I need to cut a header down on an angle to match my stairs. It needs to be cut on a 51° angle, which my circular saw can handle, but there isn't enough clearance under the joists to get my saw in there.
header from the front
header from the end

What kind of tool should I use to cut this? I have marked lines on the front and back, and I'm considering using a reciprocating saw and just trying to hold it steady. Is there a better way?

Easiest would have been to cut it before placing, but I really had to whack that thing to get it in and regardless it's in place now.


I just used a hand plane and started going to town. It worked surprisingly well. planed header

  • 1
    How important is it that the angle matches? You could just cut it close with the reciprocating saw, then put another piece in perpendicular to the angle if you need a flush surface to screw into.
    – Drew
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 18:42
  • That's a good idea. I need it to be flush with the stair stringers so the drywall will fit easily. I can add blocking to screw into. Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 18:44

3 Answers 3


If you can get a rough cut with a Recopicating saw, you can use a handheld power planer to finish the cut and get the right angle. Just attach a scrap piece, cut at the correct angle, to the planer fence.

  • I really like this idea. I'm unsure how I would attach wood to the planer fence. I just can't picture how that would work. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 6:14
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    I thought power hand planer, too. I'd skip the recipro saw, though, and just plane it from the start. By practicing a bit with the planer, and keeping a stable, consistent body position, you'll get a clean result without an angle jig, using the stair stringer as a guide. When I have to plane a substantial depth I alternate directions--the start and the finish often result in different cut depths for various reasons.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 14:03
  • So I ended up just using a hand planer to do the whole thing. It worked well. Thanks! Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 1:12

[planer fence 1][1]You will have to get creative with the fence. I have added a few pics to help. You will want to use a much shorter piece to ride along the flat part of the header and you will have a little part on the ends that will need to be finished by hand. The pics were done very quickly and are just to give you the idea.enter image description here


A handsaw will do the job and is the cheapest tool that will if you need to buy something for this. A sharp ripsaw would be best - the coarser side of the low-end pull saws is probably the easiest way to find one of those in the current market.

image from Stanley - double-sided pull saw

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