Why Does a Table Saw Snipe When Ripping?

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When using rough sawn lumber or pallet wood, you must make the surface smooth and achieve consistent thickness before working on it. As a result, snipe may occur on your wood pieces while ripping.

Snipe simply refers to the wood or board being cut deeper at the beginning or the end as it goes through the saw or planer. So, why does a table saw snipe when ripping?

Why Does a Table Saw Snipe When Ripping?

Sniping on a table saw occurs when the workpiece moves excessively into the cutting materials on both ends. It can also occur when the cutting area on the table saw moves excessively into the material that is being ripped.

In small saws, the cause of snipe is usually the cutter head assembly’s movement. You can prevent this movement by implementing a locking mechanism on a hybrid table saw. The uneven pressure exerted by rubber rollers also causes snipe and this occurs at both ends of the woodwork pieces.

Man carefully holding a table saw blade

When work pieces are introduced to your table saw, the table saw blade works on the portion that is held by rubber rollers exerting equal pressure at the ends of the wood piece. This creates a uniform surface after the almost invisible groove. Snipe mainly occurs when the board is lifted up into the cutter head while it is just held down by one of the pressure rollers.

How to Remove Snipe

If you are a woodworking professional or enthusiast, you understand that the wood that comes from the lumber yard is never perfect. This means that you need to smoothen the surface of your wood pieces or cut them into uniform pieces before working on them. When working on your wood pieces, you may notice snipe on the finished products.

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Snipe can be minor and only noticeable when you are applying finish on your woodwork or it can be severe. In extreme cases, snipe can make deep gorges that cause irreversible damage to your workpieces. It is possible to eliminate or reduce snipe on contractor table saws.

You can prevent snipe by holding the woodwork piece firmly in the table on both the in-feed and out-feed. This must be done with lots of caution because of the cutting blade’s rotation. You can also use discarded wood in the front of your actual woodwork piece for it to bear the brunt of snipe on the two ends.

This technique always achieves the desired results.

Man trying to cut wood with a table saw

Ways to Prevent Table Saw Snipe

Let’s take a look at the main ways you can prevent your table saw from snipping.

1. Lift it Up

The easiest way to prevent snipe is by lifting the backend of the board so that it makes direct contact with the cutter head. This will ensure that the front part of the board is in contact with the table of your saw and will make parallel contact with the cutter. You should also do the same for the wood as it exits your table saw.

2. Use Sacrificial Boards Before and After the Woodwork

One way that you can prevent or reduce sniping is by using sacrificial boards before or after putting your workpieces through. The first trailing boards will help to even out pressure from the rollers and will ensure your workpiece is smooth and has even cuts.

3. Use Spare Side Runners

Apart from using scrap lumber pieces before and after your workpieces, you can also use side runners to prevent snipe. You just need to attach scrap wood strips to every side of the workpiece.

However, ensure that the wood strips you use are almost the same thickness as your woodwork pieces. The spare side runners will absorb the snipe and will leave you with perfect boards.

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4. Carry Out Regular Maintenance

All mechanical devices will last longer and give better results when they are properly tuned up and maintained. You should keep your table saw clean at all times and ensure that all its components are free from wood chips, dust, sappy residue, and lubricant buildup.

Man explaining why does table saw snipe when ripping

How Can You Detect Snipe on Woodwork Pieces?

You can detect snipe on woodwork pieces by wetting the surface using mineral spirit to help reveal any trouble areas. You can also amplify the problem on the wood surface by shining a raking light over the surface at a low angle to help your eyes detect any snipe.


Hopefully, you now have an idea why your table saw snipes when ripping. By knowing what causes snipe and how you can avoid it, you will be able to produce high-quality boards for almost any kind of woodworking project. Fixing snipe is quite expensive because you will end up wasting your lumber.

This is why preventing snipe from occurring in the first place is better than fixing the problem after it has occurred.

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.