Line cutting is normally the first physical exploration work to be done on a claim. When line cutting there is a baseline through the middle of the survey area with a series of grid or wing lines running off of the baseline at 90-degree angles. Wood pickets with written coordinates are placed in the ground at a regular intervals along the lines. These pickets give explorationists a coordinate system that helps locate the features on maps for further work.

Line cutting provides a coordinate system and path for additional exploration work, such as geological mapping and geophysical surveys.