When you start ripping wood using the table saw, you will soon find that you can only rip-cut wood sheets based on the distance from the saw blade’s edge to the distance through which the rip fence can move away from the saw blade. Such a distance is usually referred to as the rip capacity of your table saw. The rip capacity is the most extended wood length you can rip cut using the table saw. At the onset, it will be best to consider the rip capacity of your table saw when cutting wood.
When you rip wood, you cut along the wood grain. Your only limitation when ripping wood is the rip capacity. Nevertheless, you can extend the rip capacity of your table saw. The rip capacity, of course, is not the maximum length of the board that you would cut. Theoretically, you can cut long wood sections with the table saw, and the length or distance you can cut using the table saw seems to be infinitesimal.
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Facts on Table Saw’s Rip Capacity
Although theoretically, the rip capacity of the table saw is almost infinitesimal, its rip capacity is limited. It gets limited by the fence’s capacity to extend itself. So, rip capacity on the table saw refers to the extent of wood that the table saw can rip using the rip fence. Below are the standard rip capacities of table saws:
The 28-inches rip capacity is the entry-level one. You will get this rip capacity when using mid-priced or cheap table saws. You can rip in half a 48″ plywood with this rip capacity.
The 30-inch rip capacity on the table saw is perfect for many woodworkers. It is the rip capacity that could deal with most cut requirements. Yet, you might still find it challenging to cut a 36″ in some instance.
The largest rip capacity is 50 inches. Besides, only the best and biggest table saws can have this rip capacity. Most cuts will never necessitate a rip capacity like this. Nevertheless, this rip capacity allows you to do a lot of ripping and even mount a (torsion box) router table.
Ranges of Rip Capacity on Table Saw
The work type you engage in usually determines the required rip capacity. As mentioned above, you got options on extending the rip capacity of your table saw. Yet, it will be good to remember that expanding the rip capacity is not often possible, even if the rip fence extensions are available.
The infeed and outfeed extensions can only offer up to a certain point. Moreover, the extensions are incomparable to the table saw’s inherent rip capacity. So, as a rule, it is best to opt for a table saw with higher rip capacity while considering the space available in your workshop.
Besides, you should also ensure that your saw blade is sharp whenever you make a rip cut, for the sharpness of your saw blade plays a crucial role in achieving a perfect rip cut.
1) Left and Right Rip Capacity
Many consider the right rip capacity of the table saw as their reference when stating the rip capacity of the table saw. Nevertheless, it will be good to remember that the left rip capacity is also essential. Moreover, the total maximum capacity of the table saw is also affected by the amount of leeway provided by the left rip capacity.
So, if you have a 30-inch rip capacity on your table saw along with a 12-inch left rip capacity, you can extend your fence at least ten inches more, offering you at least forty inches of rip capacity on the right while leaving two inches on its left.
2) 24″ to 26″ Rip Capacity
You will find that most portable saws offer a rip capacity anywhere between 24 inches to 26 inches. Such a rip capacity is enough for most ripping tasks. If you’re a craftsman, you will seldom need a rip capacity of more than 24 inches because most tables saws have sufficient rip capacity on their left, allowing for ripping larger sheets.
3) 30 Inches Rip Capacity
As you become more experienced as a woodworker and observe most larger table saws, you will notice that many woodworkers seldom breach the 30″ rip capacity. Moreover, even if they are ripping large sheets, they rarely go beyond the 30-inch rip capacity.
The reason is that they could get the same results by using the left rip capacity. So, most contractors opt for the 30-inch rip capacity because they think this is the only rip capacity they need.
4) 50″ Rip Capacity
If you often deal with significant ripping cuts on large surfaces, you might argue that the 50″ rip capacity is the ideal one for your needs. Yet, in my opinion, the 50″ rip capacity is only perfect for carrying out router work on larger surfaces because this rip capacity offers you a throat depth deep enough between your rip fence system and your cutter.
With this rip capacity, you can also make a square cut in one sweep, cutting a plywood sheet in half.
How Can You Extend the Rip Capacity of Your Table Saw?
While the rip capacity of the table saw seems to be a fixed metric, it is still expandable. Yet, as a starter, you need to be cognizant of the safety features and procedures when extending the rip capacity of your table saw.
As mentioned above, you can expand the rip capacity infinitely by simply removing the rip fence. But it will be a challenge to make straight cuts.
Nevertheless, you can mark your cut line and follow through with your cut. If you would cut larger sheets and materials, you can follow the following options for extending the width and length of your rip capacity:
Using Removable Rip Fences
If you opt for a portable table saw, you should ensure that you inspect the rip fence that comes with it. Check if it is removable. A table saw with a 25-inch rip capacity can cut up to 44-inch material once you remove its rip fence.
But once you remove the rip fence, you sacrifice its accuracy. Hence, it will be best if you are very careful when cutting. But if you want to rip larger sheets of wood, it will be best to use removable rip fences.
When choosing a table saw, check if it has a sliding fence. The sliding fence can increase the table saw’s rip capacity. Check if the sliding fence is stable and secure, for many table saw models have flawed sliding fences.
The sliding fence, of course, can extend the rip capacity of your table saw, but it also sacrifices accuracy. So, it will be best to buy a fence that can expand your rip capacity, for sometimes, you can never rely on the factory-made sliding fence.
As mentioned above, your choice of rip capacity depends on the type of projects you frequently engage in. This means the table saw’s rip capacity should correspond to the projects you often do. So, if you often work with smaller projects, you can get away with the 28-inch rip capacity. But if you are involved in a large-scale construction project requiring you to make fences, frames, and decks, you need something with a greater rip capacity.
The rip capacity of the table saw is also a significant determinant of the price of the table saw. It affects and can dictate the table saw’s price. Thus, it is an essential metric when buying a table saw.
Liam is a 37-year-old woodworker and interior designer who loves to make every furniture project an art piece. He is very experienced in furniture design and woodworking project planning.