Quick Tips for Accurate Crosscuts

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October 2012
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Quick Tips for Accurate CrosscutsQuick Tips for Accurate Crosscuts By now you know that Kreg Joints make project building a whole lot easier. Part of the reason is that Kreg Joinery simplifies cutting your project parts to size. In most cases, you can cut the wood parts using two basic cuts: A rip cut, where you’re a cutting along the length of a board to make it narrower, and a crosscut, where you’re cutting across the width of a board to make it shorter. Here are some quick tips for making clean, straight, and accurate crosscuts on a table saw.

Make Repeat Cuts with a Stop Block
Before you start cutting, make sure your saw is ready to go. Double check that the blade-tilt angle is set at zero for a square cut, and that the blade is sharp. Then make sure your miter gauge is set correctly, too. You won’t get an accurate crosscut if it’s not set at exactly 90° to the blade.

Make Repeat Cuts with a Stop Block
Stop Block Image Some projects require cutting multiple parts to the exact same length. To make that easy, attach a stop block to your miter gauge. That way, you won’t have to measure each part individually.

You can use a commercial stop block, or cut one from a scrap of wood. In either case, it’s best if the stop block doesn’t touch the saw table. A little gap under the stop block, as shown in the illustration, will prevent sawdust from getting caught between the stop block and your board, which can throw off your accuracy.

To use a stop block, start by sliding you miter gauge forward so it’s in line with the saw blade. Then measure from the blade and secure your stop block to the fence at the proper distance.

Now you’re ready to cut. Just butt one end of your board against the stop block, and then cut your board to length.

Use an Offset Block for Short Pieces
Offset Block Image Stop blocks work great for most cuts, but there are two times that they might not work: When you’re crosscutting piece longer than your miter gauge fence or when you’re cutting very short pieces. In either case, there is another simple solution: An offset block.

An offset block works like a stop block by giving you a solid point to butt your piece against. The difference is that an offset block attaches to your table saw rip fence instead of to the miter gauge.

When you clamp the offset block to your fence, makes sure it’s positioned so that your board can butt against it before touching the blade. Once again, to prevent sawdust from building up and throwing off your accuracy, you can sand or cut a small bevel (often called a chamfer) on the bottom of the block, as shown in the illustration.  Then adjust the rip fence so that the edge of the offset block is positioned at the proper distance from the blade.

The cutting process is still easy: Just butt the end of your board against the offset block, and then make your cut

Upgrade for Great Results

Miter GaugeIf you really want to get the best possible crosscuts, consider swapping out your miter gauge. Most saws come with a very basic gauge. Upgrade to a high-quality gauge like the Kreg Precision Miter Gauge System, and you’ll get easier adjustment better accuracy, and a reliable built-in stop block.

Rip Cut


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From Kreg and Woodsmith Magazine
2012 August Home Publishing

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