How to Cut Straights and Curves – Easy Woodworking Techniques
How to Cut Straights and Curves
When using a handsaw, grip it firmly — but not tensely — with the back of the handle squarely against the ball of your palm. Guide the teeth with the outer edge of your thumb when starting a cut, which should be made on the waste, or outer, side of the line. A cut is always started on the upstroke, and the sides of the blade must be kept square with the surface of the wood.
With crosscuts, the tool should be held at a 45-degree angle; with rip cuts, the process works better at 60 degrees. The cutting pressure should be delivered only on the downstroke.
When using a circular saw, make sure the blade depth is set — by loosening a knob and moving the shoe up or down — so the teeth fully penetrate the opposite face of the work. This clears sawdust particles and makes the blade less likely to jam. Also, make sure your sawhorse or workbench is out of the way of the blade, or you’ll cut it along with your work.
Set up in a comfortable position before starting the saw, but not so far forward that you’ll be off balance at the end of a long cut. Don’t grip the handle too tightly, because it’ll make your hand tired and may throw off the accuracy of your work. The larger saws come with a second grip at the front for added control, but remember that two-handed sawing requires that you clamp your work down before cutting.
Always wear safety glasses when using any saw. Draw the power cord behind you before starting the tool, and sight your line of cut along the reference mark on the front of the saw’s shoe. The safety guard will swing up by itself as you move the tool forward.
A table saw can cut more precisely than a circular type because it has a guide fence and a miter gauge. The cutting depth is set with the hand-wheel located at the front of the saw cabinet; the blade should penetrate the work enough that several full teeth are exposed during the cut, as this cools the blade and allows the sawdust to escape.
To adjust the fence, loosen the lock and slide the fence to the right or left as needed. You can use the gauge on the fence rails for measuring the width of cut, but a more accurate method is to take a steel-tape reading between the fence’s edge and the tip of a blade tooth that’s set toward the fence.
After starting the motor, allow it a few seconds to come up to speed; never shove a piece of wood into a slowly moving blade. Don’t ever put your hands near theblade; use a push stick about 18″ in length to pass the work through.
A thin — bladedis the basic curve — cutting tool for thinner material and very tight contours because it’s easily controlled. If the stock is more than 3/8″ or so in thickness, or the line greater than the throat depth of the saw, a hand — held electric jigsaw is a better choice. The tighter the curve or circle, the thinner the jigsaw blade should be so it doesn’t bind or overheat.
Cutting at an angle, as when making miters and bevels, can be done in several ways. A miter is an angle — cut made across the face of a board, as in the corners of a picture frame. A bevel is an angle cut into the edge of a board, as in a piece of trim or molding. And a compound cut is a combination of both. If the wood is less than 6″ or so in width, a miter box used with a finegives the most accurate miter cut.
The shoe on a circular saw can be adjusted to a 45 — degree angle for bevel cutting. For greater accuracy, the table saw blade can be adjusted to the same degree by using the handwheel on the side of the cabinet.
To make a miter cut on the table saw, loosen the knob on the miter gauge and adjust its fence to the desired angle, then tighten the knob. By holding the work against the fence, both the gauge and the work can be moved forward to meet the blade.
Rabbets and grooves can be cut with a table saw fitted with a dado blade, though with many projects it’s easier to make them using a router and a straight bit. To use the saw for this procedure, remove the table insert and set the dado head width.
This can be done in one of two ways, depending on the blade design. The offset “wobbler” type has a rotating hub that changes the width by altering the blade’s degree of offset. The stacked type must be set up out of the saw and reinstalled on the arbor. When you stack the chippers between the outer blades, make sure that the teeth rest between the gullets of the adjacent blades and that the chippers are staggered around the circumference.
Adjust the depth of the blade with the handwheel and set the fence to establish the position of the rabbet or groove on the work. Don’t try to cut too quickly because the blade must work hard as it is to remove so much wood at one time.