The Riphorse: Training Wheels for Sawyers
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. It was a cakewalk to rip square.
We made a short video to show the riphorse in action.
Of course, you really need two sawhorses, and when you put the second sawhorse into the equation you can rip longer boards, and you can use the ripping slot for crosscutting, too.
Speaking of ripping, I showed Bilderback my French method of ripping. He wasn’t buying it. He called it slower and equated it to a personal activity that cannot be mentioned on a family blog (well, maybe the Manson Family blog).
In any case, I still like my French ripping method and think (and Carl agrees) that the method does result in nice square cuts.
We’ll likely offer plans in a future issue of the magazine for this riphorse (which will include gussets on the ends. Bilderback left them off so we could see the guiding blocks better).
But most woodworkers should be able to build one or modify their current sawbench from these photos.
– Christopher Schwarz