How to Get the Best Results from Your Circular Saw

Circular saws use rotary motion to cut materials like wood, plastic, and metal. Although they can be mounted to a machine, they are most often seen being used by hand.

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Using a circular saw is different from using tools like a jigsaw or an electric drill. Circular saws are loud and powerful, and can cause a lot of damage if not properly handled. This is why many people are hesitant to begin using a circular saw for the first time.

You can get a lot of efficient work done by using this type of saw, and to get the best results, follow these guidelines:

Safety

You should always consider your safety first when using any power tool. Wear protective goggles to shield your eyes from debris. Use ear protection to prevent damaging your hearing. Wear industrial work boots and gloves, too, if necessary.

Check the saw for anything that could potentially cause harm. Broken or chipped teeth on the saw may be grounds for a replacement of the blade. The lower blade guard should easily retract and snap back upon release.

If you do need to replace something before you use the saw, make sure it is unplugged or removed from its power source before handling and removing the blade.

Blade Efficiency

Whatever blade you have equipped to your saw will determine the speed and quality of the cut. If you intend to cut only wood, something that is capable of making crosscuts and rip cuts would be ideal.

Different blades can be used to cut stone or metal, so to get the best performance out of your blade be sure to employ one that is meant for your specific project. Standard blades that come with the saw have 24 teeth. For better crosscuts, you may wish to use a blade with up to 60 teeth.

The depth of the saw should not surpass a quarter inch past the edge of the board. To adjust this, first unplug or remove the power source. Depth is important because a deeper blade will be exposed and have more kickback than a blade that is properly set.

Proper Cut

Crosscuts and rip cuts are two methods to cut your materials. A crosscut will create a cut that goes across the wood’s grain, while a rip cut will run parallel to the grain of the wood.

Square crosscuts are made easy with a circular saw. Place the blade on the cut line and use a framing square to align tightly against the edge of the board and the base plate of the saw. While keeping the blade from contacting the board, let the saw reach full speed and guide it along the framing square.

With a long piece of board to use as a straightedge guide, you can make a rip cut. Use the factory edge of your material as the saw guide and mark the cut line. Clamp down the straightedge guide in a place that measures the cut line from the distance of your saw blade and base plate, and make the cut.

Splinter Precaution

You will most likely be using your circular saw for cutting wood. The problem with wood, however, is that it can splinter. This occurs because of the way the circular saw cuts, which is in a motion that trims the wood from bottom to top, leaving space for the surface to splinter and crack.

This will occur when sawing hardwoods, typically, but there is a way to avoid it. Take the wood and place the best surface facing down, so any splintering that may occur will happen on the back of the wood.

You can also prevent splintering by placing the best surface facing down and scoring the edge of the cut line with a knife to get a clean finishing cut with the saw.

Binding Prevention

Kickback happens when the wood pinches the blade during the cut, causing it to jerk. This can be avoided if you take the time to support your material before you make the cut.

The smaller end of your material should always be free to fall after the cut is complete. The longer end of your material should be constantly supported. As long as the two sides of your material do not fall inward during the cut, made possible by letting one end fall freely, kickback should not occur.

Angle Technique

Circular saws are capable of making cuts at an angle of at least 45 degrees. To start this process, retract the blade guard for the first few inches of the cut, and then gently release it to rest on the board.

Without doing this, you risk the blade guard catching on the wood and causing the saw to veer away from the angle you intended.

Error Adjustment

Always mark a line to indicate where you will be cutting your material to help guide you through a straight cut. Circular saws, when operated by hand and especially by novices, can cut a crooked line.

If you notice your saw is straying away from the line, start back at the line. Turn off the blade and allow it to stop spinning before taking it away from the cut and placing it back on the line. Begin again on the line path to complete your cut.

Large Cut

To cut multiple pieces of your material in the same size, you can use the gang cutting technique. Align the edges of up to five pieces on top of each other, and clamp them together.

Make sure the blade is adjusted to the maximum depth of cut and proceed with the cut as usual. This technique is best used in thin materials, such as plywood. Otherwise, your blade may not be capable of penetrating through all the pieces at once.

Heavy Cuts

A sawhorse is a structure used to support your material while you are making cuts, which is perfect when you are cutting something you can easily lift to that height.

You will occasionally encounter times where keeping your material on the ground will be easier than raising it. For this, you can make the cut by resting the material on your toe and propped against your shin for support at a distance at least 12 inches from the point you wish to cut.

This method will make cutting heavier things much easier for you, but you must always be careful when operating the circular saw that close to your body.

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