171 – MicroJig MJ Splitter SteelPRO

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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!

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Category: Safety

Comments

  1. JerrySats May 6, 2012

    I bought the Pro version a few years ago and never installed , this video gives me the motivation to set it up . I gotta say the folks at Micro Jig sure think things over before they make a product available for sale . Thumbs up to them !!

  2. Do they make variations for narrower-kerf blades, or are they “one size fits all”? I almost had a boo-boo with my table’s steel splitter when I switched to a thin-kerf blade, when the wood bumped into the splitter, so I’ve not been using it.

  3. I can’t use this and my saw doesn’t have any of that type of protection.

    The reason I can’t use it? There is absolutely no space behind the blade. Even if I could find a replacement zero clearance insert (which I have yet to do – the insert that came with the saw is stamped metal) there is only about 1/2″ between the blade and the end of the insert.

    I had very good intentions of installing one of these after market splitters – but I’ve seen nothing that would work at all.

    Anyone with suggestions?

    • Frank May 6, 2012

      I’m no expert, but my solution would be that when you make your insert, you simply glue into that last 1/2″ of space a shim just a little slimmer than your blade. Either wood or stiff plastic or metal. The splitter doesn’t have to be huge I wouldn’t think, just……there. Its only job is to keep the wood from closing back together behind the blade. Your splitter would basically be a half inch in length but could be as high as you thought was needed or possible considering how it was anchored to the insert. I haven’t watched the video yet. In case I sound like an idiot, that’s my excuse.

    • Robert Palmeter May 7, 2012

      Somewhere on the WWW I saw a post telling how to drill a 1/8 in hole directly behind the blade and then glue or epoxy the shaft of the 1/8 bit in the hole.( 1/8 kerf blade)
      I use the Micro jig splitter on my TS. It works well and if the piece being cut has internal stresses that cause a problem the splitter starts to pull out giving a warning.

    • michael May 7, 2012

      If you have no space in the zero-clearence, you could drill into the cast-iron bed – with good drill bits its a relatively easy task.

  4. Jeff - Wis. May 6, 2012

    I lost much of 3 fingers 8 weeks ago, because I removed the “complicated metal and plastic dinglehopper contraption that is intended for safety, but actually resembles a medieval torture device ” when I bought my saw yers ago. This splitter looks like a great idea for most of my cutting, but wouldn’t have helped me as the blade was at a an angle when the wood pinched on the blade and pulled my hand back into the blade (which was pulling the wood out the backside -I should have been using a push stick).

  5. Jeremy Crawford May 6, 2012

    What kind of riving knife or splitter would you use if you are using a Dado Blade?

  6. J.D. May 6, 2012

    …and all that crap…;)

    Marcs own variation on Norms standard speech. Love it.

  7. Mark Loughran May 7, 2012

    Hi Marc, great instructional video, seems like a really well though through safety product, very well explained!!

  8. Jay May 7, 2012

    Got the thin and full kerf models. Love em for sure! My old Delta saw is so much safer because of them and the cuts are cleaner too.

  9. TexasTed May 7, 2012

    I bought the plastic splitters some time ago. The plastic pins on them broke off when pinched in the kerf. Bruce replaced them for me. A great customer service company.

  10. KDawg May 8, 2012

    “All That Crap”. Love that line!!!

    Seems like a very smart buy. My issue on my table saw is I have a hard time coming up with a good plan for a zero clearance insert. I have a Craftsman saw and it came with a rectangular shaped insert. It doesn’t cover then entire blade at all. None of the after-market inserts will work (that I have found). I have checked at sears and they haven’t been able to come up with anything. When I need that tight mouth, I resorted to putting a piece of hardboard as my top and raising the blade through that, but it’s not ideal. Does anyone have suggestions?

    • Michael May 8, 2012

      if it is like mine the ‘lip’ is approx 1/4″ could you fabricate one out of ply? – I did that for many years and also very cheap. if you are able to post a link to an image of what you are dealing with, I am sure we can all come up with a solution.

  11. Tom Pritchard May 10, 2012

    I have been looking at those spliters for sometime. Now I know I’m going to purchase. I have nothing now. I have been very lucky so far.

  12. Trevor Hillman May 11, 2012

    I have been using these splitters for some time now, I do not think of it often but I am glad that they are in place.

  13. TCCook May 13, 2012

    The problem I have is reviewing a sponsors item. In most situations, reviewers try hard not to mix those two.

  14. David Rose December 13, 2012

    Marc, good instructional video, seems like a really well though out safety product, and you did a fine job explaining how it works!! I own an old Delta and have been wanting to make it safer – this seems to be the best solution.

  15. Chris Strizver February 10, 2013

    Marc,

    I reluctantly took the splitter/knife off my TS. I found that installing it, just to have to remove it to do a dado cut, just to re-install, just….well you get the point. This seems like a good solution to that issue. Is there something else I’m missing? Does everyone struggle with constantly having to install/uninstall their splitters?

  16. Don September 20, 2013

    Marc,
    Did not see the article until today. I am about to try it on my uncles 1966 Craftsman tablesaw, because I don’t have the blade guard support. I think it was tossed a while ago. I hope this does the trick.

    I appreciate what you are doing for the guild and fellow woodworkers. Great job!

    Can’t wait for the book release……

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