Notching For Legs with a Circular Saw

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Often a furniture project calls for cutting a notch out of a panel to wrap around another item for a custom fitted appearance. Case in point: a tabletop that is notched around the legs to showcase the top of the legs for a point of interest. It can be difficult to establish these short cut lines so that they are straight and meet with a uniform intersection. If you overlap the cuts on the top it can look amateurish. If the cuts are not straight, this also screams “handmade by someone who didn’t care”.

There are a few ways that you might consider tackling this. Perhaps you want to give it a go on a table saw. Making a precision cut like this on a large piece using a table saw can be very challenging, and unless you have a huge saw, you would likely have to flip the piece over for one of the cuts which makes it impossible to see where you cut is ending because the shape of the circular blade creates an angled cut in the workpiece.

Hand tools might be an option if you have the skill and the patience to execute this with precision on all corners of the table. A hand-held jigsaw might also be an option, but it can be difficult to establish the crisp, precise cut that such a visible area of a project requires.

George recently faced this situation and came up with an approach that worked great:

Start with a circular saw: establish the straight lines using a speed square or a circular saw guide.

Finish with a hand saw: make the remaining cut using a hand saw to give it a clean and professional appearance.

Once you’ve mastered this skill you’ll surely find opportunities to apply it.