If you have a big project coming up and don’t have a truck, you might be wondering “will Home Depot cut wood for me?” The short answer is yes, they will cut wood for you. And it’s not just Home Depot; Lowe’s will cut wood for you too!
But, there are some caveats and restrictions. Due to the popularity of DIY over the last few years, home improvement stores have started cracking down on some of the types of cuts they are willing to make for you.
What kinds of cuts will Home Depot or Lowe’s make for you?
Both Home Depot and Lowe’s will cut wood for you, but they probably won’t make every cut you’ve ever dreamed of. Each store might have their own specific policies, but generally, the rule is: they will cut wood down so that it fits in your car.
This means cutting a sheet of plywood into a more manageable size or cutting a 12’ board in half so that it doesn’t stick out your truck.
You can generally find the particular policies for your saw taped to the panel saw that’s used to cut plywood.
They also often limit this service to two free cuts and charge about 20-30 cents for each additional cut.
That being said, the policies at each particular store might vary. This is the policy at our local Lowe’s and Home Depot, but honestly, we’ve never been charged for additional cuts.
Out of the hundred-plus times, we’ve gotten wood cut at Home Depot or Lowe’s, we’ve only ever had the employee hand us a slip that listed out the number of cuts we asked for once.
And when we took that slip of paper to the front of the store, the associate at the cash register looked very confused and ended up throwing out the slip of paper and not charging us the extra 60 cents.
So if they likely aren’t going to charge for additional cuts, does that mean you should ask for more?
Project cuts vs rough cuts
Here’s the thing. The free cuts were meant to be rough cuts to help get the wood down to a manageable size, but over the years, DIYers have been getting project cuts done at the store as well. So what’s the difference?
Rough cuts are when you cut the wood down to an approximate size in order to make it more manageable (or to fit it in your car). You’ll still need a saw at home to cut everything into the exact pieces you need for your project.
Project cuts are when you cut the wood down to an exact size for a specific project. Once you have project cuts, you can move on to assembling the project without needing a saw.
With the increase in popularity of DIY and the explosion of DIY bloggers telling people that Home Depot and Lowe’s will cut the wood for your project for you, there has been a major uptick in the number of wood cutting requests at home improvement stores.
Because of the increased volume, many stores updated their policies to make it clear that the saws are for rough cuts, not project cuts. Hence the introduction of potential charges for additional cuts.
How to increase your chances of getting project cuts done
Okay, before I give you some tips on how to get project cuts done, I want to say a few things:
- The saws at Home Depot and Lowe’s aren’t meant for fine woodworking. They are used often so the blades are often dull. Not only that, but they never had blades that were made for fine woodworking to begin with. If you get your wood cut at the store, know that there is going to be some additional sanding required to clean up the probable splintered edges.
- They do not guarantee the accuracy of their cuts. Yes, they are generally pretty good, but we’ve had them be off as much as a three-quarters inch before.
Now that I got that off my chest, let’s talk about how to increase your chances of getting good project cuts done by an employee at Lowe’s or Home Depot.
- Call ahead. If you call ahead and give them more than a day notice to make your cuts, they are often happy to help. You’ll be able to show up at the store a day or two later and pick up your pre-cut wood. This is the most likely way to get project cuts done, however, you’re more likely to be charged for them. So don’t be mad if they add up your 14 cuts and charge you the proper $2.40 for them.
- Be kind. Who are you more likely to help: someone who is kind and appreciative or someone who feels entitled or demands special attention? If an associate doesn’t look too busy, approach them with kindness and ask them if it’s a possibility that they can help with some additional cuts. Let them know what project you’re working on and try to build a connection with the employee.
- Go at an uncrowded time. If you want to get same-day project cuts, you’ll want to go at a time that’s less busy. If the store associates are already running around trying to help anyone and everyone, they likely aren’t going to be interested in adding more work to their already overwhelmed plate.
Do they cut wood at angles?
No, Home Depot and Lowe’s will not cut wood at an angle for you. Not only are their saws designed for quick, straight cuts rather than angles, but as mentioned, they aren’t going to be doing all of your specific project cuts for you.
Their cutting service is meant for two things: helping you cut wood down to a size that will fit in your car and cutting down boards that are sold by the linear foot.
Other cutting restrictions
Home Depot and Lowe’s will not cut wood that you purchased at another store. The free cutting policy is only for wood purchased at their store.
Home Depot and Lowe’s cannot cut wood that you purchase from another store because it’s a liability. They can’t verify the quality of the wood and if it is safe to cut.
Also, cutting wood at the store is really meant for cutting things down so that it fits in your car. If you were able to bring wood from another store, you obviously were able to transport it somehow!
What type of wood do they cut?
Both Home Depot and Lowe’s offer cuts for both plywood and trim. Some stores will also offer cuts on things like 2x4s and appearance boards like 1x4s.
This is going to be the main type of wood that customers get cut at Home Depot or Lowe’s. If you don’t have a truck, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to fit a whole 4×8 sheet of plywood in your car.
To cut the plywood down, they have large panel saws. The plywood rests on the panel saw and then the employee slides the blade through the plywood to cut it down to size.
Generally, these vertical panel saws are safer and better at making cross-cuts (where you cut across the wood grain rather than in the same direction as it). Because of this, some policies will state that they do not do rip cuts for safety reasons.
This means you would not be able to cut your plywood in half horizontally at 24″. Instead, you would need to get 1-2 cuts vertically through the plywood to get it to fit in your car (my Nissan Rogue won’t fit a 4×4 sheet of plywood, so we would need two cuts).
That being said, we have never had someone deny cutting a rip cut for us. You can always ask if they will do it and see what happens. Just don’t be upset if they deny you!
So trim is a little bit different than plywood. The employees at Home Depot and Lowe’s will not cut your trim for you. Instead, there is a hand saw cutting station in the trim aisle that you are able to use.
Oftentimes, the trim will be priced per linear foot, which means the more you get, the more you’re charged. It’s not just a flat rate per piece. Because of this, you are able to cut the trim down to the size you need it to be.
Don’t try to be precise with your cuts or try to make every single cut for your project at the store. The hand saw is generally pretty dull and requires some effort.
Plan your project before you arrive and figure out how many feet you need and how you will cut those boards when you get home. Just because you need 12 feet doesn’t mean you’ll cut 2 pieces down to 6’ to fit in your car. As you plan your cuts, you might realize that you can get 3 pieces out of a 7’ board and two pieces from a 5’ board.
Since you are in charge of cutting them down to size, take some time to properly plan your cuts ahead of time and then cut the trim down to as few pieces as you can while still being able to fit everything in your car.
Radial Saw Opens Possibilities for Cutting 2x4s and Appearance Boards
Not every store will have a radial saw, but if the store does have one, you’ll be able to get 2x4s and 1x lumber cut down to different lengths.
Check to see if your store has one before banking on it as a service. Only a few stores in our area offer this option and it’s generally just the stores that charge for lumber by the linear foot.
Do I have to buy the whole piece of wood at Home Depot?
So what if you only need a piece of the plywood or part of the 2×4? We know that Home Depot will cut for you, but can you just purchase the part you cut?
No. Unless the pricing is by the linear foot, you will have to purchase the whole piece of wood, regardless of what size you got it cut down to.
But that means you’ll have some leftover to use on a fun scrap wood project!
How to get your wood cut at Home Depot or Lowe’s
Now that you’re feeling confident about the fact that Home Depot and Lowe’s will in fact cut wood for you, it’s time to go to the store and get the wood cut. Here’s how it works.
Step 1: Determine what cuts you need
Before you even head to the store, figure out what cuts you’re going to need to get done.
If you’re working with plywood sheets, figure out your overall cut list and determine where you need to get your plywood cut to minimize waste. Generally, we’ll get ours cut at 23” instead of 24” so that one side is slightly larger.
And as you’re planning your cuts, make sure to give yourself at least a ½” margin of error on either side. Since they don’t guarantee the accuracy of their cuts, it’s best to plan for a little error.
Another thing to consider when planning out your cuts is what size wood will fit in your car. My Nissan Rogue will only fit boards that are max 26” wide.
Step 2: Check to see that the saw you need is working
When you get to the store, park outside the lumber section. Then head in and go straight to the saw. Check to make sure it doesn’t have an out-of-order sign on it.
Most of the time they will be operational, but one time, we went to four stores within a day and every single one of them had a broken saw. After that, we always double-check before we load up our wood.
The saws will be located near the lumber. Generally, they are in the back corner of the store, but occasionally they will be in between the front and back aisles.
Pro tip: go at an off-time. If you go in the middle of the day on a weekend, there’s usually a line for the saw that’s a few people deep.
Step 3: Grab the right cart
Rather than a traditional cart, you’re going to grab either a flat cart or a project cart. We tend to use the project carts the majority of the time.
Once you have your cart, load up your cart with the wood you need. Check out our guide to selecting wood for your project for more tips.
Step 4: Ask an employee
If you are by yourself and need some help placing the sheet of plywood in your cart, you can ask an employee for help before loading up your lumber. If you ask kindly, they are generally happy to help and then you already have an employee locked in to help you make your cuts.
Look around the lumber section for an employee. If you see someone, ask them if they can help you make some cuts. If you can’t find anyone, head up to the PRO or customer service desk to have them call someone to meet you at the saw.
Step 5: Get your wood cut
Let the employee know how you would like your wood cut. If you have a large sheet of plywood, assist them in cutting the plywood loaded onto the saw if you’re able.
Once you get your cuts made, say thank you and head to check out.
As I mentioned earlier, we have only been given a slip that listed what cuts we made one time. It’s unlikely that you’ll run into that, but just know that there is a small possibility that they will give you a piece of paper to hand to the cashier.
Step 6: Check out
When checking out, check to see what the associate is ringing up. Sometimes if you get your plywood cut in half, they will try to charge you for two pieces. Let them know it’s just one piece that you got cut.
It’s helpful to know off the top of your head how many of each board type you got, especially if you have a cart full of lumber.
It’s also helpful to make sure that at least one barcode for each wood type is on the same side of the cart. That way the associate doesn’t have to do circles around your cart trying to find the barcode.
Once you check out, head to your car and load it on up. If you’re loading up plywood, check out this post about getting plywood home without a truck.
There you have it! Now you know that Home Depot and Lowe’s will cut wood for you and you know how to navigate the process like a pro.
Time to plan the next project and give it a shot for yourself!
Buying lumber from the store and getting it home is just the beginning. There’s still so much more that goes into creating a beautiful piece of furniture, decor, or accent wall.
If you’re just getting started with DIY, you’ll want to grab our Beginner’s Guide to DIY. It’s the guide created to shorten your DIY learning curve so you can build more impressive things with less frustration.
It’s everything we wish we knew when we were just getting started: from lumber to tools, to making projects look more professional, we’ve got you covered. You can grab your Beginner’s Guide to DIY HERE.