What is Rip Capacity on a Table Saw?

What is rip capacity on a table saw - best user manual

When the task you’re working on involves rip-cutting wood, you don’t have many alternative choices for gear. In most scenarios a table saw will be the only tool suitable for you to use. Choosing a table saw with the best parameters means you already half succeeded.

When choosing the table saw for your needs, there are many parameters to consider. It’s crucial to be familiar with what is rip capacity on a table saw.

What is Rip Capacity on a Table Saw

Table saw rip capacity is the main parameter that will let you differentiate between a small portable saw and a big industrial one. Rip capacity refers to the square size of a working surface where you can place wood blocks before you start cutting.


When you extend the table saw’s cutting blade, you need to grab the saw fence and push it back a little. As a result, a gap of an empty space appears between the fence itself and the blade’s edge coming from a table saw.

The biggest possible size it can reach is the maximum rip capacity available for the table saw you’re using. In other words, it’s the greatest distance where you can move the rip fence.

How this influences the pricing

Effectiveness aside, larger rip capacity also increases the price of the table saw significantly. That’s why it’s useful to have an understanding of what this parameter affects and how much of a rip capacity is required for the task you took on.

What happens when the rip capacity you have is not sufficient?

If you can’t open the fence wide enough, the timber simply won’t fit inside – which means that the cutting process won’t even be able to get started. So if you discovered that you’re lacking in total rip capacity on a table saw – it can become a serious issue that hinders the whole project.

Can the lack of capacity be fixed?

Luckily for us, there is a couple of ways to improve the ripping capacity can be increased. To do this, you need to purchase a table with some add-ons for extension, set up the depth capacity table to extend one side of the bench, or simply readjust your table and its railing.

This article will tell you in detail about the ways to increase rip capacity and measure how much of it you need when cutting in a straight line. Together we will know the usual rip capacities of a table saw and see how we can receive additional rip capacity with a table extension.


For starters, let’s get ourselves familiar with the process of ripping wood so we can imagine what problems might appear during it.

How to Rip Wood with Table Saws

Ripping here means cutting wood lengthwise. Another detail is that the cut is performed in the same direction as wooden grains go. It’s often used in a situation when what you work with is a piece of wood that is straight and long but needs one or two inches of it to be shaved off.

If you’re using a miter gauge, then you can make some fine crosscuts or any other cut types with a table saw. Crosscut in this case is cutting wood across its grain.

The Procedure of Ripping Wood

We’ll start determining the table saw rip capacity in just a moment, but for now, let’s gets familiar with the main principles of a router table work. To make a rip cut correctly, you need to do the following steps.

Set the depth of a blade

The blade needs to be able to go through the whole piece without damaging the working place, so set it accordingly to the sizes of the piece you’re cutting.

The depth is set correctly if it starts from the bottom of a timber piece and ends just 1/8 inch above its surface. Too much of a cutting depth puts you at risk of injury during the cutting, so double-check your settings.

Mark the part where you want to make a cut

Use any tool available to draw a line where you’ll be doing a cut with a table saw. Better mark it a bit wider than you need since removing an extensive volume is always easier than making everything from a scratch.


Inaccurate cuts will make the wood unusable and besides your time you’ll also lose materials. That’s why you should pay extra attention to this part as accurate measurement will help in the next steps.

Set the position of the table saw fence

A saw fence works as a guide and allows you to cut precisely especially when it’s long. The fence will be used when pushing the wood on a rapidly spinning blade, so there might be a kickback, during which the wood piece can be launched back at you and cause trauma.

To prevent this from happening, you need to choose the correct position of the fence. Adjust it until there is enough place for a wood panel to be placed on, but not too much of it.

The closer fence gets to the blade – the smaller rip capacity you’ll have. At the same time placing it too far from a table saw increases the chance of an accident. This is one more reason to wisely choose how much rip capacity your table saw needs.

Make sure the fence is not flimsy, and then check if the position of the outfeed support area is correct.

Start cutting

Push the timber on a blade of the saw until the rip cut is finished. When it’s almost done, use a push stick for safety purposes. Don’t forget to turn off the saw after you’ve finished.

Obtaining a sufficient tool

Now that we know how the rip cuts are done, it’s time to choose the tool appropriate for doing similar tasks in your project.

First of all, check the section below to see what are the common rip capacities for most table saws.

The Usual Rip Capacity for Small Table Saws

The larger rip capacity there is – the bigger will be the volume of a wood piece that can be successfully cut while using this table saw. The general rule is simple: larger table saws have wide ripping capacity. At the same time, smaller table saws do not possess a lot of rip capacity but compensate for it with easy operating and cheap prices.

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Saws with a smaller ripping capacity are also more comfortable for using and can be moved easily, while the greater capacity means you have a wider range of tasks available, so you can finish the project without a need for a table extension.

28 Inch Portable Saw

The portable table saw has the smallest rip capacity which is still enough for doing the most standard procedures that the craftsmen need. If you’re looking for mid-priced table saws with entry-level rip capacity – this is your best bet. Dewalt table saws offer a variety of tools for your DIY projects.

How powerful are the portable table saws

The table saw with a capacity of 28 inches is enough to make a clear cut on a 48-inch piece of wood. Despite its tiny size, the saw has surprisingly big power and does an astonishing job at timber cutting. It’s also the most commonly used size for a table saw. It’s easy to find and is sold at a moderate price, so getting yourself a saw won’t be a problem.

30 Inch Contractor Saw

It’s also called a cabinet table saw. Cabinet table saws can come with various rip capacities, but they are always bigger than most portable table saws can offer.

If you happen to be a scrupulous person in need of a saw that can help you in handling all the different types of a cut, then the name speaks for itself – 30-inch saw is preferable since it optimally handles various tasks and has a consistent rip capacity.

While it has just a bit higher rip capacity than that of a 28-inch saw, at the same time it keeps the portability and power without raising the price too much.

50 Inch Professional Cabinet Saw

This saw offers its user the largest rip capacity available when it comes to manufactured table saws. They are mainly used in large-scale construction projects as they have a ripping capacity greater than the requirement for majority of the woodwork cases.


A cut with the size of this level is usually not required unless you are a professional woodworker who faces all kinds of orders at work. When working with cabinet saws, you can use their maximum rip capacity to perform any heavy-duty task. And if you are a professional woodworker it may be useful for you to learn how wide should a desk be for different purposes.

The large rip capacity table saws are the most versatile table saws that rarely require a replacement -a good choice if you need to frequently cut hardwood and are too busy to worry whether you have enough cutting capacity.

How to Determine the Required Rip Capacity

Recommended parameters for the table saw are heavily dependent on the type of woodwork you need to handle. When you’re busy doing a project that is of a large scale, it will require a lot of space for a table saw to operate freely. In other words, the task you have dictates the rip capacity you need for it.

Common usage cases

When you produce a small frame– a rip capacity of 24-inch would be enough. Plywood sheets, together with their alternative – sheets of standart-sized oriented strand board, are often utilised on construction projects, and their size is eight feet long, and four feet wide in general.

With a saw that has a rip capacity of 24 inches, you can make a rip cut on such a board halfway across its length. At the same time, this amount will be too big when you are focused on tinier projects.

When working with a piece of furniture, a smaller rip capacity is required. In this case, you can purchase the most miniature table saw to not only work in comfort but also keep it cost-effective – don’t forget that rip capacity directly affects the price you pay for the saw.

Even so, when you know the workload will be heavy – it’s better to invest in a higher capacity saw so you won’t need to interrupt the working process to go and find a replacement later.

Difference between Rip Capacity and Saw Depth

The depth of a saw is often confused with rip capacity – that is why in this section we will explain the main difference between those parameters and tell a bit more about each of them.

Rip capacity is related to the size of a timber panel you can place on the saw – namely, its width and length. If the wood doesn’t fit inside, then nothing else matters since you won’t be able to start cutting anyway.

On the other hand, the blade depth corresponds to how deep inside can you cut when the process started. Instead of the width and length of the block, it’s related to its “height”.

The 12-inch blade can easily cut through the 4-inch thick wood, while 10 inches one can roughly cut wood that has around three inches of thickness. The more “reserve” the blade has – the easier it is to cut with, so a bigger depth is usually better.

On the other hand, a bigger blade requires more power to keep it moving, so using the saw with a big blade consumes more power and it’s better to find the size, suitable for your needs.

How do I increase the rip capacity on my table saw?

Increase the capacity of a table

Extend the existing table you’re working on by attaching another one to its side by side. Combining them will give you a larger rip capacity on a table.

You’ll still need to do something with the width of a rip fence and the position of a saw blade since the table saw’s rip capacity is not only determined by the table where it’s placed on.

This is a cheap option that is available as long as you get your hands on a couple of medium-density fiberboards, clamps, 2×4 pieces, screws, and glue. After this, a router table add-on can be built with your own hands to save money.

Same materials can be used to make a fence – just be careful with your measurements and make sure you’ll have enough space after the building is finished.

Remember that rip capacity is measured from the saw blade to the opposite side of the fence – so the table with a wider surface means you’ll have a larger table saws surface to work on, so it’s the best way to extend rip capacity.

The hand-made table also needs to be the same height as the existing one so they can be combined by simply putting them together side by side.

The separate table can also have some castors on it to make the extension detachable.


After all, it’s most likely that you won’t need the wast rip capacity all the time. When the heavy work is completed – you can separate the tables again and return to doing the cuts of a smaller size.

If you have trouble with assembling a table or determining how much space you’ll need – don’t be shy and refer to a few different tutorials on how to achieve a greater rip capacity of a table saw.

Buying an Extension Table

Some stands for a table saw enable adding various extensions. They are ready-made which allows a quick assembly without doing any additional measurements. There is also a fence extending kit that can be bought online or at specialized stores.

Still, if you working with wood and have materials, so it might be easier to make your extension after all.

Buying a ready one can save some time, so it’s a good choice in time-consuming projects where additional expenses won’t affect the overall picture too much.

Readjust the fence and railing

You can further increase the rip capacity of the saw by altering the position of the fence and its railing.

To do this, the table in its current state will need to be disassembled and reassembled, so this solution is most technically difficult.

See also helpful video how to make safe taper cuts using a table saw

Read also our article: How to Cut Wood Slices With Chainsaw.

Additional notice about the pinion fence system

Many table saws can have their rip capacity increased through the modification. This is just one example where alternative ways of improving the table saw’s rip capacity just won’t work.

A rack and pinion fence is not loose which is good since this ensures your safety while you’re operating it. On the other hand, this fence is not removable at all. It’s accurately moving on a toothed rail and needs special gear to adjust the position.

That’s why you can’t extend the pinion fence – the maximum capacity that the existing fence railing comes with will be the limit you can reach by using the same fence and table.

If the capacity is not enough, then there is no other choice but to find an alternate table saw, the choice of which was explained above.


Rip capacity strongly affects the price of a saw as well as the range of work that can be done with it. Knowing how much rip capacity is needed will be crucial when you choose a table saw for wood cutting.

If you have no idea what to choose – cabinet table saws can cover most tasks. And if your case is special – it can be improved with a table extension.

If you already got a table saw and found out that its capacity is not enough – you can try and reassemble your table fence, modify it with ready-made extensions you received when purchasing the table, or even make a new one yourself.

Before making any decisions you should plan and decide what kind of work will you be performing – maybe your saw is good enough with the power it currently has.

Otherwise, you can always looks for some tools with different rip capacities and buy a new saw with parameters that are suitable for achieving your goals.

Check also which is the Best Beginner Miter Saw.

Serg Cooper
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Comments: 1
  1. Peter Lyons

    It’s so exciting! I’ve been thinking about how to choose cabinet table saw for a long time. Now I know! Thanks.

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