You are working on a home project.
You have it all planned out.
There is just one problem: After you buy the materials, how are you going to cut them?
Wood can be expensive, but when you add the cost of purchasing tools on top of it, it might discourage you from even starting your DIY project.
We’ll walk through whether you can get your wood cut at Home Depot, along with some other options if you are doing a woodworking project.
Will Home Depot Cut Wood For You?
Yes, Home Depot can cut your wood for you.
If you have purchased your wood in the store, Home Depot will typically cut your wood for free if it is just a few cuts.
How many free cuts they will make depends on the location.
If you want to be absolutely sure of your Home Depot’s wood cutting policy, call your local store before heading over.
Each location can vary slightly in how it handles wood cutting, so it’s good to call before you make the trip.
Home Depot has the right to change its woodcutting policy at any time, so it is always good to call and double-check before you make a trip.
If you did not purchase the wood at Home Depot, then they are not obligated to cut it for you.
There are some other options for cutting your wood that we will discuss.
Does Home Depot Cut Wood To Size?
Generally, Home Depot will cut wood to size.
However, they will not cut wood below 12” for safety reasons.
How Much Does It Cost To Get Many Cuts Made?
If you need more than just a couple of cuts made on the wood that you purchased at Home Depot, it will usually cost you $0.25 past the first few cuts.
It is important to remember that Home Depot does not guarantee the size of the cuts.
Will Lowe’s Cut Wood For You?
Lowe’s used to cut wood frequently.
They would make many cuts for free.
However, it seems that their policy has since changed.
According to some customer reports, certain Lowe’s locations are no longer making “project cuts.”
Lowe’s will still typically cut wood in order to help the customer fit it into their car, but they won’t make lots of small cuts.
It seems this is location-dependent, so call your Lowe’s before you make the trip.
What Is The Cheapest Way To Cut Wood?
The cheapest way to cut wood will be to use a simple hand saw.
You can get a hand saw for as little as $10.
Cutting with a handsaw may be a little slow, but it is a good fundamental woodworking skill to develop.
Can I Rent Tools At Home Depot?
Yes, you can rent tools at Home Depot.
If you are working on a one-time project that requires tools, a rental can be a good option.
The price of the tool is going to depend on how long you need it and what type of tool it is.
Where Can I Borrow Tools?
You might not have to rent tools depending on the city you are in.
An increasing number of cities are putting together “tool libraries” to help people borrow tools for their projects.
It’s just like a book library, but for tools!
One example of this is the Chicago Tool Library.
Just like a normal library, you have to have a library card to check tools out.
The annual library fee is on a “pay what you can” basis.
This means it is a much cheaper option than renting tools from your local Home Depot.
The best way to find a tool library is to do a Google search of “tool library” along with the name of your city.
Where Can I Rent A Workshop?
If you are working on a project that requires tools but you aren’t ready to invest in building up your own workshop, consider renting a workshop with tools.
It might seem like a difficult task to find a workshop to rent.
If you know what to search for, though, you can more easily find a workshop.
What Is A Makerspace?
The simplest definition of a makerspace is a place where you can make things.
Most makerspaces have wood shops that will have everything you need for your woodworking projects.
The cool thing about makerspaces, though, is that they are not limited to woodworking.
You can often find other types of equipment, such as 3D printers or sewing machines.
If you are exploring a new hobby, a makerspace might be a great way to try it out before investing money in new tools.
Should I Buy My Own Tools?
Do you feel like it might make sense to buy your own tools?
Here are a few things to consider.
1. Is It Your First Project?
If it is your first project, it’s probably best to just use Home Depot to cut your wood or a tool rental service.
If you aren’t sure whether you will continue with your DIY hobby, it’s better just to rent.
After you have done a few projects and know for sure that you plan to continue woodworking, then you can invest in a saw of your own.
2. How Often Do You Use Your Tools?
If you find yourself borrowing or renting tools often, it might make more sense to buy your own.
You do want to make sure that you are using the same tools.
If you use tools often, but it is a different tool each time, it will probably still make more sense to rent them.
3. How Much Have You Spent On Tool Rental?
This is a pretty straightforward cost-analysis approach.
If you have spent more on renting tools than the tool costs themselves, it might be time to buy them.
The exception to this is if you just rented the tools for very specific projects.
4. Do You Have Friends You Can Borrow Tools From?
Borrowing tools can actually be a great way to bond with your neighbors.
You might ask around the neighborhood if anyone has a saw.
Perhaps you can offer to lend something in exchange.
If you have someone in your neighborhood who has a passion for woodworking, you might be able to get them to cut your wood for you.
You could even offer to pay them a small amount.
How To Cut Wood
If you are going to cut your wood by yourself, you are going to want to make sure you do it properly.
Here are some things to keep in mind when cutting wood.
1. Pick Your Saw
As we said, the cheapest tool you can get for cutting wood is a handsaw.
There are different handsaws for different jobs.
The two main types of handsaws are a crosscut saw and a rip saw.
The type of saw that is right for your cut will depend on whether you are cutting parallel to the wood grain or across the wood grain.
A. Crosscut Saw
A crosscut saw is made for cutting across the wood grain—hence the name “crosscut.”
The difference between a crosscut saw and a rip saw is in the teeth.
A crosscut saw has teeth that are angled backward.
The teeth also feature a beveled edge and are smaller than a rip saw.
This type of saw can cut on the push and pull strokes.
B. Rip Saw
A ripsaw is made for cutting parallel to the woodgrain.
The teeth on a rip saw are larger.
They aren’t beveled, and they don’t angle backward.
Rip saws cut only on the push stroke.
These are the two saws for making basic cuts, either lengthways or crossways.
What if you want to cut a small hole in your wood?
Maybe you want to cut a curvy shape into your wood.
In that case, you might want a keyhole saw or a coping saw
C. Keyhole Saw
A keyhole saw is made for cutting holes, just like the name suggests.
Its thin blade tapers down.
It has an almost knife-like appearance.
It is also good for cutting tougher materials such as drywall.
Its specialty is cutting through walls and ceilings so that you can install fixtures, electrical outlets, or pipes.
D. Coping Saw
A coping saw is what you are going to want if you are planning on cutting curves.
It has a very thin blade.
The saw is shaped like the letter D, with the blade being a straight line.
2. Measure Twice, Cut Once
This is the most fundamental rule of cutting anything for a project.
Getting your measurements right is very important.
If you cut something too short, there is no going back.
You want to avoid wasting wood, so make sure you measure twice before making your cut.
3. Mark The Cutline
You are going to want to mark the place you want to cut.
This comes hand-in-hand with measuring accurately.
Also, don’t just mark a single dot! Draw a line across the entire area where you plan to make your cut.
4. Make A Starting Cut
Unlike a table saw, a hand saw is going to require a bit of physical exertion and effort.
Making an accurate starting cut is essential to setting yourself up for success.
With a crosscut saw, you are going to want to start cutting with the teeth nearest to the handle.
Starting here will give you a good level of control.
With a ripsaw, you are going to want to start cutting using the teeth furthest away from the handle.
Make sure you get a few strokes in so that you have an opening in the wood.
5. Cut Longer, Not Shorter
Remember that line you measured twice when drawing?
You are going to want to start a little bit to the side of that line.
Make sure you are starting on the “waste” side—the side of wood you don’t plan to use in your project.
It is always better to have wood that is too long because you can always cut off more or sand it down.
If you cut your wood too short, though, you are going to have to start all over.
Your wood will be wasted!
6. Get Your Angle Right
The angle at which you want to cut is going to depend on the saw you are using.
If you are using a crosscut saw, you should be cutting at a 45-degree angle.
If you are using a ripsaw, you should be cutting at a 60-degree angle.
7. Cutting Form
Your form is important when cutting wood.
You want to keep your elbows close to your body.
This will provide you with more control and a better final product.
8. Hold The Saw Properly
When you are holding the saw, you want to make sure to grip the handle firmly.
Your fingers should all be wrapped around the handle except for your pointer finger.
Extend your pointer finger along the handle to provide more stability.
9. Long Strokes
After you get the cut going, you are going to want to use long strokes to cut the wood.
Long strokes spread the wear across the entirety of the blade.
Short strokes focus the wear on one section, which isn’t good for the saw in the long term.
10. Use A Guide
If you are trying to make a straight cut, it might be a good idea to use another piece of wood as a guide.
You can do this by taking a 2 x 4 and clamping in along the pencil line you drew for your cut.
11. If You Get Off Course…
If your blade starts moving in the wrong direction, you are going to want to stop sawing.
Take your blade back to the point where you veered off course and resume cutting at your guideline.
12. Store Your Saw Properly
If you do invest in a saw so you can make your own cuts, you are going to want to store it properly.
Placing the saw in a sheath can help protect it from wear and tear when you put it in your toolbox.
You should keep it in your toolbox, and keep your toolbox somewhere it won’t be exposed to adverse weather.
This could be in your garage or your house.
Keeping your saw dry will prevent rusting.
Why You Should Cut Your Own Wood
There is no shame in having someone else cut your wood, especially if it is just for a one-time project.
However, if you are planning on continuing with your woodworking journey, cutting wood is one of the best, most fundamental skills you can have.
You will use it in every woodworking project.
As much as you might want a fancy table saw, it might be worth it to learn the handsaw first.
Not is it more affordable, but this is also one of those basic woodworking skills that you can use in every project.
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