How to Rip Narrow Boards with a Circular Saw


Having a table saw is very useful when you want to rip narrow boards out of a piece of timber. Table saws are powerful and versatile. You can do so much with them. But when you do not have one, you can also rip narrow boards with help from a circular saw.

Handy tools have made doing things yourself a lot easier. People have been making furniture these days and you will be surprised at how talented they have become. It is with the help of these handy tools it has become possible. You have cordless drills, one of the most versatile tools then, you have circular saws.

What is a Circular Saw vs. Table Saw

Circular Saw

A Circular saw is a handheld saw that can cut through wood. You just place the circular saw over the piece of wood you want to cut. You guide it with your hands whether you want to cut it straight or in any shape you want to cut the wood in.

The circular saw is one of the most versatile wood cutting tools. You can cut the wood in any shape you want to, whether it is in a wavy pattern or straight. Although there is a limit to how thick of a wood you can cut with a circular saw. It usually depends on the blade size, but it can cut moderate wood thickness with ease.

Table Saw

A table saw is a saw attached to a table that has a slit in it from which the blade is visible. The blade is attached to a high-speed motor under the table which rotates at high RPMs. The motor is very powerful and the table holds its weight. The motor helps the blade spin at pretty powerful speeds that are able to cut through wood easily.

You have to cut the wood through the table saw to be able to cut it in the shape you want. But most people use the table saw to cut in straight lines. And due to its power, you can cut 3-4 inch thick wood with ease depending on the blade you have attached.

Most people use a table saw to cut through thick pieces of wood. If a piece of wood is thicker than the size of the blade, you can just flip the wood over and cut it from the other side. And since you guide the piece of wood, you can cut it pretty easily.

Differences and Similarities

  • A table saw has a more powerful motor attached which is carried by the table. While a circular saw has a moderately powerful motor that you have to carry with your hands.
  • A table saw is static and you have to guide the piece of wood that you want to cut on it. On the other hand, you have to guide the circular saw with your hands while the wood is static.
  • Both of these types of saws are very dangerous to use without safety equipment.
  • Both of these saws run on electricity and require you to change blades once they become dull.
  • There are switches on both saws to stop them in case of an emergency.
  • The table saw can take a lot of space while the circular saw is handheld so it takes very less space comparatively.
  • The table saw due to having a powerful motor consumes more electricity. While the circular saw has a less powerful motor means low power consumption comparatively.

How can You Rip Narrow Boards with a Circular Saw?

So what people do not know is that you can actually rip narrow boards with a circular saw as well. Usually, though a table saw is preferred for the job as it can cut through straight with a lot of power. But in case you do not have one, a circular saw does the same job with ease.

Both a table saw and a circular saw require some precision and a steady hand. In the case of the table saw you have to slowly and steadily guide the piece of wood through the blade. With a circular saw, you have to guide the circular saw steadily through the piece of wood you want to cut.

By following these steps you can easily rip narrow boards with a circular saw.

Step 1)

Place disposable pieces of wood over a stand on which you will be cutting the piece of wood. These prevent the blade from being damaged by the stand as you will be cutting through the piece of wood.

This can be any disposable piece of wood just make sure it’s straight and leveled so the piece of wood you are cutting stays balanced. If the piece of wood is imbalanced, it might move the piece of wood while you are cutting it with the circular saw.

Step 2)

Make sure you are using the right type of blade for the wood. If you are using pressure-treated wood, you would want a blade that has a non-stick coating to avoid friction. A non-coated blade would cause friction and difficulty when you rip narrow boards with the circular saw.

Step 3)

Use a circular saw with a guide to tell you if you are cutting the wood on an even level. Also, make sure the blade is just a quarter-inch bigger in diameter than the piece of wood you are cutting. This ensures that the rip is made through the piece of wood all the way evenly.

Step 4)

Slowly place the circular saw on the edge of the board you want to cut. Then guide the blade straight through to rip. Take your time to do this as you would not want to rush it. Rushing it can either cause you to move out of the straight line you want to cut.

Once you get the hang of it, you do not even need to draw a straight line on the wood to guide the circular blade. And with practice, you will not need a table saw for the job.

Things to Be Careful About

  • While a circular saw is less powerful than a table saw, it is still dangerous. If you are not sure that you can operate it, better try to practice using it first.
  • Always make sure you are wearing safety equipment, even if you are well versed with a circular saw. When operating any blade equipped tool, wearing safety gloves is very important. And when you are cutting through wood, wear a mask and goggles to protect yourself from sawdust. Sawdust can get in your eyes and can cause irritation, damage to the eyes, and inside of the eyelids. It can also damage your lungs if you breathe it in.
  • Make sure you have enough of an extension cord to be able to cut a piece of wood without problems. It is always a good idea to have a very long extension cord that can reach the far ends of your workshop or yard.
  • Wear thick shoes that can withstand the drop of any heavy tool on your foot. If you plan on working with heavy tools, you can break your toe if they fall on it. Also, it protects you from stubbing your toe against wood or stepping on your nails.

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