The concept seemed simple enough, and it didn't occur to me that I had never
tried cutting anything this long before. I have to cut some 8' sheets of
plywood the long way on the TS. A few dry runs with a helper had it weaving
and bobbing off the fence and table. We tried it with the helper making like
a featherboard. We tried it with the helper making like an infeed support
roller, which worked a little better. The lumberyard would have ripped it
for me at $1 per cut, if I had been thinking. But now that it's here...
Is there a secret to a long rip on tablesaws? 8' of leverage easily
overcomes whatever force I can apply holding it to the fence. I've seen
conical feed rollers that hold the work to the fence, but never paid much
attention, since I didn't have problems with the size of work I was doing. I
can't find them now on online stores. What are those roller-things called?
There's no problem on the outfeed end. I just need to get the first 3' or so
to feed straight enough to not kick back. From there, it's a very
comfortable rip, just like the ones I'm used to. What's the secret?
Doh! Yeah. Also eyeing the spare 8' long white melamine shelf that's been
gathering dust in the corner. A length of cleats down its length, and a
simple cut with the saw will turn it into a usable guide. (No matter. I'm
just pleased as punch with how easily it cuts on the TS now.)
Anyway, there's not much left of the plywood. There's a little less than a
square foot of small bits and pieces in scrap. It was quite an epiphany to
discover that there's a bookcase hiding in each 4x8 sheet of plywood. Just
add some edge banding and a 1/4" back sheet.
My experience is to avoid helpers. I use multiple roller stands with swivel
wheels on infeed and outfeed to support both sides of the cut and when
cutting to press the plywood against the fence. Where material allows, I cut
it 1/4 inch oversize, then retrim the cut piece when it is more manageable
I find helpers tend to try to help too much and often move about as they are
easing the wood through the saw when walking backwards, which causes binding
and a weaving cut.
And so I sent her off to start supper. :D
I stacked some stock on the Workmate for a bit of help at the far infeed
end, and added a featherboard for hold-down at the fence for insurance. It
was a complete non-event. Most of it, I think, was a mental block that said
it would be a difficult cut. One down, 6 more to go. Thanks for the nudge.
For important stuff, I always use a table on the outfeed side of the
saw, and a rolling work table on the infeed.
I roll the sheet (on the table) up to the saw and the table stops
rolling when it gets to the saw, but the top is slick enough that the
sheet keeps going. The surface of both in and out feed tables are
slightly lower than the saw top.
Without tables, I'd suggest making rough cuts, then final cuts on the
smaller, more manageable pieces.
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
Get/make outfeed support for both the cut and offcut. Infeed support is
good as well.
Hold the plywood at the back left corner. I like to have one hand on
the back and one on the left side. Start the cut, applying pressure
towards the front right corner to keep the board against the fence.
Once you get fast the first few feet, move directly behind the sheet and
push it through.
I envy you that. It just wouldn't start straight for me. The long leverage
made it especially easy to over correct. (It turned out to be pretty
manageable just by adding some support at the far end, behind me. I just
stoood at the table and fed it, just like any other rip. Maybe some day in
the far future, I'll try it again... but I suspect I'll just happily pay the
What Chris says works for me, too...but, really, what it's all about
is practice. One more thing, though, try real hard to get your
footwork good enough to keep the sheet (or board, if you will) to move
through without stopping. Do some dry runs...plug in your
hands...keeping your eyes on the fence connection. I find the hardest
part to be getting the sheet set up to *start* the cut...the cut
itself is no longer an issue due to repetition. Now, all that said,
depending on the widths of my rips, I'll most always get at least
*one* done where I purchase the stock (at HD they'll do one cut
free...most yards out here will do that) and that cut just a smidge
over the dimension I'm after...this gets the sheet size much more
managable. Then the procedure described above...practice, baby,
Unless you set up infeed, out feed and side support tables, the
mechanics of the process are not in your favor.
If you are trying to only break down one or two sheets, having all
those tables set up take up a lot of space for what is basically a
short time project.
An edge guide, a couple of C-Clamps and a 4'x8'x2" foam sheet, and a
hand held circular saw simplifies life a great deal.
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