How to Rip Long Boards


Ripping boards is the process of sawing down the length of a board to create long pieces of wood with a narrow width. It is less expensive to create 1x2 boards from a 12-inch wide board than to purchase them precut. Long boards need adequate support so that a person can cut them while walking down the length without the boards shifting and causing injury from a saw.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 sawhorses
  • Measuring tape
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Level or straight edge
  • Hammer
  • 4d finishing nails
  • Circular saw
  • Lay the long board across two sawhorses for stability. Place the board so that there is about 1-foot overhang of the length on the exterior of each sawhorse. For example, a 12-foot long board would have 10 feet in the center of the two sawhorses with one foot protruding over the exterior ends on each side.

  • Measure the width of the rip on the end of each board with a measuring tape. Mark each rip with a dot using a carpenter’s pencil. For example, if cutting 2-inch rips out of a 12-inch wide board, mark a dot every 2 inches on the board’s width.

  • Measure the same rip width about 1/4 and 3/4 down the board length and mark with dots.

  • Place the straight edge or level underneath the dots on one end and the next set of dots and draw a line down the board length. Continue this process to draw a straight line to the other end of the board for each 2-inch rip.

  • Slide the board to the edge of the sawhorses with 2 inches of the width on the edge of the sawhorses.

  • Attach the board to the sawhorses with a 4d finishing nail to hold the board steady.

  • Plug a circular saw into an electrical outlet and line it up on the first line of a rip farthest from the sawhorses.

  • Squeeze the trigger and saw down the length of the board.

  • Continue the sawing process for each rip out of the board.

  • Place the claw end of the hammer under the last 2-inch piece of board with nails on the sawhorses. Pry up the last 2-inch rip.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rip long lengths of boards by walking along the board in a steady motion without stopping the circular saw. This will give even cuts without splintering the wood.
  • Leaving one foot of the board on the exterior of the sawhorses allows ample space to start cutting a rip with a circular saw in an open area.
  • One saw horse could be used to support the long board in its center with nails as long as the board is not so wide that the sawhorses turn over.
  • Finishing nails will hide the holes in the last rip, however larger nails will support more board weight on the sawhorses. Use larger nails if necessary to support the board if the nail holes will not be visible in a project.
  • Take note of the position of the circular saw cord and any extension cords while walking and sawing.
  • Wear safety goggles to prevent sawdust from entering your eyes.

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  • Photo Credit Wood Boards image by Towards Ithaca from
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