Change your Brush Cutting Game

Written by on December 10, 2013 in Cutting Room Floor with 13 Comments

The First Cut is NOT the Deepest!

brush cutting

Learn to use both hands…

Ok, I confess. I have been asked for advice on cutting straight lines a lot over the years.

I’ve offered many canned answers:

“Stare at the line. Until you see 3 lines. Cut the line in the middle…”




“It’s the brush…”


“I was taught at the Paint Academy back in the 80’s.”

And I’d laugh up my sleeve and move on about my business.

I have grown up a bunch since then, and I apologize to everyone who ever asked.

Here are some tips:

  • On entry: hook the line where it’s best for you
  • Pull forehand and backhand strokes
  • Don’t change wrist orientation, move from your center
  • Sneak into the line, successively closer
  • The straightest lines are pulled quickly
  • Point and pull
  • Learn to do it with both hands
  • It’s only paint…

These brush cutting tips help a lot…and it was only after about 25 years of painting that I even became aware of them.

Oh, and, I have been painting for 30 years.

In all seriousness, attitude is everything – it’s how you look at your cutting game. A ┬áperception thing.

What brush cutting tips would you add to my list?


Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine ( since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!

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13 Reader Comments

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  1. mike says:

    great site, really helpfull
    cut -in i like to use 4 inch angled sash ( coronas are good)
    load up the brush so its almost dripping and cut in one long fast continuous stroke , usually i get straighter cleaner lines that way than trying to go slowly with a smaller brush

  2. Tim Peters says:

    I like to breathe out as I am running my cut line. It steadies the heart and the hand.
    Another tip at my age is to start wearing my glasses and not be so vain!

  3. JW says:

    On textured ceiling, Knock off the texture at the edge with your putty knife. At an angle to the wall, run the blade along the edge of the ceiling. This scrapes away the texture and leaves a small groove in the ceiling. Clean out the groove with a dry paintbrush, and rock and roll! This is a good trick

  4. H Rider says:

    Cutting thick paint helps. Not to the point that it doesn’t cover. But thinning some does help.

  5. Nick Dunse says:

    I usually close my eyes when I cut in…..sorry couldn’t resist. Seriously I remember teaching many newbies over the years or better yet refining someone’s technique who thought they could cut in. Cutting in pastels with a textured ceiling is cake walk cutting in a smooth ceiling line with a deep base separates the men form the boys.

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