The rip capacity of a table saw is one of the most important considerations when ripping wood. It’s also a key determinant of the pricing of a table saw. It’s therefore important that you understand what rip capacity is and how much of it you need for your workshop.
Rip capacity on a table saw refers to the space that lies between the edge of the table’s saw and the fence’s edge when it’s been extended to the maximum. Rip capacity can be increased by extending one side of your table, readjusting the existing fence and railing, or by buying a table extension.
The rest of this article will clarify what rip capacity is on table saws, how much rip capacity you require, how to increase rip capacity.
What Are the Common Rip Capacities on Table Saws?
Your table saw rip capacity determines the maximum width of wood that it can cut.
1. Portable Table Saws (28 Inches)
Most cheap and mid-priced table saws are at this entry-level rip capacity. A rip capacity of 28 inches allows you to rip a workpiece with a width of 48 inches.
This rip capacity is sufficient for most of the work you’ll encounter as a standard craftsman. Most portable table saws come with this rip capacity.
2. Contractor Table Saws (30 Inches)
Many experienced contractors find a rip capacity of 30 inches optimal as it handles a majority of the cuts. Most contractor saws achieve this rip capacity.
For example check, this table saw from SawStop on Amazon.com(affiliate link).
3. Professional Cabinet Table Saws (50 Inches)
You will rarely need to perform cuts at this level unless you are a professional woodworker with lots of heavy-duty ripping jobs. Cabinet saws, the biggest and most versatile table saws, play in this league.
For example, the Baileigh TS-1248P-52 has a maximum rip capacity of 52″. (Amazon affiliate link)
I will later explain how you can extend rip capacity.
Rip Capacity vs. Table Saw Depth
Many people fail to distinguish between rip capacity and saw depth. We’ll clarify the difference.
Rip Capacity of Table Saw
There is a combination of features that influence the cost of a table saw. However, the feature that most importantly determines the price for a table saw is the rip capacity.
It’s important that you understand this feature when selecting a table saw or getting an upgrade.
To get the best value for money, select a table saw with the smallest rip capacity that meets your needs. The smaller table saws have a smaller rip capacity.
Here’s a summarized comparison of table saws:
|Saw Type||Key Characteristics|
|Portable-bench top & Job site (Typical rip capacity 28″)|
|Contractors Table Saws (Typical rip capacity 30″)|
|Cabinet Table Saws|
(Typical rip capacity 50″)
|Hybrid Table Saws (Combine features of cabinet saws and contractor saws)||Better than a contractor saw, but less powerful than a cabinet saw|
Watch this video for a detailed comparison of these table saws and how to choose the right table saw for your work based on rip capacity and other factors:
Table Saw Depth Capacity
Table saw depth is an important feature of table saws that describes how deep into the wood your saw can cut.
A 10” blade, for example, can roughly cut wood that is about 3” thick. A 12” blade can cut through 4” thick wood.
How Much Rip Capacity Do I Need?
The rip capacity you need is exclusively determined by the kind of work you’ll be handling. The projects you’ll focus on will dictate the amount of table space you’ll need; in other words, the rip capacity you’ll require.
For instance, a 24” rip capacity should be adequate for framing jobs on large-scale construction projects. This is because plywood and standard sheets of oriented strand board (OSB) used in construction usually measure 8 feet long by 4 feet wide.
A table saw with a rip capacity of 24” can rip a 4-foot wide sheet halfway along its length.
You’ll require a smaller rip capacity if your focus is on smaller projects such as furniture. In such a case, a rip capacity of less than 22” will suffice.
Since rip capacity is the key determinant of table saw prices, go for the smallest table saw that can satisfy your project demands.
However, if you’re into some super heavy-duty work, then invest in larger rip capacity saws.
What Are the Steps to Ripping Wood on a Table Saw?
Ripping refers to cutting wood lengthwise along the direction of the wood grain e.g when you need to shave-off two inches from a long, straight wood piece.
A table saw can also perform other cuts such as a cross-cut using the miter gauge. A cross-cut refers to cutting wood across the grain.
Here are the steps to ripping your workpiece:
- Set the blade depth.
- Mark the workpiece you’ll be cutting.
- Set the table saw fence.
- Position outfeed support area.
- Push the workpiece onto a saw blade and rip-cut.
- Use a push stick to complete the work.
- Switch off the table saw.
Let’s discuss three of these steps further.
Accurately Mark Your Workpiece
Take measurements rigorously, or you’ll lose your wood and time. This is because you’ll make inaccurate cuts on your workpieces, producing unusable pieces.
Accuracy in your measurements helps to precisely set the table fence and the saw blades for the job.
Set the Blade Depth
The blade depth corresponds to the depth of the cut.
Set the depth to extend ⅛ inch above the surface of the workpiece.
For example, if you’re cutting a ¾ inch frame, set the depth of the blade to be above the top surface of your workpiece by ⅛ inch, that will be ⅞ (i.e. ¾+⅛=⅞) inches. This mitigates against accidental injury if your hand brushes over the workpiece while it’s being sawn.
Read also: Direction of Cut For Table Saw Blades
Set Your Table Saw Fence
The rip-fence helps to achieve longer cuts with precision by acting as a guide for the workpiece. Wood is pushed into the rapidly moving blades and is held in position by the fence to ensure a straight cut.
Kickbacks can result if a fence is flimsy. Kickback is a dangerous condition that occurs when the workpieces pinch against the rapidly spinning blade, which can throw the workpiece back to you with great force causing injuries.
How Do I Increase the Rip Capacity on a Table Saw?
1. Make a Table to Extend One Side of Your Table Saw
Making an entirely separate table and attaching it to the side of your existing table. The larger table will provide additional working space increasing your rip capacity.
Note: Though it’s convenient to extend the rip capacity where a clamping fence system is used, it’s difficult to do so on a rack and pinion fence system, e.g., on Dewalt table saws.
2. Readjust Your Existing Fence or the Fence Railing
You can increase the rip capacity by altering the fence and fence railing of your existing table. This is more technical since you’ll have to disassemble, measure, and reassemble the existing table.
You can rely on plenty of relevant DIY online tutorials to guide you through this process.
3. Purchase a Table Extension for Your Saw Model
Lastly, you may buy a table saw stand that has an allowance for a table extension and auxiliary fence, thereby increasing your working area or the rip capacity.
Since this is a ready-made solution, assembly is easy and fast, and you won’t have to disassemble, drill, or measure so that the elements fit-in.
Read also: Where Are Grizzly Table Saws Made?
A table saw has numerous features, but it’s the rip capacity that largely determines the price.
Your rip capacity is extendable by:
- making a table to extend the one side of your table saw;
- readjusting your fence; and
- purchasing a table extension for models that accommodate for an extension
How much rip capacity you’ll need depends on what you intend to use the saw for.
Cheers, tool owners!