The Gripper: Essential piece of kit or expensive trifle?


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Been contemplating purchasing the Gripper.  I have been told it's a must, and I have been told it's more dangerous because you can't see the blade. Wondering what people's thoughts are and why. Thanks!

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As with most bits of safety gear, the Grrripper will only protect you to the extent that you are willing to use it properly. In my workflow, repeated cuts are few and far between, so I feel I would fail to bother adjusting the device to properly fit every cut I make. In that case, it would not be very useful. However, some folks love them.

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The main purpose of the Gripper is to aid preventing kick back. If I need to cut a single 1/4" strip, I cut it on the left side of the blade. But if I need say 10 strips, I cut them on the right side and use a couple of grippers.

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The thing with the Grrripper is that in order to use this safety device you have to defeat another safety device.  Specifically the blade guard has to be removed (riving knife remains) in order to allow the Grrripper to pass over the blade.  So essentially trading one blade cover for another, and while the gripper may be less in the way, the blade guards frequently are designed to enhance dust collection.  

Where I think the gripper is naturally going to excel is in ripping off narrow pieces, and in work flows where the blade guard is usually removed.  For example the guard is usually in the way with a cross cut sled.  So I think the value of the gripper depends on what you make a lot of and how you usually make it.

The subject comes up periodically.  Here is a recent thread.

 

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38 minutes ago, Mark J said:

The thing with the Grrripper is that in order to use this safety device you have to defeat another safety device.  Specifically the blade guard has to be removed (riving knife remains) in order to allow the Grrripper to pass over the blade.  So essentially trading one blade cover for another, and while the gripper may be less in the way, the blade guards frequently are designed to enhance dust collection.  

Where I think the gripper is naturally going to excel is in ripping off narrow pieces, and in work flows where the blade guard is usually removed.  For example the guard is usually in the way with a cross cut sled.  So I think the value of the gripper depends on what you make a lot of and how you usually make it.

The subject comes up periodically.  Here is a recent thread.

Took the words right out of my mouth. If your saw has a good guard (mine does), then you need to learn to use it whenever possible, as it provides dust collection and better protection than a GRR-Ripper can. There are very few instances where one would work better for me.

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Short answer, I love 'em and would  not want to be without them.

Longer answer, it is a method of work that seems to be rather polarizing; some love it, some not.  Like buying into any process or system (Festool after market add-ons, the Woodrat, Leigh's FMT, Hoffman keys and so forth) it is something you roll into your thinking. 

My early saw was a contractor that had long-lost its rather useless blade guard.  Although I had an overarm guard there are many operations where this is not reasonable.  Despite a ZCI and splitter rig I wanted more safety.  The Grr-Ripper was the answer for me and is now integral into how I approach certain operations on the tablesaw and also at the router table.

I run a pair, one of what they used to (and may still) call the '100' and one of the '200' models.  For awhile I also picked up spare legs and other accessories when I found them at a good price. So, I'm in the "Essential" group you mention but, they may or may not be for you.

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While I agree with all the comments above, I'll toss in that my method for cutting thin rips is a foot-long piece of 2x6 with a 'heel' screwed to one end. Thin cut is between blade and fence, and the push block is sacrificial, runs right across the blade. I like the longer block because it helps me hold the board to the table behind the blade without having to reach over it.

I'll burn through a lot of 2x6 before I approach the Gripper's cost. But again, if you use it properly, it is likely the safer solution.

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If I have multiple thin pieces to cut, I use a little stop thingy from Rockler that allows you to move the fence and board toward the blade after each cut. If it’s a one off, then I go for the Gripper. 

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15 hours ago, pkinneb said:

I am one of those folks that sold theirs becuase I didn't like that I couldn't see the blade/bit and no I don't use a blade guard on my TS for the same reason :ph34r:

Just for the sake of newbs reading...riving knife yes, overtopping guard no?

 

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15 hours ago, pkinneb said:

I am one of those folks that sold theirs becuase I didn't like that I couldn't see the blade/bit and no I don't use a blade guard on my TS for the same reason :ph34r:

I have a contractor saw with a really crap guard. I am spending some days in the shop with a guy in his 60s who is a master Japanese craftsman.. He told me the blade guards are unsafe and made by bureaucrats. It's exactly why he doesn't like the gripper - you can't see the blade. 

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32 minutes ago, Naomi said:

I think that is what  I will do. Something like this pic? 

PushStick.jpg

I'm gonna steal this design...I love only having to replace the hardboard and not the whole push stick.

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Just to add more food for thought.  I love my Grr-Rippers but, do use a Marc Adams 'tadpole' type block and something very like what Naomi shows as well.  It doesn't have to be rocket science to be safe but, somewhat-rocket-science is available ;-)  I prefer the Grr-Rippers when I need to control the cutoff.

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22 hours ago, pkinneb said:

I couldn't see the blade/bit and no I don't use a blade guard on my TS for the same reason

Me Too.  But the riving knife is there.

I have a Gripper and us it for certain things, I actually have three different styles of push apparatus depending on the task.

Edited by Chet
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7 hours ago, Naomi said:

I think that is what  I will do. Something like this pic? 

PushStick.jpg

Yes. That example is much more 'technical' than what I use, but serves the same purpous. I suggest making the main part of the body just a bit longer for better control. Trim the nose at an angle to reduce weight if necessary.

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I also fall into the 'love em' camp. They just work. I'm not condoning that anyone else do it, but I haven't had a guard over my tablesaw blade since 1979. For me they make it harder to safely push material through. Also in the 'riving knife always unless I'm not doing a through cut. 

I don't always use the Grrippers - usually just a push stick, but lots of cuts call for an added level of security for holding the piece in place. That's when they come out. I use them on my jointer pretty often when I'm face planing. On the router table, when I'm cutting dados. 

They're worth the investment IMO.

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I really love my Grripers as well. I don’t particularly like my blade guard and it has no dust collection functionality, so I typically leave it off, so I love the Grrrripers for when I’m cutting small parts or ripping a thin strip off of one side when I’m finishing my milling. 

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On 8/25/2020 at 5:44 AM, wtnhighlander said:

As with most bits of safety gear, the Grrripper will only protect you to the extent that you are willing to use it properly

Huge fan of the Grrripper and this is probably the most accurate statement regarding its use. Typically anything 1" and under I'll use mine.  However if you plan on making cuts larger than about 17" in length you need a pair of them to make the cut without stopping and getting the potential for burns or nasty saw marks.  The modular concept behind them is fantastic as well so you're able to "build" it according to your needs/wants.  

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26 minutes ago, Askland09 said:

Huge fan of the Grrripper and this is probably the most accurate statement regarding its use. Typically anything 1" and under I'll use mine.  However if you plan on making cuts larger than about 17" in length you need a pair of them to make the cut without stopping and getting the potential for burns or nasty saw marks.  The modular concept behind them is fantastic as well so you're able to "build" it according to your needs/wants.  

+1

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I have the griper push blocks for my jointer and they are really nice. I am short with short arms so I prefer the Mattias Wandel push sticks. They allow me to stay back and I don't have to reach over the blade. That said I don't really do many rip cuts at the table saw especially thin rip cuts. Personally I think the band saw is the safest way to make them but i realize that doesn't work for everyone.

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