Straight Line Ripping in a Small Shop
“Straight lining” a board is when you create a straight edge along the length of a board, similar to what is done on a jointer. So, why not use a jointer? A few reasons. First, because a jointer is only as good as the length of its tables. Even though I have a long bed jointer with a total length of 6’, it’s still too short to get the truly straight edge that is required for joining boards together. Second, ripping the edge instead of jointing is much faster and easier. You can rip it in one pass whereas it may take several passes on the jointer. This is especially true when you have a 9’ board with a major crook.
The jig requires straight, parallel edges and some toggle clamps to secure the board.
Crooked board on the jig with the crook facing out.
Straight line ripping is something that is usually only done in large wood shops with specialized rip saws to perform the task. It doesn’t have to be a task relegated just to the big shops. I’ve developed a method for doing it in my small garage shop on my table saw.
Here’s my method for straight line ripping on the table saw. I start by flattening and planing the boards. This will ensure that the ripped edge will come out square to the face. (I have methods for flattening long boards as well, that’s another blog though.) Next, I set up the saw with plenty of infeed and outfeed support and of course, have a ripping blade installed.
Cleaned up edge.
Then I put the crooked board on the jig. The jig is just a piece of MDF with parallel straight edges and some toggle clamps to hold the board. I put the board on the jig with the crook facing out (away from the fence,) and clamp it so that there’s a little bit overhanging the jig at both ends. I set the rip fence to the width of the jig or just wider then make the cut with the jig riding along the fence. The edge of the board is cut parallel with the straight edge of the jig. I then use the new edge to rip the opposite edge parallel to it and it’s ready to go into a glue up.
Over the past few years of working and learning in my shop, this skill has proved pivotal to my work. This process is essential for gluing up table tops and counter tops which I’m often commissioned to make. To see some past examples of my work check out the “Custom Woodworking” section of my website. To keep up to date on the newest projects, like me on Facebook or sign up for my newsletter.