A Home Made Splitter for the Table Saw
I have always maintained that the best safety feature for my various woodworking tools is not my ear protectors, or my safety goggles. Rather it is my head -- as in the proper use of my head. Be careful, think about what your doing, don't work when tired, think about what will happen if you or the tool slip, and the like. I've been around power tools since I was a kid, as my father was a carpenter. I was raised to be careful and cautious. And yes, I always use hearing protection, and safety goggles.
Nevertheless, Over the previous few months I'd become convinced of the need to have a splitter on my table saw. A recent article in a fall 2001 issue of Fine Woodworking, and others like it, has helped with that decision. My previous saw had no guard or splitter on it, nor any way to add one to it. As I was shopping around for a new saw, I could see that every new saw was (of course) equipped with a splitter and guard, which also caused me to think about the subject. I still have all ten fingers, and I want to keep it that way.
From what I've read, a splitter is the single most important safety feature to help prevent kickback on a table saw.
My new saw came with a fairly standard combination blade guard/splitter with anti-kickback pawls. But I could not use it.
One of the most useful jigs that I built for my first table saw was a cross cut sled. I used it regularly, and found it to be much more safe and useful than the stock miter guage. But you can't use that jig with the stock guard/splitter. The splitter is too big, it's too much in the way. But neither can you easily or simply remove it. The guard/splitter is bolted into place, which requires a few minutes fiddling with a wrench to mount/unmount. This is not acceptable to me. I require a splitter which either removes quickly or is built such that it doesn't interfere with my sled.
I've never seen one in "the flesh", but from what I've read of them, I think the delta/biesemeyer pop-up splitter is probably the best solution yet for a table saw splitter. But they only fit certain types of saws, and they do cost a fair bit.
I did some reading and researching on the net and came across two likely methods to make my own splitter.
First, Fine Woodworking published an article on how to make a splitter, by Kelly Mehler, an author and woodworker who crusades for woodworker safety. ( Here is a photo of the result, which should be self-explanatory, just in case the above link goes stale)
Next, I came across Ken who had built his own splitter out of some simple pieces of metal. This was a great idea. Here is a link to his web photo album -- the splitter section is near the bottom.
I ended up making my own splitter out of a metal shelf support which I had lying around the shop -- following the example of Ken. It bolts onto the same mount as the stock guard/splitter, and it doesn't need to be removed when I use a cross-cut sled. It just slips right through the saw kerf in the cross-cut sled.
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