Cutting and Ripping with a Circular Saw

Under 2 hours

Get straight crosscuts and rips with a circular saw

Cutting and Ripping with a Circular Saw

Getting accurate crosscuts and ripping cuts with a circular saw are fairly easy tasks if you take your time, cut at slow speeds and use a guide.

This guide highlights the procedures for operating the circular saw to get straight crosscuts and ripping cuts, along with instructions on how to make a ripping cutoff jig.


Crosscutting with a square
Crosscutting with square - Cutting Ripping with Circular Saw

Special squares, like the one shown here, help guide the saw through a short cut. Put the raised edge against the stock and guide the saw along the other edge.

Ripping with a circular saw
Ripping with circular saw - Cutting Ripping with Circular Saw

Cutting along the length of the board (ripping) is accomplished with the help of a rip attachment or by clamping a board in place as a guide. The rip attachment, shown here, is fine for making narrow cuts. For cutting wider pieces, make a cutoff guide.

Making a ripping cut off jig
Making cuts - Cutting Ripping with Circular Saw

• Make the jig from two strips of 3/4-inch plywood, each 8 feet long. One piece should be about 5 inches wide; the other should be as wide as the saw base plus 5 inches. Have the home center or lumberyard cut them so you'll get straight cuts, then screw them together so that the edges align.
• Guide the saw along the fence piece, cutting the wider piece to width in the process.
• Place the cut edge of the jig along the line and clamp or screw it in place. Guide the saw along the narrower piece to cut along the line.