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How to Cut Angles for a Curved Retaining Wall

Retaining walls offer a practical and aesthetically-pleasing means to hold back earth in a sloped area of a landscape, often reducing erosion and creating additional opportunities for planting. Occasionally, it may be desirable to have the wall curve gradually rather than feature sharp corners. Whether the retaining wall is being constructed using timber, stone or masonry, materials can be cut at angles to allow gradual curves in a retaining wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Carpenter's pencil or marker
  • Measuring tape
  • Eye protection
  • Miter box and saw
  • Preservative
  • Paintbrush or other applicator
  • Circular saw with masonry blade or wet masonry saw
  • Maul or stone hammer
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  1. Cutting Timber

    • 1

      Measure and mark where the angled cut will be. The location and angle of the cut will depend on the retaining wall's specifications. It may be easiest to lay the timbers out in their respective positions at their planned angles. Use a carpenter's pencil or marker and a straight-edged object to draw a line. Only prepare and cut one timber at a time -- use the edge of the sawed-off portion of landscape timber as a guide for the line and cut on the partnering timber.

    • 2

      Place the timber in an adequately large miter box and align the markings on the timber with slots on the miter box as closely as possible. If the miter box has clamps or other means to secure the timber, attach or tighten the clamps, if desired. Often, the timber will be heavy enough so the movement is minimal.

    • 3

      Saw the timber using the saw that accompanies the miter box, or another saw that fits the miter box. Alternatively, use a handsaw or chainsaw safely while someone holds the timber securely.

    • 4

      Treat the cut ends of the timber with a preservative, as the newly cut ends are especially vulnerable to decay and weathering.

    Cutting Stone or Masonry

    • 5

      Lay out the stones for each course as the wall is being built to facilitate better planning. Arrange their relative locations and choose fairly flat stones, if possible, for the positions that require cutting. Determine which stones will be partnered, or fit together with matching angles.

    • 6

      Draw a line on both flat faces of the stone where the cut will be made. Use a carpenter's pencil or marker, especially if the stone will be wet when any cuts are made. Make a corresponding, angled line on the partner stone.

    • 7

      Place the stone on flat, soft ground. If you're using a masonry saw and table, place the stone on the table.

    • 8

      Score the stone on both the top and bottom, following the guideline previously drawn on the stone. Use a circular saw with a masonry blade to make three cuts on the top of the stone, lowering the blade by 1/8 to 1/4 inch for each cut, until the score reaches a depth of 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Turn the stone over and score the bottom in the same manner. If you're using a masonry saw, guide the stone through the fixed blade slowly.

    • 9

      Strike the unwanted portion of the stone following the scoring. Use a stone hammer or maul with medium strength to tap the stone and cleanly break it off at the scored line.