How to Rip Narrow Boards with a Circular Saw

A circular saw is a handy woodworking tool. But some people surprisingly question its ability, especially when it needs to rip narrow boards. They remain confused as either they don’t know how to rip narrow boards with a circular saw or they only use a table saw. Of course, the table saw is a top choice for ripping narrow boards. But luckily, you can do the same job while maintaining a precise straight line with a circular saw.

All you need is to learn an effective process of ripping a narrow board with a circular saw and do some practice. If you are concerned about maintaining a straight cut, we have mentioned some useful tools to let you enjoy a professional touch on narrow boards. So let’s get the process.

How to Rip Boards with a Circular Saw

If you are still wondering how to rip narrow boards without a table saw, here is the process:

Tools Required:

  • A Circular Saw
  • The Narrow Board
  • Two Quick-Grip Clamps
  • Scrap wood or sheet
  • Speed Square
  • Masking tape

Prepare the workplace

Firstly, place a sacrificial sheet between the work table and the boards that you want to rip. This sheet will act as a buffer.

Then attach some masking tape over the board. This masking tape will reduce the amount of burr that is produced during cutting and offer a finer finish.

Now draw a mark through the length of the line to guide the blade accurately during ripping the board. You can use a speed square to make a straight-line while maintaining accuracy.

Secure the Board and Adjust the Blade

After marking the board, secure it with two quick-grip clamps, one in the middle and the other on the far end.

Now it’s time to adjust the blade height of the saw. The height of the blade should be at a height that can cut the board thoroughly while scratching the sacrificial sheet.

Place the Blade

Before starting ripping, you should consider the kerf loss. It’s an amount of wood that will be lost during sawing, and the amount depends on the blade’s thickness.

Most of the circular saw blades are 1/8 inch thick, so it will only cause marginal loss. Remember, you must place the blade outside the marked line. It will help you get an accurate board size after ripping.

After placing the blade in the right position, fasten the rip fence to start ripping. You can also use scrap wood to make a straight edge and follow it to accurately cut.

Start Sawing

Align the saw blade with the mark that you have made on the board and then turn on the saw. Guide the saw by following the rip fence along the length of the working piece.

After ripping half of the board, replace the quick grip clamp from the middle to the top, from where you started ripping. Doing so will let you saw the board without slippage.

Continue ripping and before reaching the end, replace the end clamp in the middle and saw the rest.

Is it Tricky to Rip Narrow Boards with a Circular Saw?

A circular saw is a portable cutting appliance that is popular among woodworkers for precise cutting. With a combination of a powerful motor and a quick spinning blade, this tool is the undisputed king for straight cutting through any type of building material.

So whether your woodworking involves cutting straight through sheets or boards, a circular saw is the way to go. Even a circular saw is a good alternative to the best table saw.

What are the challenges?

But when it comes to ripping narrow boards, it’s a bit difficult for the circular saw. The reason is that the standard guide can’t work as good as the motor. In most cases, the guide doesn’t allow you to clamp the work piece, making the cutting process difficult. But you can avoid such difficulty by holding the table saw static and then cutting the work piece through a circular saw blade.

Mistakes to Avoid while Straight Cutting with a Circular Saw

Ripping a narrow board with a circular saw is quite difficult. But the ignorance of the DIYer makes the task more challenging.

For example, many woodworkers believe that they can rip the narrow board without securing it with the work table. But it will offer nothing but an uneven cut. So don’t ignore the C clamps to secure the board and cut slightly.

Despite this, some novice woodworkers consider the circular saw the best saw for ripping narrow boards. Truthfully, the table saw is the best tool for this job as it can maintain improved precision while ripping narrow boards.

But don’t feel sad! In the following, we have listed some tools to help you get a more accurate straight cut-over board without replacing your circular saw

DIY Circular Saw Cutting Guide

This crosscut jig is also effective for accurate miter cuts and crosscuts. It works as a fence for a circular saw, forcing the machine to cut accurately. The tool is also handy for cutting MDF and thicker plywood within a short time. To make a straight cut using this circular saw cutting guide, simply place the bottom plate of your circular saw alongside the fence. The downside to this tool is that its cutting length is limited.

Speed Square

It’s the easiest tool to make a small straight cut with a circular saw. Apart from the circular saw, the speed square can be used with plenty of other tools as well. The utilization process of this tool is also simple. After marking the location to cut, place the blade on the mark. Then place this speed square against the bottom plate of the circular saw. Finally, push the bottom plate of the saw against it and start cutting.

You can make rip cuts and crosscuts using this speed square, but make sure the length of the cut is shorter than the speed square. So, if you want a tool to rip small pieces of wood with, this is it. It is also helpful for making 45-degree miter cuts.

Kreg Rip-Cut

Another easier way to cut a straight line using a circular saw is to follow the Kreg Rip-Cut method. The Rip-Cut sled is universally compatible with circular saws. It helps to follow the straight edge of the workpiece and offers a precise cut. This tool is adjustable and allows you to cut 24 inches wide. You can also use this Kreg Rip-Cut tool for repetitive cuts and apply it over plywood or MDF.

Safety Tips while Ripping Narrow Boards with a Circular Saw

Hopefully, now you know how to use a circular saw. But don’t avoid these safety tips while operating a circular saw:

  • Circular saws produce lots of dust while ripping wooden boards. So wear a dust mask and goggles to protect your face and eyes.
  • Using a sharp blade instead of a dull blade will cause splinters and uneven cuts. It will also lessen the life span of the circular saw.
  • Power off and remove the saw plug from the power outlet to replace the blade.
  • Wear tight clothing because loose clothing can get caught in the blade and cause injury while running.
  • During operating the circular saw, stand on one side to avoid kickbacks and make the task more convenient.
  • Maintain a firm grip on the saw during operating it to prevent it from twisting.

 FAQs on How to Rip Narrow Boards with a Circular Saw

Why couldn’t the circular saw be cut straight?

If your saw doesn’t cut straight, first check the placement of your work piece. If the work piece remains unstable, it’s difficult for a circular saw to cut straight. So secure the work piece using the clamp. Another reason for cutting unsightly is holding the blade in the wrong position and adjusting the cutting depth incorrectly.

Can a circular saw cut wood?

Yes, but make sure you are using a thin-kerf carbide-tipped blade. You can also use this blade for rip cuts and crosscuts in plywood and solid wood. Plus adjust the depth of the saw so it can’t extend over 1/4 in. Generally, circular doesn’t come for woodworking.

Is it possible to rip a board with a circular saw?

It’s better to use a table saw to rip a board. But it doesn’t mean a circular saw can’t rip a board accurately. Even so, circular saws make the long plywood cutting task much easier by maintaining a straight line.

Final Words

Ripping a narrow board isn’t the easiest job, especially when you are using a circular saw. Along with learning how to rip narrow boards with a circular jaw, you will need a reliable hand. So, whether you are a novice woodworker or an expert, do some practice on a scrap before taking the main board. But if you don’t have much time, invest in those additional tools that we mentioned to get an accurate cut.

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Sam Morgan is a general contractor based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He does home renovations, extensions, landscaping maintenance, and general handyman jobs for homeowners. He is also the part-time content writer at Machine Handyman and a lifelong tools enthusiast. Sam loves hand tools, power tools, machinery, and DIY gadgets of all shapes and sizes! He is always researching the different types of home improvement tools that will get the best results. This site will cover products like power drills, air compressors, saws, nail guns, screw guns, grinders, cutting tools, and many more.

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