Using a circular saw or any type of power saw requires you to know what you’re doing and to pay attention to what the saw is doing at the same time. But it’s a little more complicated than that too. There are actually several different things that you should know about your saw and how to use in to make sure you’re the most efficient you can be.
- 1. Look At Your Saw
- 2. Look At Your Blade
- 3. Gravity is On Your Side
- 4. Support the Shoe
- 5. Use a Square
- 6. Watch For Angle Cuts
- 7. Set the Depth
- 8. Keep Balance
- 9. Be Careful With Rip Cuts
- 10. Use Gang Cutting
- 11. Support Your Cut
- 12. Avoid Splinters
- 13. Start Over With Mistakes
- 14. Make Your Mark
- 15. Unplug When You’re Done
1. Look At Your Saw
Before you do anything you’re going to want to take a look at the saw itself to make sure that it’s in good shape. Just storing it can cause damage if you’re not careful or if something gets into it. You want to make sure that all the moving pieces move properly and that there are no visible cracks in the cords or in the blade.
2. Look At Your Blade
The blade should definitely get a second look because you’re going to be using that blade to get your cut. If the blade isn’t in good shape you could end up ruining your project or even being injured. That’s why you should always look it over for rust, sharpness or other types of damage, but make sure that the saw is unplugged whenever you do.
3. Gravity is On Your Side
If you’re going to be making a cut that’s vertical instead of horizontal you want to make sure that you’re doing it properly. A circular saw needs to be supported by you during this type of cut, but you can get a little bit of assistance from gravity. You’ll just want to bring the saw downward as you’re cutting instead of pushing it up the wall.
4. Support the Shoe
This may sound strange if you don’t use a saw much, but the heavy side of the saw, where the large box and weight is, is called the ‘shoe.’ This area needs to be supported on the larger side of your board so you won’t have to support it yourself when the board is actually cut. That way you have a better chance of getting a straight cut.
5. Use a Square
If you really want a good quality cut and you’re looking for sharp corners and straight lines you’ll want to get a square that you can use with your saw. This is going to make sure that every time you cut you get the same type of line and the same type of corner. That way you’ll be able to get a better quality product every time you start working.
6. Watch For Angle Cuts
If you’re trying to make an angled cut you want to make sure that you’re doing it properly. An angled cut is easy enough with a circular saw, but if you’re not careful you could end up catching your blade guard on your wood. Make sure you’re watching for this and that you stop immediately if it happens. You don’t want to keep pushing your saw without noticing what’s happened as this could cause damage or injury if you aren’t careful.
7. Set the Depth
You want to make sure that the depth of your cut is already set before you actually start cutting anything. Your blade should come out of the board or piece of wood at least ¼ in. when you’re all the way through, but you don’t want it to slice too far through as this can result in injury to you. Set the depth before you even plug in your saw so there’s less danger of injury.
8. Keep Balance
You want the excess wood that you are cutting to fall away from your blade as you cut through. If the wood falls towards you it can cause damage to your saw, your project or even you because the saw tends to ‘kickback.’ You definitely don’t want this to happen, so make sure you’re cutting in a way that the excess can slide away easily.
9. Be Careful With Rip Cuts
Most people will tell you to use a crosscut with plywood, but sometimes a rip cut is the better option. A crosscut means you’re going to ‘cross’ the grain of the wood. A rip cut means you’re going to run alongside that grain. You want to map this out carefully and make sure that you’re using a straight edge in order to get the best line for your cut.
10. Use Gang Cutting
If you’re going to be cutting a lot of pieces of wood to the same size you can actually stack them together while you’re cutting. This way you get the same piece each time without having to go back and reset. It gets the job done a whole lot faster so you’re ready to move on to the next piece of your work. But be careful that you only use this with wood that will be cut exactly the same and definitely not with more important pieces.
11. Support Your Cut
If you’re cutting something lightweight like plywood you want to make sure that you’re supporting it properly at all times. This means you want support not just from sawhorses to hold it up, but also from 2 x 4’s that can help you hold it steady. The board is very thin, after all, and you could end up with binding.
12. Avoid Splinters
You don’t want the wood that you’re cutting to splinter when you’re going through it but this is definitely something that can happen if you’re not careful. The key is to make sure you’re keeping the nice looking side down and cutting slowly through the wood. If you use a utility knife to cut just through the first layer of the wood you can also avoid splintering on that side.
13. Start Over With Mistakes
Cutting a straight edge can be very difficult, but it’s something you’re definitely going to want to do when you’re working on a project. If you’re cutting a line and realize you’re off the line you want to simply start over from the end again. Trying to guide yourself back to the line could cause more damage in the end.
14. Make Your Mark
The first thing you want to do is make sure you have a straight line marked out. You want to know exactly where you’re trying to cut right from the start and with a straight edge you can do that a whole lot easier. You want to use a line or some type of edge to create your line and get ready for that first cut.
15. Unplug When You’re Done
Before you do anything with your saw you want to make sure it’s unplugged. That means when you’re done cutting, but it also means if you need to reset the depth or change out the blade. Never do anything with your saw when it’s plugged in as this increases the risk of injury.