How can I eliminate tearout.

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Forum topic by jayjay posted 01-25-2010 12:48 AM 3108 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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639 posts in 3245 days

01-25-2010 12:48 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

You know that little thing that happens inevitably, and always at the wrong moment. The thing that can instantly ruin a project. I know it’s all part of the joy of woodworking, and I know there are techniques to prevent it from happening. I’d really like to hear what technique you all use. As I look through all the projects you all have posted, many, many of you seem to have this under control. Being that I’m fairly new at wood working, I still have many skills that need some honing, and preventing tearout is one that I need work on. Especially on miter joints.
I know using sacrificial backing boards is one way to prevent it, but it seems like that could add up to whole lot of waste pretty quick. I’ve also found that simply having sharp blades, and rigid setups helps too. But even so, I still battle the tearout bug.
I would appreciate anyone willing to share their technique, on different ways to approach this problem.

-- ~Jason~ , Albuquerque NM

8 replies so far

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4277 days

#1 posted 01-25-2010 12:51 AM

Depends on the tool as well but backer boards/zero clearance inserts have an application with almost all tools including hand tools.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3568 days

#2 posted 01-25-2010 12:52 AM

Slow and sharp! I don’t use backer boards, I keep my tools sharp, blades and bits. I drill or cut slow, pushing the wood through the saw too fast or pushing the drill through the wood too fast will create tearout. Sharp tools along with slow motion gives the tools a chance to cut the material instead of breaking it.

View PaulfromVictor's profile


228 posts in 3545 days

#3 posted 01-25-2010 02:45 AM

There is not a short answer to that. It depends upon the tool. Think about the rotating direction of your cutter will help.

1. Tablesaws the blade spins toward you. If tearout happens it will be on the bottom of the board. A zero clearance insert help with this.

2. A circular saw will tear out on the top. If you must use a c.c., putting masking tape over the cut line will help support the fibers during the cut.

3. Router table – Backer boards – make sure where the bit exits the wood is fully supported by backer board. Also, when profiling 4 edges of a board, rout the end grain first, then rout the long grain. If the end grain tears out, you will clean it up on the long pass. When routing curves, take small incremental passes, especially on the end grain. For challenging curves, you can take small climb cuts (opposite direction), but don’t do that until you are completely comfortable with your router table.

4. Drilling – if you are using a drill press, make sure you have a piece of wood underneath what you are drilling to support the grain. If you have a drill press table, a fresh insert will help. For drilling with a hand drill, clamp a piece of scrap wood to the opposite side of the wood you are drilling. The scrap wood will keep your hole from blowing out.

View jayjay's profile


639 posts in 3245 days

#4 posted 01-25-2010 03:06 AM

Thanks for the tips. Based on your suggestions, it sounds like I may just be getting a bit in a hurry, and not taking the extra time to set up my cuts properly. I will take all this and apply it to my next project, I’m sure it will help me out alot.

-- ~Jason~ , Albuquerque NM

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3776 days

#5 posted 01-25-2010 03:38 AM

Another Thing that can help is to use spiral router bits they help keep from having tear out also.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View 8iowa's profile


1587 posts in 3961 days

#6 posted 01-25-2010 03:57 AM

An old trick is to use a sharp knife to Scribe your cutting line first, before sawing or dadoing. This seems to work well for me, especially on plywood.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4327 days

#7 posted 01-25-2010 03:58 AM

I do all the above.

I mainly use very sharp Japanese saws that cut on the pull stroke.
Therefore, the tear-out will show on top.
If I want to hide any minor tear-out then I will cut the wood with the top side down.
Besides, it’s easier to see when tear-out occurs and I can hopefully correct my technique before it becomes worse.

Choosing a proper saw that is sharp, straight and with the proper tooth count and setup goes a long way in making smooth cuts that are free from tear-out.

Also, I work a lot with cedar, which is very easy to tear-out.
I score the cut marks with a sharp knife to sever the outer grain.
This too, is a Japanese technique.

-- 温故知新

View jayjay's profile


639 posts in 3245 days

#8 posted 01-25-2010 03:09 PM

Thanks for all the feedback gentlemen. I now feel confident that I know what I need to do.

-- ~Jason~ , Albuquerque NM

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