Avoid Tearout With This Simple Trick

Added on October 30, 2015

tearoutAvoid Tearout With This Simple Trick! I remember the first time I starting making cuts in wood, I was dismayed by the fact that the cuts were never clean and crisp. Especially when cross-cutting, the wood would tear out at the edge and it was clear I was doing something wrong. After a little research, I realized that experienced woodworkers have numerous tricks they employ to win the battle against tearout. These things include zero clearance inserts and sacrificial fences which help support the wood fibers during the cut.

A Better Way

cutting gaugeBut there’s another method that dates back to the days before power tools were the norm, or Norm as the case may be. By simply scribing the wood with a sharp blade, we can sever the fibers ahead of time so that when the cut is made, we’re left with a clean crisp edge.


perfect-cutWhile you can certainly use a marking knife (or Xacto knife) and a straight edge, I find I get best results using a cutting gauge. The cutting gauge features a moveable fence that allows me to make the same scribe repeatedly, so it increases my precision and efficiency. Simple scribe the line at the desired setting and use the cut line as a guide to set up the power tool. Even without a zero clearance insert and/or a sacrificial fence, the results are nothing short of perfection!

There are a lot of cutting and marking gauges on the market today and you can see a few in action here. But if you are looking for the exact gauge I used in this video, you can pick it up at Lee Valley.


hybrid-ww-cover copyLearn more tricks and tips in my book Hybrid Woodworking! Get your signed copy today!