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When it came to my new kitchen, there were two cuts that my uncle and I worried about:  the 45 degree angled corner and the hole for the sink. Today, we’ll just cover the easier of the two (at least for us): the L-shaped corner that joined two pieces of my new walnut butcher block countertops together.

The tip we received from Lumber Liquidators (my amazing supplier for my walnut counters) was to chalk the 45 degree line, cut halfway with a circular saw, flip it over, and cut the other half of the line. While this sounded plausible, my uncle wasn’t convinced. He wanted to test things out on both sides with a few test cuts instead, so see which of the two gave the smoothest line. And I am certainly not going to argue with the recommendation for caution when I’ve got hundreds of dollars on the line.

So that’s exactly what we did. There are several things to keep in mind when you attempt such a cut, so I’ll go over each of those below:

I rarely have the highest quality tools. If you’re worried about this playing a role in an important cut like this, save yourself a little worry and rent a higher-end brand for the day. Mine was a less expensive brand that I got on sale, and it worked just fine, but this little tip will be something I’ll repeat when I talk about the sink hole cut (hey, I mentioned this was a long story of ups and downs, didn’t I?).

how to cut angled countertop

Regardless of the circular saw you use, it’s a good idea to purchase a new blade. My saw was actually new out of the box, which meant the blade was too, so we didn’t have to do this.

how to cut angled countertop

Use a test cut to make sure the angle of the saw is perfectly straight up and down when it cuts into the wood. After our first cut, we butted the scrap block (the chunk cut off during the cut) to a square, and saw the angle ever so slightly turning outward. This will not work well when it comes time to join the two cuts together, since you want them to create a perfect seam. So in our case, we had to adjust the blade a teeny bit. See how the “0” mark is dead center in the photo above, but in the photo below, it’s all the way at the bottom of the groove on the right side? Like a said – the tiniest adjustment.

You’ll want a guide to assist your cut as well and clamp it down. We bought a metal straight edge that extends to 8 feet, but the original 4 feet is all we needed (pictured at the top and bottom of this post).

After the first cut, we saw that the top side showed a little splintering, while the bottom showed none. Therefore, we knew that the way to keep the splintering isolated to the bottom was to cut the “real” cut from the underside of the countertop (basically, upside down).

how to cut angled countertop

And then we all took a very big deep breath and made the actual cut. We knew that we wouldn’t need the entire twelve feet of butcher block, so it was at least reassuring to know that if something went wrong in all of our prior testing, and the cut still wasn’t right, we could do another pass and still have the length required. We also had a second, uncut length of butcher block, so we had a couple of chances to really get it right.

how to cut angled countertop

Well, looky there – it worked! Of course, we have to make this cut twice (to match the other half of the L-shape counter), but halfway there is a very good sign.

How we joined things together will be a completely different post (it involves different tools), but be on the lookout for that one soon!

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  1. Yikes, talk about nerve-wracking! It’s excellent advice to get a new blade. None of our tools are top of the line, but the blade can make all the difference. Looking forward to seeing it all come together.

  2. I bet this was a very nerve-wracking process with no room for error. If you mess up, there’s a good chance you ruined your counter. Glad it came out well.

  3. experts say to ‘stack’ the counters before cutting. when you cut two together the cut will be a perfect match. (Remember to position the pieces to make sure they are aiming the correct direction.)

    1. Excellent tip – in all my research I hadn’t seen this technique used! Not even LL suggested it. But I’ll have to remember that for any angled cuts like this. Thanks!

    2. I’m guessing the BB is 1-1/2″ thick and your circ. saw doesn’t cut 3″ deep so that wouldn’t work.

  4. This is such a great walk-through, thank you for sharing! I’m just about to jump into this process as I have added on a kitchenette to my basement. Wall and base cabinets are installed, now for the countertop.

    When are we going to get to hear how you adjoined the two cut pieces at the corner? Do you know do you know do you know?

    1. The gist is that we routed two notches on the bottom to fit something called “miter bolts” specifically made to join countertops. The notches are done to keep the bolts flush with the rest of the wood; insert them and just keep turning until you get a tight fit. We already had them thanks to the previous countertop, so we just removed them from there and put them back in. I’ll have to write a post with much more detail soon (thanks for the reminder!), but those are the basics, so I hope that helps!

  5. Thanks for the tips! I just got some butcher block countertops this weekend and am really nervous about making the 45 degree cuts. I did pick up a new circular saw blade .. a few things I read elsewhere said 60 tooth was recommended. Do you have any pics of the miter bolts? Did you use glue or biscuits at the joint?

    1. We used a little bit of glue (I think, I was running in and out of the house on my way to school at the time), but mostly it was the miter bolts that kept the hold together. No biscuits, just routing out the slots for the miter bolts. You can see more details of the process in this related post.

  6. Those kinds of cuts are stressful business! Your technique worked great — nice work — and here is another for anyone who would like to take advantage of my mistakes. I now do these kinds of cuts in two steps, with two tools. First, I use a circular saw as you describe, except that I (1) leave the “keep” side of the piece about 1/8 inch long, and (2) cut all the way through in the first pass. Then I use a straight-edge as a guide (like you do above) with a router and a straight bit to trim the last 1/8 inch or so. The router leaves zero tear-out, and taking the last 1/8 inch off in a second step gives me plenty of time to worry and measure and re-measure before taking the final plunge. I particularly like this for 45 degree angles, like in your post, because when you butt the two pieces you (usually) want the corners perfectly crisp so that the pieces will sit perfectly flush. “Crisp” is what a router is best at.

    Just to be clear, no one way is best! I’m just throwing another one out there. Your countertops look great!