I previously made a zero clearance insert for my Delta 35-650 table saw, and I added a homemade wood splitter. I’ve recently upgraded to the factory-made Delta 34-868 splitter and wanted to relay my impressions.
Why the Homemade Splitter Failed
I had previously been using a homemade MDF zero-clearance insert with a piece of hardwood glued in to act as a splitter. This worked OK, although I found that its fixed height could be frustrating to work with. The biggest problem with using wood for an insert is that eventually, given humidity changes, it can warp. After a few years, this happened to mine, and it created an unsafe condition where wood pinched between the blade and the splitter. This is exactly the opposite of what the splitter is for!
Delta 34-868 Splitter
The Delta 34-868 splitter was the best pre-made splitter I could find for my saw. I would really prefer a proper riving knife, but that doesn’t appear to be an option. Besides the wood splitter integrated into my zero-clearance insert, I had also previously used a piece of steel bolted where the factory splitter used to be. Unfortunately, the steel I used was rather flimsy, and while I could have probably fixed that, it was also bolted in. This meant that any time I wanted to cut a dado, I needed to unbolt my splitter. This was a huge pain.
At the end of the day, I simply grew tired of messing with it. The Delta 34-868 splitter slides in and out of the table without tools, has integrated pawls to prevent kickback, and is designed for my saw. I figured it was worth a shot, particularly with free returns on Amazon.
Removal of Old Splitter Bracket
The factory splitter for my Delta 36-650 contractor saw bolted into this bracket. To install the new splitter, this must come out.
Two bolts in the location pictured hold the bracket in place. Simply undo these to remove it.
When the bracket comes out, it looks like this.
Replacement Bolts (Contractor Saws)
If you have a unisaw, the new Delta 34-868 splitter will bolt right in. If you have a contractor saw like me, it probably won’t. The original bracket and the new one are too different.
Here are all 4 bolts I have. The two short ones are from the Delta 34-868 splitter kit, while the other two are from my original factory bracket. As you can see, the two splitter kit bolts are too large for the contractor saw threaded holes. The original Delta contractor saw bolts are the wrong length.
This is an easy fix, although it would be nice if Delta included it from the factory. A pair of 1/4-20 x 3/4″ bolts from the local hardware store should do the trick.
Once you have the correct bolts, the new Delta 34-868 splitter can simply be bolted in. I used a framing square to make sure it was square to the table as I tightened it down. You should also make sure that it is lined up left-to-right with the blade using a piece of scrap.
So far, I really like the Delta 34-868 splitter. It is not as good as a proper riving knife, but I can’t get one of those. Having some kind of splitter or riving knife is critical to prevent wood from grabbing the blade and having dangerous kickback. I’m glad that Delta has provided a means to upgrade their older tools.
It is stiffer than my previous iterations, I really like that I can drop it under the table, and the anti-kickback pawls are a nice addition. I also found that it is narrow enough to use with my 1/16″ Freud blade, which is a must for me and probably most woodworkers. I’ll update this article after I use the splitter on more real projects.