How to Rip Boards with a Table Saw: #1 Best Guide

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We’ve been seeing a lot of people ask how to rip boards with a table saw, so we decided to write up this article.

There are a few different ways that you can rip boards but this article is more focused on How to rip boards with a table saw, the fundamentals of ripping boards, narrow boards, and long boards, all with a table saw.

How to Rip Boards With a Table Saw Image

How to Rip Boards With a Table Saw

It’s not enough to just crosscut a board with your table saw—you need to rip it down the center so you can get two pieces. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to do that. Here is how to accurately and safely rip boards with a table saw.

Equipment Needed:

Materials Needed:

  • Wood (Preferably Plywood or 4×4)

Duration: 15-20 Minutes

Budget: $20-$50 (USD)

Steps:

1. Place the board on the table saw fence with one side pinned between it and the blade, as close as possible without touching, then slowly feed the board past the blade until one side starts ripping away from you along with some white shavings of wood. If your first attempt fails, make sure that your fence is set at 90 degrees (a right angle).

2. Once the board has been attacked with a rip cut, use a push stick to feed the remaining piece down the blade to cut it in half. This is a safer way to rip because pushing down on wood against a spinning blade makes for zero resistance.

With regular push sticks, you can push down on them with almost no resistance and they can bog down your blade. Make sure that as soon as you start feeding the pieces of wood that you set them down so they are not in your hands before you touch the saw.

3. To make long straight cuts on sheets of material (plywood, particle board, etc.), clamp them in place with B-clamps or C-clamps on sawhorses or workbenches. Make sure there’s a space between the saw blade and the clamps so that no wood gets caught between the two when the blade passes through.

Note: If you’re ripping through two sheets of material, it helps to have another pair of hands feed boards past the spinning blade.

To make angled cuts, clamp a long straight edge onto your workbench and feed it past the blade as you would with stock in hand. Use featherboards for safety.

Alternative ways to safely rip boards without a table saw are with a circular saw or router table.

How to Rip Boards With a Table Saw Video


How to Rip Narrow Boards With a Table Saw

Ripping narrowly with a table saw is a tedious task, especially since you are limited to using the blade to cut the board, leaving you only one small piece of your work to do. However, some creative use of the saw can make this job easier, making it much more practical than it may seem at first glance.

When ripping narrow boards with a table saw you have two options: you can use a guide system or rip freehand. The guide system consists of several different components that will hold your boards as they are cut.

The most common has two movable fences that hold each end of the board and guide its moving through the table’s miter gauge.

The fence at the back of the board is adjustable to account for the thickness of your saw’s miter slot. This will hold the board in place in front of the blade and measure how far your blade is from each end making a full thin strip thin rip.

The alternative to this system is freehand ripping. When ripping narrow boards with a table saw, holding down each board manually can be both tiring and time-consuming after several repetitions.

If you are using a sliding compound miter saw, however, this task becomes easier. The saw’s miter gauge can hold of a board, leaving you only to guide the board through the blade. A sliding compound miter saw will allow you to make precision cuts quickly and easily.

Equipment Needed:

  • Table Saw
  • Dado Blade
  • Miter Gauge
  • Toggle Clamps
  • Protective Goggles

Materials Needed:

  • Wood (Preferably Plywood or 4×4)

Duration: 15-20 Minutes

Budget: $20-$50 (USD)

Steps:

First, run your blade over the edge of your board to remove any excess wood to ensure an accurate cut.

Then, reset your fence and run the blade back over the board again, letting it cut just into the edge of the wood for a clean finish.

Make sure that you move slowly while ripping boards with a table saw. Taking too much pressure with a saw can cause it to buck and could break the blade.

Then check the video for more instruction

How to Rip Narrow Boards With a Table Saw Video


How to Rip Long Boards on Table Saw

For boards that are wider than about 24″ it’s best to cut them on a longer piece of stock such as a beam or plank. This will allow you to make straight, clean cuts without the need to reposition the board in the table saw every few inches like you would have to do with narrow boards.

Equipment Needed:

  • Table Saw
  • Dado Blade
  • Miter Gauge
  • Toggle Clamps
  • Protective Goggles

Materials Needed:

  • Wood (Preferably Plywood or 4×4)

Duration: 15-20 Minutes

Budget: $20-$50 (USD)

Steps:

For a straight cut, set the height of the blade on your table saw so that it matches where you would like your board to be when it is finished. Then precut the long edge of your board and attach it to your fence ensuring that there is enough room to rip freehand. You also want to adjust your blade angle and its speed so it is cutting at approximately 45 degrees.

The first step is to position your piece of wood on a pair of miter saws, either hand held or mounted to a stand. Use push sticks or a hand saw to guide the board as close as possible to the table saw’s blade without actually touching it.

Using a push stick, make sure that you are putting pressure only on the board itself and not through the blade. It should go in easily with little resistance, although not without some resistance.

You can then bring up the blade of your table saw and starting at one side of the board, slowly feed it through toward the other side until you have cut all of the wood off of both sides until there is no wood left.

Lastly, set your saw to rip the other side of the board, again going slowly so that you don’t drag while cutting. Make sure to cut only wood and not the blade itself and that no part of your board is sticking out past the blade.

The only thing left to do after cutting a long board is to sand it smooth or use stain if preferred.

How to Rip Long Boards on Table Saw Video


How to Rip Wood With a Table Saw

Equipment Needed:

  • Table Saw
  • Dado Blade
  • Miter Gauge
  • Toggle Clamps
  • Protective Goggles

Materials Needed:

  • Wood (Preferably Plywood or 4×4)

Duration: 15-20 Minutes

Budget: $20-$50 (USD)

Steps:

Step 1: Stand the wood piece vertically against the fence on the side of the blade.

Step 2: Make sure that you have a board to turn your workpiece around onto for safety and support, as well as to hold it in place.

Step 3: Push your wood through slowly and steadily without applying too much downward pressure on your material.

Step 4: Insert your workpiece on to the upcut side of the blade.

Step 5: On the downcut side, watch for wood chips.

Step 6: Stop before any chips enter your blade.

And you’re done!

The only thing left to do after cutting a long board is to sand it smooth or use stain if preferred.

How to Rip Wood With a Table Saw Video


How to Rip Boards With a Table Saw
Safety Guide

Before ripping any boards a few safety preventions should be followed. First things first, all of the usual safety measures should be followed. When ripping any wood boards it is important to use proper safety measures to avoid having the board break and cut your fingers. The following steps should be followed for proper safety.

Toggle Clamp

Always use long-handled clamps when ripping boards with a table saw especially on power tool saws. This will help you keep good control of your material without getting caught up in your saw blade or moving too fast on the wood and breaking the board.

PPE

When ripping boards with a table saw, make sure to bring along your safety glasses and dust mask when you start to rip the wood. The dust from the wood will get on your eyes proving a serious distraction. It is also best to wear proper shoes when engaging in this activity. These shoes should have soles that are made for hard surfaces like the bottom of your table saw. This will help you avoid slipping which could cause some serious injury if it happens while you are ripping boards with a table saw.

Riving Knife

A riving knife is a safety device which is fitted and mounted at the point of rotation of the blade. Its primary function is to reduce the likelihood of kickback by keeping the material forced against the table saw’s fence. It also reduces splintering on thin sheets and feather edge boards, and helps to improve clean cuts.

Riving knives can be fitted as standard or optional equipment on some saws. They are available as extra accessories for other saws, or may be built in to portable table saws. In a few cases, riving knives are retrofitted onto machines that did not originally have them installed when manufactured, but this practice was considered uncommon several decades ago, and has become rarer still in recent years.

Blade Height

Setting the blade height is critical in cutting with a table saw. Since the blade is spinning at a high rate of speed, it is important to find a blade height (within the range the manufacturer allows) that will make this process as safe as possible. This may mean using an additional safety device such as a riving knife or splitter.

For cross cutting, you should adjust your blade one fourth of an inch higher than the top of the material you are cutting so that when you push it through it does not get caught up and makes contact with the underside of your blade causing serious injury.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you rip 2×4 on a table saw?

Yes, you can rip 2×4 boards on a table saw.

What saw to rip boards?

A Table saw is the best saw to rip boards.

Can I rip with a jointer?

The short answer is no. A jointer is made for jointing. However, you can learn how to use a table saw as a jointer to join your boards and fasten your workflow.

How to Rip boards with a Table Saw
Final Thoughts

This ends our How To Guide of How to Rip Boards With a Table Saw.

We hope the knowledge you gained here will help you in the future with your DIY or Professional Woodworking projects. We want you to be sure of that what you get from us are 100% facts, so please don’t hesitate to ask for advice or to advise us in return with accurate facts.

Love our How to Rip Boards With a Table Saw How-To Guide? Leave a comment or drop us an email at dwellerpower@gmail.com, and we will get back to you as fast as possible


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