Immensely Useful Guide about How to Cut Notches in Wood

Tired of wasting times and effort on making unusable notches in your wood project? Well then you long awaited solution is finally here. This article shall show you how to cut notches in wood on your own through a series of detail instructions. Making notches is now just a simple task instead of your nightmare.



Notches are a very essentials part of a wood object. They function as joints to connect many different pieces of wood with a variety of sizes and shapes. And as important as it is, you can’t just rush the process of cutting notches. Mistakes in this part will easily cost you the entire project. But if you happen to get stuck at this particular process then this article will show you the way through. By following a short guideline below, you will start making notches in a faster and more efficient manner than ever before.

how to cut notches properly

Due to distinct nature of wood, you will have a hard time to recover any mistake you make on it so it’s a good idea to do this slowly and steadily. And of course, you can’t do this well without appropriated tools and suitable techniques. So let head right to it and see what you need to have and how to cut notches properly.

What do you need?

• Saw

If you are familiar with woodworking then you should have some of this lying around. But in case if you are new at this, the saw is among the most common tools to use to handle wood projects, especially at cutting notches. The recommend saw for this is the saw that equipped a circular blade. Examples of this include table saw, chop saw or miter saw. These saws will allow a better awareness about the wood position and adjust accordingly.

• Hammer and chisel

combination of hammer and chisel

Some tools that also familiar to woodworking. Power tool may be good and less laborious but there are still times when you need to personally adjust the notches by your hands. And nothing is better at this than a combination of hammer and chisel. Nothing fancy here, just grab the ones that you are most comfortable with.

• Wood router

Quite a useful tool if you want to cut notches in the middle of a wood piece while still wants to retain the edges. With a router, you can cut out notches with the same sizes and depth in mere minutes. But be careful, if you use the router without setting up a proper template then you may go off course and ruin the wood if you lost focus for a few seconds.


• Drill

Not really needed if you want to make shallow notches since the router will offer more control of the situation. But when you make deep notches, like above 1 inch or so, you will need a drill. You can use the hand drill or power drill, it’s up to your preferences.

• Safety tips

As you may already now, the process of cutting notch, or woodworking in general, will generate lots of saw dust and splinter. So it’s vital to equip yourself properly before you start cutting the notches. The ideal set would be goggles, gloves, ear plug and a thick suit that cover your body. And if possible, do this in an enclosed space so that you can safely clean the dust off later.

How can you do it?

Step 1: Measure and mark

As stated before, in woodworking, it’s hard to recover from a mistake so the best way to do it is cut as precise as possible. Measure and decide the shape along with the depth of the notches you want then mark it on the wood. You can use a marker here but in case that you want be even more precise, use a knife to mark the places where you need to cut. And don’t worry about the appearance since you are going to cut through these lines later and so the possible damage on the wood surface will be made irrelevant.

Step 2: Start cutting

This part will be separated into the locations of the notches along with appropriated tools.

• Outer space and you don’t want to preserve the edges

After you have marked the notches shape on the wood, turn on the saw. For these notches, the best tool would be a circular saw such as a table saw, now place the wood piece on the saw. Remember to align the line of your mark to the blade. Raise the saw blade position until it fit your desired depth for the notches. Put the table-saw miter gauge at 90 degrees and place it on the blade. Then turn on the saw and push the wood against the miter gauge over the blade back and forward.

In case that you use the chop or miter saw then the process is not too much different. Align the lines of your mark to the blade make sure that the blade falls to the inner part of the lines. Now simply lower the blade until its reach the depth mark then raise it and continue till you have cut out all the notches.

• Inner space and you want to preserve the edges


Take out the router in this case. For shallow notches then nothing can beat the router. Set the depth and just plunge it down on the wood then move it along the line. As mentioned before, a template is recommended to keep the router blade movement as precise as possible. After you done, use the hammer and chisel to trim out the notches if you need. You can use a drill if you want but it’s only good for deep and short notches.

Step 3: Modify

Now you got pretty much complete notches. All you need to do now is try to fit the pieces together and see if the notches are suitable yet and apply the adjustment. This process needs to be done with great care so this is when the hammer and chisel excel over power tools. Slowly and steadily hammer down the notches until all the excess part is gone and there you have it, some fine notches as a reward for your hard work.

Below is a video that should give more tips on how to cut notches in wood.


And that would be the end of it, not too difficult to take in, right? There is nothing more enjoyable than seeing your times and effort bear fruit. Cutting notches in wood may not be an easy process and you probably encounter lots of problems. But now, with this article, you can cut notches by yourself with great precision, efficient and swiftness.

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Donnie Wraspir - November 3, 2017

Great, thank you very much for your articles. I’ve read you for a long time. Thank you.


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