How To Rip Narrow Boards With A Circular Saw?

how to rip narrow boards with a circular saw

A Circular Saw stands out in making impeccable rip cuts through sheets and boards of any desired length!

A circular saw is one of the basic woodworking tools possessed by a woodworker. It is easy to make outstanding stuff with it given the fact that it is simple and safe to use. With its portability features, it is easy to use anywhere at the disposal of the user. The circular saw possesses excellent features such as the powerful motor and a fast-spinning blade which makes it ideal for exceptional cuts in any given materials.

The Circular saw is used by professionals, homeowners, and DIYers. It can be substituted for a table saw where one is not available and carry out the same tasks. 

Check out our reviews of the best corded circular saws and best cordless circular saws of 2019.

Steps for ripping narrow boards with a circular saw

While ripping narrow boards with a circular saw the below steps have to be followed carefully and the necessary gear put in place to ensure no one is hurt during the process.

Protective gear such as dust masks, safety glasses, and ear protectors should be in place before the process and worn at all times during the exercises.

1. Choose the proper platform height

A platform is made using a single or multiple slabs of wood. The platform is highly dependent on the needed height which should be straight and long. One can use single or multiple slabs for the cutting but again it depended on the desired height.

It is important to understand that the long slabs give an excellent result. Also, it should be thicker than the narrow boards intended for ripping.

2. Clamp the circular saw sole to the platform

 The circular saw sole has to be cramped tightly to the platform. The clamping is done at two points.

In some cases, the clamping might not hold as tight as expected thus the need to be very careful with this step. Bits of wood can be used in this scenario to make sure the clamp is properly attached to the sole.

3. Adjust the circular saw to the required width

Here, a reference cut is made to adjust the circular saw to the width required. First, locating the front is vital as this is the side where the saw will be pushed in. A reference cut is made when a sacrificial wood is fed into the blade of the circular saw. Thickness is important here and if it is not achieved, then it is crucial to move the front of the saw until the desired thickness is achieved.

4. Adjust the blade parallel to the face of the platform

To avoid warping during the process, the blade is supposed to be parallel to the face of the platform. It is done by rotating the body of the circular saw. Having an incorrectly placed blade will also cause strains that have an adverse effect on the circular saw motor making the blade shatter or destroying the work piece.

Take a sacrificial wood and gently push it into the blade from the front of the saw, and turn the wood over to get a reference cut which will be on the underside. The same wood should be fed into the blade from the back and the blade guard carefully moved to pave way for the second reference cut.

If the two reference cuts meet at a perfect point then the blade is well-adjusted parallel to the face of the platform. If not, more adjustments should be made until the reference cuts lines are perfected.

5. Adjust the height of the blade

The height of the blade needs some adjustments as the ripping of the narrow board takes place. The narrow board is placed on the surface of the table thus the need to drop the blade all the way to the surface of the platform.

Sliding a paper under the blade is the ideal way to adjust the height of the blade. The paper should be able to pass under the blade and which is a clear indication of correct blade height.

6. Readjust the blade parallel to the platform

At times, the body of the saw might be at a slight angle to the sole. The body of the saw operated in references to the sole. Also, the blade is supposed to be perpendicular to the platform. If this is not the case, then putting a wedge in between the motor casing and the sole is the ideal solution. However, it is likely to affect height.

7. Rip the narrow board

The last step is ripping the narrow board since all the setup is in order. First, ensure all the protective gears are in place before starting the ripping process. Once confirmed, you can press the trigger, lock it and feed the narrow boards through the blade.

It is crucial to remember not to push the fingers past the sole of the circular saw to avoid potential injury.

If you want to buy a circular saw blade for ripping narrow boards you can check out our guide on best circular saw blades.

Difficulties associated with Circular Saws

Circular saws might not be the ideal woodworking tool for a beginner when it comes to ripping narrow boards. Confusion tends to reign when some problems with the circular saw arise when an average woodworker or a novice is using it.

The problem with the circular saw guides is that they don’t come in handy especially when the clamps get in the way of the motor or the sole of the saw. In most cases, the guide cannot be clamped to the work piece making the entire cutting process a hassle

Other disadvantages associated with the circular saw include:

  • It only cuts in one direction and not suitable for tight curves and quarters
  • The blade is likely to bind when the material is not well supported by the platform
  • It is very easy for the blades to snap and become projectiles if they are checked properly
  • It can only be used in well-ventilated areas due to a large amount of dust and debris produced during the cutting and ripping process
  • Circular saws have a high probability of kickbacks when novices and untrained personnel are using as well as dull blades and knots.


Ripping narrow boards using a circular saw is not a hard task given the setup steps mentioned above. Once a perfect setup has been identified, cutting the narrow boards is a bliss bearing in mind the safety techniques to be put in place during the entire process.

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