Saws

Crosscut vs. Rip Saw – What’s the Difference?

Crosscut vs. Rip Saw

For a long time now, there have been two types of saws when using the type of teeth as the basics of classification, which are the crosscut and rip saws.

Despite having different names and being meant for a wide variety of applications, most power saws can still fall into either category.

Crosscut saws just as their name suggests are the kinds that will cut across the wood grain, while the rip saws are built for cutting along the wood grain. But there are still a few other differences between the two saws which we look at in more detail below.

Overall Findings

Crosscut Saw

Rip Saw

  • Teeth bent away from the blade and angled on the inside edge
  • Cuts across the wood grain
  • Slices through material like little knives
  • High teeth count (60 to 80)
  • Smaller and purposely sized gullets
  • Teeth are bent away from the blade bit not angled on the inside edge
  • Cuts along the wood grain
  • Works more like little chisels
  • Lower teeth count (as few as 24 teeth)
  • Deep enough gullet

Crosscut Saw

  • Teeth bent away from the blade and angled on the inside edge
  • Cuts across the wood grain
  • Slices through material like little knives
  • High teeth count (60 to 80)
  • Smaller and purposely sized gullets

Rip Saw

  • Teeth are bent away from the blade bit not angled on the inside edge
  • Cuts along the wood grain
  • Works more like little chisels
  • Lower teeth count (as few as 24 teeth)
  • Deep enough gullet

Comparison

1. Blades: Crosscuts Have the Teeth Angled Inside

The blade design is one of the main differences between the crosscut and rip saws. Here both saws will have the blade's teeth bent away from the blade. However, the crosscuts saws have the teeth angled on the inside edge but for rip saws, they are not.

The design difference here affects the performance of these two saws and hence makes them ideal for different applications. For the crosscut saw, the angled design allows it to slice through material like a little series of knives, which results in more smooth edges.

Rips saw blades, on the other hand, will work more like a chisel, which means they will chisel out small chunks of wood with every pass. This kind of cutting is rougher as the teeth "rip out" the wood, and hence these blades will not be very ideal when you need smooth and precise cuts as they leave a rough edge.

2. Number of Teeth: More teeth for Crosscut Saws Means Smoother Cuts

The more the teeth that you have on your blade the smoother and cleaner the cuts that you will end up getting. Hence, given that the crosscut saws are built for smooth and precise cutting, they will typically have more teeth than the rip saws.

Crosscuts saw blades will be designed to deliver smooth cuts across the wood grain and will have between 60 and 80 teeth depending on the saw type. The presence of many teeth on the blade means that each of the teeth will have to do less cutting but makes more individual cuts when compared to the rip saw, this results in smoother cuts and cleaner edges.

With the rip saw blade, you will get around 24 teeth if you are using the popular 10-inch blade, which is less than half of what you would get on the same size crosscut blade. The fewer teeth are meant to remove material faster along the wood grain.

Each tooth takes out more material with every pass, which results in a rougher edge but faster wood ripping. Also, the fewer and larger teeth on the rip saws can cut through hardwood with ease.

3. Gullet: Deeper Gullet for Rip Saw Allows It to Eject Bigger Chips Easily

Gullet is the space just in front of every tooth on the blade, and it is meant to allow for the removal of wood chips as you are cutting. And the size of the gullet on the crosscut and rip saws is one of the elements that will set the two apart.

Given that the rip saws will remove a lot of material with every pass, it means that they will also have bigger chips to deal with. To ensure the chips are ejected easily, the rip saw blades will often include a deeper gullet than what you get on the crosscuts saws.

For crosscut saws, the gullets will be much smaller given that there small and few wood chips to deal with per tooth. Also, the gullet on the crosscut saw blade tends to be more purposely-sized to ensure that the feed rate does not get too fast, which can affect the quality of the cut greatly on some saw types like the radial arm.

Final Verdict

Crosscut Saw for Smooth Cuts and Rip Saws for Ripping Wood

The choice between the crosscut and rip saw should be a more straightforward one as it will all depend on what you need the saw for. But, if you are a regular woodworker, the chances are that you will need both in the workshop.

If you use stock that requires a lot of ripping, there is no doubt that the rip saw will be very useful for you. However, if you want smooth and clean cuts with nice edges, the crosscut is what you should go with.

Also, it is worth keeping in mind that there are combination saw types that will excel at both ripping the wood and making some clean and smooth crosscuts. These saws make a great buy as they allow you to do both cut types using just one tool.

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