I used a drop-saw to create these slots:

enter image description here

Due to the circular blade, it's obviously left a bit of the wood in place, more easily seen here:

enter image description here

My question is how can I clean up these slots? I've considered filing, of course, and I'd be happy to buy a file that fits if that's the best option. But there's a lot of wood there and I think filing would take a long time.

I also thought of chiseling. Again, I don't have a chisel that fits, but am happy to purchase. However, I can't see how it would actually work. Sure, I could chisel the sides of the slot, but then how would I actually knock the bit of wood out? I'd need a tiny chisel to fit the slot - 5mm or less.

Are there other options?

  • do multiple cuts using the drop saw
    – jsotola
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 4:44

5 Answers 5


Use a hand saw on either side to take the sides all the way down to full depth, then a chisel to remove what's left between the two saw cuts.

  • 1
    Exactly what I was going to propose.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 13:05
  • 2
    To chisel it out, lay the board flat with the waste side up. Set the edge of the chisel on the line where you want the slot to end i.e. from the one handsaw kerf to the other. Press down to make a mark. Check your line. Place the chisel back in the line with the bevel towards the slot. Then with a mallet, a deadblow hammer, or side of a claw hammer, tap the chisel. The grain should split easily and the extra bit of waste will pop out.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 15:27

A handsaw or jigsaw does the job, but it usually results in visibly less sharp final cuts. It's very difficult to keep perfectly parallel, and you usually have more tearout with those saws.

I'll often simply raise the blade back up partway and tilt the front of the workpiece upward to square it with the cutting arc of the blade. It'll help to have a cut mark on the underside of the piece as well.

Move slowly, alternately watching the upper and lower faces of the board to check cut depth. Adjust blade height and board angle incrementally until the right combination is found.

Brace the workpiece against the fence or use a jig block to prevent it from shifting sideways. Keep the blade spinning at full speed while it's engaged with the workpiece to prevent grab, saw jump, and tearout.

  • 1
    I've used this method, and many miter saws have a settable stop so the blade doesn't go too deep if you're worried about that.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 15:37
  • 1
    If you wanted to make that whole thing a notch, cut a bunch more slits, bonk 'em out with a hammer, and then use your technique but move it back and forth too. Keep it against the fence and your hands free of where they would collide with the saw when it binds.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 15:40

If you do this with a hand saw use one that has the teeth of the blade sharpened flat instead of angled out with set like a typical hand saw. This will lead to a smoother cut that remains even with the sides of the slot.

Saw with set in teeth:

enter image description here

(Picture Source: http://workshopcompanion.com/KnowHow/Tools/Sharpening/8_Sharpening_Hand_Saws/8_Sharpening_Hand_Saws.htm)

** Saw with no set in teeth:**

enter image description here

(Picture Source: http://www.blackburntools.com/articles/saw-tooth-geometry/index.html)

  • Welcome to DIY.SE! Can you add something that demonstrates or illustrates your answer?
    – Machavity
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 1:18

If you haven't already- adjust the blade to full depth, this will make an almost vertical cut. Make the cut from both sides to your line. There should be a very small point of wood in the slot which you can clean up with a file or coarse sandpaper wrapped around a ruler.


There are small circular saws which could used to remove high spots on the sides of the slots. One of these could also remove more material.

But before buying one of those, I would try coarse sandpaper wrapped around a piece of wood that just fits into the slot. Either that or a rasp (the name for a wood file).

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