Safer Ripping of Short Stock

Safer Ripping of Short Stock: Ripping stock refers to the process of cutting a board along its length into narrower boards. Ripping is usually done with a table saw or a radial arm saw, but it can also be done with a handheld circular saw. When ripping short stock, it is important to take safety precautions to avoid kickback.

Kickback occurs when the blade of the saw catches on the edge of the board and propels it back towards the operator. This can cause serious injury.

To avoid kickback, always use a push stick when ripping short stock. A push stick is a device that helps to keep your hands away from the blade while still allowing you to push the board through the saw. Push sticks are available for purchase at most hardware stores, or you can make your own by following these simple instructions:

1. Cut a piece of scrap wood to size so that it is about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide.

2. Tape one end of the piece of scrap wood to the end of the board you are going to rip.

3. Position your hands on either side of the blade, and use the scrap wood to push the board through the saw.

Safer Ripping of Short Stock
Safer Ripping of Short Stock

By following these simple steps, you can help to ensure your

Ripping very narrow stock on the table saw can be a bit dicey because your push stick runs so close to the blade. If you’re not careful to keep it against the rip fence, it can tip into the spinning blade. And cutting short, narrow pieces is particularly difficult because the blade’s rising rear teeth tend to push the stock upward.

I cobbled up this little jig to help with the job of cutting short, narrow pieces. It consists of four pieces: a top runner board, a side pusher board, a wooden handle and an aluminum hold-down bar. I made the jig to suit my Biesemeyer-style fence, but it could be modified to fit any similar fence. The advantage to this jig is that the hold-down remains snug against the fence while your hand is well above the blade.

My jig is about 12″ long, but you can make yours any length you like. Just keep in mind that the minimum length of stock you can cut will be determined by the distance between the hold-down and the pusher heel. Begin by making the runner board from thick stock, rabbeting its edge to create a guide channel to follow the fence’s attached face. The left-hand edge of the runner should be flush to the face of the fence.

Make the L-shaped pusher board and screw or nail it to the runner. Hinge a handle (I used a plane tote replacement) to the runner, with the side of the handle aligned to the edge of the runner. Then fasten the hold-down to the handle with at least two screws, making sure that the hold-down will reach to the saw table. When using the jig, make sure that the workpiece is firmly against the fence, seated against the heel, and under firm pressure from the hold-down. 

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