Ripping with a miter saw?

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Forum topic by Tedstor posted 04-26-2011 11:00 AM 32166 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1691 posts in 3795 days

04-26-2011 11:00 AM

I’m thinking about building a butchers block table. Probably around 24×30”. I’m thinking about using 1”x1”x4” maple to form the block. I’ve never made a butchers block before, but its always been my understanding that the rip cuts are best made via table saw. However, my table saw is 50 years old. Its still pretty capable, but I’m not sure its up to this laborious and finnicky task.
I’m considering using my miter saw to cross cut the 4/4 boards into 4” sections, then set up a stop block on the miter saw and rip them into 1” blocks. I’ve never considered using a miter saw for something like this before. I don’t even know if it’d work well, or be safe. I’ll have to figure out a way to secure the wood so I won’t have to put my hands too close to the blade. Any other thoughts?

21 replies so far

View devann's profile


2260 posts in 3855 days

#1 posted 04-26-2011 11:57 AM

I have a slider mitersaw amd sometimes I’ll rip a piece on it. But not a lot of them. I’d use my TS. My TS was made in the 1960s.
To safely cut small pieces at the mitersaw I use a scrap the same thickness as the stock to be cut. Set it 12”-16” away from the blade, then place a sacrificial piece of wood across the top of the scrap and the piece of stock that needs to be cut. Make sure and place the sacrificial piece of wood against the saw fence and hold it down firmly with you hand (or you can clamp it ) several inches from the blade. Make the cut.

BTW, for small pieces I’ll clamp a rip of MDF or plywood to the saw fence on both sides of the blade so the piece doesn’t go shooting out the back of the saw. This will also give you a cutting reference to line up the piece to be cut. No laser needed.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5356 posts in 5123 days

#2 posted 04-26-2011 12:16 PM

Be sure to use a rip blade, and send us the pics after you’ve recovered.
I’m gonna change your name to “DANGER BOY”.

-- [email protected]

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 3856 days

#3 posted 04-26-2011 03:43 PM

For things that small, I opt for the band saw.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 4019 days

#4 posted 04-26-2011 03:48 PM

It could be a wee bit dangerous
if it is your only solution
Clamp the piece firmly and use a rip blade


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 4321 days

#5 posted 04-26-2011 04:10 PM

24” x 30” butcher’s block…that’s a lot of cuts!

I’d use the table saw and miter gauge with sacrificial fence. The miter fence allows for zero clearance on the cut as well as the ability to push the smaller pieces past the blade during the cut. Use a block on the TS fence to set a stop for the width of your repeatable cuts…the cut disengages from the block before it goes through the blade to prevent kickback.

If your table saw cannot make this cut, I think it’s time for a new table saw. Table saws that cannot calibrate that precisely are inherently dangerous.

-- jay,

View Loren's profile


11233 posts in 4810 days

#6 posted 04-26-2011 05:48 PM

I’ve ripped short pieces plenty on a slider. It’s hard to hold the work,
but if you set up a workholding jig with hold down clamps it can

I think the table saw is a better tool for making the cut in the
shop though. Make a jig.

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 4213 days

#7 posted 04-27-2011 07:55 AM

Put a good blade on your tablesaw and do it like they said above. By the time you jig up everything you need (don’t forget Murphy; every thing you add adds a chance for inaccuracy or disaster) and don’t force it. Your old saw will do it. Mine was built in ‘71 and it has more guts than a butcher’s dog. Stay safe. Just because something CAN be done, doesn’t mean it SHOULD be done.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Chris's profile


27 posts in 4012 days

#8 posted 04-27-2011 01:40 PM

Go with the table saw and use a blade with a thin kerf. Also if you have a 10” saw try using an 8” blade. No sense in making your saw work harder turning a larger blade when you don’t need the depth of cut.

-- Chris, Hubertus, WI

View KnotWright's profile


258 posts in 4651 days

#9 posted 04-27-2011 02:07 PM

I wish I had the photos to show you what happens when you try to rip things with a miter saw. One of my helpers was doing just that without me knowing it. Luckily he wasn’t hurt, but the window in the shop along with the saw didn’t fair so well. I still keep what’s left of the saw in the shop to remind everyone not to attempt that. It bent the saw blade and torn off the guard.

So I’m with the rest of the guys here, go the table saw route for your ripping. Install a good sharp blade before you start.

-- James

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4043 days

#10 posted 04-27-2011 06:39 PM

I have ripped very small pieces on my miter saw and like Loren said, its hard to hold the work. I have also ripped small pieces with my Radial arm saw by pulling the arm through rather then pushing the wood. No matter what happens I don’t take my eyes off the blade and my fingers.

I agree with the others on using the table saw though. Especially if its more then a couple cuts. I have only used my miter saw and RAS to rip when its been 1 or two small cuts.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Schoey's profile


23 posts in 4637 days

#11 posted 04-28-2011 04:04 AM

Danger Will Robinson!! Don’t do it! Use a tool they were intended to be used and you will lower your chances of being a statistic.

View MrWoodworker's profile


65 posts in 3758 days

#12 posted 04-28-2011 07:46 PM

Not worth it! Use the right tool for the job. If your saw is that worn out, try to find one you can borrow.


View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3838 days

#13 posted 04-29-2011 03:32 PM

I tried this once and decided I shouldn’t be doing this. Just too much risk involved. Things happen so fast you don’t have time to think about pulling the hand back from the blade until after the fact. Use another tool.

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

328 posts in 4083 days

#14 posted 04-29-2011 04:03 PM

What exactly happens when ripping on the miter saw that makes it dangerous? I’m not criticizing, I really would like to know since I don’t have a table saw but I do have a miter saw and was hoping to be able to cut up pen blanks with it.

-- Scroll saw patterns @

View devann's profile


2260 posts in 3855 days

#15 posted 04-29-2011 04:43 PM

What happens is since the blade is spinning away from you, if the material to be cut moves in the slightest way the blade will want to eject the material and with things flying around really fast your fingers could end up being struck by the saw blade. Has I stated in comment #1, I would use the tablesaw for this endeavor. If you do not fully understand all the psychics invloved that are taking place when attempting such a cut you are better using another tool.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

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