A table saw has many different components that make it easy and safe to use. It comes with two ways of supporting the wood while cutting. It has a miter gauge for crosscuts. And, it has a rip fence for rip cuts.
A table saw’s rip capacity is the amount of space between the saw blade and the rip fence’s furthest edge. It can come in many different sizes, from 20″ to 50″. If you need to cut wider pieces of wood, then you’ll need a larger rip capacity.
This article will discuss the difference between a crosscut miter gauge and a rip cut rip fence. I will also detail what a table saw’s rip capacity is and which capacity is right for you. Lastly, I will provide a list of essentials to use your table saw safely.
Supporting Your Workpiece
Before we discuss the table saw rip capacity, let’s first go over ways to support your workpiece. There are two ways of supporting the piece of wood you are working with. If you are making a crosscut, then you’ll need a miter gauge. If you are making a rip cut, then you’ll need a rip fence. Both mechanisms should come standard with your table saw.
There will be two grooves on either side of the saw blade on your table saw’s table. These are miter slots, and it is where you can attach your miter gauge. A miter gauge is used to support your wood during a crosscut. A crosscut is a cut that is perpendicular to the grain of the wood.
You can use a miter gauge to make two types of cuts:
- Square cut. The miter gauge needs to be set to a 90-degree angle, so it’s a straight cut.
- Angled cut. An angled cut has an angle of anything other than 90 degrees.
If you’ve lost your miter gauge or are in the market for a better one, check out this Fulton Precision Miter Gauge with a Standard Slot from Amazon.com. It has 13 positive stop holes: 22.5, 30, 45, 60, 67.5, and 90 degrees on both sides, and 90 degrees in the middle, you can get your cut exactly right.
If you are curious if you can use a table, saw as a miter saw, check out my article on if table saws can make miter cuts[Link Here]
It would be best if you always pushed the piece of wood tight against the rip fence, not against the saw blade. If you’re using a push stick or push block, we will discuss it later to direct the pressure against the rip fence.
If you need to replace your rip fence, a Fulton has a universal rip fence from Amazon.com. Make sure to get the right size, make, and model for your table saw.
Check out my article on universal rip fences for better information (Link Here)
Table Saw Rip Capacity
Now that we understand exactly what a rip fence is, we can discuss your table saw’s rip capacity. Rip capacity is the distance between the edge of your saw blade and the furthest edge of the rip fence. For bigger pieces of wood, you’ll need a larger rip capacity. But, for most projects, the standard rip capacity is fine.
Most table saws come with a rip capacity between 24″ to 26″. You’ll need a rip capacity of a little more than 24″ to cut sheet material since 24″ is half the width. But, table saws do come with larger rip capacities. For instance, you can buy a table saw with a 50″ rip capacity, which would allow you to cut a square cut on a piece of plywood.
If you’re performing a rip cut on any piece of wood, then you’re most likely going to need a push stick or a push block. These tools allow you to push your workpiece safely through the saw blade, even when it’s a long piece of wood.
If you choose to use a push stick, here is a Safety Woodworking Push Stick from Amazon.com. It has a contoured handle, which makes for easy gripping, and two magnets prevent the stick from slipping, keeping it exactly where you placed it.
Here is a GRR-RIP BLOCK Smart Hook Pushblock from Amazon.com if you prefer to use a push block. It hooks right to the end of your board and even has an ergonomic handle.
Other Table Saw Accessories
Now that you understand more about your table saw, you’re gonna need some accessories to go with it. Make sure to pick up a push stick or push block if you haven’t already. They are of vital importance when you’re making a rip cut. Other important accessories include:
- Safety Goggles. If you’re using a table saw or any other power tool for that matter, you may be accustomed to dust and debris flying around the room. For this reason, you’ll need safety goggles to protect your eyes. Here are Dewalt Concealer Clear Anti-Fog Dual Mold Safety Goggles from Amazon.com. They have an elastic headband and a protection layer, making them a must-have for all sorts of woodworking jobs.
- Hearing Protector. Table saws are loud. So loud, in fact, that they can reach 120 decibels, which is the equivalent of a rock concert. It’s important to protect your hearing from this amount of noise. Here is a 3M WorkTunes Hearing Protector from Amazon.com. These headphones have a noise reduction rating of 24 decibels and have built-in Bluetooth technology.
- Featherboard. Featherboards are a must when owning a table saw. They can act as the second set of hands while cutting your workpiece. Here is BI-DTOOL Double Adjustable Featherboards for Table Saw in a 2 Pack from Amazon.com. They come equipped with miter bars and t-slot bolts to fit in your miter slots. You can also use them as a pushing mechanism for gliding your piece of wood along the rip fence.
- Safety Power Switch. When working with power tools, it’s important to be as safe as possible. A safety power switch will allow you to kill the power to your table saw with just your knee, so you don’t have to let go of the wood you’re cutting.
- Dust Masks. A Necessity anytime you are in the process of making sawdust. Check out my article on dust masks protecting your lungs from saw dust[Link Here]
Here’s a POWERTEC 120V Magnetic Paddle Switch from Amazon.com. It comes equipped with an emergency stop feature. So, if there is a power outage, this switch prevents the tool from turning on again once your power is restored. Make sure to buy a power switch that is compatible with your table saw.
This article went over the two different ways to support your workpiece: a miter gauge and a rip fence. Once we understood these terms, we could then discuss what rip capacity means.
Rip capacity is the measure of the distance between the saw blade and the rip fence’s furthest edge. The bigger the piece of wood you have to cut, the larger the rip capacity you’ll need.
We also talked about the table saw essentials that you should always have to operate your table saw safely. A push stick or push block, safety goggles, a hearing protector, a feather board, breathing protection, and a safety power switch are vital to the safe use of your table saw. Table saws can be dangerous machines, so it is key to ensure that you have all the proper tools (and know how to use them) to create a safe and effective work environment.
- WoodworkingSquad: Why Are Circular Saws So Loud?
- WoodCraft: 14 MUST-HAVE TABLE SAW ACCESSORIES
- ProToolReviews: Buying a Table Saw? Read this Guide First!
- CraftedGarage: What is rip capacity? Must-know info for table saws
- BetterToolz: What Does Rip Capacity On A Table Saw Mean?
- TheSpruceCrafts: How to Use a Table Saw Miter Gauge
- Youtube: A step-by-step guide to making your first table saw cuts. TABLE SAW BASICS. Woodworking BASICS.
- Wikipedia: Miter gauge
- Wikipedia: Crosscut saw
- Wikipedia: Fence
- Wikipedia: Rip Cut