How To Make a Rip Cut with a Table Saw

A rip cut is the terminology used when one wants to saw a piece of wood that goes along the grain of the wood, as opposed to a cross cut that cuts across the grain of the wood. There are many methods by which lumber can be rip cut, for example: table saw, circular saw, bench table saw or cabinet saw. This article will discuss the use of the table saw. Before going straight into cutting a piece of lumber it is best to understand the power tool that will be used. Does the tool have the necessary safety features? Is the user prepared for safety? Finally, a decision must be made as to the proper blade to use.

The user of the table saw must use safety goggles to prevent wood splitters from entering the eyes. Also, since the table saw is capable of producing high levels of noise, in excess of 85 dB's, ear plugs are recommended. Another piece of auxiliary equipment is a push stick or push shoe. With the safety issues covered it is also understood the person about to do the cutting has some level of prior usage of such a powerful tool.

We are about to begin the process of rip cutting this piece of lumber.  Before we even turn the machine on we need to adjust the blade to the proper height. The blade should be adjusted so the top of the piece of lumber is next to the gullet of the blade. There have been many debates as to the proper height of the blade in relationship to the wood, but in this article we will use the more widely accepted method.

The saw is turned on and the blade spins at full speed. Stand to the side of the table saw during the cutting process to avoid getting injured due to kickback. Begin by gently pushing the front of the lumber against the rip fence and begin feeding the lumber into the rotating blade; always apply pressure towards the rip fence as you proceed.

Depending on the length of the lumber it is best practice to have an outfeed table waiting on the other side of the blade that will allow the wood to rest as the balance of the material is fed through the saw. As the piece of wood gets closer to the blade another best practice is to use a push stick or push shoe as the current tool of safety. The push shoe elevates the hand from the table top while the heel catches the back piece of the wood giving it more stability and keeping the wood pushed down on the table's surface. Once the cut is completed it is safe to turn off the saw.


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