Cutting guidE

miter saw cutting board

Build Better. Build More.

Want to take your cutting skills up a notch?
Wondering which saw is best for your project?
Confused by all the different blades & cutting guides?

We've curated this guide to give you the info you need to know all in one place.

WHICH TOPIC DO YOU WANT TO EXPLORE FIRST?

Find The Right Saw For My Project

  • Comparing Saws
  • Common Cuts
  • Best Saws For Each Type Of Cut

Build My Cutting Skills

  • Tips For Reducing Tear Out
  • The Right Blade For The Best Cut
  • Saw Blade Anatomy
  • 3 Ways To Cross Cut Wide Boards
  • Repeatable Cuts With Various Saws

Discover New Projects

  • Projects For Your Work Space
  • Project Ideas To Build Your Cutting Skills

Find The Right Saw For My Project

comparing saws

This quick overview of common saws will help you compare the capabilities of each saw and figure out which saw you might need next.

 Circular Saw  

Type Of Cuts

Cross Cuts/ Plywood Rip Cuts / Bevel Cuts

Average Cost

Cut Quality & Precision

Space Required

Portable tool can be used directly on top of work piece

Visit Our Circular Saw GuideShop Circular Saws

 Miter Saw  

Type Of Cuts

Cross Cuts / Miter Cuts / Bevel Cuts

Average Cost

Cut Quality & Precision

Space Required

Portable tool that can be used on top of any work surface. Best with a dedicated set up to support your work piece.

Visit Our Miter Saw GuideShop Miter Saws

 Track Saw  

Type Of Cuts

Cross Cuts / Rip Cuts / Miter Cuts / Bevel Cuts

Average Cost

Cut Quality & Precision

Space Required

Portable tool can be used directly on top of work piece

Visit Our Track Saw GuideShop Track Saws

 Table Saw  

Type Of Cuts

Rip Cuts / Cross Cuts / Miter Cuts / Bevel Cuts

Average Cost

Cut Quality & Precision

Space Required

Static location in your shop. Best with an additional support (outfeed table) as your board exits the saw blade



Table Saw Guide Coming Soon

 Jig Saw  

Type Of Cuts

Arcs & Contours

Average Cost

Cut Quality & Precision

Space Required

Portable tool can be used directly on top of work piece




Shop Jig Saws
15-amp 10" Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw
15-amp 10" Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw
15-amp 10" Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw
15-amp 10" Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw
15-amp 10" Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw
15-amp 10" Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw
15-amp 10" Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw
15-amp 10" Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw
15-amp 10" Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw

15-amp 10" Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw

$231.99
View details
20V MAX Circular Saw Cordless 6-1/2, Tool Only
20V MAX Circular Saw Cordless 6-1/2, Tool Only
20V MAX Circular Saw Cordless 6-1/2, Tool Only
20V MAX Circular Saw Cordless 6-1/2, Tool Only
20V MAX Circular Saw Cordless 6-1/2, Tool Only
20V MAX Circular Saw Cordless 6-1/2, Tool Only

20V MAX Circular Saw Cordless 6-1/2, Tool Only

$126.99
View details
Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit
Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit
Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit
Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit
Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit
Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit
Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit
Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit
Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit
Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit
Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit

Kreg Adaptive Cutting System Saw + Guide Track Kit

$399.99
View details
SKIL 7-1/4" Corded Circular Saw 15-amp w/Laser Guide
SKIL 7-1/4" Corded Circular Saw 15-amp w/Laser Guide
SKIL 7-1/4" Corded Circular Saw 15-amp w/Laser Guide
SKIL 7-1/4" Corded Circular Saw 15-amp w/Laser Guide
SKIL 7-1/4" Corded Circular Saw 15-amp w/Laser Guide
SKIL 7-1/4" Corded Circular Saw 15-amp w/Laser Guide
SKIL 7-1/4" Corded Circular Saw 15-amp w/Laser Guide
SKIL 7-1/4" Corded Circular Saw 15-amp w/Laser Guide
SKIL 7-1/4" Corded Circular Saw 15-amp w/Laser Guide

SKIL 7-1/4" Corded Circular Saw 15-amp w/Laser Guide

$65.99
View details
Skil PWRCORE 20™  20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit
Skil PWRCORE 20™  20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit
Skil PWRCORE 20™  20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit
Skil PWRCORE 20™  20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit
Skil PWRCORE 20™  20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit
Skil PWRCORE 20™  20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit
Skil PWRCORE 20™  20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit
Skil PWRCORE 20™  20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit
Skil PWRCORE 20™  20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit
Skil PWRCORE 20™  20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit
Skil PWRCORE 20™  20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit

Skil PWRCORE 20™ 20V 6-1/2'' Circular Saw Kit

$91.99
View details

Common Cuts

Understanding the different types of cuts is an essential part of the building process.
Here's your quick reference guide to cutting terminology.

Cross Cuts

Cross cuts are a cut across the grain of your board or plywood sheet.

Rip Cuts

Rip cuts are cuts in the same direction as the grain of your board or plywood.

Miter Cuts

Miter cuts are cut at an angle across the width of your board or plywood sheet.

Bevel Cuts

Bevel cuts are cut at an angle across the thickness of your board or plywood sheet.

Compound Cuts

Compound angles are both miter and bevel angles on your board or plywood sheet.

Arcs & Contours

Arcs and contours are curved cuts on your board or plywood sheet.

Best Saws For Each Type Of Cut

Knowing how to best achieve each cut with the tools you own will help you become a better builder. We know you may not own every type of saw, so here's the rundown of our first, second, and third choice saws for making each cut. 

Dimensional Lumber

Plywood / Sheet Goods

Build My Cutting Skills

crash course:

Tips For Reducing Tear Out IN YOUR CUTS

If you're looking for ways to hide or eliminate tear out while cutting your work pieces, here are some simple tips that can reduce tear out on plywood and boards.

  • Where tear out will occur (:43)
  • Zero clearance insert plates (1:39)
  • Adding score lines (1:58)
  • Using painter's tape (2:27)

how to reduce tear out in your cuts

Tear out caused by cutting is a common frustration that becomes even more noticeable when a finish is applied. Finishes like paint or stain can build up in the chipped-out area and appear darker than the other finish and draw unwanted attention.

Here are a few tips to help prevent tear out on you project:

 TIP #1  

 use PAINTER'S TAPE  

Cover your cut line with painter's tape to help support and keep the wood fibers in place as the blade cuts through them.

 tip #2  

 score the cut line  

Score the cut line with a sharp utility knife to “pre-cut” the wood fibers, resulting in a cleaner cut edge when you make the final cut with your circular saw.

 tip #3  

 USE A ZERO CLEARANCE INSERT PLATE  

Use a zero clearance insert plate with your miter saw or table saw. This eliminates the space between the blade and the insert which helps support the wood fibers of the material to prevent tear out.

 tip #4  

 SELECT THE RIGHT BLADE  

Select the right blade for your material and type of cut. For example, use a higher tooth count blade when cross cutting plywood to get a smoother cut.

AVOID VISIBLE TEAR OUT BY FACING YOUR MATERIAL THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Tear out may still happen even with the best tools and techniques. Knowing where tear out occurs on your cuts will help you avoid tear out from being visible on your projects. The main thing to remember is that tear out will occur where your blade exits the material. Keep track of your good sides so you can face them outward when assembling your project.

 Good Side Faces UP if using a...  

  • Miter Saw
  • Table Saw

The blade spins clockwise on miter saws and table saws. Since the cutting motion is downward, tear out will occur on the bottom of your material.

With this in mind, face the "good" side of your board up to prevent tear out on that good side. 

 Good Side Faces DOWN if using a... 

  • Circular Saw
  • Track Saw

The blade spins counterclockwise on circular saws and track saws. Since the cutting motion is upward, tear out will occur on the top of your material.

With this in mind, face the "good" side of your board down to prevent tear out on that good side. 

crash course:

The right blade for the best cut

Allen and Mike give you a crash course on the importance of not only a good quality blade, but also selecting the right blade for the material and types of cuts you're making.

Blades For Your circular, miter, and table saws

 cross cuts = high tooth count  

This gives you a smoother cut and less tear out.

Finish Blade

Finish Blade
Finish Blade
Finish Blade
Finish Blade
View details

 rip cuts = low tooth count  

This gives you longer cuts with less heat build up.

Ripping/Framing Blade

Ripping/Framing Blade
Ripping/Framing Blade
Ripping/Framing Blade
Ripping/Framing Blade
View details

 plywood cuts = medium tooth count  

This reduces tear out against the thin veneer of plywood and gives you longer cuts with less heat build up.

General Purpose Blade

General Purpose Blade
General Purpose Blade
General Purpose Blade
General Purpose Blade
View details

saw blade anatomy

Saw blades have many features, but there are a few key things you'll want to pay attention to:

  • a. Tooth count = The total number of teeth on a saw blade (this is the main thing to pay attention to when buying saw blades)
  • b. Hook angle = The angle of the saw's tooth in the direction of the blade
  • c. Tooth grind = The angle placed on the tip of a saw tooth
  • d. Gullet = The cut out space between saw teeth
  • e. Kerf = The thickness of a saw's tooth. This is also the dimension of the material removed when making a cut.
  • f. Expansion slot = A slot on the blade plate designed to disperse heat and prevent blade deformation caused by overheating

crash course:

3 ways to cross cut wide boards

Cutting wide boards can be challenging if your miter saw can't cut that wide or you don't own a miter saw. Here are 3 simple ways to cross cut wide boards.

  • Miter saw (:12)
  • Circular saw (1:52)
  • Track saw (3:11)

 Cross Cut Option 1  

 Miter Saw  

Make one cut with your miter saw, then flip your board and make a second cut that lines up with the first. To align your cuts, try this:

  • Use a stop block on your miter saw fence
  • After your first cut, make a pencil line that extends from that cut across the board
Visit Our Miter Saw Guide For More Tips

 Cross Cut Option 2  

 Circular Saw 

A circular saw is another great tool to make cross cuts in a wide board. To get a create cross cut, try this:

  • Support your material using a sheet of 2” foam insulation
  • Use a 12” speed square or cutting guide to help align your saw
Visit Our Circular Saw Guide For More Tips

 Cross Cut Option 3  

  TRACK SAW  

Wide cross cuts are simple with a track saw.

  • Support your material using a sheet of 2” foam insulation
  • Place the track directly on your cut line
  • Use scrap wood to support the full length of your track
Visit Our Track Saw Guide For More Tips
FastCap® 16' ProCarpenter Tape Measure
FastCap® 16' ProCarpenter Tape Measure

FastCap® 16' ProCarpenter Tape Measure

$9.63
View details
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark
Kreg Multi-Mark

Kreg Multi-Mark

$14.99
View details
Johnson Stainless-Steel Combination Square
Johnson Stainless-Steel Combination Square
Johnson Stainless-Steel Combination Square

Johnson Stainless-Steel Combination Square

$11.59
View details
Kreg Square-Cut™
Kreg Square-Cut™
Kreg Square-Cut™

Kreg Square-Cut™

$11.99
View details
Johnson Johnny Square Easy-Read Aluminum Rafter Square
Johnson Johnny Square Easy-Read Aluminum Rafter Square
Johnson Johnny Square Easy-Read Aluminum Rafter Square
Johnson Johnny Square Easy-Read Aluminum Rafter Square
Johnson Johnny Square Easy-Read Aluminum Rafter Square
Johnson Johnny Square Easy-Read Aluminum Rafter Square
Johnson Johnny Square Easy-Read Aluminum Rafter Square

Johnson Johnny Square Easy-Read Aluminum Rafter Square

$9.99
View details

crash course:

Making REPEATABLE CUTS WITH VARIOUS SAWS

Making accurate, repeated length cuts is an important part of wood project building.

Cutting parts to the exact same length will help ensure that your table won't wobble, your box will be square, and your shelves will fit in place.

Here are our top tips for making repeatable cuts!

  • Miter saw stacked cuts (:13)
  • Miter saw stop blocks (1:41)
  • Circular saw stacked cuts (2:41)
  • Circular saw gang cuts (4:15)

Quick Tips For Making Repeatable Cuts

 Tip #1  

 Stop Blocks  

Place individual boards against a hard stop on your miter saw. This can be done by clamping a board to your miter saw fence. Cut and repeat.

 Tip #2  

 Stacked Cuts  

Place multiple boards on top of one another and cut simultaneously. The number of boards you are able to cut at one time varies by the size of your blade.

 Tip #3  

 Gang cuts  

Place multiple boards side by side and cut them in one pass. Make sure your boards are secured together to ensure accuracy across all boards.

 Pro Tip:  

When making repeated length cuts on multiple boards, only use a tape measure on your first board. Once you have made that first cut, use the freshly cut board to mark the dimension for all of your other boards.  

Stanley Sawhorses (2-pack) 31"
Stanley Sawhorses (2-pack) 31"

Stanley Sawhorses (2-pack) 31"

$39.99
View details
Kreg Track Horse
Kreg Track Horse
Kreg Track Horse
Kreg Track Horse
Kreg Track Horse
Kreg Track Horse

Kreg Track Horse

$119.99
View details
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center
Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center

Kreg KWS1000 Mobile Project Center

$169.99
View details

Discover New Projects

Projects For Your Work Space

Rolling Miter Saw Stand

Crosscut Sled

Knock Down Cutting Support Grid

Adaptive Cutting System Extension Table

Projects to Build Your Cutting Skills

Adirondack Chairs

Tiered Serving Tray

Modern Coffee Table

Desk

Garden Planter

Elegant Bench

Dive Deeper On A Specific Saw