I'm a beginner who wants to be safe here!

I need to cut multiple boards (let's say 10" x 16") with a table saw.

My first cut was going to make a 16" rip cut on my 4 foot plywood and then cross cut it to 10" pieces. Now it is evident I could use a sled, or the miter gage for that cut. The longer length is clearly too long to use the fence alone and risk kickback.

Let's now assume that I would like to rip/cross cut those 10" x 16" into roughly 10" x 8" boards. Could I use my fence only? Will it risk kickback? Since it is almost square, is there some kind of safety rule of thumb regarding the risk or absence of risk? I know the 10" edge can be firmly pressed against the fence and it will not rotate, but is it a bad practice?

What about if my previous board was 10" x 24" and I rip 8 inch or even 16 inch boards?

  • 1
    Point to remember, with ply and other manmade boards rip/crosscut is an arbitrary description as they have no grain orientation per se (as in, equal in both directions, unlike solid wood). "will it risk kickback?" there's always the potential for kickback with a standard long fence, never forget this. Other than using a sled one of the ways to reduce or remove this possibility is by affixing a short fence. Short fences are much safer and are standard in many parts of the world..... along with permanently fitting riving knives and safety guards!
    – Graphus
    Apr 25, 2019 at 7:45
  • 3
    Don't forget that some pros break down stock like this with some sort of edge guide and a power saw -- no table saw required. I personally find using a table saw for breaking down plywood a little awkward without rollers and/or helpers. Ref: thepowertoolwebsite.com/how-to-handle-plywood
    – user5572
    Apr 25, 2019 at 15:00
  • I am aware of this technique to break down plywood and use it fairly frequently! It is indeed useful. I use cross and rip liberally here indeed. I refer to it as cutting accross the short side (cross cut) and long side (rip). However, I'm most concerned about what technique I should use (using the fence or the miter gage) when the piece is not quite square but ''almost''. PS: my question is based on this particular cut that was made using the fence and that I wasn't sure if it was safe or not: youtu.be/LJIRSHF_HD8?t=258 Apr 25, 2019 at 17:04
  • For the short fence, this is EXTREMELY interesting too! Just did some research on that and it is quite interesting. My Dewalt saw can't accommodate one off the shelf., but I can clamp a piece of straight wood on my table and create one. Apr 25, 2019 at 17:07
  • Sorry didn't have space above to add anything about using a short fence, you don't need a separate short fence. You can achieve the same effect by simply clamping a board to your standard fence, this board to end roughly in line with the trailing edge of the saw blade.
    – Graphus
    Apr 26, 2019 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


When you are cutting plywood on the tablesaw, the risk of kickback is proportional to the width/length. Width is the distance from the fence to the blade and length is the length of the work-piece that rides against the fence. I am comfortable cutting anything where the width is less than the length.

Minimize the risk of kickback when breaking down sheet goods. Structure your cuts so that you cut the short end of the rectangle first.

  • Not so sure about this, but I don't know if I'm misunderstanding what you're actually suggesting here. Isn't doing long cuts first nearly always the way sheets are broken down (correct me if I'm wrong anyone) because if you cut the short sides of what will become rectangles first those cuts would require the blade to end cutting in the board. No? And aren't stopped cuts dangerous if they're fairly long?
    – Graphus
    Apr 26, 2019 at 13:09
  • @Graphus I'll add some images to clarify my argument when I get my saw out later today. Apr 26, 2019 at 13:16

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