So you want to get started working with wood, that is a good thing because there is plenty to go around. I see people in my neighborhood tossing wood out by the dumpster all the time. Since Rustic Grain up-cycles the wood we use; this is the resource I recommend, reclaimed lumber. Why? Well the answer is straightforward. You are just starting out; let’s face it everything costs money. If the lumber you find is in good condition, decently straight and not too full of holes; why not use it?

If not for any other reason than this; its to practice on. Yes, that is right, practice. This is where you are going to get started learning to mark a line and then make a cut. Sound pretty simple huh? Well, first thing you need to understand is what that line is telling you. Did you make the mark with one of those big fat pencils from the big box store? Maybe you are using a mechanical pencil with .07 lead. Did you jump the gun and buy one of those $10 marking knives?

The thing is, that line will have different width depending on what you made it with. The wider the line the grater margin for error you might have. With the fat marks are you cutting to the left, right, or center on the line? The layout is where you have the first opportunity to catch a mistake. With a marking knife there is little room for error; you need to know that you are cutting on one side or the other. Since I am right-handed I generally work with the waste side of the cut to my right. That way I can hold down or catch the wood I am keeping with my left.

Measure twice and cut once starts with the line you make; understand where the cut goes. Now let’s look at what you are going to cut with. Every saw used to make a cut has what is called a kerf. That is the slit made by cutting through the wood. Knowing how wide the kerf is lets you know where you are cutting. To account for the kerf with a hand saw, or any saw for that matter, be sure to cut on the “waste” side. The reason; you are removing material from the now unused lumber and not part of a project. By checking the finished piece you can decide if the length is too long; better too long than too short. You can always take a small cut or nibble it off if need be to get the proper length.

Start with a hand saw as this tool teaches you a lot about control, body position and safety. When practicing always practice safety. Wear eye protection, make sure the work piece is secure and not sliding around while you are cutting. To get an idea of what we just talked about make three straight cuts. One the right and left of the line; with the last dead on. Measure each piece and you will get a good idea of what I am talking about.