Can You Cut a 4×4 With a 10 Inch Table Saw? (6 Solutions)

Last Updated on August 3, 2023 by Web Operator

In general, a 4×4 cannot be cut using a 10″ table saw. However, alternative methods such as using a different technique with the table saw, a circular saw, reciprocating saw, or even a hand saw can achieve the desired cut.

10 inch table saw blade

Let me look at a table saw, for example. It comes with a maximum cutting depth, and there’s just no way of ever going beyond that depth. That means you need to be aware of this limitation before you get some wood out and think it’s going to quickly slice through without any problems. 

But here’s something I want you to remember.

There will always be a workable solution that allows you to get around a problem before it becomes too complicated, and that’s what I’m going to demonstrate here.

In this instance, I’m going to focus on a very particular problem, but the lessons you can learn from the solutions and how to get around the issue will help you in other areas.

So, what’s the question, or the problem, that we have to contend with?

Well, it’s a simple one really. Can a 10-inch table saw cut through a 4×4?

Can You Cut a 4×4? The Answer

measuring wood for cutting

The short answer to this question is a clear no, and let me explain why, and you will immediately understand why this blade will just fall short of your needs. 

A 10-inch blade on a table saw has a maximum cutting depth of 3 ⅛”, and that means it falls short of cutting through a 4×4 with just a single pass. But here is one thing people don’t automatically realize, and it’s the proper dimensions of a 4×4.

People think a 4×4 must measure in at 4” by 4”, but that’s not the case. Instead, the outer dimensions here are more like 3 ½” by 3 ½”. However, that’s still different from the 3 ⅛” that you get from a 10” blade.

So, as you can see, the blade would cut the majority of a 4×4, but there would be a section at the top of the wood that remained untouched, and that’s the problem area. A blade of that size is just incapable of fully cutting through the wood even though people automatically assume it must have that ability thanks to the sheer size of the blade. 

That small section will quickly annoy you, and for a good reason. It’s as if the tool is just falling short of what you need, and you are then left wondering what to do in order to complete the job.

So, I do have six solutions, and while several of them encounter the same issue as a table saw, it does give you an idea of what’s possible if you do not own a table saw in the first place. Let’s face it, not everybody does, so the information and solutions below should be helpful for most people. 

How to Cut a 4×4 – The Solutions

This particular scenario is pretty annoying as it’s a case of you almost having enough to complete the project, but the 10” blade falls short. However, I have a total of six different solutions that will help you to cut a 4×4 and to then proceed with your project.

Chances are that you will have at least one of the tools that I will mention, so there will be no need to go out and buy something new unless you want to. Also, some solutions are quicker than others, but the most important thing of all is that they will allow you to complete this part of your project and allow you to move on. 

At the end of the day, you should find yourself being able to successfully cut through a 4×4 without it proving to be too difficult. 

Solution 1: The Table Saw

setting up a table saw for cutting 4x4

Now, I know it may seem strange that I’m starting off talking about using a table saw as a solution, as that’s the problem in the first place, but hear me out. Honestly, there is a way of being able to do it without screwing things up. 

The problem is not the table saw as such but that the blade is not big enough for a single pass. You cannot add a bigger blade to your table saw, so that’s not an option. However, what is an option is to carry out more than just a single pass.

I admit this is not the easiest of options to use, but it does work. However, it does take a willingness on your part to take your time to do everything correctly, or you will end up making a mistake. 

The key here is in realigning the wood to effectively cut through the same line but with the wood turned upside down. This does then mean the blade on your table saw will cut through the remainder of the wood, but it only works if you align things perfectly. 

Now, this is where the table saw can help. After all, they are designed to make it as easy as possible to line up your cuts before making them. So, you need to follow the same approach as always, but just double check that everything is perfect. Even being slightly out of line will result in the cut being off, and you will hardly be able to get a smooth cut from it. Using the table saw fence will also make a difference.

But as long as you can do that, then you can at least continue to use a table saw to get your desired cut.

This method is one that table saw owners have had to use for some time. It just makes sense to line it up for a second pass if you have everything set up, and as long as you take your time with that part, then I don’t see you running into too many problems. 

To summarize on how to use a table saw to make the cut:

  • You cannot make the cut in one movement
  • It requires lining up the cut to make more than one pass
  • Use the fence to help with lining it up
  • Double-check everything first to avoid making a mistake

Solution 2: Cutting it By Hand

using a hand saw to cut 4x4

I know the very idea of doing any woodworking by hand is an alien concept to some, but it can still prove to be a worthwhile approach when cutting a 4×4. After all, you have no limitations apart from having the physical stamina to then saw through a board or post of that size.

Now, I get that this is not the fastest way of doing things, and I wouldn’t recommend it if you had a number of cuts to make, but if it’s just one 4×4, then it’s certainly an option.

But, honestly, I would take it one additional step just to ensure everything does work out perfectly for you. 

You see, what I would do is to cut through the majority of the wood with my table saw and then switch to a hand saw to finish the job. At least then, you have managed to do the majority of the work, and it’s certainly not going to tire you out the same.

Also, if you use this approach, you have the added bonus of being able to use the cut from the table saw as your line. The odds of you making a mess of things, and going off the line, will be minimal, and that’s the sort of help you want with this type of project. 

But then, if you don’t have a table saw, you can still go ahead and make the cut by hand. All you need to do is to mark your line and get to work. It’s going to result in you producing a relatively smooth cut, even though it will take you significantly longer than it would with a power tool.

Of course, if you do end up with a slightly rough cut, thanks to cutting it with a hand saw, you can always sand it down to smooth things out. It will take literally minutes to do this, and you will then have the finished cut exactly as you want it. 

So, my summary for using a hand saw focuses on these points.

  • Use a table saw to make most of the cut, if you have one
  • Use a square to get the perfect line
  • Take your time when cutting
  • Ensure your hand saw is sharp to rip through it in no time at all
  • Sand things down after the cut, if required

Solution 3: Using A Miter Saw

miter saw to cut 4x4

A miter saw will be unable to cut through a 4×4 in one pass, so it does fall into the same boat as the table saw in that matter. However, this solution is aimed more at individuals that do not have a table saw in the first place.

But I must stress that when I say a miter saw cannot cut through a 4×4, I’m only talking about certain sizes of miter saw. As you will soon see, there are sizes and models out there that will rip through a 4×4 with absolute ease, and literally in seconds. 

So, let’s say you have the 7 ¼” miter saw, which is pretty common. That saw will be unable to cut through a 4×4, but you shouldn’t give up hope straight away. Instead, just as with the table saw methods, you need to make more than one pass to complete the cut. Sure, it makes the task more cumbersome, but you can still get the job done with relative ease.

But again, the issue here is connected to the lining up aspect of the cut, and that is the part that will become the most time consuming. As with the table saw, failing to line things up perfectly can result in you effectively missing the cut from the first pass, but if you take time with this, then there’s no reason why that should happen. 

However, this only applies to a smaller miter saw. Yet, there is another option, even if it does mean you need to have a compound miter saw at your disposal.

A 10” compound sliding miter saw could potentially cut through a 4×4, but only at a 90-degree angle. Yet, at least you know that there are other options, even if you do not have that particular size of a miter saw. However, I admit that a 10” version will still be pushing itself to its absolute limits when cutting through a 4×4, so it’s still not the ideal solution if this is the type of cut you are wanting to make. 

If you still have any doubt, then a 12” miter saw will certainly make short work of cutting through a 4×4. Honestly, if you own one in your workshop, then I would use a 12” miter saw over anything else, and that includes a table saw. 

With a 12” miter saw, what will happen is that the blade will simply slice through a 4×4 as if it doesn’t exist. The depth of the cut available from a 12” miter saw is impressive, and you will have some room left even with a 4×4. For me, having this extra depth makes a difference, as does the fact you know you won’t struggle with making the cut in the first place. 

To be honest, I see a large miter saw as being the best option for cutting clean through a 4×4 in one pass. It’s going to take you literally seconds to do, and the outcome is a smooth cut that will be straight through your line if you set it up correctly in the first place. 

However, just try to use at least a 12” miter saw to make life significantly easier for you. 

So, the key points for this solution includes.

  • Smaller miter saws will require more than one pass
  • A 12″ miter saw can cut in a single move
  • The blade will produce a clean cut in seconds
  • A 12″ miter saw is better at this than a table saw
  • Take your time with lining it up, and you shouldn’t have a problem

Solution 4: Using A Circular Saw

circular saw for cutting 4x4

I think a circular saw is one of the more common types of saws people tend to own, so if you don’t have a table saw, then I think there’s a pretty good chance you will have one of these tools in your workshop.

But you probably will not be surprised to find out that a circular saw is unable to cut through a 4×4 in a single pass. So, you need to go ahead and use an alternative approach should you wish to use this tool to complete the job in question.

But why does it struggle? Well, it all comes down to that common problem, which is the blade size. It’s just too small and fails to offer a deep enough cut for it to offer a practical solution to cutting a 4×4. In all honesty, it’s one tool I would really avoid if I had to make this cut.

Yet, what happens if you cannot avoid it and it’s a decision between using a circular saw, or having to do it all by hand? Well, there is a way that you can work around this issue, and it’s an approach that should be quite familiar by now.

You see, when you cannot make a single cut, you need to think about breaking it up into stages that fit in with the depth the circular saw is able to cut to. So, this is what you need to do. 

The key here is to mark the cut line on all four sides of the 4×4. That’s because you are going to really use the circular saw to cut on each side, and ultimately it will mean you have managed to complete the cut.

Now, I know this means there’s a lot of work, but a circular saw will not take long to make each individual cut. The most important part is to line up each cut perfectly to ensure you get a clean cut in the end. 

Considering how many people own a circular saw, as it probably outnumbers those who own a miter saw, I would at least try this option if it was either this or cutting manually. 

So, my key points here regarding a circular saw includes.

  • It cannot cut on a single pass as the blade is too small
  • You need to make the same cut on all four sides to complete the task
  • Lining it up is crucial, or you will make a mistake
  • It does involve more work, but still won’t take too much time

Solution 5: Reciprocating Saw

reciprocating saw for cutting 4x4

I’m aware that this solution may not be one you have anticipated, but a reciprocating saw will be able to cut through a 4×4 and do so with surprising ease. However, I cannot state that it is the most accurate or safest way of achieving this cut, even though it’s going to be able to achieve the result you want.

Also, I’m aware that not everyone owns a reciprocating saw in the first place, so it may not be one of your first choices. So, how do you get it to work if you do have one of these tools in your workshop?

This is all about lining up things, which is a theme you will repeatedly encounter with the different potential solutions.

Also, this will depend on the length of the blade you have for your reciprocating saw. It’s something that varies between models. The blade should be at least 1” longer than what you plan on cutting, but in this instance, I would be looking at a reciprocating saw blade of around 5”. That would give you ample space to complete your cut without putting too much stress on the blade.

I feel this idea of having some extra space is crucial. If you are pushing your tools, or the blades, to their maximum extent, then it does increase the chances of something going wrong. I want you to avoid that, so always go above and beyond what you need, if at all possible. 

I think out of the different options I’ve mentioned up until this point, I would only use a reciprocating saw as almost a last resort. Sure it will make short work of producing the cut, but if you are not too experienced with using a reciprocating saw, then it could be pretty tricky to make an accurate cut that is smooth enough for you to work with.

Yet, if you are confident in your handling skills for a reciprocating saw, then I do see this as a viable option. I just wish it was a more straightforward method for this project, as a reciprocating saw will chop through a 4×4 with absolute ease. 

So, the key points regarding a reciprocating saw includes.

  • It will be capable of making the cut in one movement
  • It can be tricky to make an accurate cut like this
  • It probably won’t turn out too smooth
  • You need a minimum of a 5″ blade on the saw

Solution 6: A Chainsaw

using a chainsaw to cut 4x4

A chainsaw is another cool solution, and a chainsaw will certainly zip through a 4×4 post in seconds. Also, you don’t even have to own a large chainsaw for this to work. 

I think this solution is undoubtedly one of the easiest and fastest to use, and for a good reason.

A chainsaw of any type, will have ample power for cutting through a 4×4. All you need to do is make your mark of where you want it cut and then let the chainsaw do the rest of the job. However, I do admit that it comes with its own set of problems and difficulties.

A chainsaw will struggle to provide you with a smooth cut, and that’s something you need to remember. However, if you only require a 4×4 to be cut roughly, then a chainsaw is the perfect tool in that respect.

Also, I just feel this is a better option when you are cutting the 4×4 outdoors. I just think it’s easier when you are perhaps trimming down posts that are already in place, as the chainsaw can chop through. 

My key points to take away from this solution includes.

  • A chainsaw will cut this with absolute ease
  • It cannot make a smooth cut
  • It’s best to do this outdoors
  • It’s the best option when cutting posts already in place

Which Option Should You Use to Cut 4×4?

miter saw for cutting 4x4

I know the six options are all different, even though you want to achieve the same end result, but which one do I think you should use?

Of course, it all depends on the tools you own, but I’m still going to give my opinion. 

If you have it available, then I feel the miter saw is the best option. For me, it delivers absolute control over what you are doing, and if the blade is big enough, then you can achieve your cut in a single pass.

Also, a miter saw makes it easy for you to line up your cut, and it takes seconds to complete. In addition, it should provide you with a smooth enough finish for most projects.

The key with the miter saw is to ensure the blade can cope with a 4×4. Smaller miter saws will struggle and actually often prove incapable of cutting clean through in a single pass, so I would check the cutting depth before I even set up the tool. 

But any of the options I’ve listed can work. I accept some do require a few additional steps, or they may not be capable of delivering the perfect end result you want. However, my main aim has been to provide you with some workaround solutions and to show how there’s no need to feel stuck in a rut should you not have the perfect tool for the situation.

Overall Conclusion

So while a 10” table saw cannot cut a 4×4 in one go, it doesn’t mean you are stuck with being unable to cut a board of that size in your workshop. Instead, I offered you six different solutions that allow you to proceed with your project and get the end result you were hoping for.

The key to all of this is to ensure you do not find yourself being bogged down with the thought that you just cannot complete something because a certain tool is unable to do the task. Instead, you just need to learn how to adapt and find another solution. With woodworking, there’s always another solution out there for you.

However, to help you out with this project, here are some additional articles I feel will prove to be useful.

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.