I thought I would use them for making very long rips, like an 8’ or 10’ board. However, now it seems like a featherboard and suitably long outfeed table should handle that task just fine, while keeping the guard in place.

-- Aaron

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2899 posts in 2212 days

#49 posted 02-06-2013 03:10 AM

aaroncgi – it’s a riving knife. A splitter does not move with the blade, and does not crown the top of the blade. You should only lower it to “riving knife” height for non through cuts. I also keep it low when using a sled. You should never try to put the guard on when it is in “riving knife” height. The geometry of the guard holder changes. Instead of parallel, it is going to be angled up. Also unless you have that blade cranked all the way up, there is no way you are fitting the wood scratchers (kickback pawls) on there. When lowered and working with 4/4 stock, the part on the riving knife where the pawls attach is below the ZCI – that is to say if you keep your blade at a safe operating height.

I may be the only one here, but I like the guard on my R4512, It did actually save me from a kickback once. After I cut a board, the off cut made it back into the front of the blade and shot upward. The long steel bar on the guard caught it. It was enough force to actually knock the overarm guard loose. I still have no idea how that happened. I know the really thin offcuts tend to drift forward, but this was about an inch thick. I am now in the habit of shutting the saw down after every cut.


View aaroncgi's profile


33 posts in 1940 days

#50 posted 02-06-2013 08:02 AM


Thanks for the clarification and tips on not using the attachments in the lower position. I understood the standard definitions of a splitter vs. riving knife, but the Ridgid manual confuses the issue – actually calls it a spreader in the up position, and a riving knife only in the down position. Part of my understanding of a riving knife is that it’s never higher than the top of the blade, in addition to the qualities that you mention. Dozens if not hundreds of people online praise the benefits of a riving knife, primary among those is not having to be removed for non-through cuts. Maybe it’s picking nits, but either way, it’s a good feature to have since you still have the option to have it lower than the blade for dados or whatever.

I like the guard on my R4512 too, no issues with it so far, so you’re not the only one. I was a little mistaken in the measurements I mentioned before. The two clear plastic swinging guards are separatedby a couple inches (less in the front). Then there are two metal bars in between the plastic swinging guards, which are much closer together, but still half inch or so apart, through which you can see the blade. I was wondering if this opening would shoot sawdust at my face, but so far it’s not an issue. :) I do stand off the the side though, and always wear goggles.

-- Aaron

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