How to cut wood with precision

How to cut wood for a woodworking project

When we have to cut the wood that we need to make our woodworking projects, we are often concerned about the precision with which we make the cuts. I am not going to question here that with good quality woodworking tools we can make more precise cuts when cutting wood, but from my point of view making precise cuts is a woodworking skill that improves with practice and also as we get to know our tools better.

So, in this post we are going to see the procedure I follow to cut the wood I needed to make one of my woodworking projects.

Pre-cutting wood with the jigsaw

The first step is usually to pre-cut the wood to obtain smaller and more easy to handle workpieces. And if I have to start from large planks, boards or strips, I know they will be easier to handle if first I cut them in workpieces a few centimeters larger than the final pieces I need.

Cutting to length on the table saw

When I have to cut wood for one of my woodworking projects, using woodworking jigs and guides helps me to cut the workpieces accurately. For example, with my table saw sled it is easy for me to make precise 90-degree cuts right where I want them.

Make precise cuts with a table saw sled

If I have a cut line drawn I just need to know if I should cut to the right or to the left of the line. And if I should cut the line (because the line itself does not belong to the final piece), or if I should leave the line (because the line itself does belong to the final piece).

Cut the wood a few millimeters wider

When cutting a piece of wood lengthwise, I must take into account whether I am going to joint the edge of the workpiece after cutting it or not. If I am going to joint the edge later, I must leave the piece a few millimeters wider.

Jointing the edges of the wood

And then, jointing the edges with my homemade thickness planer, I leave the piece with the exact width I need.

Use one workpiece to mark the others

Using some workpieces, that I already cut, to mark others or to adjust the cutting tools usually works well for me. Although I must also consider if the edges of the workpiece that I am using are already jointed and if I am going to joint the edges afterwards. Especially when making rip cuts along the length of the wood. If I’m going to cross-cut the wood I don’t have as much of a problem, since the head is not usually to be jointed.

Stop for cutting equal pieces of wood

And using stops on woodworking machines to make repetitive cuts also works quite well for me.

This removable stop helps cutting to exact size more safely

However, it is advisable to use a fixed stop block together with a removable one. This is to prevent the wood from jamming between the fixed stop block and the cutting disc and so causing kickback problems (see this post about kickback on circular saw and table saw).

Cut pieces of wood to the same width

And after trying to cut the pieces of wood to the right size, if any of the workpieces is a little longer or shorter, or more or less narrower, it can give me a lot of trouble when it comes to making the woodworking project. That’s why, many times, when we need to cut wood for our woodworking projects, not only is important to cut accurately the pieces to the exact measurements, but sometimes is even more important cutting accurately to get the pieces that must be exactly the same dimensions to be exactly the same dimensions.

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