February 26, 2022
When I was just a newbie in woodworking, one of my primary concerns was how to cut wood straight. It makes me chuckle as I look back at those awkward moments. Yet, if you want to jumpstart your carpentry career, you must learn how to make straight cuts. Besides, getting a straight cut using a hand saw, circular saw, or table saw is crucial to whatever woodworking project you want to complete.
There are different ways and techniques to achieve a straight cut using different types of cutting saws. You can’t only rely on your eyes by eyeballing the line of cut. So, instead of hoping that the cut will be straight afterward, you can begin learning how to set the right conditions by taking measurements before cutting and employing the proper techniques when using a saw.
Several reasons may affect your cuts when using a saw. Some of these reasons include your improper form when cutting, your lack of experience, warped saw blades, unsecured or untightened blades, a blade that is not square relative to the tabletop, and the rip fence not parallel to the blade. Below is a detailed description of how to use a table saw, circular saw, and miter saw to get straight cuts:
Table of Contents
- Table Saw
- Circular Saw
- Miter Saw
The table saw is designed for cutting straight. So, if you have a decent table saw that is properly configured and set up, you’re on the right track to make a straight cut. Here are simple steps you can follow to make a straight cut using a table saw:
Step 1) Draw a Cutting Guide Using a Pen or Pencil
So, before cutting using a table saw, you need to draw a straight line (line of cut) where you desire to make your cut. You can use a pencil or a pen to draw a line as your visual cue. It will help to use a yardstick or a triangle to draw this line.
Step 2) Utilize a Feather Board
You can then use a feather board, which you can buy at a hardware store or online. Feather boards come with a series of wooden fingers that would prevent kickback from the saw blade.
Step 3) Make Sure That the Miter Gauge Handle is Squared
Then, square the handle of the miter gauge. Run the miter gauge perpendicular to the table saw blade. It has to be at a 90º angle to cut straight. Hold up against the miter gauge, the drafting triangle. Then, ensure that the blade is resting on the tringle’s edge.
If the blade doesn’t perfectly align, then untighten the miter gauge handle. Afterward, adjust it until the triangle sits at a perfectly 90º angle.
Step 4) Align the Wood Panels with the Fence
You should align the board with that of the fence. To align the board, you need to adjust the fence to make the blade line up to cut the board. If you notice that the board is not lying flat on the fence, the board might be warped or bent.
It will be good then to tighten the fence when you have gotten the right position. Then, position yourself to cut the board.
Step 5) Clamp in the Feather Board
Then, clamp the feather board on the side opposite the fence. Place the wood piece that you wish to cut against it. At this point, you will have a guide on the wood’s sides when feeding the wood into the saw.
Step 6) Feed the Panels Onto the Blade
Then, feed the board into the blade. You can utilize a push stick to push the wood onto the table saw. If you set up everything right, you can expect to get perfectly cut pieces afterward. Then, check and double-check the wood to know if you have made a perfectly straight cut.
Step 7) Set Up Carefully the Outfeed Table
However, if you are sawing lengthy boards, you must have additional support, especially if your table is not long. You can then create your outfeed table by clamping 2 2″x 4″ 8 feet boards on every side of the saw. It will help to provide at least several feet of the overhanging board over the table edge.
Then, measure the length between the boards. Clamp a plywood piece under them to make the panels hang off the table. With additional hanging boards, you can extend the table’s length and lets you create straighter cuts on the longer boards.
If you’re a newbie, you may find cutting straight using a circular saw a bit tricky. You will need to get the hang of it and learn some simple tips and techniques on the proper way of cutting board straightly. The circular saw, of course, is designed to cut dimensional lumber, rigid foam board, plywood straight. Moreover, the circular saw blades are specifically labeled for the material type they are designed to cut. They also come in varied sizes and diameters. Here are the simple steps on how to cut straight using a circular saw:
Step 1) Make a Guide Using a Wooden Plank About 8-foot Long
You can buy a plank of wood that has a straight edge. This straight edge will dictate the cuts. So, to ascertain the straightness of the plank, use a level.
Step 2) Then, line up a wood plank with an 8″ long plywood, which is 2 feet wide.
Hold the plank of wood to be one inch and a half away from the plywood edge. Run the plank flush with that of the plywood.
Step 3) Screw the Plank to the Plywood.
You can attach the plank by driving screws into the plank down to the plywood. Space the screws at least 12 inches away from each other to ensure that you secure the wooden plank to the plywood. Then, position the circular saw by lining it up against the plank.
Put the circular saw shoe’s side against the wooden plank. Ensure that the plank and shoe run flush. Then, cut the excess plywood. By cutting the extra plywood, you ensure that the plywood will have the same width as the shoe. Once you’ve cut off the excess plywood, then you are ready to cut straight.
Step 4) Draw a Line to Serve as Your Guide on the Woo.
You can use a pencil along with a straight ledge to draw a straight line. Then, align the line along with the saw guide that you have made.
Step 5) Clamp the Wood onto the Guide
You can secure the wood on the table by clamping it to not to move when you work on it. Of course, there are several instances when you can cut wood without clamping it using a circular saw. But to ensure that you can cut straight, you need to secure the wood onto the table by clamping it. In this way, the wood will not shift out of alignment when you cut.
Step 6) Hold the Circular Saw Properly
If you want to make a straight cut, you need to know the right way of holding the circular saw. The way you hold the circular saw is crucial to the cutting results. There are two kinds of circular saw relative to how you hold it.
There is a righthand saw and a left-hand saw. If you are a righty, you don’t need to use a left-hand circular saw. Similarly, if you are lefty, you must not use a right-hand circular saw. However, if you want to have better line-of-sight, you can use the right hand if you are a lefty.
The miter saw comes with blades ranging in size from 8 to 12 inches. The miter saw also comes in two types: manual and power miter saws. Moreover, there are three types of power miter: compound miter saw, sliding compound miter saw, and standard saw. If you want to get straight cuts, you better make use of a miter saw. Below are the steps you need to take to ensure that you get a straight cut using a miter saw:
Step 1) Clean Your Saw
Before you use your miter saw, you need to clean it. You can use an air compressor with an end nozzle to clean it of sawdust. You can also wipe the equipment with a clean cloth made of cotton. Wipe down the pitch build-up, and you can make use of a cleaner if there is excessive pitch build-up.
Step 2) Set Up Your Miter Saw
To cut straight with your cutting saw, you need to properly set up the miter saw. The compound miter saw, for example, is engineered to make exact bevel cuts and miter cuts along Z-axis. So, before you use your miter saw, you need to set the compound miter saw up to align it properly. Check the blade and check the fence alignment. Moreover, you should check the miter angle, bevel angle, and blade guard.
Step 3) Check for Accuracy by Doing a Test Cut
Once done with the adjustments, you must try using your miter saw and engage in a test cut. Plug the miter saw onto the power outlet and position a wide board of around 1×8 inches on the table right against the fence.
Then, try to engage in a crosscut at O-degree miter. Then, remove the board and take hold of your square and check for accuracy for both angles. If you don’t get square cuts, you need to re-adjust your saw. This type of test is more to check the miter angle than that of the bevel angle.
Although the saws’ designs have greatly improved since the first saws were mass-manufactured, you still need to develop that skill and have the knowhow on how to make straight cuts. The old saying measure twice cut once still holds when doing woodworking. Moreover, when you are using a miter, circular, or table saw, you need to have a line-of-cut fence. With this line-of-cut fence, you can properly position your material for a more accurate cut. You can also precisely adjust the workpiece on the saw for easy and precise cuts with this fence at hand.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker and carpenter who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.