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Tablesaw Techniques: Ripping


Often, the hardest part of long rip cuts is maintaining control of the board. They tend to wander away from the fence, which can cause a rough cut or kickback. The weight of the board acts like a lever as it leaves the saw table, raising the uncut portion off the table. When this happens, the blade can gouge or kick back the board.

To control long boards, mount a featherboard before the blade to hold the stock against the fence. Add a splitter behind the blade to hold the kerf open and support the board with an outfeed roller set 1/4" below table height.


When cutting a large number of thin strips, such as when making edging for plywood, it’s a good idea to set the fence to match the thickness of the strip, and then rip all the strips to width. This technique is fast and consistent, but on many saws, the blade guard is too wide to allow the fence to slide close enough.

You can rip thin strips safely by removing the guard and guiding the workpiece with a wide push block. This one, cut from a scrap 2x4, is 10" long and has a heel to push the board. The blade remains buried in the push block, and the height of the block keeps your hand safely away from the blade. Another great option is to use a thin manufactured push stick like the Kreg Multi-Purpose Push Stick which was designed to be incredibly thin for just this application.


Even with a sharp blade, thick boards often end up with a rough, burned edge. To smooth it, first rip the piece about 1/16" extra-wide, and then “joint” the ripped edge with a thin skimming cut. Guide the board with a push block, and use a pair of Kreg True-FLEX™ Featherboards to hold the stock on both the infeed and outfeed sides of the blade.


When ripping thin boards (1/2" thick or less), the blade can lift the board off the saw table or bounce it around as you cut. To prevent this, guide the board with a jointer push block or a grout float instead of a push stick. The large rubber foot grips the board and holds it firmly against the table.

Thick StockThin Stock


© 2011 August Home Publishing............................................................................ From Kreg and Woodsmith Magazine

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