How to Cut Wood

Just starting out in woodworking and am wondering how to cut wood correctly. Cutting wood can be intimidating for beginners, but it doesn’t have to feel like an impossible task. Today I’m going to share with you some important tips that will help make your first cuts a breeze and ensure those pesky square feet are all exactly where they should be.

What Kind of Cut Do You Need to Make?

When we look at making cuts for our wood projects there are many different types of woodcuts you can make. Let’s look at the different types of cuts you can make, such as crosscuts, rip cuts, miter cuts, bevel cuts, and compound miter cuts.

The different types of cuts we make to a board can be broken down into two basic functions. Either changing its length or width, which means that sometimes in order for you as a woodworker etc., need to shorter and narrower boards with these techniques.

Types of Cuts

Rip Cut

When you make a rip cut, the board becomes narrower and more uniform in width. This is because it’s made with grain or along its length.

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Bevel Cut

Bevel cuts are angled, made on the edge of the wood. The depth and width can be changed with this type if cut to change how long or wide your board is going to get measured.

Miter Cut

When making a miter cut, the wood is angled across its width or length. This change in dimension can make some boards shorter and others longer depending on what you want to do with them.


This type of cut is made across the grain of the wood or across the width of the board making the wood board thinner at its width.

Compound Miter Cut

This is the combination of a miter cut and a bevel cut. This is commonly used for trim and baseboard applications.

What Kind of Saw Do You Need to Cut Wood?

Learning how to cut wood can be fun. We have reviewed the types of cuts now let’s take a look at what saws you need to make the cuts to wood.

Miter Saw

What Type Of Cuts To Wood Does A Miter Saw Perform

  • Miter Cuts
  • Crosscuts
  • Bevel Cuts
  • Compound Miter Cuts

Circular Saw

What Type Of Cuts To Wood Does A Circular Saw Perform

  • Crosscuts
  • Rip Cuts
  • Miter Cuts
  • Bevel Cuts
  • Compound Miter Cuts
  • Cuts are more accurate when using a speed square

Table Saw

What Type Of Cuts To Wood Does A Table Saw Perform

  • Rip Cuts
  • Bevel Cuts
  • Crosscuts (best with a table saw sled)
  • Miter Cuts (best with a table saw sled)
  • Great for cutting panels and plywood


What Type Of Cuts To Wood Does A Jig Saw Perform

  • Cutting Curves, Circles, and Shapes
  • Crosscuts
  • Miter Cuts
  • Bevel Cuts
  • Compound Miter Cuts

How to Cut Wood – Step-By-Step

Okay now you know about cuts and types of saws for each cut let’s look at how you how to cut wood.

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You will want to make a mark for your cut after you measure. However, we want you to stop there. You need to know about the mark you just made. Are you aware of the term “kerf”? Kerf width of the saw cut when you cut. This will impact the length of your cut if you cut on the mark as opposed to next to the mark.

When cutting your wood you need to take into account the kerf. This is the width of the saw blade when cutting. This would mean you would cut with the saw on the side of the mark and not directly on the mark.

1. Cut A Small Amount Off the End of the Board

When you purchase wood from a box store or local wood supplier we don’t know if the end of the wood is truly square. It is always suggested to either check using your square or cut with your Mitre saw to ensure it is square. This will ensure your measurements and wood project will be accurate.

2. Measure Then Marking Wood

Once you have cut off a sliver of wood on the end of your wood material to make it square you need to mark your wood for cutting. Marking wood is a simple process and depending on your woodworker each has a different preference on how they mark the wood.

Some woodworkers mark with a small line and other use a line completely across the wood material being cut. We suggest the full length line. Once you mark your wood mark the side of the line which is waste material and an “X”. Although this sounds simple it does help when you go to place the wood on your saw for cutting and determining which is the piece you want to keep.

3. Place The Blade On The Wood

Once you have measured your wood for cutting then you will place the saw blade on the wood for cutting. Remember to place the saw bladed on the waste side of the cut line with the “X”. This will ensure your cut is accurate for length after you cut it.

4. Cut The Wood

Gripping the saw correctly, cut the wood and then allow the blade on your saw to completely come to a stop prior to lifting the saw. After the cut is made measure the wood to ensure you have the correct length.

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