how to cut a notch in wood

A Beginners Guide on How to Cut a Notch in Wood

Knowing how to cut a notch in wood is one of the basic woodworking skills you should learn. Notches are easy but you must use the right tools to cut them in wood. Remember, a notch can work as support for a wooden piece such as wooden furniture. You must create a good notch to ensure your furniture will remain strong and durable for a long time.

You need the following for this tutorial

  • A piece of wood to practice on – choose a nice piece of wood with even dimensions. This is your practice wooden block. If you want to learn more ways to cut a notch, prepare at least ten wooden blocks for this tutorial. 
  • A traditional hacksaw – as much as there are power saws available, you must still learn to use regular hand saws to cut notches. 
  • Hand saw – You must have a hand saw available to cut anything especially notches on wood. 
  • Circular saw – a circular saw is mostly used to cut even pieces of wood but it can also cut notches. 
  • Electric drill – it is uncommon to use an electric drill to cut notches but we’ll show you how. 
  • Clamps – you need a pair of clamps to keep your workpiece stable as you work on it. 
  • Chisel and mallet – you must have a chisel with ½, ¾, and 1- inch sizes. 
  • Workbench – you need a stable workbench to hold your workpiece as you cut the notch.
  • Sandpaper – use 120 to 150 grit to finish your notch. 
  • Measuring tape – you need this to make accurate notches on wood. 
  • Pencil – use a pencil to draw your guide. 
  • Safety gear- wear safety equipment before you begin any technique. Have your goggles, mask, earbuds, and work gloves ready to prevent any accident.


Cutting a notch with a circular saw 

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1., Prepare the piece of wood by measuring and marking your notch.

Find the depth of the notch you want to cut. Use a measuring tape and a pencil to mark the notch. You may also use a carpenter’s square to create wider marker lines along the sides of the board that you will notch. 

2. Adjust the circular saw blade depth 

Select the depth of your saw blade with a tape measure or by holding the saw on the piece of wood. Let the weight press the blade into the rip fence. Let this reach the ideal depth. 

3. Time to cut the notch

Cut the notch by pushing the saw on the edge of the notch you want to cut. Let the marks along with the outside width guide you. Cut two marks at 1/8 – inch distance. 

4. Clean the notch with a chisel and mallet

Use a wood chisel and your mallet to remove all the wood chips from the notch. You may move to a wider chisel when you’re removing larger wood pieces from the notch. 

Cutting a notch with a hacksaw

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1. Measure the piece of wood and mark it.

Mark two lines from the length of the wooden board or plank. Do this from its two sides. 

2. Attach the block to a table with clamps

Always place the block on a workbench and clamp it before you start cutting the notch. This will stabilize your workpiece. 

3. Cut the notch with the hacksaw.

Refer to the lines as you start cutting the notch with a hacksaw. Watch closely how the hacksaw enters the piece along the sides. Avoid skewing the material. 

4. Remove all the excess wood with a chisel and mallet

Remove all the extra wood with a chisel and mallet. You may use sandpaper to finish the notch off. 

Cutting a notch with a hand saw

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1. Measure the piece of wood that you will cut and mark your measurements.

Get your measuring tape and pencil and draw two lines from either long side of your wood. 

2. Attach the piece of wood to the workbench.

Place the wood on the workbench and clamp it so it won’t move an inch. 

3. Dig the hand saw blade in one of the angles with a 45-degree entry.

To use a hand saw, you need to start with a guide groove as the entry point of the blade. Cut with a 45-degree entry. Push and pull on the blade to create a perfect notch. 

4. Use a chisel and mallet to finish the notch.

Right after cutting the grooves on wood to form the notch, clean it with a small chisel and mallet.

Cutting a notch with a router

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1. Prepare the piece of wood by measuring and marking it. 

2. Prepare the router.

Insert the correct router bit in the machine and use a tool to tighten it. Use the correct milling depth and afterward, mount the router’s rip fence on the piece. 

3. Cut the notch with a router.

Adjust the speed and start milling slowly for hardwoods and faster for softwoods. Lower the cutter to the workpiece and mill this in multiple passes. Retract your cutter and drain the device when you’re done. 

4. Clean the notch with a chisel and mallet.

Cutting a notch with a drill

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1 Prepare your hand drill.

Insert a tri-point bit inside the drill. The bit should be around 1/8 – inch smaller compared to the notch width. 

2. Start drilling along the ends of the notch

Drill the ends of the notch first. Afterward, create overlapping holes on the notch until you have removed most of the wood. 

3. Finish the notch with a chisel and mallet and sandpaper

Just like always, use a mallet and chisel to finish the notch. You may also sand the area to ensure that the notch is well-defined.

Now that you know how to cut a notch in wood, you may now proceed with different projects that require notches. You can make tables, chairs, cabinets, shelves, ladders, and desks with a simple notch. You may also venture to more complicated notches once you’ve mastered these basic steps. 



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