February 18, 2023

How to figure angles for cutting wood


To figure out angles for cutting wood, use miter angles. A miter saw cuts most angles with ease. However, there are more options in figuring out how to measure an angle and cut the wood for your project. Accurately measure and cut angles when working with wood. You can also use a calculator for the correct corner angles to cut for shapes with equal sides. This article gives you more tips on measuring your wood piece. 

Types of angles used in woodworking

Acute angle

An acute angle measures less than 90 degrees. To cut an acute angle means cutting an angle that miter saws can not give you without assistance. Do not hold the piece to be cut perpendicular to the saw’s fence and freehand this cut. Make an acute angle cutting jig and keep it with your saw.

Obtuse angle 

The obtuse angle measures more than 90 degrees. The obtuse angle is between the two parts greater than ninety degrees and less than one hundred and eighty degrees. Use a miter saw to cut at an acute angle, it will cut at an obtuse angle by default.

Right angle

Cut a 45-degree angle in a piece of trim with a miter saw. Turn the angle gauge clockwise to the left-hand 45-degree angle setting. Position the trim to the right of the saw. Cut through the trim to create the corner angle.

Tools and materials for measuring and marking angles

Carpenter’s Square

It is an L-shaped tool that marks and measures right angles when framing walls, rafters, and floors. This tool has sides of varying lengths when you are looking at it. The lengths are 24 by 18, 24 by 16, or 12 by 8 inches.

The sides of the tool meet at a precise right angle, allowing the carpenters to hold it to surfaces like walls and gauge the angle where they intersect. A carpenter’s square has a scale of measurements on one side of the scale in inches or centimeters. Its price ranges from 10 to 30. The plastic is more affordable, whereas the stainless-steel square is less affordable. 

Rafter Square

The rafter square is a metal, right triangle with perpendicular angles that intersect at a 90-degree angle. It has the remaining side forming a 45-degree angle. One of the rafter’s square edges has a lip that catches on the edge of a board. 

It enables a carpenter to measure a right angle across the board face. Rafter square is available in metal and plastic ranging from 7, 10, 12-inch. The price of a rafter square ranges from below 10 to over 20. It brings accurate measurements of the cabinets, boxes, and walls.


Use a calculator for the correct corner angles to cut for shapes with equal sides. The formula involves dividing 360 by the number of sides to get the corner angle. Divide it by two to get the miter angle. 

For a five-sided project with equal sides, divide 360 by five to get 72 degrees. Each joint or corner forms a 72-degree angle. Then divide that by two to get the miter angle for each piece, to form the 72-degree angle. Since 72 divided by two is 36, each piece has a 36-degree miter cut.

Combination square 

The combination square measures and checks both right and 45-degree angles. It is a straight-edged ruler featuring a precision-machined measuring head connected to a channel routed across the center of the ruler’s length. The head slides up and down the channel and can be tightened with the thumb screw to make it static. 

In a static position, the head forms a right angle to the ruler on one side and a 45-degree angle to the ruler on the other side. Combination squares are for rough and finished carpentry. The cost ranges between 15 and 30 depending on quality. If you cannot use it, hire experts to get your work done effectively.

Steps for measuring and marking angles

  1. Use a standard protractor to find the angle set by your sliding bevel. Place the bevel onto a flat surface with the stock at the base. That gives stability to your workpiece. Place the flat edge of your protractor on top of the stock of your bevel and slide it along until the center point of the protractor, so the blade starts to angle upwards. Look up and along the saw blade of the bevel and the scale on the protractor, and at the point, the blade stops over a scale marking.
  2. When using a protractor, line up the vertex of the angle with the dot at the center of the protractor.
  3. Line up one side of the angle with 0 degrees on the protractor.
  4. Read the protractor to see where the other side of the angle crosses the number scale. Most protractors have two number scales, so use the same number scale for both sides of the saw angle. Use a protractor to determine the saw angle, a combination square or bevel gauge to transfer the saw angle to the wood, and use a marking knife to mark the saw angle.

Tips for cutting angles accurately

  • Use a sharp blade.
  • Clamp the wood securely.
  • Follow the marked line.
  • Always keep the tape straight.

Advanced techniques for cutting angles

  • Use a chart instead of the measurement printed on the miter saw.
  • Use a jig or sled to guide the saw.
  • Use a bandsaw or coping saw for more intricate cuts.
  • Use a grinder for lightworking.
  • Your accessories should match your needs.

Examples of angled cuts in woodworking projects

  • Provide some examples of angled cuts used in woodworking projects, including photos or videos, to inspire and demonstrate the creative possibilities of angled cuts.

Bevel angle

Both a bevel and a mitre are types of angled cuts. They are easy to make without a compound mitre saw. Bevels and mitres are easy to cut with the humble circular saw. 


Right angle

Use a compound miter saw to install trim. The regular right angle is the 45 ° angle. Install the trim around doors and windows. The vertical and horizontal casing makes a square 90 °. The right angle works at the intersection of wall studs, wall plates, posts, beams, floors, and walls. The right angle is holding a prominent position to measure 90-degree angles instantly and accurately.


In conclusion, different angles in woodwork are for specific projects. Pick your angles to suit your projects. Master the skills of measuring and cutting angles. Follow the tips mentioned before and seek professional help or advice if you have any doubts or difficulties.

David D. Hughes

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