Workshop Tip: Simple splitter for an old table sawThis method makes it easy to line up the tab perfectly with the blade.
Like many older tablesaws, mine lacks a functional splitter, so I made my own by extending the blade slot in a shopmade throat plate and inserting a small hardwood tab at the back of the slot. This isn’t a new idea, but I’ve refined the process to make it faster and more foolproof. I start by lowering the blade and bringing it up through a blank plate as usual. This creates a zero-clearance slot that prevents tearout on the bottom side of cuts.
The tricky part is extending the slot safely and also accurately, so the tab will be aligned perfectly with the blade. I do this by putting the stock throat plate back in the table, fitting the new one over the raised blade (with the saw turned off!), and then adjusting the rip fence to meet the edge of the new plate. Then I just pop the plate off the blade and make a ripcut from the back end up to the existing slot. That guarantees perfect alignment.
Next I glue the tab into place, which closes the back of the slot and restores the plate’s strength. You can locate the tab as close as you like to the blade for improved safety. It’s really that simple.
A few important notes on the splitter tab: Start by ripping a strip—using the bandsaw or tablesaw—that fits the blade kerf. Then cut off a piece and orient the grain vertically when gluing it into place, clamping across the plate for a strong joint. If you make multiple throat plates, you can have one tab that sticks up higher and another that sits down low, for cuts that don’t go through the board.
Last, I use a rasp, file, or sanding stick to take a touch off the sides of the tab so it doesn’t bind in the cut, and round and taper the front edge.
—BEN KERNES, Chicago, Ill.
Illustrations by Dan Thornton
From Fine Woodworking issue #289