How to Use a Circular Saw – Beyond the Basics

How to Use a Circular Saw

Whether you are a full-time or part-time woodwork enthusiast, knowing how to use a good circular saw properly can help you transform your work in a great way. What you need to remember though, is that this handy tool does not cut as smoothly as a table saw unless you actually know how to handle and direct it through the meat of the object you want to cut. Sounds complicated? Not really – we will give you a guide on how to make the most of your circular saw.

Nail Down the Board and Guide the Cut With Your Forefinger

Nail down the plywood or long board onto the sawhorses using finish nails. Mark it (using a chalk or straightedge) accordingly and then cut it. Put one of your hands on the wider section of the saw shoe gripping it with your thumb and forefinger. In that case, your forefinger will guide you as you direct pressure straight ahead. You should be careful when doing this because sometimes the saw may wander from the line. But if that happens, back up to about 6 inches behind where you lost control and start again. Lastly, remember to guide the saw beyond the end as if to follow an imaginary line.

This simple method helps you to create boards of equal and consistent width irrespective of whether you are you’re using straight or crooked pieces.​

For Super Straight Cuts Clamp the Board/Sheet​

Another way to make cabinet-quality cuts is by clamping a metal straightedge or straight board to the sheet. The best way to go about this is by aligning the straightedge at just the right distance from the line along which you wish to make a cut. To ensure the piece of wood you’re interested in is not damaged is by clamping the straightedge on it. This way, you won’t ruin it even if the saw accidentally wanders. Be sure to measure carefully so you can record all the necessary dimensions in advance. Then when you begin cutting, it is important to ensure that the blade just touches the outer edge of the cutting line.

Most importantly, keep the back of the shoe tight enough until you finish cutting.

Making Extremely Narrow Strips With Great Precision​

If you don’t own a table-saw and would like to cut narrow strips using a circular saw, then you may want to consider creating a guide that allows you to achieve this precision. Create slots and hole for the blade and guard by drilling 3/8 inch holes across corners before cutting them with a jigsaw. Place the base on the fence essentially aligning into one long edge. Snug the rails up to base sides before screwing them with 7/8 inch screws. This way you’ll create a perfect fence assembly for easy sliding and snug fit. Link this fence to the base with some carriage bolts attaching it to the saw shoe with small screws. Finally drill your saw show to make 5/32 inch holes to attach the guide with 5/8 inch screws.

Set your blade to cut 1/4 inch deeper and secure the board to less than 6 inches. Then standing beside the blade, cut your sheets/ boards carefully.

Additional Tips​

  • Always mark clear outlines on the item you want to cut. But in so doing, make sure your sketching measurements are accurate as changes are irreversible.
  • You can use square rulers to achieve straight cuts. This can further help you avoid slips.
  • Always keep the blade a little large than the wood you intend to cut. Then, always make sure the blade is already spinning prior to entering the meet of the wood.

There are no limits when it comes to woodwork. But if you’re wondering how to use a circular saw, a wise thing to do is to keep trying (following the tips given in this article) until you perfect your skills.