Basic Types of Woodworking Cuts

Being able to identify various woodcuts is a skill that is necessary for you to master in woodworking. In general, there are 3 kinds of woodcuts: plain, quarter, and rift sawn.

Plain Sawing

Plain sawing is the most common and least expensive method of wood cutting. This type of cut is also known as bastard sawing, through and through, tangent sawing, and flat sawing. When plain sawing, it’s important to keep in mind that the orientation of the wood, as well as the direction of the blade, do not change. Depending on how thick you want the wood to be, simply cut from top to bottom. More often than not, plain sawing will result in minimal or no material waste at all.

Quarter Sawing

When it comes to quarter sawing, the first cut you need to do is lengthwise. After that, take half of the cut wood and cut it again in order to make two quarters. From these two quarters, you can then take the material you need depending on the thickness you want. There are two distinct advantages with quarter sawn woods. One is that the shrinkage is less noticeable and the second is that even when it’s moist, it’s not prone to warping. This can be more expensive compared with plain sawn wood though, but due to its cleaner cut, it has better design value overall.

Rift Sawing

The most expensive cut is the rift sawn wood. Aside from that, it’s also the most difficult cut to make. Radially cutting each board from the timber is involved in rift sawing. During this process, a lot of boards get wasted, particularly the ones in between. However, rift sawing has the big advantage of being the most stable cut. The scraps from this type of sawing can be used as firewood to compensate for the wasted ones.

Pre-Cut Wood

Cutting lumber to get the materials you need isn’t always the scene in real life. After all, it’s very easy to just buy what you need from lumber and hardware stores. However, knowing the different types of basic woodcuts will help you determine which type of board will best suit the project you’re working on.

Whenever you feel unsure about which kind of cut you need, simply ask the attendants at the hardware store for some tips. Tell them what project you need the material for so that the attendant will be able to provide you the right options.

types woodworking cuts

Basic Types of Woodworking Joinery

Whether it’s a simple picture frame or an elaborate chair, most projects require joining pieces of wood together. There are plenty of ways to join pieces of wood, varying from very simple to quite complex. If you are a beginner, it’s best to master making the simple joints first, like “butting” one end of a piece of wood to the end of another. Once the two pieces are connected, use nails and wood fasteners to make the joint strong.

Mitered Butt Joint

The mitered butt joint is a version of the butt joint modified with one additional step. One end of each of the pieces of wood needs to be cut at a certain angle (usually 45 degrees). After doing this, the two angled ends can now be attached together. Doing this joint means that there will be no “ends” showing from the finished products. This advantage is important especially for projects that put a premium on aesthetics. The only issue with this joint is its stability.

Half Lap Joint

Cutting the specific parts of two pieces of wood that’s to be joined together is how a half lap joint is done. The purpose of the cut is to intentionally create indentations where the two pieces will be attached. The biggest disadvantage of this joint, however, is that the strength of the wood is reduced.

Other Types of Wood Joints

While the three types of joinery discussed in this chapter are the most commonly used in woodworking because they are convenient and easy to make, there are still many other types. A lot of joint requirements can be done using these three types. However, there are some projects that need more complicated attachments. Some of these joint types include the mortise and tenon, tongue and groove, pocket, biscuit, rabbet, and dovetail joints.

Fixing Common Woodworking Mistakes

While mistakes can happen anytime when working on a project, a skilled woodworker would know how to approach the problem and fix the mistakes, if and when it happens. Below are some of the most common mistakes that can happen during woodworking, and what to do to fix them.

Misplaced Mortise

In simple terms, a mortise is a big hole that can be fixed easily by filling it with wood. A good tip to remember is to make sure that the grain of the wood is oriented with the filling in order for the repair to be as unnoticeable as possible.

Steaming Dents

A usual dilemma that happens in the workshop is blunt force trauma. When something drops on the project you are working on or you drop the project itself, these can result in dents. But since dents are nothing more than fibers that are aggressively compressed, fixing it is quite easy. Using a wet towel and an ordinary clothes iron, you can steam through the dented areas. The fibers will slowly fill in the dented portions after steaming.

Router Burn

Oak and maple are examples of light-colored hardwood that usually get burned after edge-routing. This results in dark brown marks that can be difficult to remove by sanding. A better and more effective remedy, however, is to adjust the depth of the cut and mill the burnt portion quickly to prevent further damage.


Using high-quality fillers that accept stains and doesn’t show any signs of shrinking is, in some cases, the best fix for tear-outs. Normally, fillers are colored to match the primary background color of the wood, so it’s easy to just draw the missing wood grains using a colored pencil.

Blotchy Finishes

Using an oil finish can sometimes result in a blotchy finish. This is because some types of wood, such as cherry, take in different oil quantities. Using a pore-filling product like a sand sealer or a finishing product like varnish or shellac that stay on top of the material even after the application is the best fix to this problem.

Basic Types of Woodworking Cuts
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Basic Types of Woodworking Cuts
Being able to identify various woodcuts is a skill that is necessary for you to master in woodworking. In general, there are 3 kinds of woodcuts: plain, quarter, and rift sawn.
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Jack Noelsson
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