Growing Pattern Syndrome

Try to avoid what pro carpenters call a "growing pattern syndrome." This can occur when you are cutting a number of studs or other pieces to length, then always use the most recently cut piece to mark the next piece. The catch is that after two or three generations of cuts, the length can begin to grow longer. If, for example, each stud is off by 1/16 in., after you cut four studs, you will be off 1/4 in. For accuracy, it is better to use one master pattern and use it for every cut.
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Miter Support

When you cut longer pieces, miter saws are best used with supports on both sides. One way is to cut in a drop-down section into a bench for the saw. Another is to build up raised supports on both sides of the saw on top of the bench. An upright along the back of the supports will let you use a stop block for repetitive cuts.
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Cutting Up

When sawing wood, take time to consider which side of the material will be facing up. Keep the good side up when you are using a hand saw, scroll saw, band saw or radial-arm saw. Keep the good side down when you are suing a portable circular saw, table saw or sabre saw. The principle is to have the tooth of the blade first break through the rough side of the board or panel.
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No-Split Veneer

If you have ever tried to cut or trim veneered pieces like a door, you know splintering can be a problem. A solution is to use a utility knife with a new blade and a straightedge to mark the cut line deeply on both sides. Some carpenters also use masking tape before making the knife cuts to stabilize the edge and protect wood from the saw making the final cut. Most important is to have a sharp fine-toothed blade in the saw.
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Read Twice

When measuring, the old adage "measure twice and cut once" can be excellent advice. Pros, however, have their own variation; they usually only measure once, but then will read the measurement twice. They will mark the cut line, then cut the wood just so the saw kerf is touching the line.
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Straight Wood

Before you glue up wood for a project, examine the parts. If at all possible, start out with cleanly cut, perfectly straight boards of the proper thickness. Take out any bow or warp before you begin your gluing work. By using straight and true stock, you won't have to force the boards in one direction or another, and you won't have to get into tricky, complicated clamping set-ups.
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Reduce Splintering

Here's a fast and easy way to reduce the amount of splintering that occurs when cutting wood with a hand saw. Apply a strip of masking tape along the cutting line on the backside of the piece. You'll notice a significant improvement. Another way is to use a utility knife to score the cut. This will give you an accurate measurement and make the cut smoother.
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Blade Check

If your wood gluing work is less than successful, check your blades. If the blade in your saw is getting dull, it can loosen (but not remove) a layer of fibers on the edges to be joined. Later, glue may not be able to penetrate through this debris to solid wood, resulting in weak joints. A signal that this may be the problem is if ruptured joints are coated with fibers.
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Rip Cuts

Rip cuts are cuts that go with the woodgrain. After a proper measurement and marking have been made, carefully use your thumb to guide your saw with two or three short upward strokes. Once the cut is started hold the saw at a 60 degree angle to the wood and make smooth, full downstrokes. If you're making a long cut, use a wedge to spread the wood apart. This will help prevent any binding.
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