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Cutting Wood

When cutting timber some tasks are more easily achieved using machinery such as portable and permanent power saws, whereas other tasks may be better undertaken with hand tools.

A router is probably the single most useful tool for making unusual cuts since it can be used to create rebates, chamfers, grooves, dadoes, and rabbets.

A chamfer in woodwork is where a bevelled edge is cut along the face or edge of a piece of timber. A fine chamfer may be produced with sandpaper or an electric sander, but more usually a hand plane or power plane is used. For instance, a spoke shave may be used to chamfer the upright edges of a post. If a deep chamfer is required then an appropriate router bit may be used.

This refers to shaping timber for instance for skirtings or architraves. Years ago this would have been done with a variety of moulding planes, and in more recent times spindle moulders (spindle routers), but these days hand held and fixed routers have largely replaced these other methods. Nevertheless, you may wish to obtain a couple of old moulding planes for personal use.

Cutting Curves
The main power saws for cutting curves are the portable jig saw and fixed band saw. Finer blades allow for cutting finer curves. Hand saws for cutting curves include the keyhole saw for cutting out circles, the bow saw (frame saw) for cutting a range of open curves, and the coping saw. For interior curves, a hole may be bored into the wood to allow the blade to fit in. For coping saws it may be necessary to remove the blade, pass it through a hole and re-attach it.

A groove is a channel cut into a piece of wood which runs with the grain.

A dado is a channel cut into a piece of timber across the grain.


A rebate is also known as a “rabbet” - particularly in the United States. A rebate, or rabbet, is a channel cut into a piece of timber which happens to be at the end, and is therefore open. A rebate may be hand cut using a tenon saw and then smoothed with a shoulder plane if working with the grain. If working across the grain a chisel can be used to tidy up the channel.

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