This is a question about technique. When I cut small pieces of wood (1-2") I struggle to make precise square (90 degree) cuts by hand or handheld tools without a guide. If I just eyeball it I'll often be off by as much as 10 degrees, because it's hard to hold a tool at an exact perpendicular. If I mark off one side with a pencil line, I can cut along the line fine, but the cut is angled by up to 5 degrees to the other side.
The obvious solution is to mark both sides. Indeed, marking say a square pole all around can help me get within 1-2 degrees if I can follow the line. Unfortunately, and this is also why I ask specifically about small pieces, the marking is very hard.
- Usually I want to make a cut a certain distance from the other end, but the other end is often not a flat, perpendicular face either. Some pieces have rounded off corners, are slightly bent, or have other imperfections.
- When measuring, there is a 1-2 mm error due to the alignment of the pencil vs. the ruler, and also the ruler sometimes not being able to follow the work piece exactly. For a large cut, this error is negligible, but 1 mm off on a 1 inch cut is a whopping 3% error.
- If I use something like a protractor, it's hard to measure out exactly 90 degrees for the same reasons: No nice corner to be perpendicular from, and not enough room to account for errors.
- I know people use miter saws for cutting precise angles. I don't have a miter saw but it's not clear to me how I could use for such a small piece.
Obviously I could simply get an elaborate tool that includes a mechanical or laser guide, and use that. A table saw would also cut pretty consistently by virtue of being attached to a fixed feed rather than handheld. But surely it is possible to cut a very good perpendicular (error <1 degree) with hand tools only (pencil, straight edge/ruler, hand saw)?
To be clear, I'm not talking about cutting extremely irregular objects. I'm asking about cutting simple rectangular planks/boards, or long sticks with rectangular profiles (and 1-2" thick). However, as is often the case with cheaper lumber these may not come with perfect corners or edges.