Say you’re building a deck in your yard and have to cut a 10-in. thick post in half. How do you do this with a circular saw with just an 8-in. blade? Make matching straight cuts on opposite sides of the timber. Set the thickness guide to just over half the woods width.
Here’s a fast and easy way to reduce the amount of splintering that occurs when cutting wood with a hand saw. Apply a strip of masking tape along the cutting line on the backside of the piece. You’ll notice a significant improvement. Another way is to use a utility knife to score the cut. This will give you an accurate measurement and make the cut smoother.
As a practical matter, workshops can be set up just about anywhere space is available. But if you set up in a basement, consider adding a sawdust collection system. While new tools are designed to control sawdust as much as possible, central collection systems are effective and economical to install.
Cross cuts are cuts the go against the woodgrain. Once you’ve properly measured and marked your piece of wood, guide the side of the handsaw blade with the knuckle of your thumb. Start the cut by pulling your hand saw up two or three times, then push the saw blade forward at about a 45 degree angle. It is preferable to begin your cuts on the side of the wood that will show less when the project is complete.
Rip cuts are cuts that go with the woodgrain. After a proper measurement and marking have been made, carefully use your thumb to guide your saw with two or three short upward strokes. Once the cut is started hold the saw at a 60 degree angle to the wood and make smooth, full downstrokes. If you’re making a long cut, use a wedge to spread the wood apart. This will help prevent any binding.
Don’t throw away that sawdust. Keep some in a coffee can to throw on workshop spills. It’s also great for throwing on icy sidewalks in the winter.
You can buy several types of guides that attach to your router so you can create decorative circular grooves on the surfaces of wood projects, or you can make up your own. Besides making grooves of various designs by switching router bits, these jigs can also be used to make circular cut-outs. Instead of cutting only partly into the surface, continue with shallow passes until the cut is all the way through the wood.
You should choose a handsaw based on the type and size of wood you’re cutting, and the direction of the cut – either cross cutting (cutting across the grain) or ripping (cutting with the grain).
Saws with fewer teeth per inch provide a faster, but rougher cut and are generally used for “ripping” wood, cutting in the same direction as the grain. The teeth of these rip saws are filed differently than the teeth of a cross cut blade to take advantage of the type of grain in the wood.
Cross cut saws are used for cutting across the grain and have finer teeth, usually from eight to 15 teeth per inch. When cutting thicker pieces, a saw with more teeth per inch may produce more debris than it can handle and possibly clog the cut and slow the cutting process. This can be avoided by using an old candle or paraffin wax and rubbing the blade to make it cut more smoothly through the wood. Remember to hold the saw straight in the cut so it doesn’t stick.
When sawing wood, take time to consider which side of the material will be facing up. Keep the good side up when you are using a hand saw, scroll saw, band saw or radial-arm saw. Keep the good side down when you are suing a portable circular saw, table saw or sabre saw. The principle is to have the tooth of the blade first break through the rough side of the board or panel.
Making perfect dovetail joints can involve some shop practice, so consider starting out with a less-expensive jig that is designed for making only one or two types of joint styles. Then you can later work your way on up to the more expensive and versatile jigs that will let you make up to four or more styles of dovetails. With any dovetail jig, try to avoid using a router that is very light; heavier routers will produce crisper and cleaner cuts.