In woodworking, "cutting" is important and basic process. Beginners may struggle a lot with how to cut straight.
Today, we will introduce some tips on how to cut straight using a saw. It includes some basic information, so please read only what you need to know.
Draw lines on all four sides
Using a ruler and pencil, draw lines around the wood surface. Be careful not to use a mechanical pencil, as it may damage the wood surface.
Although not required, a carpenter's ruler (a right-angle ruler) may be used to draw lines on the wood surface. (However, this is not recommended for beginners as the lines may not connect.)
Draw the precise 90-degree lines on all four sides of the wood.
Place the wood on the workbench
Some may imagine stepping on the wood to secure it and pulling the saw from below to cut.
However, this method makes it difficult for beginners to cut straight.
The reason is that if you step on the wood, the line you draw will be farther away from your eyes, making it difficult to align the saw.
Place the wood on a workbench or table.
Secure the wood firmly
When cutting wood, it is important to fix it firmly.
If you want to cut straight for accuracy, use clamps to secure the wood.
If the wood is small, it can be cut without using clamps. It may be inefficient to secure it each time you cut. However...
Do not exert too much force
Japanese saws cut by pulling, so the wood tends to lift. If you hold it in place with your hand, you will have to exert excessive force. This makes the hand tired and shaky and makes it difficult to cut straight.
Also, if you cut with too much force, the blade will shake or exert a strange tension, and you will not be able to make a straight cut because you will deviate from the marking line you have drawn.
When cutting straight with a saw, the key is to cut slowly and with light force, not with full strength.
The beginning of the cut is crucial
If the start of the cut is off, you will not be able to make a straight cut. See this article for tips on how to start cutting.
Use the entire blade to cut
If you use only part of the saw blade and keep pulling it over and over, you will only tire yourself out and become less efficient.
It is important to use the entire blade of the saw.
Posture when cutting
If you want to cut straight, you need to look straight at the saw and the marking line.
The correct sawing posture is to align the middle of your eyes with the path of the saw blade, i.e., the nose and the blade should be in the same position.
You may feel a little uncomfortable if you are not used to it.
If you are right-handed, the saw will be on the right side of your body. However, if you bring your face to the same line as the saw, your posture will be like leaning to the right.
But it is okay. If you do not look straight at the cutting line, you will not be able to cut straight.
Try to be aware of this proper posture.
Turn the material to cut
The thicker the wood is, the more distance it takes to finish cutting and the harder it is to cut straight down. Therefore, when the wood is thick, cut while turning it. Saw the piece from corner to side and from corner to side, cutting little by little.
By cutting while turning, the distance from the beginning to the end of the cut is half the thickness. This simply reduces misalignment.
At this time, remember to start cutting slowly from the corner and then lay the saw down to create a groove for the saw.
Turning also has the advantage of preventing the wood from chipping.
If the wood you want to cut is long, it may break in the process. The sawed part cannot bear the weight of the material and breaks off. What is worse is that the wood chips when it breaks.
With turning, the end of the cut is in the middle of the wood, so it will not be chipped.
As a result, turning is easier to cut straight and less likely to chip the material.
Figure out your habits
You will need to practice cutting by trying it out several times. Most people have their own habits in cutting, such as always cutting at an angle in the same direction.
Understanding your habits and practicing will help you improve and learn to cut straight.
Utilize jigs and tools
Jigs, saw guides, and miter box can be used to make straight cuts.
However, these are only tools to assist. Be careful not to rely on them too much, or you may end up cutting at an angle.