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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
Clockwise
Counter-clockwise
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.

Materials:

  • ¾" x 2¼" - 7" long piece of pine
  • #5 skip tooth blade or blade of choice
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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