Tools for Cutting Corners in Wood

Updated February 21, 2017

Cutting good corners can be a bit of a challenge. Whether you are cutting out pieces to build a project, or need to cut square corners in a mortise on the edge of a door, knowing which tool to use is more than half the battle. From wood chisels to table saws, there is a right tool for every application.

Tools For Cutout

A power mitre saw is the fastest and easiest way to cut corners in wood under 12 inches wide. It can cut corners at any angle quickly and cleanly. Mitre saws are expensive, but many rental companies rent them by the day.

For larger corners, such as cabinet pieces, a table saw is the quickest and most accurate way to make your cuts. Be careful when cutting across a piece that is wider than it is long (crosscutting). Keep material against the table and fence at all times to prevent the saw kicking the board back.

A circular saw is a good alternative to a table or mitre saw. Portable and powerful, this saw can do most of the work of either mitre or table saws in the hands of a skilled user. A board clamped down parallel to your cut makes a good fence for accurate corner cuts.

To cut inside corners, or cutouts in the middle of a piece, use a jigsaw. With a reciprocating sabre blade, it is designed to make tight cuts. Use a drill bit a little wider than your blade to bore a hole to start in.

Mortising Tools for Hinges and Hardware

Cutting mortises, or grooves, for hardware or part placement, is a skill that takes a lot of practice to master. A good sharp wood chisel makes it easier. Use the chisel to cut the corners and outline of your mortise before chiselling into the material to make your groove. It will help keep your corners square.

Using a router and mortise guide is a great way to cut hinge mortises. It works perfectly for round cornered hinges. Use a traditional wood chisel, or a spring loaded corner chisel to square your corners. It is shaped like a small metal block with an L-shaped blade that is activated with a hammer to cut perfectly square corners.

Cutting Decorative Corners

For adding detail to corners on cabinet doors and table tops, a hand-held router with a ball bearing bit works well. Always remember to double check your depth on a scrap piece and run the router in a clockwise direction for best results.

Routers can also be mounted into a table with a fence. This tool is good for repetitive work, especially on small pieces. Keep your hand well clear of the blade and tighten your router securely before making your cut.

A CNC router can make outside and inside corner cuts at any angle, anywhere on a piece of material. CNC routers are commercial grade, automated cutout tools that are designed to carry out intricate work accurately and quickly.

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About the Author

Mark Morris started writing professionally in 1995. He has published a novel and stage plays with SEEDS studio. Morris specializes in many topics and has 15 years of professional carpentry experience. He is a voice, acting and film teacher. He also teaches stage craft and lectures on playwriting for Oklahoma Christian University.