Here’s a fast and easy way to accurately rip narrow strips of plywood and other sheet materials using a circular saw and locking pliers.

Circular saw ripping tip:

  1. Mark Plywood: Mark the plywood to the desired width.
  2. Align Saw Blade: Line up the blade of the circular saw with the mark.
  3. Clamp Pliers to Saw: Hold locking pliers against the edge of the plywood and clamp them to the base (shoe) of the circular saw.
  4. Make Rip Cut: Guide the pliers along the edge of the plywood while making the cut with the circular saw.

Clamp the pliers to the narrow side of the circular saw base to make rip cuts up to 1½” to 2” wide. For cuts up to 5” wide, clamp the pliers on the wide side of the circular saw base.

Watch the video above to find out more.


Joe Truini: The circular saw is a perfect tool for cutting down plywood and other large sheet goods. The challenge comes in when you have to make a narrow rip cut along the edge of the plywood.

Now one trick is to first make the mark on the plywood, and then line up the saw blade on your mark, right about there. Then take a pair of locking pliers and clamp them right onto the saw shoe up against the edge of the plywood, just like that.

And now when you go to make the cut you simply guide the pliers along the edge of the plywood; and you get a nice, straight, accurate cut. There you go. And now if you want to make another repetitive cut, you can do it easily without adjusting the pliers or the saw itself.

Now when you have the pliers clamped on this side of the shoe—on the blade side—you can typically cut up to about one and a half to two inches. But if you want to make a wider cut, you can clamp it on this side; and then you can cut up to about five inches wide.

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avatar for Joe Truini

Joe Truini

Radio Show Co-Host

Joe Truini is a contractor, author, and the host of “Simple Solutions” on Today’s Homeowner TV and the weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. He has worked on both large commercial projects and residential remodeling, and has written for national publications such as This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He has also written eight books, including three best-selling shed-building books. Joe lives in Connecticut with his family and enjoys hiking, traveling, and baseball in his spare time.

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