How to Prevent Wood from Splitting While Sawing

Do you struggle with wood splitting while you saw? You probably wonder how to ensure that your sawn wood pieces are neat, have perfect edges, and zero splits?

To make clean cuts in wood without it splitting, you need to use a sharp saw with a high tooth count blade. Put some masking tape on both sides of the cut line, apply little pressure and make sure the finish side aligns with the cutting direction of the blade.

Here, we’ll answer the most crucial questions you have about wood splitting when sawing and show you ways you can go from a beginner to a sawing expert.

Why Does Wood Split When Sawing?

The cause of wood splits can be traced to the shrinking of wood, especially when the shrinking is not proportional. More so, if you dry round cuts from the ends of the log, splitting is almost unavoidable.

How does it happen? Well, since wood dries two times faster with the rings, this quick-drying rate creates cracks of varying sizes that look like spokes in a wheel.

Some of these cracks are larger than others, making the wood look like it wants to split, but since it is still attached to the end of the wood, the pressure on the end of the cracks is evened out.

However, once you saw, there is nothing stopping that wood from splitting.

Preventing Wood from Splitting When Sawing

Wood splitting while sawing is rare. But some fibers may split off the body of the wood while sawing. Here are a few things you could do to prevent the wood from splitting when sawing.

Use Good Tools

Good tools are part of what make a job come out perfect. You’d never get a clean cut if you use a saw with blunt blades; sharp teeth give you a perfect finish. Ensure the blade is straight and the teeth are sharp and even.

It would be best to consider using a saw with a high tooth count blade: Saws are graded with the teeth per inch (TPI) index. This is because of the more the blade teeth, the better the cut.

Follow the Finish Side Orientation Rule

There is a rule that works for all kinds of saws: the rotation of the blade determines where the finish side will face. The cut is always cleaner when the blade enters the wood (finished side) than when it is leaves (unfinished side).

However, this will many times depend on the type of saw you’re using. Each saw type has peculiar ways the blades rotate, or as we like to call it, the cutting direction.

If you are using a power saw, you have to ensure that the finished side faces down. This is because the blade cut the fibers from down upwards in an anticlockwise direction.

A table saw cuts in a clockwise direction. It pulls the grain of the wood and the cut downwards from top to bottom. So, it is good to have your finishing edge facing up. It makes the cut cleaner on that side.

If you are working with a traditional handsaw, you need to keep the finish side down.

Support the Wood When Sawing

Since you cannot depend on your hand to secure wood while sawing, you should consider using a support to help hold your wood piece steady and in place. Use a vice, clamp, or a work table.

To prevent splits, put some wide masking tape along cut lines to overlap both sides: This helps to hold the wood fibers in place. This will also stop the saw teeth from splitting the fibers off the body of the wood.

Less Pressure, Less Speed

Don’t press down heavily while sawing. This will make you exert too much force, affecting the preciseness of the blade. Instead of applying much pressure, let the blade do the work for you. The less stress on the fibers of the wood, the better the cut.

Beginner Sawing tips

Cutting wood can be quite intimidating, especially if you’re just starting. You’d probably have questions about what kind of cuts to make, what kind of saw to use, and how to use them. In this section of the article, we have some tips to help you make clean cuts with confidence.

If you are just about to pick a saw and cut your way through a piece of wood, here are a few things you should know:

Tip #1: Get Familiar with the Common Kinds of Cut

The first thing you need to know is the common types of cuts that exist. There are cross cuts, rip cuts, miter cuts, compound miter cuts, and bevel cuts. These different types of cuts indicate two things;

It’s either you’re cutting a piece of wood to length, or you’re cutting it to width. We mean that you’re either making the wood shorter or narrower.

Types of Cuts

Here are the most common types of cuts every beginner woodcarver should know;

Cross Cuts

A crosscut reduces the length of a piece of wood. It is made across the grain of the wood, i.e., you’re cutting across the width. It is the simplest type.

Rip Cuts

A rip cut is used to make a piece of wood narrower. Here, you’d be cutting with the grain of the wood (along its length).

Miter Cuts

A miter cut is a diagonal cut. It also changes the length of the wood, making it shorter.

Bevel Cut

A bevel cut is when you make an angled cut on the edges of a board. Here you are changing the wood’s profile, either length or width.

Compound Miter Cut

A compound miter cut combines miter and bevel cuts. The length of the piece is the wood is reduced here too.

Tip #2: Learn to Identify the Types of Saws and their Functions

Now that you know the types of cut you can make, the next thing is to choose the saw to use. The types of saws are the traditional handsaw, miter saw, circular saw, table saw, jigsaw, and many others. You need to know which saw will be perfect for the type of cut you intend to make.

Tip #3: Get Conversant with the Different Cutting Methods

Let’s get right in, shall we?

“Measure twice, cut once.” This saying, old as it may be, is still relevant. You can always reduce the length of a wood, but you can’t add it once it is sawn. So, ensure you measure carefully and accurately.

There’s something we call kerf in the industry. This is the “width of cut made by a saw.” It is the width of the wood that is removed by the saw; kerf is wider than the mark made by the pencil. Now, you have to consider this while sawing to ensure you get the exact size of wood after cutting.

So, measure and mark out the cut line with a pencil. The measured side is the good side; it is the side you need. The other side is the waste side; mark it “x.” Position the blade a little away from the cut line on the waste side.

Make a starting cut with slow, steady strokes with the cutting angle of the saw at 45o for crosscuts and 60o for rip cuts. Then push the saw into a natural motion with longer strokes, keeping your hand steady.

Use good tools. Maintain a good cutting posture; keep your elbows close to your body. Apply all the safety precautions; you cannot be too careful.

Final thoughts

As long as the wood is dried properly and you saw the wood with the right tools, you’d get a clean cut. However, if you still have that problem, here’s what you should do:

  • Get a masking tape and cover the cut lines
  • Make the finished side face down
  • Use a saw with sharp blades and a high tooth count.
  • Do not exert too much pressure; the saw should do the work.

There you have it. That’s how to keep your wood from splitting while sawing.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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