Circular Saws

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A Circular Saw is a handheld saw with a round blade used to make cross cuts, miter cuts, rip cuts and bevel cuts on materials like wood and plastics.

Make sure to check out the tips, FAQs, and instruction video featuring Whitney and Ashley from Shanty2Chic.com.


Tips & Safety
Related Projects
Tool Diagram
Glossary
FAQs

Tips

Always adjust your blade depth before cutting

The teeth of your blade need to be adjusted so that they are only about 1/4 in. below the bottom of your work piece. This is an important step to avoid kickback.

Keep a speed square on hand

For quick marking of your cutting piece, it's good to have a speed square on hand. This tool helps you quickly measure a straight, perpendicular or 45 degree angled mark for cutting.

Use another piece of wood as a guide for cutting

Improve your accuracy by clamping a straight piece of wood to your cutting surface. Place the guide wood where it can act as a fence for the base of the circular saw. Make your cut keeping the base against the guide wood; your cut should come out perfect.

Cut with the finished side down

If you are cutting a piece of material with a finished side, make sure that side is facing down to avoid scratching the finish.

Make sure you're using the right blade for the materials you plan to cut

The fewer the teeth your blade has, the rougher the cut. If you're working with a piece that has a delicate face, or you want the smoothest cut possible, go with a higher toothed blade.

Diagram: Circular Saw
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Base

The flat portion of the saw that sits flat on the work piece.

Instructions: Always make sure the base is resting completely flat while you're cutting. Rocking the base could result in kickback or a misaligned cut.

Bevel Cut

A cut made at an angle towards the inside of the work piece.

Instructions: Secure your work piece and mark your cut. Adjust the bevel to the angle you want. Align the line of cut with the 45° blade guide notch on the base when making 45° bevel cuts. Install the battery or plug the saw in and make your cut on the waste side of your cut mark. It is best to make test cuts no scrap material before cutting your workpiece.

Cross Cut

A cut made across the grain of the wood or material.

Instructions: Install your battery, or plug in the saw. Secure your work piece and mark your cut. Adjust the blade depth so that the teeth fall just below the work piece (no more than 1/4"). Install your battery, or plug the saw in. Remember to bring the blade just on the waste side of the cut, and make sure the motor side of the saw is over the supported part of workpiece. Make your cut, and be sure the blade comes to a complete stop before lifting the saw back up on any cut.

Cut line indicator

The notches on the front of the base that show you where your blade will go. Some are more accurate than others. Get familiar with your saw and make any necessary marks/adjustments to help you know exactly where your blade will go.

Edge Guide

An accessory that fits through the nose of the saw. It helps make straight cuts.

Instructions: Slide the edge guide through the holes in the front of your saw, and adjust it so that the vertical flat piece rests against the edge of your cutting piece. You can adjust the fence for wide or narrow cuts as necessary.

Factory Edge

When using store-bought wood or materials, the un-cut edges of the material are called factory edges. They are usually already square.

Instructions: Try to make use of factory edges in your projects. Take advantage of the fact that you have two sides that will already be perfectly straight and square.

Front

The front part of the base.

Instructions: The front will help guide you when you're making plunge or pocket cuts.

Jig

A re-usuable guide built for your circular saw

Instructions: Some users prefer to create a jig for their circular saws rather than use guide wood they have laying around. There are lots of instructional videos on YouTube that can help you make your own.

Keep Side

The side of the wood you are planning to use.

Kerf

The thickness of the blade

Kickback

When the saw is forced back suddenly to the user. This can be caused when the blade gets pinched in the wood due to insufficient support, when the blade encounters something inside the wood, the saw blade is misaligned or when the blade depth is set too deep.

Instructions: Kickback can be controlled more easily by taking the following steps: 1: Make sure your work piece is securely clamped. No wiggle. 2: Keep a firm, 2-handed grip on the saw during cutting. 3: Keep a stable, firm stance during cutting. Never put yourself in a postion that makes it easy to lose your balance.

Plunge Cut

A cut that is made inside a workpiece, with no edge to start from. Also known as a pocket cut. May be used for cutting out a hole for a floor vent.

Instructions: Adjust the bevel setting to zero. Using the guard lever, lift the blade guard and start the saw. Rest the front of the base flat against the workpiece with the rear of the handle raised so the blade does not touch the workpiece. Once the saw is up to full speed, slowly lower the blade into the work piece. Release the guard lever once the saw is in the material.

Pocket Cut

See plunge cut.

Sidewinder Circular Saw

A circular saw with the motor on the side.

Straight Edge Guide

A piece of wood that is used to make straight cuts.

Instructions: Find a piece of wood that is at least as long as the cut you want to make. (The guide wood must be straight). Clamp the wood to your work piece, and as you make your cut, keep your saw base flush against the guide. This will help you make a nice straight cut.

Tear out

Tear out occurs when the blade doesn't cut cleanly through the wood. During tear out, the blade makes a rough, splintery exit.

Instructions: Steps to reduce tear out: 1: Make sure the pretty side of the wood is facing down. 2: Make sure the blade you're using is in good condition. 3: Make sure your blade is set for the proper depth for your work piece (never more than 1/4" below) 4: use painter's tape on the top side of the workpiece.

Waste Side

The part of the wood you're cutting off.

Wormdrive Circular Saw

A Circular Saw with motor in the rear

Note: Some users may prefer a wormdrive, as the center of control is in the back instead of the side. They are are generally 1.5 to 2 times heavier than a sidewinder saw.

Are Circular Saws dangerous?

Circular Saws can be dangerous if used incorrectly. If you follow all the steps and requirements of safe operation as outlined in your manual, you should have no problem using this tool safely.

How do I know which blade to use?

Select a blade based on what material you're cutting and what type of cut you need to make. The more teeth per inch (TPI) there are on a blade, the smoother the cut. TPI ratings range from the low digits (ex: 18 teeth per inch) to very high (ex: 60+teeth per inch).

Should I get a cordless or an electric circular saw?

The advantage of having a cordless Circular Saw is that you don't have to worry about a power cord getting in the way. Many cordless units can provide long runtime and great power when used with high-capacity batteries, but an electric saw may be preferred for larger jobs and all day use.

Should I cut right on my mark?

We recommend cutting a little on the waste side of the mark to avoid cutting your material too short.

Does it matter which way the teeth of the blade are facing?

Yes. The teeth of the blade should point upward at the front of the saw.

How do I use a Circular Saw if I'm left-handed?

Circular Saws with the blade mounted on the right may be the easiest for a left-handed user to operate. Worm drive saws (with motor in the rear) may also be easier for a left-handed user than a standard side-driven unit.

How do I change the blade?

Disconnect the power cord or remove the battery from the tool. Press the spindle lock button and use the blade wrench to remove the blade screw, outer washer and blade. Place new blade into the saw and attach the washers. Clean as needed and place a drop of oil on the inner and outer blade washers where they touch the blade.

How do I know when to change the blade?

If you find that you blade is binding up, marring your work pieces, or burning your work pieces, it is time for a new blade.