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Body Mechanics: Tablesaw Rips

Whether you’re ripping a board for the first time, or have been making that cut for years, it pays to review the fundamentals.

Get ready to rip

  1. Set up outfeed support if needed to prevent the workpiece and offcut from falling to the floor.
  2. Position the rip fence for the desired workpiece width and lock the fence securely.
  3. Position a pushblock or pushstick on or to the right of the fence, within easy reach.
  4. Stand to the left of an imaginary line drawn through the blade, with your left foot forward.
  5. Place the workpiece flat on the table with the edge pressed against the fence and the leading end at least 3" from the blade.
  6. Turn on the saw, and push the workpiece forward while simultaneously pressing it against the fence. Watch the areas in front of the blade and along the rip fence to make sure fingers stay well away from the blade and that the workpiece remains in full contact with the fence.

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If your saw has a large paddle “off” switch, stand so you can bump the switch with your leg while keeping both hands on the workpiece.

Finishing touches

When the trailing end of the board reaches the near edge of the saw table, push with your left hand while reaching for the pushstick with your right. Center the pushstick between the blade and fence and use the pushstick to move the workpiece forward until the board clears the blade. Turn off the saw, allow the blade to stop, then retrieve the workpiece and cutoff. Never lean over a spinning blade.

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Hooking a couple of fingers over the fence helps keep all digits away from the blade.

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