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Homemade Relief Cutting Gauge

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image 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

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 2½° 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 first pair of cuts for 2½° 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 2½° pieces almost come through, while the 5½° 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.


  • ¾" x 2¼" - 7" long piece of pine
  • #5 skip tooth blade or blade of choice
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Author info
John A. Nelson
John Nelson is a retired industrial arts educator and the author of The Complete Guide to Making Wooden Clocks and Scroll Saw Workbook. He is considered an expert among scroll saw enthusiasts and is a frequent contributor to Scroll Saw Workshop. He lives in Dublin, New Hampshire. more