How to Use a Circular Saw Rip Fence

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When you have to rip boards, especially long ones, you’re probably inclined to reach for your table saw. What if I told you that you can get just as accurate of cuts with your circular saw? This guide will teach you how to use a circular saw rip fence, so you can get table-saw-quality rip cuts on virtually any board.

How to Use a Circular Saw Rip Fence

The good news is that virtually every store-bought rip fence is going to work the same. To attach it to your circular saw and make your cuts, follow these steps:

Step 1: Make Sure Your Saw is Set Up

Before you do anything, unplug your saw or take the battery out. The last thing you need is an unplanned cut on something that isn’t your workpiece.

Man demonstrating how to use a circular saw rip fence

Once it’s unplugged, swap out your blade, adjust the depth, and make any other adjustments you need.

You’ll want to get your saw ready before you worry about adding the rip fence.

Step 2: Locate the Fence Slots and Insert the Rip Fence

Almost all circular saws come with slots cut out of the front side of the shoe that will hold your rip fence in place.

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Once you find them, insert the long end of your rip fence through both holes and use the nut that it came with to tighten it down on the far side.

Step 3: Adjust the Fence Width

Once your fence is secured to your saw’s shoe you can adjust it to the width of your cut. One way to do this is to draw out your cut line and then line up your blade with it and adjust the fence accordingly.

Since you’re eyeballing the measurement, there’s a little more room for error with that method. A more accurate approach would be to measure the distance from the saw blade to the inside edge of the fence’s guide piece with your tape measure.

Step 4: Safety First

You can never be too careful with power tools, especially saws. You should always put on your goggles, protective dust mask, gloves, and ear plugs before you start cutting, and follow all safety guidelines as you go.

Step 5: Make the Cut

Now that your fence is attached and set to the right measurement and you’re all geared up, you’re ready to get cutting.

Make sure you keep the fence pressed firmly against the edge of your workpiece as you go, that way you’ll also stick to your cut line and get a highly precise rip.

We have a detailed guide on how to rip a 2×4 with your circular saw.

The Best Rip Fences for Circular Saws

Now that you know how to use a circular saw rip fence you might be wondering which one to get.

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Whether you’re in the market for your first rip fence or you’re looking for an upgrade, these are some of the best options for you to consider:

Circular saw cutting wood

1. Kreg KMA2685 Rip-Cut Circular Saw Guide

The Kreg KMA2685 Rip-Cut Circular Saw Guide fence is hard to beat – it’s highly accurate, it can be used for wide rips, and it’s also cheap and easy to operate.

While the plastic material might mean you have to replace it sooner than later, we think it’s worth the money and the results.

Advantages:

  • Rip boards up to 24 inches wide
  • Built-in measurement guide
  • Can also be used for crosscuts
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Budget friendly

Disadvantages:

  • Durability, it’s a plastic fence

2. Kreg KMA2700 Circular Saw Track

If you’re looking for a jack of all trades, the Kreg KMA2700 Circular Saw Track is the fence for you. Its non-slip design means you can use it for almost any cut, but the lack of an edge-riding piece also ends up being its downfall.

Due to the design this track is slightly less accurate, so if you need perfection you may want to consider a different fence or clamp this one down to your workpiece.

Advantages:

  • Rip boards up to 48 inches long
  • Non-slip design
  • Can also be used for angled cuts and crosscuts

Disadvantages:

  • 1/32 inch inaccuracy tolerance

3. Bora WTX 50 Inch Circular Saw Guide

The Bora WTX 50 Inch Circular Saw Guide fence truly goes the distance, letting you rip long boards up to 50 inches. What’s even cooler is that you can couple multiple fences together for even longer cuts.

However, when connecting guides there may be some flex at the junction which will throw off the accuracy.

Advantages:

  • Rip boards up to 50 inches long
  • Can piggyback guides for even longer rips
  • Locking handle mechanism
  • Made of aluminum

Disadvantages:

  • Flexing at the junction of coupled guides
Circular saw

How to Make a Rip Fence

Many rip fences only go up to 24 inches wide, which should cover any rips you need to make in 4×8 plywood sheets or the like.

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For your other DIY projects or for narrow rips, it may be beneficial to make your own fence.

You can go as fancy or as plain with your fence as you want, like adding a zero clearance insert and a handle or just making a straight guide.

For the simplest fence, you’ll need the following materials:

  • ½ inch plywood – cut to length
  • 1×4 board – cut to length
  • Wood screws
  • Clamps

You’ll want your plywood to be at least 12 inches wide, and as long as you want your fence to be.

Cut your 1×4 to the same length and then screw it to the plywood so that it’s about 1 and ½ inches from one edge. Place your screws every 8-10 inches through the plywood side first.

Once that’s assembled, set your saw’s shoe against the edge of the 1×4 and use it as a guide to cut off the excess plywood.

When you’re finished you’ll have a straight rip guide for your circular saw that can be clamped to almost any workpiece.

You might also want to consider a track saw or table saw for these type of cuts.

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Conclusion

Hopefully you’ve learned a few things about how to use a circular saw rip fence.

Just attach the fence to your saw using the slots on the shoe and adjust the width, or you can make your own DIY fence to suit your woodworking needs.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.