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Homemade Relief Cutting Gauge

A simple project, this gauge will tell you at a glance what angle to set your table at.

Practice your relief cutting skills while making a useful shop tool

By John Nelson

Relief cutting is a great way to add depth to a project —but it is some-times tough to know what angle to set your table and what direction to cut.

All saws cut differently, so when a pat-tern tells you to cut at a specific angle, that angle may not be the correct one for you. Using a different blade than the author will also change the angle. With this gauge, you can tell at a glance what angle to set your table at based on your saw and blade choice.

Step 1: Make a copy of the pattern below and attach it to a knot-free piece of pine or similar wood.

Step 2: Set the saw table at a 21⁄2° angle, left side down. (If you have a saw that doesn’t tip to the left, tilt your table to the right, but cut in the opposite direction of the arrows on all projects.)

Step 3: Carefully, make the fi rst pair of cuts for 21⁄2° angle where indicated on the pattern. Save and mark all the pieces and keep in order for further use.

Step 4: Follow the same procedure for the remaining cutouts, changing the saw table angle for each pair of cuts.

Step 5: Re-position all of the pieces and push or pull them until they are snug. You will find the 21⁄2° pieces almost come through, while the 51⁄2° pieces project in or out very little.


Table Tilt
Cut Direction
Left Down
Recessed or In
Protruded or Out
Right Down
Protruded or Out
Recessed or In



Step 6: From the back, glue the eight cut-out pieces in place. Keep this tester handy for easy reference on various relief cutting projects. Experiment with different blade sizes and label each cutting gauge with the blade used.


• 3⁄4" x 21⁄4" - 7" long piece of pine

• #5 skip tooth blade or blade of choice

Homemade Relief Cutting Gauge

Downloadable Patterns
To view the downloadable patterns you will need the FREE Acrobat Reader from Adobe Systems. To download it now click the Acrobat Reader logo below. To download files, right click the link and click on "save target as..."



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