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Rip cuts without table saw

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Posted · Report post

Hello All,

I'm a newbie and I'm working on a carpentry project right now, building a cabinet for our kitchen. It was a good excuse to buy a router(Bosch plunge/fixed base kit) and some clamps. I wanted to start with doing a low entertainment center along the lines of what Marc built in a few of his videos, but thought the cabinet project was a good start to get used to rabbiting and dados and work on simple things like measuring twice before cutting. The cabinet didn't have to be precise. Next, I want to do some wood working, specifically I want to build a toybox for our impending bundle of joy(also crying and poo).

I think I will be able to get by with my limited set of power tools which includes the router I mentioned and my circular saw and a high tooth count blade. One particular issue that I have run into is ripping lumber to size that isn't very wide. By that, I mean cutting a piece of wood that is only two and a half inches down to two inches. That's not enough surface space for my circular saw base. It seems like a perfect job for a table saw, but I'm reluctant to get a table saw for a few reasons. It seems like the portable job site saws are frowned on outside of carpentry work. Table saws in general aren't the safest tools and smaller direct drive saws are apparently more prone to kick back and other issues. I don't have a lot of room in my one car garage and I also can't justify $600 for something like the Rigid contractors saw just for one type of cut. To be perfectly honest, using any table saw worries me. I'm far more comfortable working with my circular saw.

Another option I have looked at is a Bandsaw, but again, I can't spend a lot on a set piece like that. I've been keeping an eye on craigs list for tools in the area, but there aren't a lot of bandsaws for sale in the area that I have seen recently.

Does anyone hear not have a table saw? How do you get by without it?

Thanks and sorry for the rambling first post!

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Posted · Report post

I dont have a table saw or a circular saw. I do everything on my 4" bandsaw or with hand saws. But i am only making harps so its all small cuts really.

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Posted · Report post

OK, so the summary is:



  1. Money's tight and about to get tighter.
  2. Space is also an issue.
  3. You're concerned about safety.
  4. You don't see yourself (yet, at least) needing a table saw on a regular basis.

Is there any sort of a shop where you can rent time? Here in Chicago for example, the Park District has a beautifully appointed wood shop for a reasonable rate. Can you work out an arrangement with a local high school? (Assuming they haven't gutted the curriculum and eliminated industrial arts classes.) That'd solve everything: Access to good tools *and* you'd be in the presence of knowledgeable folks to help you learn proper technique and get over the initial fear.

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Posted · Report post

Actually, I was hoping someone would feel bad for me and donate a band saw to the cause! ;)

Actually, the school is a great idea. I work for a school district so it shouldn't be a problem for those times when I need to do those operations I don't have the tools for.

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Posted · Report post

Alright I have two solutions to your problem and both are very inexpensive and will give you excellent results. the first is an inexpensive edge guide. Which looks like this post-2926-0-20031200-1305825371_thumb.jppost-2926-0-91387800-1305825380_thumb.jp

also I've been useing this next jig since I was an apprentice carpenter and some old timer showed me it. It's very simple really and you might say a poor mans track saw, you can make it out plywood, but being a cheapskate that i am I make mine out of OSB. With your skill saw cut 3 1/2" off a sheet of OSB or ply your need to cut this off of the factory edge than cut a rip off of the remander of the sheet about 8" screw, glue, or nail the 3 1/2" to the 8" rip use screw s that don't protrude through the two pieces like 3/4" for two piecws of OSB. run your skill saw edge against the the factory edge of the 3 1/2" rip cutting off the excess of the 8" rip. and you will have something that looks like this post-2926-0-21377300-1305825414_thumb.jppost-2926-0-74072000-1305825391_thumb.jp the edge of the jig is the exact edge of the cut clamp this jig to whatever you want a perfectly straight cut on. hope this makes sense.

Beechwood Chip likes this

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Posted · Report post

you can always get an old craftsman of craigslist for 50 bucks

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Posted · Report post

Use Higtron's guide. Rip your thin stock before you cut to length so you have a way to get it clamped in the guide beyond the length that needs to be cut (the clamp interferes with the saw at the ends). If you don't have long enough wood to do that, add pieces of same thickness under the guide and clamp as close as you can and still finish your cuts, you'll need to add pieces under the guide anyway on the side away from the cut to insure it sits flat and gives the vertical angle of cut you want.

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Posted · Report post

Thanks for the suggestions guys. I'm going to build that higtron. Maybe I'll use a couple pieces of MDF instead of plywood.

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Posted · Report post

This may be a dumb question, but I'm asking it anyway. :)

Imagine I'm making a cut with the material on saw horses instead of on the ground. If I'm using the jig and ripping with the blade towards the edge of the material and the motor pointing towards the middle of the work piece, my body is on the open side of the saw. Should I be concerned with where I'm standing because I'm on the 'window' side of the saw? I noticed that some of the track saws like the festool and dewalt have larger guards that cover that part of the saw.

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Posted · Report post

This may be a dumb question, but I'm asking it anyway. :)

Imagine I'm making a cut with the material on saw horses instead of on the ground. If I'm using the jig and ripping with the blade towards the edge of the material and the motor pointing towards the middle of the work piece, my body is on the open side of the saw. Should I be concerned with where I'm standing because I'm on the 'window' side of the saw? I noticed that some of the track saws like the festool and dewalt have larger guards that cover that part of the saw.

I also make my cuts on saw horses I just took the picture on the ground outside in the good light. Being on that side of the saw doesn't bother me because I'm on the waste side of the blade , and as long as my blade hieghth is just penitrating the work piece you should be OK. But if it makes you nervous don't do it, I bieleve if your not comfortable makeing a cut than thats when an accident may occure. I've been useing skill saws since I was 17 yrs old so I know were I am in relation to the saw at all times. Go slow and think things through before you start cutting if you feel the cut is questionable don't make it attack the problem differently. Hope this helps

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Posted · Report post

Put a couple 2x4s over some sawhorses and lay down a sheet of plywood or OSB that you don't mind getting marked up a bit. You now have a somewhat sturdy worktable with a sacrificial top. Lay the piece to be ripped down on the table.

Then get yourself two 3 inch or wider pieces of stock that are the same thickness as the piece to be ripped (hereinafter referred to as the 'ripee'), but preferably a bit longer. Snug them right up on either side of the ripee and clamp them in place.

You have just simulated a single board that is wide enough that your skilsaw shoe can ride perfectly on. Use a straight edge or higtron's jig to guide your cut. Be sure to set the depth of your saw blade to only just a teeny bit deeper than the thickness of the material. The underlying plywood will be scored as you cut, but should not be cut through.

This is a heck of a lot safer than a tablesaw!!

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I use a sheet of plywood like SalvageCraft suggests but I put a 3/4 inch sheet of foam insulation on top of the plywood. The foam has less drag than the plywood and I don't have any worries about weakening the the sheet of plywood after multiple cuts. The latest foam sheet has lasted me about 18 months.

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