How to Rip Wood Without a Table Saw [3 Ways]

How to Rip Wood Without a Table Saw [3 Ways]

How to Rip Wood Without a Table Saw [3 Ways]

A table saw is the go-to power tool when it comes to ripping wood because of the high-quality cuts it yields.

However, table saws are expensive and also a bit dangerous if you are a beginner at woodworking.

In this guide, I'll show you three methods of ripping wood without a table saw.

Things You'll Need

  • Circular Saw/Jig Saw/Band Saw (one of these)
  • Speed Square
  • Pencil
  • Masking Tape
  • Quick Grip Clamps
  • Sacrificial board (MDF or Plywood works well)

The three methods for ripping without a table saw are:

Method 1: How to Rip Wood with a Circular Saw

You can rip wood using a circular saw and two clamps.

I'll demonstrate how to do this on 2x4 lumber.

Begin by placing the sacrificial board on top of the work surface

Sacrificial board of plywood
Sacrificial board of plywood

Place the wood on top of the sacrificial board.

2x4 on top of the sacrificial board of plywood
2x4 on top of the sacrificial board of plywood

For ripping, the most important measurement is the ripping width.

If you need to make a 2x2 from the 2x4 lumber, you need to draw the ripping width at the halfway mark.

The wood you choose for ripping must be wide enough to accommodate the base of the circular saw and the width of the straight edge/rip fence too.

If the wood isn't wide enough to place the circular saw, place another wooden piece with the same thickness on the side of the piece to be cut for support.

Using a speed square and a carpenter's pencil, draw the cut line along the length for ripping.

Marking the line of ripping
Marking the line of ripping

Set the depth of the blade using the edge of the wood as a reference.

The blade depth must be such that the blade makes a through cut in the wood while grazing the sacrificial sheet underneath.

setting the blade depth on the circular saw
setting the blade depth on the circular saw

Clamp the wood to be ripped at the middle and end.

Clamping the 2x4 down with quick grip clamps
Clamping the 2x4 down with quick grip clamps

Align the blade with the cut line and tighten the rip fence.

If you don't have a rip fence, use a straight edge instead.

The process using a straight edge is similar but you need to consider the offset between the blade and the edge of the base plate separately.

If you have a long spirit level, you can use that as the straight edge.

Setting the blade on the marked Line
Setting the blade on the marked Line

Remember to cut on the scrap side of the cut line to get the exact dimensions needed.

Turn on the saw and make the cut along the ripping line marked earlier.

ripping the wood with circular saw
ripping the wood with a circular saw

When the saw reaches the halfway length, the clamp might block your saw depending on the width of wood used.

In that case, remove the clamp and fix it at the point where you started.

With that, you've successfully completed ripping the wood with a circular saw.

ripping wood completed with circular saw
ripping wood completed with the circular saw

You might be interested in this:

Method 2: How to Rip Wood with a Jigsaw

With the jigsaw, it is not advisable to use a sacrificial board.

Instead, you can clamp the wood near the edge of the table with the scrap side sticking out so you can cut it off and keep the other side.

Place the wood on top of the work surface.

wood to be cut placed on the work table
wood to be cut placed on the work table

Fix masking tape on the wood before drawing the cut line on it.

This is to prevent the edge from splintering.

fixing masking tape on the wood
fixing masking tape on the wood

Using a speed square and a pencil, draw the cut line along the length for ripping.

marking the line of ripping on the wood
marking the line of ripping on the wood

Measure the distance from the base of the saw to its blade.

measuring the offset from the blade to the edge of the base plate
measuring the offset from the blade to the edge of the base plate

Transfer the offset from the saw to the wood.

transferring the offset distance to the wood
transferring the offset distance to the wood

Clampdown the wood along with a straight edge or a level to guide the saw so that it overhangs from the end of the work surface.

Make sure to place the straight edge/level at the point of offset marked in the previous step so that the blade aligns perfectly with the line of ripping.

Clamp the wood at both ends.

clamping a level to the wood as straight edge
clamping a level to the wood as a straight edge

Align the blade with the cut line and plug in the saw.

aligning the jigsaw blade before starting the ripping
aligning the jigsaw blade before starting the ripping

Remember to cut on the scrap side of the cut line to get the exact dimensions needed.

This is because of the kerf of the jigsaw blade which will cause some loss.

Turn on the saw and cut along the line of ripping marked earlier.

Remember to press the jigsaw firmly against the straight edge/level to get an accurate cut.

Ripping the wood using the jigsaw
Ripping the wood using the jigsaw

Once the cut has been made, smoothen the edges using sandpaper.

Usually, a rip cut with the Jigsaw will be less smooth compared to one with a circular saw.

sanding the edges after ripping
sanding the edges after ripping

With this, you have successfully completed ripping the wood with a jigsaw.

Wood ripped using a jigsaw
Wood ripped using a jigsaw

Method 3: How to Rip Wood with a Band Saw

In this method, I'll show you how to rip wood with a band saw.

It is much safer to rip wood on the band saw compared to a circular saw or table saw.

Place the wood on the bed of the band saw.

placing the wood on the band saw bed
placing the wood on the band saw bed

Fix some masking tape on the wood before drawing the cut line on it.

fixing masking tape on the band saw bed
fixing masking tape on the band saw bed

Using a speed square and a carpenter's pencil, draw the ripping line.

mark the line of ripping on the wood
mark the line of ripping on the wood

The position of the fence should be such that the band saw blade aligns with the line of ripping marked before.

setting the fence of the band saw
setting the fence of the band saw

Place the wood such that the ripping line is aligned with the blade of the band saw.

aligning the ripping line with band saw blade
aligning the ripping line with band saw blade

Adjust the fence of the band saw such that the fence aligns with the side of the wood while the blade aligns with the cut line.

making fine adjustments in the fence to align the blade correctly
making fine adjustments in the fence to align the blade correctly

Turn on the saw and make the rip cut by pushing the wood along the blade slowly.

Remember to push the wood piece firmly against the fence and also to feed slowly.

ripping the wood on the band saw
ripping the wood on the band saw

Once the cut has been made, smoothen the edges using sandpaper.

sanding the wood
sanding the wood

With that, you have successfully completed ripping wood with a band saw.

ripping completed with band saw
ripping completed with band saw

Tips for Accuracy While Ripping Wood

  • While marking, never mark just as a point. Instead, mark it as a 'tick' mark or a 'crow's foot' mark. Doing so helps in identifying the point to be cut easily.
  • If you are using wet wood or treated lumber, use a blade that's appropriate for that purpose.
  • Make sure to cut outside of the line, so the wood piece that you intend to use has the correct dimensions.
  • Masking tape helps in highlighting the cut line in case of darker woods.
  • Using masking tape before drawing the mark on it can help reduce splinters and lend a more pleasing finish.
  • Remember to support the board equally over the sawhorse so as to prevent it from falling over.

Tips for Safety While Ripping Wood

  • Never stay right behind or too close to the running blade to avoid injury in case of kickback. Kickback is extremely dangerous and must be prevented at all costs.
  • Make sure the saw blade teeth are facing in direction of rotation. (Anti-clockwise direction in case of circular saw).
  • Once the saw is turned on, keep it steady but never try to force it back in case it veers off.
  • If the piece completely seperates from the wood, let it fall. Never try to catch it while holding a runnning saw in your hand.
  • Using excessive force will create pinch points in the wood leading to damage for both the user and the saw.
  • Before cutting any material, especially wood, make sure there are no obstructions such as nails inside the wood.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What tool do you use to rip wood?

A circular saw, jigsaw, and band saw can be used to rip wood. However, in terms of precision, a table saw is better at achieving factory-quality edges. In terms of safety, a band saw is the safest for ripping wood. The cheapest option is a circular saw for ripping.

Is a jigsaw or circular saw better?

A circular saw is much better at making straight cuts than a jigsaw. however, if the cut you require involves curves or tight corners then it is better for to you use a jigsaw. Jigsaw is also much safer to use compared to circular saw for beginners in woodworking.

Why do I keep breaking band saw blades?

Band saw blades break mostly due to machine defects. A misalignment of bearings or guides can put a twist in the blade as it goes around and result in tension being applied and cause early breakage. Another reason for blade breaking is excessive tensioning of the band saw blade.

Is the jigsaw best for straight cuts or curves?

Jigsaw is best for cutting irregular or complex curves rather than cutting straight lines. Although they are not ideal for making fast and straight cuts, they are very useful in cutting inside corners and for making short crosscuts.

About V Susan

Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about DIY projects and dark chocolates! Welcome to Mellowpine. We play around with beginner woodworking projects, CNC for hobbyists, and general woodworking tips.

If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com

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V Susan

Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about DIY projects and dark chocolates! Welcome to Mellowpine. We play around with beginner woodworking projects, CNC for hobbyists, and general woodworking tips.

If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com

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