Cutting notches w/o bandsaw

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Forum topic by rbterhune posted 10-15-2009 03:14 AM 6360 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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176 posts in 2256 days

10-15-2009 03:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tip bandsaw question

I’m a fairly new woodworker and I’m always discovering with my research where I might need to buy something to finish a project, funny how that works. When I step into my first project I’m going to need to cut square notches into the corners of a shelf that fits inside the lower portion of a nightstand. The notches are necessary to make room for the inside corners of the legs. The front will sit on a rabbeted lip and the rear and sides will have a dado.

The easy way to do this is with a bandsaw but I do not have one yet. I have both a scroll saw and a handheld jigsaw. One can’t guarantee a completely vertical cut and the other is a very rough tool…sort of like swatting at a fly with a hatchet.

Thanks for your advice.

21 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


113725 posts in 2611 days

#1 posted 10-15-2009 03:23 AM

how about a hand saw or even a hack saw and a chisel.

-- Custom furniture

View Thuan's profile


203 posts in 2852 days

#2 posted 10-15-2009 03:59 AM

A fine tooth handsaw would make quick work on that task. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy to start with, a $20 one from Home Depot with the hardened teeth will work just fine.

-- Thuan

View firecaster's profile


557 posts in 2453 days

#3 posted 10-15-2009 04:02 AM

Looks like a reason to buy a tool. That’s the best kind of project.

-- Father of two sons. Both Eagle Scouts.

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 2256 days

#4 posted 10-15-2009 04:56 AM

Actually, I did think of a handsaw…I’m just petrified of a crooked cut. I suppose a crooked cut is easily fixed with sandpaper so long as I’m on the waste side of the line with my “crooked-ness”. Thanks.

View Thuan's profile


203 posts in 2852 days

#5 posted 10-15-2009 05:23 AM

A crooked cut has more to do with an improperly set saw teeth or a dull saw than it has to do with the operator when you are talking about cutting notches. To build up your confidence, buy a relatively inexpensive hand saw with the impulse hardened fine teeth blade. Then practice on some scraps of wood that you had drawn a series of practice layout lines on. You’ll find out how easy it is to use a hand saw. From there, you can expand to the many different types of saws that fits your style and needs.

-- Thuan

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 2505 days

#6 posted 10-15-2009 03:46 PM

I’m building 4 endtables with this same type shelf below. I cut the notches with the table saw. Piece of cake!

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 2256 days

#7 posted 10-15-2009 04:56 PM

3fingerpat & Thuan…I think you’re both right. I just need to practice, practice, practice. Thanks for your tips.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2655 posts in 2561 days

#8 posted 10-15-2009 05:32 PM

When you go for your cut, put a hardwood scrap on bothe the top and bottom of the line you are going to cut and they will help keep you on the straight and narrow…

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1503 posts in 3159 days

#9 posted 10-15-2009 08:09 PM

Get a good Japanese pull-saw. I got one with rip teeth on one side and crosscut teeth on the other, and it’s the first saw where I can really follow a straight line, and pick and choose which side of that line I want the edge of my saw to get.

My other choice would be a sled to hold the shelf upright and square to the fence on a router table.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View pinakBERT's profile


14 posts in 2731 days

#10 posted 10-15-2009 08:15 PM

Do you have a router? you could cut it rough with the jigsaw. Then make a square jig to use the router with a pattern bit, to square up most of the edge. Then take a chisel to square up the corner.

View dbhost's profile


5386 posts in 2266 days

#11 posted 10-15-2009 09:11 PM

My suggestion was going to be jig saw, with a guide. Basically anything straight that you can use as a fence. With a good quality blade, you would be amazed how well a jig saw can cut, even a cheap POS like my Skil jig saw. So the ingredients are…

#1. Jig Saw. I am going to assume a Cheap Skil, Ryobi, B&D, Craftsman type with a U shank. #2. GOOD blades. I have a box of B&D blades, and a box of Bosch blades. The Bosch are AMAZING, the B&D will NOT track straight to save my life! #3. Guide system / fence of sorts. I have used a 24” and a 48” level that has a good straight edge to it, clamped it down, and used it as a fence. It works GREAT!

This works well for pieces too unwieldy to go on a band saw as well…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 2256 days

#12 posted 10-16-2009 03:14 PM

Yes, I do have a router and I’ve thought about that option. The jig saw might work, I’ve got a good Hitachi with bosch blades but I still like the handsaw option I think. I may look for one of those rip/x-cut pull saws…I’m sure I’ll have future uses for something like that.

View AaronK's profile


1411 posts in 2499 days

#13 posted 10-16-2009 03:28 PM

the others’ comments should get you on track. i will also add that this is a perfect opportunity to learn about the use of hand tools to complement power tools. a chisel will do a really great job of paring a sloppy cut to exactly where it needs to be.

...way faster and cleaner than sandpaper.

View lcurrent's profile


120 posts in 2850 days

#14 posted 10-16-2009 04:54 PM

I agree with the table saw I do mine that way take your time

-- lcurrent ( It's not a mistake till you run out of wood )

View rwyoung's profile


369 posts in 2506 days

#15 posted 10-16-2009 04:57 PM

Hand saw to cut on the waste side of the line then sharpen up some bench chisels (you should think about these as a purchase anyway and sharpening is a good gateway skill) to clean up. To help keep things square, you can clamp on a guide block, just any piece of wood with two square faces, one down to the work piece an the other will become a guide for the back of your chisel. Go slow and take small shaving cuts. And consider shaving down only about 1/2 to 2/3 from one side, then flip over and finish the cut from the other side.

Sharpening is a good skill to learn and now you have an “excuse” to buy a few chisels and learn to sharpen. Paring with a chisel will get you a long way toward being able to fine tune other joints like dovetails and mortis and tennon.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

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