Being a safe woodworker is key to enjoying many years of the craft without injuries. The Microjig GRR-RIPPER is a key safety tool you shouldn’t be without.
Power tool injuries are one of the most common serious accidents that leaves woodworkers with serious cuts and amputations each year.
In fact every 9 minutes someone is injured on a table saw!
Most of these accidents can be avoided by adopting safe woodworking practices such as never rushing a job or working when tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Ensuring your shop is well lighted, kept clean and free from any distractions helps as well.
But probably the most important safety tip is keeping hands and other limbs safely away from saw blades, spinning drill bits and router bits. It only takes one slip of a hand to end up with mangled fingers or losing them altogether.
Lots of safety aids are available including various push sticks.
One such safety accessory is the Microjig GRR-RIPPER. It was mainly designed as a great aid in pushing and guiding pieces of wood through a table saw, keeping your hands safely away from the spinning saw blade.
However it also is great for safely re-sawing on a band saw, face jointing on a jointer or safely holding onto stock on a router table as it passes over the bit.
This is a full review of the GRR-RIPPER, including how it is used on the various tools mentioned above.
Note: the GRR-RIPPER was provided to me free of charge by Microjig for this review, however the review below is my honest opinion of the product.
This post also celebrates the partnership Microjig now has with Home Depot Canada. The woodworking accessory brand’s flagship product, the GRR-RIPPER, will be in all 200 Home Depot Canada stores starting May 21 through Father’s Day until June 26.
The Three Directions Of Force That The Microjig GRR-RIPPER Exerts
In order to provide the best stability of the wood your are machining, there are three directions of force that you need to apply for the safest cut on a table saw.
- Downward pressure: stabilizes work piece on a flat surface.
- Inward pressure: against the fence virtually eliminates kickback.
- Forward pressure: feeds stock consistently through the cut to eliminate burning and blade marks.
I found that it is very easy to apply these three pressures as the handle on the GRR-RIPPER is easy to grip.
For the jointer, router and bandsaw downward and forward (or sideways) pressure is all that’s needed and the GRR-RIPPER also excels on those three power tools.
Assembling The Microjig GRR-RIPPER
The GRR-RIPPER comes in a small box, flat-packed, ready to be assembled by the woodworker.
Assembly is very straight-forward with a detailed, illustrated instruction booklet that steps you through the 10-15 minute assembly process.
It does require the use of a screwdriver, but every woodworker should have at least one screwdriver on hand.
Here is a quick video I did of the unboxing and assembly.
The pieces are sturdy and fit very well together. The legs that ride on your stock are easily adjustable with some thumbscrews. The yellow colour stands out so that the GRR-RIPPER is easy to find in your workshop.
There are also accessory parts available for the GRR-RIPPER and one of these I received in addition to the GRR-RIPPER: the 1/8″ leg for ripping thin strips of wood on the table saw.
Other accessories include a Stabilizing Plate, Adjustable Spacer, Deflector / Connector, Handle Bridge Kit and a Gravity Heel Kit that can easily be added to the base GRR-RIPPER.
Using The Microjig Grr-Ripper On A Table Saw
On a table saw the GRR-RIPPER is used for rip cuts, along the grain, hence the name GRR-RIPPER.
So the first step once it’s assembled and you’re ready to use it is to adjust the feet of the GRR-RIPPER so that they straddle the table saw blade.
You want to have one of the legs sitting on the waste side of the wood and another one on the side you’re keeping so that both pieces of wood once fully cut are pushed through past the blade. This gives you the most control over kickback and ensures the pieces clear the blade before you try and remove them from the saw.
This is also where the 1/8″ leg comes in if you’re ripping down a very narrow slice from a board.
The gravity heel kit can also come in handy to help push the wood through the saw more reliably. I’ve found that without it, it does require your table saw surface to have less friction than the pads on the bottom of the GRR-RIPPER.
Ideally to rip a long board, two GRR-RIPPER’s should be used and Microjig does sell them in a pair for this specific purpose.
Note that you do need to remove your table saw guard. The GRR-RIPPER is designed to act as the table saw guard to keep your hands away from the blade.
You might also need to remove your splitter if it’s not a riving knife that goes up and down with your table saw blade. Microjig also sells splitters that mount in a zero clearance plate to help keep wood from pinching during rip cuts or you can make your own.
A demo video from Microjig shows you how to use the GRR-RIPPER on a tablesaw.
Using The Microjig Grr-Ripper On A Router Table
For a router table it’s not as critical to adjust the legs, but you do want them adjusted to sit in a stable manner on top of the wood you’re putting through the router.
The key to using the GRR-RIPPER successfully is to apply sufficient downwards pressure and then move the GRR-RIPPER and wood in the correct direction, right to left.
It excels at keeping your hands and fingers away from the spinning bit that doesn’t discriminate between a chunk of wood and your hands and fingers.
This video from Microjig shows you how this works.
Using The Microjig Grr-Ripper On A Jointer
Woodworkers are often seen feeding wood through a jointer with their bare hands on top of the plank. This is a dangerous practice!
Instead some sort of push block should be used. The GRR-RIPPER is the best push block as it provides a grippy surface and a sturdy handle.
Ideally to joint a long board, two GRR-RIPPER’s should be used as mentioned earlier with the table saw. A good way to ensure downward pressure is maintained is to “walk” the two GRR-RIPPER’s: as the second one passes over the blade, you move the first one to the back of the board behind the now-leading GRR-RIPPER.
This video from Microjig shows how this works:
Using The Microjig Grr-Ripper On A Bandsaw
The final way to use the GRR-RIPPER is on the bandsaw to resaw wood into thinner pieces.
Typically one GRR-RIPPER is used with the stock against the bandsaw fence.
This is better than using a featherboard as the GRR-RIPPER helps to hold the stock firmly against the fence over a greater height of the fence.
You can even use two GRR-RIPPERs to sandwich the board between them and not use the fence, although that takes more control to cut straight.
Here’s how it’s used on a bandsaw:
Cleaning Your Microjig GRR-RIPPER
The gripping pads on the bottom of your GRR-RIPPER may get clogged with sawdust, oils and other debris. This will reduce the grip of the pads to the point that they may slip on the wood, causing a safety hazard.
Periodically clean off the pads with 91% isopropyl alcohol to restore their grip.
Buying The Microjig Grr-Ripper
So as mentioned earlier, Home Depot in Canada now sell the GRR-RIPPER in their stores and online.
Here are the links to the relevant pages:
Microjig GRR-RIPPER 3D Pushblock
Microjig GRR-RIPPER Advanced 3D Pushblock
Microjig GRR-RIPPER 1/8” LEG
Replacement Parts For The Microjig Grr-Ripper
It’s eventually going to happen that you cut into one of the support legs. Since they are made from plastic and rubber, this will not damage your blades or bits.
A few minor nicks or cuts won’t affect the integrity of the legs, but if there is extensive damage to them, you can order replacement legs from Microjig.
The GRR-RIPPER is a must-have safety accessory for a woodworker that values keeping all 10 digits on their hands.
It should always be kept at hand so it’s easy to grab before hitting the power switch on your tablesaw, router, jointer or bandsaw.