Precision Woodworking – How to Cut Wood to Length Precisely With Your Miter Saw

Woodworking is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding endeavors that anyone can participate in.  Homeowners take pride in the projects that they accomplish to add value to their homes.  But, there is one area that they often have trouble with.  Measuring and cutting to length.

Do you have trouble cutting window and door casing or any other kind of molding accurately so the the joints fit together perfectly without gaps?  You love your miter saw but you just can’t seem to cut accurately with it?  Would you like to learn some tips on how to make joints that would even impress an experienced finishing carpenter? Here’s how you can do it yourself successfully:

Measure – you can relax and forget about measuring accurately.  Measure in the normal way and add 1/8th to 1/4 of an inch to your measurement.  Cut the piece to length and check it to where you will be installing that piece.  Remember, all these techniques start out this way.

Now comes the fun part.  Here are three ways to sneak up on your measurement using your miter saw:

Playing cards – if the piece you are cutting is a short piece then you can use a stop block on the fence of your miter saw.  You can sneak up to the right size by placing playing cards between the stop block and the piece that you’re cutting – one at a time – until your piece fits precisely.  Each playing card is approximately 10/1000ths of an inch thick.  Always have a deck on hand for this and other similar uses. Use the Saw Blade – every saw blade starts out as a blank circular piece of steel before the teeth are either added or set.  The teeth are also referred to as the kerf of the blade.  The kerf is wider than the saw blade blank.  For moulding I use a blade that has either 60 or 80 teeth per blade and has a thin kerf for more accuracy.  Starting with the miter saw turned off I lower the blade until the teeth are below the deck of the saw.  I then push my piece against the blank part of the blade and hold it firmly.  With the miter saw still turned off I lift the blade above my work.  I then turn the saw on and cut my piece.  I’ve just cut the piece 1/2 the difference between the thickness of the kerf and the thickness of the blank part of the blade. This is a very controlled way to cut your piece. Another way to use the Saw Blade – although I have used this technique in the past I don’t use it anymore.  You may find that you like this technique and it may become your favorite but I find it is not as accurate as the other two.  With your saw turned off lower the blade until the teeth are just above the deck of your saw.  Push your piece against  1 or more teeth until it feels like you’ve bent the saw blade slightly. You don’t have to push hard.  Hold your piece firmly and raise the saw blade.  Turn on your miter saw and make the cut.


R. Gajsek
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You can find more precision woodworking tips and reviews at http://www.thejigjoint.com

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