close-up of rip saw teeth
Plamen Petkov Photo:
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Ripsaw

To figure out a saw's function, look at its teeth. The number of teeth per inch (tpi), the angle of their rake, or slope, and how they are sharpened all determine how well a saw can cut across a board or down its length, or both. All teeth have set, a slight sideways splay that makes the slot, or kerf, wide enough for the blade to move without binding.

Ripsaw teeth are big, widely spaced—about 5 tpi—and have a straight rake on their leading edges, all the better for cutting boards lengthwise with the grain by quickly scooping out wood fibers.
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