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What is Rip Cut or Cross Cut?

What is the difference between a rip cut and a cross cut and how do you cut these with a circular saw?


You will often hear woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts talk about doing a rip cut or a cross cut. When you are starting out in DIY, these terms can be a bit confusing a first, but this article looks at the difference between a rip cut and a cross cut and how you would undertake these two different cuts using a circular saw.

What is a Rip Cut?

Woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts alike often talk about doing a rip cut for projects. Watch any YouTube video where large sheets or timber or board are cut down to size and they will refer to a rip cut. All rip cuts follow the grain of the wood from one end to the other. This cut cuts parallel with the grain and is an easy cut to do using a circular saw or other cutting tools, including a handsaw.

Cutting from one end of a piece of timber or board to the other end, and following the grain, can be performed with a table saw, circular saw or most other types of power saws.







When using power saws, blades designed for rip cuts can be identified by the smaller number of larger teeth. There are a variety of combination blades that can be used specifically for ripping and cross-cutting.


What is a Cross Cut?

As the name implies, a cross cut is done across or through the grain. In other words, you are cutting board from side-to-side rather than top-to-bottom. For a clean, safe cross cut you need to use a blade that has far smaller teeth than a rip cut blade, to ensure you achieve a clean cut.






How a blade cuts best is determined, in part, by the number of teeth, the size of the gullet (gap between the teeth), the tooth configuration and the angle of the cutting teeth.



Using a Circular Saw for Rip Cuts or Cross Cuts

When you’re in the market for a circular saw, you can be overwhelmed by how many different brands and types of circular saws there are on the market. To ensure you get the right tool for your type of cutting projects, there are a few things to consider:






• Corded or cordless Circular Saw

If you often cut larger boards down to size, or prefer to cut your own pieces for projects, corded circular saws continue to be popular among DIY enthusiasts and professionals.

“Today, both corded and cordless brands offer the same features, power and torque and will do the job,” said Greg De Villiers of Vermont Sales. "In South Africa, and as a regular user, I would certainly go for the cordless option and the portability it offers. You also never have to worry about working on site or anywhere outdoors,” said de Villiers.

A corded circular saw offers consistent power that doesn't fade with long or continued use, but does requires direct access to electrical outlet. However, the disadvantage of a corded circular saw is that they are not that mobile, and the cord can get in the way. If you’re buying your first circular saw, a corded saw probably the best way to go. In general, you’ll get more cutting power and capacity for less money.

With a cordless circular saw you will have power decreases as the battery drains, but many top models have long lasting batteries.

The bottom line is that one needs to look at the cost and what is best suited and meets your needs.

• Choosing the right blade for cutting

One of the biggest frustrations DIY enthusiasts come across when using a circular saw is rough cutting results. Circular saws come with blades that are made for making fast rip cuts or for smooth rip cuts. Using these blades for cross cutting or diagonal cuts will give you bad results. This is easily fixed by swapping the blade with a “fine cut” or cross cutting blade. This type of blade has more teeth with sharp carbide tips that will produce a smooth, clean cut.



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