Sawing To A Line – An Informal Poll

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  • #135846
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    I’m probably getting better at this, but I still struggle at times to saw to the line on the edge of a board when cross-cutting to length. I can get a nice straight, clean cut on top where my knife line/wall is, but I don’t always cut straight down the thickness.

    The two pictures below are what my right eye sees and what my left eye sees when I’m cutting a board. For reference, I have my chiseled-out knife wall to the left of the knife line (waste side is on the left). When I line up my hand, shoulder and head with the cut, I have a hard time getting my right eye to be dominant so that I have a clear view of the line I want to cut to.

    So I ask this question: Do you tilt your head to the right so you can see the knife line on the edge of the board with both eyes? Or do you keep you head in line so that each eye sees a different side of the saw plate and try to make your right eye dominant.

    I hope this description was clear.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

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Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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  • #135849
    Salko Safic
    Participant

    @salko

    You have crossed my mind many of times when I think of making a moulding plane and I think about this often but never get around to it which is a real darn shame, I was starting to wonder if you’ve disappeared off the face of the planet.

    The left eye view is correct, the way I do it I line my sight along the saw think of it like your aiming with a rifle your eyes are in the rifle’s line of sight the same rules applies with the saw which is also in line with your arm as well. It takes a little getting used to curving your body to meet these requirements but not every cut is right on the money.

    I did a blog post once talking about this, sawing accurately all the time depends on you at the time. Many factors and forces are at play that could hinder your sawing accurately. Just keep practicing and if you can get a large mirror and place it in front of you and watch how you tilt that saw, your eyes will detect true and keep doing it till it becomes natural. No ones born with a saw in their hands and no apprenticeships has an appointed person standing in front of you telling you tilt your hand this way or that way we all learned on our own but learn you will and don’t expect it to come out perfect all day everyday, after all were only human not machines.

    https://journeymansjournel.wordpress.com
    The Lost Scrolls of HANDWORK
    (Hand tool only woodworking magazine)

    #135852
    Ed
    Participant

    @ed

    I am left handed. My left eye is dominant. My preferred arrangement for cutting is to have the material in the vise like you do, waste on the left. My view is like your right eye view although I think my left eye is doing the work. Flip your work around in the vice, maybe?

    When you say you don’t cut straight down, do you mean it does not come out square in the skinny dimension of the board? If so, try a couple things. Stand like you are ready to cut, saw on the wood, etc. Without moving your head, move the saw a bit out of the way so that you can see the line on the face of your work and the line on the edge of the work. Ignore the 3-dimensional nature of what’s in front of you and decide if those two lines look like they are one continuous, straight line or do they form a small angle between them? Not sure? Move your head left and right a little. There’s only one place left-to-right where the two lines will seem like one continuous line. When your head is at that position, put the saw down without letting your head change from that position. Now cut. I take some passes to get the saw settled into the face of the wood and then I start dropping the heel of the saw, but *not* the tip. The line on the thickness guides you down square. On typical stock, the saw will exit the bottom and start work across the bottom as the the tip starts settling into the side you cannot see, but now the saw plate is being guided by the square face you’ve established by dropping the heel.

    From what I hear, some people will say this is a bad way to cut, but it works for me. On wider boards, it is hard to get the saw to settle in the face and, at some point, you just can’t do this. By the way, I’m describing a tenon saw. Maybe this is a bad way and a crutch, but it’s how I do it. Paul never came by and said to do it otherwise.

    Make sure you try the head placement thing. It’s second nature once you get it. When you get it, give a yell and I’ll tell you something to try that will make you smile.

    #135854
    Ed
    Participant

    @ed

    I just cut a piece to check..it’s a mixture of cutting across the bottom and the far side and then more and more just the far side. Play with it. 🙂

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Ed.
    #135883
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    @mattmcgrane

    @salko , @ed – Thanks for the responses. I truly appreciate it.

    I think I wasn’t so clear trying to describe my problem. I’m having trouble seeing the line on the side of the board that I’m trying to cut to. I can get the saw started on the face with the knife wall, but when I start dropping my hand to cut down the thickness, I’m having a hard time physically seeing the knife line.

    Ed, I like your suggestion about lining up the face line and edge line – I’ll try that. But I still need to see the knife line on the board edge (thickness).

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    #135886
    Ed
    Participant

    @ed

    Yes, that was part of why I mentioned that I put things in the vice like you do, but I’m left handed, left-eyed, while you are right handed. Flip your work around and cut on the other side of the vice. You’ll be able to see your line. Get confident with that. After some time, you’ll start to feel that you can do the cuts when you must look over the top of the saw. For me, it feels odd. It’s like I can’t see the line but I still do. I suspect I’m forcing my non-dominant eye to do the work, so it feels creepy. Only a theory. Dunno. But, start with the easier ones by flipping around so that you can see the line. Let me know if it works.

    #135887
    Ed
    Participant

    @ed

    By the way, I notice that your vise is at the left edge of the bench, set so that you can cut without hitting the bench. You didn’t know it, but you might really have built a left handed bench. 🙂 I guess you can flip your work around and still have it overhang the edge, depending upon the work. In the end, I find I must cut on both sides of the vise at one time or another.

    #135889
    mbryant
    Participant

    @mbryant

    Would make a good video, how to saw perfectly

    #135907
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    @mattmcgrane

    @ed – I tried your suggestion of having the waste to the right and I really could see the line much better. However my eyes were not in line with the cut, the saw, the hand, or the shoulder. Both eyes were to he left of the saw and this allowed me to see the line much better, but I botched the cut anyway. I’ll keep working on this.

    BTW, the vise in the photos is at the right end of my bench and the side of the vise is flush with the front of the bench (so it’s at the left edge of the right side of my bench – if that makes sense). I like using the end vise for crosscutting like this as there is no risk of cutting into the bench.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    #135908
    Ed
    Participant

    @ed

    @mattmcgrane – Seeing the line is a good thing! Often there’s no choice and you have to look over the saw plate, but might was well do these cuts a few times until the frustration goes away. Don’t get hung up on all the details. Expecting things to line up might be false expectations keeping you from cutting. Play and see what works. Viewing so that the two parts of the line look like a straight line is worth playing with. Put your head there and then let the rest sort itself out. Helps me, might not help you. I don’t always deliberately do it.

    I better say…I don’t consider myself an expert or even good sawyer. Good enough for now is about as far as I’d go. But I do like sawing….

    #136135
    sodbuster
    Participant

    @sodbuster

    I am right handed, and like you I have a ways to go before I get my crosscuts down. Lately I have had better success with this approach: I put most pieces on a bench hook, (not in the vise) and have shop lights (architect style on articulate arm) that can shine from left or right on a fairly low angle. This give me better visibility / definition of the knife line. I generally cut with the waste to the right of the saw-plate. I try to start the cut on the far edge of the piece (using a western style saw). I focus first on getting the saw straight across. Then once I have a good kerf going I focus mostly on the cut being vertical to the surface of the piece.

    My success rate has got better lately when I pay attention to my stance and to having a very relaxed grip on the saw tote – just enough so the saw doesn’t fall out of my hand. I have also found that checking whether my shoulders are relaxed and natural, or tight, is helpful. And of course my forefinger is pointing forward, not gripping the tote.

    I haven’t worked as much on exactly where my eye (and which eye) is with respect to the saw – I try to have a view that feels right. It seems to be more a function of practice, stance, and grip for me, with a few different saws.

    It may sound daft but I try to get it straight with the breadknife at home, and also on firewood at the cottage. Practice and paying attention do seem to help.

    Good luck!

    #136148
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    @mattmcgrane

    @sodbuster – Thanks sodbuster. I’ve been working on this and I’m using a combination of things. The light trick you mentioned is one thing that I’e done and it really helps. I have a small cordless LED desk lamp that I can direct at the knife line. And with the waste on the right side of the blade, I’m keeping both eyes to the left of the blade to be certain I can see the line down the side of the board. Practice, practice, practice …

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    #136169
    Peter George
    Participant

    @pjgeorge

    One trick that can help is to look at the reflection in the saw plate. It the reflection looks like a continuation of the wood, you are straight and square.

    Peter in
    Biggar SK
    "New York is big, but this is Biggar"

    #137356
    dovetails
    Participant

    @dovetails

    People that are cross eye dominant struggle with this. For example, if you are right handed, but left eye dominant.

    From my research, it takes this person much longer to figure out their sawing technique, because they can’t see it the right way. There are articles and forum posts about this by people much smarter and more experienced than myself.

    #137388
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    @mattmcgrane

    @dovetails – That’s very interesting DT. I’d never thought of that. Thanks for adding that.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    #137448
    Sven-Olof Jansson
    Participant

    @sojansson

    Rather than risking a piece that took time and efforts to make, I let discretion be the better part of valour and – shock horror – use a saw-guide…

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Cambridge, MA

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