Ripping plywood to 5" strips, move the fence or not?

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Forum topic by controlfreak posted 10-19-2019 08:46 PM 521 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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279 posts in 137 days

10-19-2019 08:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tablesaw

I have 3/4” plywood that i have broke down into 2’X4’ panels. I plane to cut each panel into 4’ X 5” strips. I will later cut these in half at 45 deg. for french cleats. I watched a video where I observed the operator cut 5” off all panels and stack them. Then move the fence 5” closer to the blade and repeat.Doing it this way leaves the larger part of the board between the blade and the fence. It looks to me that I could just set my fence 5” away from the blade and run each panel through without the repeated fence adjustments and end up with all strips exactly the same 5” width except for the last piece left at the end. Is there anything wrong with my doing it this way? That little voice in my head keeps asking is this safe?

14 replies so far

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


429 posts in 83 days

#1 posted 10-19-2019 09:21 PM

My advice: listen to that inner-voice, it wants you to keep those fingers.

Widest part of the board between to blade and fence, especially on such a long cut.

The only way to do what you suggest safely, is with a sliding table saw, IMO.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: It is wiser to find out, than to suppose (S. Clemens)

View LeeRoyMan's profile


331 posts in 262 days

#2 posted 10-19-2019 09:24 PM

Set your fence for 5” and rip them.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6682 posts in 3730 days

#3 posted 10-19-2019 09:46 PM

I agree with LeeRoyMan…...Just set it to cut 5” from the wide side of the ply, and rip it…..

-- " The secret to staying young looking.....hang around old people.." R.D.

View ibewjon's profile


1035 posts in 3328 days

#4 posted 10-20-2019 01:03 AM

Using a push stick, not fingers.

View Woodknack's profile


12924 posts in 2915 days

#5 posted 10-20-2019 01:15 AM

Set your fence for 5” and rip them.

- LeeRoyMan

Listen to this man.

-- Rick M,

View controlfreak's profile


279 posts in 137 days

#6 posted 10-20-2019 11:20 AM

Thanks for the replies. My fence is crappy and requires that I use a square to align it after each move. To make matters worse it had two locks to clamp it to the table. This is the reason I would rather not move it. I have push sticks but prefer using the micro jig because it allows a bit more control to add some pressure keeping the material on the fence.

View Heyoka's profile


26 posts in 388 days

#7 posted 10-20-2019 12:58 PM

An easier and probably safer way would be a circular saw with an attached fence at 5”

-- Heyoka

View PaulDoug's profile


2215 posts in 2239 days

#8 posted 10-20-2019 02:11 PM

Listen to them and do it the safest way, even if it takes a little longer!! If you don’t it could take a lot longer…... I did it the quick way, it took a lot longer.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View splintergroup's profile


2988 posts in 1758 days

#9 posted 10-20-2019 02:18 PM

An easier and probably safer way would be a circular saw with an attached fence at 5”

- Heyoka

If the pieces begin overly large for your TS setup (wide table + outfeed table) this method has merit. Just cut a tad over width then trim to 5” on the TS (with a push block for the end of the cut)

View WhyMe's profile


1182 posts in 2096 days

#10 posted 10-20-2019 02:36 PM

I’d probally first rip strips 9” or so wide. Then set blade at 45 and rip them in half making two 5”+- cleats from each 9” strip. 5” will be wide side of cleat.

View sras's profile


5229 posts in 3664 days

#11 posted 10-20-2019 02:39 PM

1. Is your saw table large enough to support the plywood during the cut?

- By “large enough” I mean that the piece outside the blade does not fall off the table at any time during the cut.

- If so, a fence set to 5” is safest in this case. Notice I didn’t say “safe” – you still need to be very aware of what is happening during the cut.

- If not, it depends on how much of the waste side is unsupported. A little hand pressure to keep everything stable is much better than trying to stop the waste side balanced in space.

- If you can set up an outfeed/sidefeed support (even if temporary), you can offset some risk.

2. Do you have a riving knife?

- If so, that makes the situation much safer.

3. Do you have push sticks?

- If so, use them – long ones. By that I mean longer than 6”.

- If not, get/make some. A strip of scrap with a notch in it works just fine.

If you don’t feel totally comfortable with the risks change your setup and process until you do feel comfortable. A lot of this choice depends on your own skill/experience level. Don’t let anyone ever tell you to do something that you don’t feel safe with – especially around a table saw.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View controlfreak's profile


279 posts in 137 days

#12 posted 10-21-2019 12:25 AM

Had a day in the shop. Even though my saw isn’t large my two foot wide by four foot long ply wood was supported. Had a slide out support augmented by a support roller. Riving knife in place and all went well. I set the fence at 5” and did repeated rips. Never felt unsafe however if the pieces were larger than two feet all bets are off. I now have two walls of the receiving end of french cleats. I love how woodworking unleashes your mind, I look at this wall and think “I can do anything with this blank slate.”

View WhyMe's profile


1182 posts in 2096 days

#13 posted 10-21-2019 02:03 AM

I misread your post when I replied in post #10. I thought you were cutting strips for cleats 5” wide and recutting the 45deg edge. I see now you are splitting the 5” strip with a 45deg cut.

View Kelly's profile


2462 posts in 3479 days

#14 posted 10-22-2019 06:39 AM

I always do cuts like that using a single setting. Note the shelf over the saw with the push shoes in easy reach.

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