Riving Knife




About: DIY maniac from South-Estonia! I love to inspire and to be inspired.

The importance of a riving knife can not be underestimated! If you have ever worked with circular saws then you know what I am talking about. Without it one of the most terrifying thing called kickback can easily occur.

My Makita MLT 100 contractor table saw came with a riving knife but this one had had one big flaw that really annoyed me. To fix this issue I made a completely new one and I would like to share how I did it with you!

I also made a short video of the build. Check it out!

This project is nothing really special or complicated but I hope that someone will find it useful.

Let´s get started!

Step 1: Tools Ans Materials

You will need:

  • Sheet metal with thickness bit thinner than your saw blade.
  • Optional: spray paint
  • Old riving knife or a template
  • metal file
  • drill bit
  • calipers
  • oil for lubrication
  • steel punch and a hammer
  • jigsaw with metal cutting blade
  • marker
  • clamp for holding your workpiece

Step 2: But Why?

As I said my original riving knife had one big flaw. It was caused by it being too tall. It was designed so that it could hold blade guard/dust extractor, but I newer used it. Yeah, I know that you are supposed to use all the safety features that come with the table saw, but I personally find it much safer when I actually see the blade at all times.

The height of the riving knifed was a big pain in the buttocks. I could only make through cuts as the knife prohibit the workpiece from moving forward. It also blocked the movement of my table saw sled. Every time I wanted to use my slede or make a groove cut I had to remove the knife. It took quite a bit of time and I did not feel too comfortable sticking my hand inside the saw next to the blade to remove the thing.

At one point it was too much for me and I decided to spend a few hours to make a new riving knife. I did not really want to just cut the old one shorter as I might want to use it's features in the future (probably not, though).

Step 3: Mark and Drill

Use your already existing riving knife to trace out the shape of a
new knife. It is a good idea to clean the metal with acetone before you start marking as it will remove any oil and dust that is on the metal. There is also a good chance that you do not have an old knife to use as a template. In that case, I can think of two possibilities. Either you find the shape by trial and error with wooden/cardboard test pieces. Or you get the template from someone like a person from woodworking forum or maybe the manufacturer might even send you one. The height of the knife should be just a tiny bit shorter than the height of the saw blade.

Use a drill bit to make holes in the correct locations.

Step 4: Mark and Cut

Use metal cutting blade and oil for lubrication to cut out the shape.

After that, it is a good idea to also use metal files to smoothen the
rough edges. After all, the saw blade is already dangerous enough - you don´t want to cut your fingers with the riving knife.

I also like to paint everything that is even remotely dangerous red so I would stay more alert around it. So I did also with my new riving knife. Be sure to use acetone to clean the blade thurally before applying the paint.

Step 5: The End


Now I can make grooved cuts and the sled works also perfectly. And also it does not stick out from the table when the blade is fully retracted. I can now easily slide my fence over without bumping into it.

I hope you liked this simple project!





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    7 Discussions


    10 days ago on Step 5

    Thanks for this. I have exactly the same problem with the riving knife on my table saw. Never occured to me to make a new one - dumb or what? Now I have a solution :-)


    1 year ago

    Great Instructable! I can't stress enough the importance of the riving knife. I too have an MLT 100 Makita table saw and I had removed the original tall riving knife for exactly the same reason: it blocked my sled. I had been planning to modify it in a similar fashion for over two years! That is until I hurt my hand really bad due to a kick back that would have never happened had the riving knife been there. I did not touch that saw again until I modified that riving knife. I would never use a table saw again without a riving knife. If you are in a similar position, stop and take the 15 to 30 min to add a riving knife.

    If your saw has no riving knife, you can add a wooden splitter on your throat plate:


    Safety first!

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi! My MLT100 just broke down again and I was wondering if you have ever had the same problem. The threads of the motor raising mechanism are worn out so I can not raise the blade anymore. It is not that big of a deal since the new part only costs 17€ but I still lose precious building time. And it is the second time this has happened to me! I suppose I should have oiled the threads once in a while. I have also attached a photo from the plans showing the exact part (321). It is the big aluminium part in front of the motor.

    Has this ever happened to you?


    Reply 1 year ago

    I could not agree with you more! Circular saws are really dangerous and must be handled with great caution.


    1 year ago

    I had never heard of this. Cool!!


    2 years ago

    Nice work! I did the same thing recently, but just cut the riving knife that came with the saw shorter.

    1 reply