A saw is a tool that is generally used to cut wood. However, not everyone has immediate access to a tool like this when it is needed. Therefore, getting a saw to cut a few small pieces of wood might seem like a waste. The best way to get around this problem is to use other tools that might be more easily accessible than a saw in certain situations. Now let’s see how to cut through wood without a saw efficiently and easily using different tools.
How to Cut Wood Without a Saw?
Before cutting wood, it is important to use the appropriate safety equipment. Protective glasses, protective gloves, face masks, and tight-fitting clothes are some of the things that might be necessary. All of them are not necessary when using certain tools, but they will come in handy at some point in cutting wood. For example, face masks are not needed when cutting wood with a sharp knife but come in handy later when sanding the wood.
8 Ways to Cut Wood using Different Tools
Other than saw there are several things available to cut small pieces of wood. Read on to know how to cut a piece of wood without saw.
Method 1: Sharp Knife
Be it cutting or shaping, sharp knives are great tools to carve wood. Knives are especially good when precision is required in cutting the wood. Wood can be cut with a sharp knife using the following method:
- Using a Sharp Knife: When cutting wood with a knife, make sure it is sharp. It is best to sharpen the knife or switch to a sharper one if it is not. Blunt knives have a hard time cutting through the surface of the wood.
- Protective Gear: When using a knife, protective gloves might hinder the flexibility of one’s hands. A face mask is unnecessary as cutting wood with a knife doesn’t leave any fine dust. It is important to wear protective glasses if any wooden chips fly out of the wooden piece that is being cut.
- Cutting the Wood: To cut wood with a knife, hold the blade opposite to the wood and make a cut at an angle. The same process will be repeated on the other side of the wooden piece. This should give us a V-shaped cut. The process is to be repeated until the wood is split in two. Another method of cutting the wood is to use the knife to make small chips at the joints. Keep chipping until the wood is thin enough to be snapped by hand.
- Sanding: When the wood splits into two pieces, you can use sandpaper to make the surface of the wood smooth.
Method 2: Axe
Axes are tools used to cut wood since time immemorial. They still are one of the best tools to use when cutting wood. Axes are used to cut wood when there is no need for precision.
- Safety Check: Using an ax requires a swinging motion. Thus, it is vital to ensure that there is nothing in the surroundings that one might trip on. It is also important to wear protective glasses, gloves, and boots.
- Marking where to Cut: Axes are rough tools that lack precision. It is best to have clear visual indicators on where to cut when using them. Marking the location to cut with an X or even a line would make the job a lot easier.
- Cutting the Wood: When chopping against the grain of the wood, it is recommended to hold the ax at 45 degrees. On the other hand, if the wood is to be split with the grain, an angle of 90 degrees is more suitable. When cutting with an ax, use a wide stance for good balance. Cut the marked location accordingly. Do the same on the other side of the wood to get a V-shaped cut, just like with the knife. Keep repeating this process until the wood snaps on its own or is thin enough to be snapped by hand.
- Sanding: When cutting wood with a knife, use sandpaper to give the wood a smooth surface.
Method 3: Drill
Drills, while not as common as axes or knives, are still used frequently to cut wood. Drills release a lot of fine dust when used as woodcutters.
- Protective Gear: When using a drill to cut wood, it is important to wear safety goggles, a face mask, boots, and gloves. When used to cut wood, Drills launch a lot of fine dust into the air. Breathing this fine dust is highly harmful to humans.
- Marking where to Cut: A pen/pencil is used to draw a straight line along the wood’s surface where it needs to be cut.
- Cutting the Wood: A drill makes holes on the wood’s surface along the previously drawn line. It is recommended that the holes be as close as possible. The holes must be drilled until the wood becomes weak enough to snap with bare hands.
- Sanding: After the wood splits, sandpaper is rubbed against the surface of the wood until it becomes smooth.
Method 4: Router
Routers use a fixed or moving bit to shape wood quickly. They are very versatile tools that can create grooves, joints, and other patterns in the wood. The following method is used to cut wood using router:
- Protective Gear: Routers release a lot of dust particles when used. Thus, it is best to wear protective boots, glasses, face mask gloves, etc., when using them. Also, make sure that there are no problems with the bit of the router.
- Cutting Preparation: Pick the router bit that is most suitable and install it in the router. Adjust the router to get the desired cutting depth. Always mark the area that needs to be cut with a line. This will make the job of cutting a lot easier.
- Cutting the Wood: Place the router on top of the wood and switch on the power. The bit of the router will start to engage with the wood. Follow the line that was previously drawn by pushing the router forward. Use slow and steady hands while maintaining a small gap between the legs to stabilize the body.
- Removing the Router: After the cut has been made. Switch the power to the router and wait for the bit to come to a halt. The bit can now be removed.
Method 5: Chisel and Hammer
A chisel and hammer set like an ax is quite old. These tools are very versatile even though they have a high skill floor. Chisel and hammer are some of the more common carpenter tools. Chisel and hammer are usually used for delicate but small work as they allow for a precision that is not possible for other tools like axes. Wood can be cut using a chisel and a hammer using the following steps:
- Protective Gear: For a chisel and hammer, the main protective gear are boots, goggles, and gloves. While using a hammer, it is important to use steady hands not to injure oneself.
- Securing the Wood: If the wood is not secured properly, it will slide free when hitting the chisel with the hammer. This can lead to serious injuries. Thus, it is important to secure the wood, so it doesn’t move.
- Cutting the Wood: Usually, the chisel is hit using the hammer at a 20-degree angle. While using the chisel, make sure that the chisel’s flat side is in contact with the wood. Keeping a firm grip on both the chisel and the hammer is important. Slowly and with stable hands, remove small chunks of wood from the main piece. This is to be done until the desired amount of wood is removed.
- Sanding: Since chisel and hammer slowly scrape away the wood instead of leaving large cuts, sanding might not be necessary. Of course, this differs from project to project, and some wooden pieces might need sanding.
Method 6: Machete
A machete is a broad, heavy knife that makes cutting wood a lot easier. While not very common in normal woodwork, it too can be used to cut wood. The steps to follow to cut wood using a machete are as follows:
- Precautions: Before cutting wood with a machete, make sure that the blade is razor-sharp. If the blade is dull, it is best to replace or sharpen it on a wet stone. It is also important to wear proper safety gear like goggles, safety boots, and gloves when using a machete.
- Marking Where to Cut: It is best to mark where to cut. Machetes have one of the lowest accuracies out of any wood cutting device. This makes it unlikely to hit the same spot with the same angle twice. Marking where to cut helps get a general idea, increasing the accuracy slightly.
- Cutting the Wood: Machetes are swung at an angle of 45 degrees to the surface of the wood to cut it. Like a knife, alternate your cuts for a V-shaped cut on the wood. This is to be done until the wood becomes thin enough to be snapped with bare hands.
- Sanding: Usually, machetes are used outdoors to cut firewood, weeds, plants, etc. Thus, sanding is not necessary for those items. If a machete is being used for a personal wood project, then it is best to use sandpaper to smoothen the cut area.
Method 7: Lathe
Lathes are the preferred wood cutting tool of furniture makers. Usually, a lathe is used as a specialized and rarely seen for consumer purposes. That said, a Lathe makes the job of cutting wood simple and quick. Wood can be cut using a Lathe as follows;
- Precautions: Lathe using a spinning blade to cut wood. It also releases fine dust when it cuts wood which is very harmful to the person’s eyesight using it. Thus, wearing appropriate safety glasses, face masks, gloves, and boots when using a lathe is important. Also, make sure that the person using the lathe wears tight clothing as loose clothes might get stuck in the blade of the lathe. This can damage the machine and even cause serious injuries to the user.
- Marking where to Cut: Generally, a lathe is used to cut wood from the center. If cut from the middle, it allows the workpiece to be uniform from both sides. Mark the place where you want to cut the wood from. Then, please turn on the lathe and wait for the blade to reach its set speed. The speed recommended for beginners is the lowest possible. Experienced users can decide on which speed to pick at their discretion.
- Cutting the wood: When the lathe is rotating, slowly and cautiously move the cutting tool to remove the required wood. The desired cuts can be made using a lathe, circular, angular, straight, etc.
- Powering Off: Power off the lathe when the required amount has cut the wooden piece. Wait for the blade to stop spinning completely before taking away the wooden pieces.
Method 8: Plane
In carpentry, a plane is a tool used to remove rough surfaces on wood and reduce their size. These tools come in a wide range of sizes and are mostly wood and steel. Planes are highly precise tools and make the job of shaping wood very easy:
- Precautions: While using a plane, it is best to have proper safety goggles, gloves, and boots. While a small amount of fine dust is released when using a plane, the main source of waste is the thin curls of wood lifted off. A plane is one of the safer tools to cut wood. That said, proper safety measures still need to be taken before using it. As with other cutting tools like knives and machetes, the plane’s blade must be sharp.
- Securing the Wood: Before using a plane, it is important to secure the wood. When using a plane, a lot of pressure is applied to the wood, and if it moves, that might affect the quality of the finish.
- Cutting the Wood: After securing the wood, set the depth of the cut by adjusting the plane. Start by pushing the plane forward in a straight line. Apply the pressure downwards with gentle and stable arms. It is important to follow the grain of the wood. Make sure to cover the entire wooden piece. It is vital not to stop halfway as that would ruin the finish of the wooden piece. Do the same from the other side of the wooden piece as well. This process is to be repeated until the required result is achieved.
There are many other ways to cut wood than using a saw. Some work quickly like a lathe, while others take more time like a plane. No one tool will work in all situations, but many are suitable for almost all situations. Some tools like the chisel and hammer are very old, while others like routers and drills are new. This does not make the old tools obsolete. Instead, the older ones augment the new tools. The mixture of old and new tools makes the work of carpenters both easier and quicker. All these bring their benefits and drawbacks.