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The hardest part of ripping (besides the exertion) is making a square cut through the thickness of the work. It’s fairly easy to follow your line when ripping, but it’s also easy to make that cut at an angle, especially in thick stock.

One common trick to remedy this problem is to mark your cutline on both faces of your board. Then you flip the board over every so often and correct any wandering. Then flip the board over again and again.

Carpenter Carl Bilderback of LaPorte, Ind., has developed a sawbench that is designed to train you to rip vertically. It works on the same principle as a wooden miter box. The top of the sawbench is pierced by a narrow kerf. Below the top of the sawbench are two big softwood chunks. The chunks are fastened close together — just far enough apart to let the saw pass.

The result is pretty cool. I tried it out on Thursday, as did my friend John Hoffman.


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