One of the most common cuts you will make into a board is a 45-degree angle cut. There are many different saws that you can use for this task, but the miter saw is the most popular.
You can adjust the angle of the blade of a miter saw for perfect angled cuts every time. However, you might not have a miter saw in your tool kit. If you have a handsaw, it is still possible to make 45-degree angle cuts
However, unlike a miter saw, a handsaw doesn’t make the 45-degree angle measurement for you, so you’ll first need to find an accurate way to measure and mark that 45-degree angle line before you make the cut.
This article will discuss using a handsaw to make a cut on a board. However, the more important part will be how to measure that 45-degree angle line, so it’s accurate.
How to Cut a 45-Degree Angle with a Handsaw: Multiple Ways
The cutting process is more or less the same with these methods. However, these methods differ in how you measure that angle.
Using a Piece of Paper
This may sound odd, but you can use a piece of paper to measure and mark a 45-degree angle. First, take a piece of paper, such as printer paper. Then, take the top right corner and fold it down until it meets the left side of the paper.
You should be left with a triangle with a small rectangular section at the bottom. Cut off that small rectangular section. Now, you have a triangle where the longest edge is a perfect 45-degree angle from the bottom of the triangle.
If you are cutting at the edge of the board, just line up the bottom right side of the triangle with the bottom right corner and trace the long side of the triangle onto the board.
However, if you need to make your cut in the middle of a board, you will first use a T-square to mark a 90-degree vertical line that should line up perfectly with the bottom right side of that 45-degree angle cut.
You now have a perfect 45-degree angle. Hold the handsaw with your dominant hand and hold the board down with your other hand. Hold the handsaw at an angle so that the front points down at roughly a 45-degree angle, making the cut much easier. Slowly start until you have penetrated the wood, and use long and slow strokes to finish the cut.
Using a Miter Box
A miter box is the easiest way to cut a 45-degree angle with a handsaw. A miter box features a base and two walls. The two walls go on either side of a board, and they feature slots that correspond with various angles.
Line up the bottom right corner of the board with the bottom right slot that says 45 degrees if you’re cutting the board’s edge. Then, take your handsaw and make the cut.
You won’t be able to hold the hand saw at a 45-degree angle with a miter box. Instead, you’ll have to keep the blade at a perfectly horizontal angle, so making the cut is a little more complicated; it’s not impossible − it just takes a little more effort.
You’ll first have to make the appropriate measurements to determine where that 45-degree angle needs to be if you’re cutting in the middle of the board. Other than that, making the cut is exactly the same.
Trace an Already-Cut 90 Degree Angle
The easiest way to measure that 45-degree angle on a board you want to cut is by tracing another 45-degree angle you’ve already cut. Of course, you can also use any other item with a 45-degree angle. You likely have something like this laying around your woodworking shop. Hold the 45-degree angle over the board you wish to cut, and trace the line.
Use your handsaw to make the cut. Remember to hold that blade at a 45-degree angle pointed downwards and away from you.
Use a Protractor
A protractor is a small semicircular piece of transparent plastic used to measure angles up to 180 degrees.
First, determine where to make your cut, whether at the edge of the board or in the middle. If you are making the cut at the edge of the board, line up the bottom right side of the protractor, where it says zero degrees, with the corner of the board. Then, use your pencil to mark the corresponding angle according to the protractor. You can then use a flat edge to draw a perfect line along that angle.
Then, make your cut with the handsaw, just like any other cut. Point the blade down and away from you; start slow, and use long and slow strokes.
Use an Angle Finder
You can use an angle finder to cut a perfect 45-degree angle with a handsaw. These two sticks are connected by a hinge in the middle, where there’s a digital angle reader. Move the two sticks apart until the digital display reads 45 degrees.
If your cut is at the edge of the board, line up the interior corner of the angle finder with the corner. Then, mark the line with a pencil, and use your handsaw to make the cut.
If you are making the cut in the middle of a board, you’ll first need to use a T-square. Mark a 90-degree vertical line according to the outside corner of that 45-degree angle you are cutting. This vertical line needs to be where the end of the 45-degree cut will be.
Once the line has been made, line up the interior corner of your angle finder with the bottom edge of that vertical line, where the line meets the edge of the board. Use your pencil to mark the 45-degree line, and then use your handsaw to make the cut.
Using the five measuring and cutting methods discussed above, cutting a 45-degree angle on a board with a handsaw is easy.