How to Rip Narrow Boards with a Circular Saw ( 5-Step Guide)

Do you want to learn how to rip narrow boards with a circular saw?

Fantastic, You are in the right place!

In this ToolsGaloreHQ.com guide, I will show you:

  • How to set everything up
  • Understanding your circular saw
  • How to cut effectively
  • And So Much More!
Before we get into it, and I show you how to rip narrow boards with a circular saw. Read the table below…
How to rip narrow boards with a circular saw

What you need to know about how to rip narrow boards with a circular saw

how to rip narrow boards with a circular saw

Understanding your circular saw

Before you can successfully rip narrow boards with you circular saw. It is important to understand a couple of key components on your circular saw. 

Understanding how each component works individually and ultimately together will get you creating rip cuts through narrow board with a circular saw in not time.

Now, as you already know, in order to create a rip cut, you basically cut parallel to the grain of the wood.

Therefore ripping wood all starts with how use both the rear and front handle.

The rear handle has the the trigger to control the drill speed and the safety switch.

When you are rip cutting wood with a circular saw, always make sure you are using your strongest hand on the rear handle. In this way you are assured of the best speed grip and speed control.

The front handle is especially useful when ripping through wood, because it’s main functionality is for stability and steering as you apply power through the rear handle.

Read More:>>> Best Folding saws for woodworking applications

how to rip narrow boards with a circular saw


The alignment slots play a pivotal role especially when you are looking to rip 2x4 wood with a circular saw.

Some circular saws come with a guiding laser as well. Either way which ever one you have they all preform the same function.

The slot combined with a level or line across the narrow board will be of great assistance in creating your rip cut through wood.

The shoe or the base plate has a very critical purpose when implementing how to rip narrow boards with a circular saw.

It is specifically designed to lie flat on your wooden surface. This allows for a smooth and very even rip cut with your circular saw.

Lastly the blade gauge works automatically to help protect the blade from getting damages, and from the blade causing damage to you whilst you rip through the narrow board with your circular saw.

Safety requirements

When learning how to rip narrow boards with a circular saw, I will always recommend that you wear the minimum personal protective equipment to avoid potential injuries.

At the minimum, use:

Protective eyewear – When ripping though narrow boards using a circular saw, what can often happen is that splinters can fly off, especially if you are rushing as your rip cut. Protective eye wear will give you comfort during your rip cut.

Respirator – Circular saws are generally more efficient at reducing the overall dust created through the rip cutting process.

However when you use this power tool quite often there is a huge risk of breathing in dust particles.

So be assured to use your respirator to ensure that your are protected when you rip your narrow board.

Ear Protection – Circular saws produce very high pitched sound with decibels greater than the normal human conversation of 60 dB.

Ear protection in the form of ear muffs will protect your cochlea as you rip cut through your narrow board with a circular saw.


Different material types

Circular saw depending on the blade can cut through many different materials and not just you narrow board. These include plywood, metal sheets, plastics and fiberglass.

Ripping through 2x4 with a circular saw is probably the most common application. However it is good to know that your circular saw can cut through a wide array of different materials as well.

Equipment You’ll need to rip narrow board with a circular saw

  • Circular Saw
  • Level
  • Thin sheet of wood/narrow board with clamps

5 Steps on How to rip narrow boards with a circular saw

Step 1 – Place wood on firm surface.

Take your narrow wooden board, typically plywood or wooden slab and place in on a firm and flat surface.

This is important as the circular saw although being very stable and low in vibrational energy will cause the wood to move it it isn’t on a flat base surface.

This is the cause of many mis-aligned saws. In my view what makes a steady base surface is one that is wider than your narrow board and thicker.

The reason is you will be placing your plywood or narrow board on the edge as you rip through it. The base surface must be steady enough to handle this.

Step 2 – Clamp the board

This step requires you to take the flat sheet of wood and clamp it to the table. Make sure that when performing a rip cut, you are cutting in line with the grain. For 2x4 plywood for example this would be across the length of the 4’’.

Step 3 – Setup your circular saw for effective cut

You need to decide how wide you want to rip cut through the narrow board. This is very important. As the circular saw usually has a slot that will provide visual indication. However when you set it up I would recommend that you put a level clamped to the plywood at the distance equal to the width of the shoe or base plate.

The video below provides a good explanation of this system.


The additional benefits of using a level is that it will supplement your circular saws onboard laser or slot. It also makes it very easy to saw without having to worry about the keeping the direction as you rip through the board.

Step 4 – Use the levers to properly setup the circular saw

This is a very important step.

Set the blade angle using the angle lever on the saw. Also set the the cut depth. One thing you want to note here is that you do not want to set the cut too far below the thickness of your narrow board material.

Another tip before you commence with your drill, is to ensure that you do not clamp the narrow board on both sides.

The reason is simple as your circular saw works, it needs a little bit of wiggle room at a microscopic level.

Clamping the board on both sides pinches the actual saw blade.

Do this often enough and you will reduce the overall efficiency and useful life of your saw.

Step 5 – Start ripping

This is the easy part, however there are a couple of things you need to do to ensure a solid rip.

Place your circular saw inline with the line you want to saw, and start ripping. Make sure to let the circular saw do all the work, do not try to rush it. This way you will have perfect cuts every time.

Read More:>>> Learn how to cut wood without a saw blade

Final Thought on how to rip narrow boards with a circular saw

I hope this guide has been helpful when you are looking to rip cut with a circular saw. The beauty of this method is that you can saw through narrow boards or material without needing to bring your sheet wood into a workshop.

Making it extremely versatile.

Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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