The 10 most common woodworking mistakes beginners make
Let’s say you need to cut three lengths of 1×4 material, each 100cm long. By happy coincidence you have a 300cm stick of 1×4, so you quickly measure and mark two lines, and then make your cuts. But when you go to use the pieces for your project, you find that two of the pieces are too short. The reason is because you forgot to factor in the kerf, or thickness of the saw cut.
The kerf is determined by the width of the blade (usually 3mm) but also the wobble in the cut, and the size of any material torn out by the blade. It’s the reason that you have to give a little extra thought to planning your cuts. Happily there’s an easy solution to stay ahead of this common mistake. Always measure and mark each cut. (You can use a tape measure, or speed up multiple identical cuts by using a pattern stick or stop block.)
If you want even more precision, here’s a great tip to allow you to see exactly how much of the stock board the kerf will consume. Begin by making a partial cut into a scrap piece of lumber. This will leave a shallow channel in the surface of the material. Then trim the lead of your carpenter’s pencil until it precisely fits the width of that channel. Now with every mark you’ll see the exact width of the kerf before you make your cut.