So I was just watching Holmes on Homes, and they were showing a quick close-up of cutting a 2x4, making two passes, cutting the top half first, then finishing it off:

cut in two passes

I've never seen (or at least noticed) anyone do it this way before, nor can I find any info on it. I usually just cut straight down, or go across the whole board in one pass. Is there some benefit to doing it this way? What's the "proper" way to cut through dimensional lumber?

  • 1
    I've never seen it, but my guess is that it's done to keep the speed up, which means each tooth takes less wood, which makes a smoother cut.
    – pboin
    Jul 13, 2011 at 11:26
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    It's possible that he got used to cutting engineered lumber (which they tend to use quite a bit in Canada), and now out of habit cuts all his lumber that way.
    – Tester101
    Jul 13, 2011 at 11:57
  • There is no difference. I agree with @Tester101 its just habit. eg. I start sawing back to front. Other directly in the middle. soom from the edge. If the wood is 'soft' it will go through like butter.. if not.. well you know you gotta try different angles then
    – Piotr Kula
    Jul 13, 2011 at 12:14
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    @gregmac, unless Holmes gives an explanation somewhere else in the show, I would say it's just being done for show (TV), especially when cutting softwood (framing timber). I could see some benefit to the technique when cutting hardwood (reduce the chance of wood-burn & tear-out).
    – Mike Perry
    Jul 13, 2011 at 15:26

2 Answers 2


I watched the vid on Utube, very interesting. I don't use a slide chop saw for 2X4's (I use a 12" fixed) but that technique looks good to me. I think the reason is that taking two shallow passes is just as fast and doesn't load down the saw as much as a single pass. Since the angle of contact using a slide saw is much different than a fixed I can see why the double pass is effective. Leave it to Mike Holmes to find a better way to do most anything!

  • How does two passes load the saw less than one? Isn't the same rough area of teeth-to-wood contact the same?
    – DA01
    Jan 21, 2015 at 1:15

One simple answer: tearout. As the blade leaves the wood, if it traveling along the length of the wood it leaves a nicer cut. Score it first then make your main cut

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