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Essential Core Skills
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  • How to Level
  • How to Cut
  • How to Attach to a Wall
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    Essential Core Skills: How to Cut

    Common mistakes

    • Not choosing the right saw blade for the material being cut.
    • Not having a sharp saw blade
    • Not measuring more than once
    • Not insuring that your wood is secured before cutting
    • Not writing down your measurements


    • Variety of Saws
    • Sawhorse
    • Workbench

    With a few modest tools, you can cut straight lines in wood, metal, tiles and more. Again measure more than once before cutting. And, as with everything, the quality of your cut dictates the quality of your project (it’s like having a smashing outfit on, but a bad haircut).

    Cutting Wood

    To achieve a clean cut, controlling your saw is important, just as with the drill. Your saw should be at a 90 degree angle, otherwise your cut with be angled. Cutting a narrow piece of wood requires a little more skill because you need to keep in straight. This is where a workbench may come into the picture. Not only does this provide a surface for working, but also now you can use a vise to allow you to clamp material to hold it firmly for cutting, sanding, drill, painting, etc.


    Make sure that anything you cut is on a level surface and held by either a vise or clamps. To cut with a handsaw, place the upper part of the saw blade (near the handle) on the marked spot. Then dig the blade gently into the wood and draw it backward to cut a nick. Using the nick, start sawing by pushing the blade forward and backwards.

    Keep an eye on the cutting line to make sure you are keeping a straight line. If your cut ends up a little ragged, use sandpaper to smooth it.

    If you feel comfortable, there are jigsaws and circular power saws. But only invest in these if you plan on cutting a lot of wood or even thick wood.

    Some improvement stores also have a cutting service available. One useful accessory is sawhorses – they can make a difference because they support both ends of your work. Just remember to cantilever the board over the outside of one sawhorse to avoid binding the saw blade when the board drops. This will avoid "kick back”.


    The simplest joint is a “butt joint” (two edges butted together and secured with nails, screws or wood glue). These work if your joint will be covered up or painted. It can be used for plain baseboards. But, for a doorframe, floor edge, crown moulding, even a picture frame a “miter joint” is necessary. A miter joint involves cutting an accurate 45-degree angle. This is where miter boxes are helpful.

    Butt Joint

    Miter Joint


    1. Do not store saws in toolboxes or where the teeth will get damaged. Hang your saws if possible. When you first purchase a saw it usually comes with its cardboard sheath. Instead of throwing it away, keep your saw in it. If not buy a plastic tooth guard or make a sheath out of cardboard.
    2. Keep saw blades sharp. Keep them out of contact with metal, concrete and stone. Check and remove nails from wood before sawing.
    3. Protect your saw blades by coating them with a light grade of machine oil.
    4. Always work out what you need and write down all your measurements.


    1. Choose the right saw and blade
    2. Measure more than once
    3. Determine the right cut and joint for your project
    4. Use a miter box for 45 degree miter cuts
    5. Keep your saw at a 90 degree angle