Nine Places To Get Wood Cut For You (Free or Fee-Based)

Cutting wood for your woodwork needs expertise. You may not have any, but that is okay. There are several places where you can get wood cut for you according to your needs. So, which are these wood cutting spaces?

Most home stores and lumber yards will cut wood to your specifications if you purchase the wood from them. Places that will cut wood for you include big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes, local lumber yards, local workshops, local trade schools, high school shop classes, local maker spaces, and local tradespeople. In these places, you will find people with training in cutting wood and the equipment for the job. However, the range of expertise varies from place to place. Therefore, it would be best to ask before you purchase because not all retailers offer this service. In addition, some sources will charge a fee for this service.

  • Home Depot: Most Home Depot stores will provide a limited number of rough cuts to help you transport lumber home. For more precise cutting, many stores offer a fee-based service that will cut to your specifications. This will vary by store and time of day.
  • Lowes: Most Lowes stores provide free cutting services (within reason) with the purchase of wood. Cutting includes straight cuts and limited miter cuts. Like Home Depot, for more precise cutting, many stores offer a fee-based service that will cut to your specifications. This will vary by store and time of day.
  • Menards: Menards will cut most wood except for sheet products like plywood and OSB. The availability of free cutting services vary by location. Most stores will charge a fee per board for cutting. Fees range from $1 to $2 per cut.
  • Ace Hardware: Some Ace Hardware stores offer rough cutting to length. This service is limited and not available at all locations. Call your local Ace Hardware to inquire.
  • Local Lumber Yards: Like the Big Box Stores, local lumber yards will cut lumber to your specification if you purchase from their store. For more extensive cutting, fee-based services may be available. Some lumber yards rent equipment to allow you to cut lumber at home. For projects like sheds and playsets, pre-cut kits are available that can be cut and delivered to your home.
  • Local Wood Workshops: Local wood workshops can be utilized to cut wood to your desired speciaifactions. Simply supply the lumber and dimensions needed and the wood workshop can cut the lumber. Fees will vary based on the project. Some will make a few cuts for free.
  • Local Maker Spaces: A maker space is a community workshop filled with experts and tools. In addition, you have access to wood-cutting tools from the community space. Some charge a monthly membership fee for use of the the equipment and expertise anytime you need it.
  • Local High School Shop Classes & Trade Schools: Local high school shop classes and trade schools need projects for students to work on. Talk to the instructor and supply the specifications and students can cut your wood in exchange for experience. Some cuts may not be exact which is to be expected from ametuer woodworkers.
  • Local Carpenters: Local carpenters may be willing to visit your site and cut wood for your projects. Business cards can be found at local lumber yards or you can get a referral from friends or family.

Wood Cutting From Big Box Stores

These are stores that sell lumber and composite. They include stores like Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards.

Home Depot

Home Depot has a cutting service at the back of the stores. This section is fitted with a power saw or two that offer straight cuts only.

The number of cuts varies from store to store, with some offering as few as one or two cuts and others multiple cuts.

Cutting is done for you by an associate who is trained to handle the saws. The good news is that Home Depot saws can accommodate all sizes and types of wood.

Home Depot sells both lumber and composite, but they do not typically cut composites as a safety measure. However, they are happy to cut the wood products for you.

Lowes

Lowes also provides a cutting service. They also cut the lumber as well as project boards which they also sell at the store.

At Lowes, you will get power saws in the designated cutting service section.

With this store, you get one free cut, and the extra cuts incur a small fee. This policy keeps the line moving at the cutting service section. The store realized that project cutting (which are all the small cuts customers want) took up a lot of employee time.

An employee does all the cutting.

Menards

Menards is another home improvement store that offers customers the wood cutting service. 

However, the service is free in some stores and chargeable in others. Each store makes its policy.

Also, some stores are willing to make project cuts according to your needs, while others only offer rough cuts that allow the lumber to fit in your car.

However, Menards will not cut plywood.

That is company policy, so it applies to all Menard stores.

What To Expect With Big Box Store Cutting Services

  • The cuts may not be precise
  • The cutting services in these stores are meant to provide basic cuts that allow you to handle the wood easier or to carry it comfortably.
  • Saws have size restrictions
  • The stores mostly use table saws for rough cuts
  • They only provide straight cuts
  • The stipulated cuts are free but additional cuts may be charged at a minimum fee of $0.25, $0.50, or even $1 per cut.
  • If you are paying for some cuts, some stores will require you to pay for the cuts in advance before they cut.

Advantages Of Getting Wood Cut In A Big Box Store

  • Many people like to shop at these big home improvement centers because they offer other construction supplies in addition to lumber. That allows you to shop for all your construction supplies from one spot.
  • Big box stores offer a lot of discounts
  • There are associates available to help you with the cutting

Talk To Your Local Lumber Yards

A lumber yard is a place where all types of timber and wood-based products are sold. 

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Woodwork enthusiasts consider it the best place to visit if you want your wood cuts customized to meet your needs.

Not only will you buy high-quality lumber, but the staff can help you achieve the best cuts for whatever project you are working on.

There are all types of lumber to choose from, which broadens your options.

With the years of expertise of most lumber yard workers, you will get excellent advice on even better options for your project. And you are allowed to dig around as much as you want.

Some of the blades you can expect to see at the lumber yard include:

Band Saw:

These are saws with blades that make exact cuts on large logs. A band saw comes with two (or more) rotating wheels fitted to one continuous metal band. The cuts from this saw are better than those of a typical circular saw because they are more precise.

Chain Saw:

The chainsaw is suitable for cutting all types of wood, from soft to hardwood. It is a must-have in a lumber yard. It is useful in making rough and basic cuts because it offers brute cutting power. 

At the lumber yard, you will rarely find the crew using chainsaws for accurate cuts.

Gangsaw:

This saw is used to make multiple cuts at the same time. For example, it is used together with a conveyor belt to cut through logs and create several planks.

A gang saw is also known as a head saw, frame saw, or head rig. The first saw was used on logs to turn them into manageable planks used in everyday applications.

Circular Saw:

The circular saw cuts large pieces of wood into straight and angled cuts. They are typically used at the lumber yard to create angles like 45 and 90 degrees for cuts needed in large infrastructural and construction work.

In expert hands like those found in a lumber yard, this saw can create bevel cuts.

These are cuts with a horizontal or vertical slope that allow them to join into other blocks with better precision.

However, for the most part, the circular saw in the lumber yard is used for cutting the long, thin boards of plywood. It does the job better than the table saw.

Table Saw:

This saw is the centerpiece of any lumber yard. It can cut lumber into manageable sizes fast, efficiently, and safely.

The table saw is excellent for ripping, which is cutting the wood to width. Other saws easily get jammed performing this cut.

It is also widely appreciated for doing an excellent job with bevel cuts, creating grooves, and cutting joints.

Planer:

After cutting your wood at the lumber yard, they will use a planer to even the thickness of the planks as needed. A planer is essential for rough cuts as it makes it easier to work with the pieces by smoothing the lumber.

This machine can also be used to reduce the thickness of the plank during the smoothening process.

Edger:

The edger is another piece of helpful equipment after cutting that is accessible at the lumber yard. It is used to straighten bowed cuts and smoothen rough lumber after the cutting process is done.

Some local lumber yards will rent tools for you to use at home. These tools can be used for a designated time and require a refundable deposit which is returned upon the return of the tools, less the rental fees.

What To Expect At The Lumber Yard

  • As many cuts as you need on your wood
  • A better selection of wood and guaranteed high-quality lumber
  • More equipment to work with to achieve the customization you need on your cuts
  • One standard charge on the services provided
  • They have excellent referrals for other services you may need like staining wood or 
  • incorporating some art into your wood pieces.
  • They may have a better vision of your end goal because of their expertise

Advantages Of Getting Wood Cut In A Lumber Yard

  • You get the help of experts in wood cutting
  • Some lumber yards allow customers to bring their own lumber and charge just for the cutting. 
  • However, the wood must meet the yard’s standards and be cut according to in-house policy.
  • You can get all types of cuts from straight to curved and angled.

Consider The Local Workshop

Although the local workshop may not have as much equipment as the lumber yard, they may offer basic cutting services.

However, the local workshop may be a great option to turn to when you need to refine those basic cuts you got at the big box stores like Home Depot, Menards, and Lowes.

You will probably find a table saw in the workshop and a person who knows how to use it effectively. They can refine the rough cuts on your wood and create angled cuts or bevels.

The best part is that the local workshop doesn’t typically have as much traffic as home improvement stores and lumberyards. That means the person working on your cuts can dedicate some time to make them perfect and precise.

Cutting equipment that you will find at the workshop include

A Miter Saw

A miter saw is a specialized saw that creates all types of angled cuts. A miter saw features a blade that is mounted on a movable arm. The swing arm allows the blade to move into different angles for the best-angled cuts.

Miter saws are common in workshops because these spaces cater to very creative demands.

If the workshop cannot afford a miter saw, they will invest in a circular saw.

A Circular Saw:

It functions almost the same way as the miter, but the cut's precision is not the same. Circular saws are a cheaper alternative, and they are handheld, making them a more manual option.

They also offer angled cuts as well as straight cuts.

A Table Saw:

The table saw is a staple that is used in all types of cuts in the workshop. A table saw plus either a miter or circular saw is enough for a local workshop's needs.

A Belt Sander:

The belt sander is useful for leveling rough surfaces from the basic cuts. So, the wood gets a nice finish making it ready for the final fit into your project.

What To Expect With The Local Workshop

  • Basic wood cutting equipment
  • More precise cuts and attention to detail
  • Less traffic at the workshop so you can share your vision and get the right cuts for your projects
  • The expertise of the staff at the workshop

Advantages Of Getting Wood Cut In A Workshop

  • You can get multiple cuts
  • You have a great space to achieve cuts that you may not be able to get from somewhere else

Try The Neighborhood Makerspace

A maker space is a community workshop filled with experts and tools. In addition, you have access to wood-cutting tools from the community space.

However, the equipment is usually not enough for all the needs of the users in the space.

Also, the quality of the equipment may be compromised from the use by beginners who may not handle it correctly.

But you have to be a member to go to the maker space for your wood to be cut. If you know a member, you may also use their membership to

You are likely to find basic saws like a table or a circular saw.

You may not be able to get the precise cuts. But at least you can get the rough cuts that allow you to handle the wood at home.

What To Expect At The Maker Space

  • A lot of traffic using the limited equipment
  • Very basic cuts
  • You may not have someone to consult about the cuts before you do them
  • You have to do the cuts yourself (you may be helped by a seasoned member of the community)
  • There is a monthly fee for maintaining the space
  • Some of the equipment may not be well maintained posing a hazard during use

Advantages Of Getting Wood Cut In A Maker Space

  • You have access to the equipment when you need it
  • If you know how to do the cuts you don’t have to wait for assistance
  • It is an excellent place to cut wood if you live in an urban area

Local High School Shop Classes or Trade Schools

Local high school shop classes and trade schools offer cutting services in exchange for student experience. An instructor supervises students. However, cuts may not be perfect, and if clean cuts are crucial, this may not be the best option.

Cutting tools may be limited to table saws and circular saws, depending on the class.

Like a Maker Space, the equipment may not suit all the needs, and the quality of the equipment may be compromised from the use by beginners who may not handle it correctly.

You should not expect precision cuts from students, but at least you can get the rough cuts that allow you to handle the wood at home.

What To Expect At The Local Shop Classes and Trade Schools

  • A lot of traffic using the limited equipment
  • Very basic cuts
  • You may not have someone with experience doing the cuts
  • Some of the equipment may not be well maintained providing uneven cuts

Local Carpenters

Local carpenters are an excellent option for cutting wood for your project. Many carpenters have the necessary tools and experience to cut wood precisely to your specifications. All you'll need is the exact measurements and the materials.

For instance, if you've purchased an online blueprint for a storage building, swing, pergola, etc., these will likely come with a detailed list of lengths for materials and assembly instructions. Then, all you'll need is the wood and the means for making the cuts.

A local carpenter can make the cuts for you, and you can handle the assembly.

A good place to locate a carpenter is at a local lumber yard. Many carpenters will have their business cards pinned to a bulletin board or in a card rack at the front register. You can also ask your friends and family for a referral.

Conclusion

You can buy wood on-site at the lumber yard and home improvement stores and get it cut for you. But the lumber yard goes that extra mile with the cuts and offers the added advantage of expertise in woodwork.

The maker space and the workshop also offer cutting services, but you purchase the lumber elsewhere and take it to these spaces for cutting.

Out of the seven places mentioned above, you may get the most value for money at the lumber yard. That is because you have access to a wide array of lumber choices of the highest quality. 

Also, there is more variety in cutting equipment and staff that have expertise in woodcuts and woodwork.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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