I sometimes receive questions about rip-cutting and crosscutting. Woodworking terminology can be confusing especially when you are just getting started.
Rip-cut vs crosssut: A rip cut is a cut in the same direction as the grain of the wood and a crosscut is a cut across the grain of the wood. Because the grain of wood runs un and down the length of a tree, it usually means that rip cuts are long cuts and cross cuts are short cuts. A miter saw is designed to make crosscuts.
Unfortunately, people are unaware of the importance of knowing this. I look at many people that are equipped with saws but they still don’t know the basics of the cutting.
I have been in the exact same position. There wasn’t someone who can help me or guide me through the process of learning, so I had to go the hard way before I learned the proper techniques.
Luckily, I decided to make this easier for you and share with you all my acquired knowledge and experience.
I really hope that this article will guide you through the basics of both cutting types, so you will easily understand them and start implementing. I am really excited to help you with your new desired piece of furniture, so let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
Defining rip-cutting and crosscutting
Let’s keep things as simple as possible, so everyone could understand – rip-cutting is cutting the wood by the width, while crosscutting is cutting the wood by length.
This definition is enough to start with, but you will need more than this.
Rip-cut vs crosscut
Find the right blade for that particular wood type, and a non-stick coating blade will often do the job. Rip-cuts need blades with fewer teeth and large gullets are good for fast stock removal.
Next, measure and mark the wood on the desired width you want to cut.
Set the right depth that should be not more than a quarter inch more that the wood.
Finally, start the blade and carefully follow your markings in order to cut a straight line. This is a narrow cut, so you need to be much careful in order to maintain the line.
If you do everything right, you will be able to succeed in this.
Once you are done with the cut, let the piece of wood fall down freely.
This is relatively the basics you need to know about rip-cutting. If you are serious about this and want to learn more about rip-cuts, check What is a rip-cut for more detailed information.Crosscutting
Similar with rip-cutting, it is essential to find the right blade and make sure it is sharp enough. Use blade with more teeth to cut smoothly across the wood and smaller gullets in this case are prevention for fast feed rate.
Once you do this, the next step is setting the right depth, which again, shouldn’t be more than a quarter inch more than the wood.
Measure the desired length of the cut, but count on the distance from the outside of the blade as well.
Use a square and clamps to fix the square, so it won’t move and you can cut the wood easily.
Start the saw and go over the wood – not too slow, but not too fast, find the right speed for it.
Let the piece of wood fall freely and that is it. In case you want to read more on this, check my article to learn What is a cross-cut.
In the end, these types don’t differ much from each other. If you followed all the steps, you would easily notice that they aren’t very different – you just need to pay attention to several minor things.
Plus, do not forget about wearing safety equipment, as this is not a game and can result in unwanted consequences.
Which one is tougher?
To compare both cuts, I think it will be the best to go with the difficulty of performing the cut. Everyone has different opinion about this, but there are facts that need to be considered as well.
So, as you might know, the wood fibers or wood grain go to the length of the wood. Since a crosscut is cutting to length, you need more force to cut the wood.
However, you need to know how to cut both ways. I really hope that with the info given in this article, you will be able to build your new cabinet, shelf, or whatever your plans are.
Which type of cut is easier for you? Leave your opinions in the comments below.
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