enter image description here

Hey guys, first time poster. I'm trying to make this simple nightstand using hand tools. I'm stuck on these angled planks. Is there any way I can cut these very long cuts without electric table saw? I have a few japanese saws I can do pretty precise cuts with, but I can't image cutting a precise, angled cut along the whole lenght of the wood here.

thank you

  • Hi, welcome to Woodworking. I presume the title should be "... without a table saw"?
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 10:22
  • Good advice below, but as an alternative, do you have a handheld circular saw? Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 17:05
  • However you saw it to length, @Graphus's answer below is really your best bet to fit your angles together. I'm sure he can give you better details on making and using a shooting board than I ever could. I'd be lost without my table saw. To get you started, here's a link to what looks like an easy recipe for a shooting board. Again, someone else may have a better design for making what you need. instructables.com/id/Make-a-Shooting-Board-1.
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 19:39

2 Answers 2


Cuts like this are actually fairly straightforward to do by hand, using the right technique1.

But even so, it would be rare indeed for any cut like this done in hand-tool woodworking to be used straight from the saw — the sawn end surface is nearly always going to be refined by planing, to both perfect the angle and get to accurate length2. This is good news actually since it means you don't need to be a well-practised saw user to get a good result. In other words the saw cut can be a little ragged and uneven and it doesn't matter :-)

And you can in fact do the entire job just by planing, something a few older guides suggest doing when working with thinner material. The boards in the pictured item would be thin enough to do the job this way. Although it's obviously a lot more material to plane off it saves what might be felt to be a tricky long crosscut — but to be honest if you're careful to saw on the waste side of the line this is not actually a particularly difficult cut3.

Either way arguably the key step to success here is the initial accurate marking out on the workpiece..... which is true of a great many things in woodworking.

The saw cut
If you will be sawing the boards to rough length first, before planing, it's important to realise you make a cut like this with the board held upright, ideally in a vice.

If you don't have a vice yet you may be able to figure out a clamping setup that will allow the board to be held securely. Or you could take the opportunity to quickly build a crude clamp-based version of what is now frequently (and inaccurately) called a Moxon vice. More options on this in this previous Answer. As you can see it covers a good number of options, including a clamp-based 'twin-screw' vice. Even quickly thrown together from a couple of lengths of 1x4 or scraps of plywood a vice like this is likely to still be much better than no vice at all.

Planing the bevel or bevels
There's a previous Q&A worth looking at, Angled cuts without miter saw or miter box?

1 The two key aspects being accurate marking out initially, and then careful cutting on the waste side of the line with the board upright.

2 Even regular 90° crosscuts are generally done this way, and this is why a shooting board is virtually a must-have for anyone woodworking with hand tools.

3 Even the first-timer should expect to do it successfully as long as they don't rush and keep to the waste side of the marked line on both sides of the board..... so stop frequently and check the opposite side of the board to the one you're facing as you saw. Remember, cutting wood is not a race so it's fine if it takes longer than you think 'it should'.

  • Nice: "Remember, cutting wood is not a race so it's fine if it takes longer than you think 'it should'" I may have to hang this on the wall in the shop. If I could just manage to remember this at the right times, it would cut down on sorrow and disappointment many times over.
    – gnicko
    Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 14:34
  • @GregNickoloff, :-) When hand cutting especially, one of the key things that makes things go south is trying to make the saw work harder than it wants to naturally (powering through the cut) which is why, apparently, girls make better woodworking students than boys because they're happy to let the saw do the work and not try to muscle the saw through the material. But even with power tools there's still an appropriate feed rate.... I'm looking at you bandsaw. No use hiding in the corner, you too jigsaw!
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 19:25
  • Kind of like the next step after "not quite" is "way too f***ing much"
    – gnicko
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 23:51
  • @GregNickoloff, yeah LOL
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 5:22

Mitered cuts this wide are not necessarily sawn in hand-tools only methods of work. They're almost definitely shot on one of the shooting board types though. The idea is to remove bulk of the waste with a tool that can move lots of material quickly, so for example you could knock it off with a chisel leaving somewhere around 1/8" - 1/16" of waste and then planning to a line with a fine set plane, with or without some sort of a fence guide. A combination of rip relieve cuts and cross cuts works too. I guess the tricky bit would be making a long and accurate guide without power tools. If that's the case, careful freehand planing with frequent bevel gauge checks could do the trick.

Also, it doesn't have to be 100% spot on across the whole length, only in the places where it shows. These joints are end grain mostly and should probably be reinforced, I personally wouldn't worry if the angle is not precise as long as the visible joint lines are tight.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.