Rip Wood

How to Rip Wood without Using a Table Saw – Step-By-Step Guide


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Many people are intimidated by woodwork. But with the right tools and technique you can cut wood easily and safely. People experienced in woodwork may have table saws for cutting. But it is a big equipment which requires money and skill.

But don’t worry- you can still hone your carpentry skills. This guide will show you how to rip wood without a table saw.

Alternatives to Table Saw for Ripping Wood

If you are looking for an alternative technique on how to rip wood without a table saw, there are some options available to you. There are 2 primarily tools that you can deploy to finish your woodwork project. These are Circular Saw and Track Saw.

Circular Saw

It is a power-saw used as a tool for cutting materials like wood, plastic, masonry and even metal. It is composed of an abrasive or toothed disc (or blade) which spins around an arbor (also called mandrel) to cut materials. Invented in the 18th century, circular saws became common in the US sawmills by the middle of the 19th Century.

Track Saw

A track saw can be defined as a handheld version of circular saw. It has a long rectangular track (or rail) which slides on the rail, giving you long, precise cuts and rips.

Which is Better?

The best and most efficient method involves deploying a circular saw instead of track saw. There are many reasons for this. Circular saw has more portability, compactness and flexibility than a track saw. It is worth noting that a track saw is more versatile than a circular saw. But for the purpose of ripping wood you are better off with a device which is easier to handle.

So in this article, you will discover how to rip wood without a table saw by using a circular saw instead.

Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Rip Wood without a Table Saw

In this section you will learn how to rip wood without a table saw. Instead, you will be using a circular saw.

Here are the step-by-step instructions –

Step 1: Choose the Right Blade for Ripping

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The kind of blade you use is paramount to cutting wood properly. Wrong blades or dulled out blades will not result in a smooth cut. For example, to have a smooth cut on a sheet of plywood you will require a blade with a high teeth count. If possible, opt for a blade tipped with carbide. So check the tooth count and also make sure the blade comes with finished cuts.

You should never use the wrong blade fitting with a circular saw. Forget about improper ripping, using the wrong blade can risk your safety and cause fatal accidents. Losing a finger is not unheard of in the world of woodworking.

Step 2: Set the Blade up

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The saw blade should be set at the proper depth over the wood you plan to cut. If it is not so, make the necessary adjustments to ensure the proper depth before commencing.

If your blade is set too deep, you will be dragging your saw too much across the sheet. On the contrary, set the blade too shallow and there will not be much cutting.

The golden rule to follow here is – the saw must be kept by a quarter inche under the sheet. For example, on a sheet of ¾ inch thickness your blade must be set at a depth of 1 inch (2.54 cm).

Step 3: Always use Support

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Before you begin ripping, ensure you have some support. You need that support while ripping the wood to ensure that the sheet remains balanced and does not slip.

You can get support using 2 sawhorses along with 2x4s put over them. This setup will hold your wooden sheet in place as you rip through it with your circular saw.

Another way to offer support is by using some kind of rigid foam insulation. Keep the foam on a levelled surface (like the ground) and place your sheet on top. This will prevent the sheet from sliding while you engage in woodworking.

Step 4: Positioning the Wooden Sheet

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It is recommended to put the good side of the sheet facing downwards. By doing this, you can use the circular saw without worrying about spoiling the appearance of your wood.

When the circular saw operates, the teeth of its blade enter from below. Then it saws upwards before exiting the sheet. When you take out the saw, there is a risk of chipping. If you place the sheet with the good side facing upwards then the saw can chip its surface and make it look uneven and unpolished.

Step 5: Cut and Measure

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Before cutting the wood, use a pencil and mark a line on the sheet. This line will direct your cutting. Measure very carefully – the mark should line squarely against the edges of the wooden sheet.

You should also score against the line you marked to ensure a cut that is smooth. A knife can help you with this. Scrape the surface of the mark with the knife. For a proper scoring outcome you will have to scrape more than once with the knife.

Remember to measure multiple times, even before scoring. Once the wood is cut, you cannot grow it back on the sheet. So please be cautious.

Step 6: Use a Guide

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A guide ensures you do not cut the wood by going out of the marked line. It also assists in the accuracy of your cut.

Set up your guide by bringing in sheet piece. Take a few clamps and attach them to the wooden surface. The shoe of the saw must fit tightly with the guide. Ensure that the blade is directly over the mark made for cutting.

Step 7: Cutting Time Begins!

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Finally, you are ready to rip the wood. Make some final checks on your cutting apparatus. Ensure that the sheet is steady and the blade is on the correct mark. Also, maintain a good posture.

Now turn on the circular saw. Run the shoe along the placed guide. Be careful and cut straight through the wood according to the marked line.

That is it. Be confident, stable and careful in your movement and you will have a nice smooth cut. This concludes the instructions on how to rip wood without a table saw.

Final Words

Hopefully, you now understand how to rip wood without a table saw. Please remember, your safety is very important. Always wear the necessary protective gear for any kind of woodwork. If you are nervous, ask someone who is experienced in woodwork to join you. Be careful and calm. You will do a great job!