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How to Use a Circular Saw for Woodworking

Learn how to use a circular saw in this Howcast woodworking video featuring Makeville Studio.


The other saw that you might use is a circular saw. And, of course, the circular saw excels at doing straight cuts. So you've got your curve cuts on your jigsaw, straight cuts on your circular saw.

This is a radial saw, just like a table saw or a chop saw. The blade's spinning around, coming up through the material and cutting up, just like the jigsaw is. So you have to be aware of tearout on the top of your wood. And that's one of the issues with these saws, if when you're cutting materials like plywood that have veneer on them, you will get tearout on the topside if you don't have a very fine blade on here.

So if you care about that, put a good blade on it. A blade should always be sharp anyway, but put a fine finished blade on there if that's what you're working with.

Okay. To use one of these tools, it's very simple. It does require some setup though. In general, you don't want a freehand with this tool. It's too easy to get this tool caught in it's own path, and it binds the blade. So what I'm talking about here is if you start a cut, and you're halfway through, you're in a slot in the wood.

If you accidentally lose control of this a little bit and turn sideways, the blade will bind in the slot that you've already cut, lock up the blade, and this can actually catch the wood and kick back at you. So it's very dangerous. It can be a very dangerous tool if you don't do the proper setup with it.

So one thing you always do with the circular saw is set up a guide rail. And a guide rail can be just a piece of wood that has a straight edge on it, to line up against the fence on the saw. And that just makes it, it makes it so that the saw will always go in a straight line, and it can't veer off it.

You will have different amounts of blade exposed. You don't want to have this whole blade exposed if you're only cutting through a half-inch piece of material, for example. So back here in the back, and most of these saws are like this, you'll want to unlock the lower fence, and this moves up and down to only expose enough, the amount of blade that you need.

So figure out what the thickness of your material is. For example if we're cutting this piece of wood here, I can just set this on top and let it rest on there. And what I want to do is just let it go a little bit past the bottom edge of what I'm cutting, and I'll lock it in at that point.

The other adjustment you may or may not need to do is the angle. And on the front here, you can see there's a lock to adjust the fence, so the saw can tilt all the way over. So it's good if you need to create an angle.

Now all of these types of cuts are better done on a table saw. Most of the cuts that you do on the jigsaw are generally done better on the band saw. But if you don't have the equipment and this is all you have, you can get the job done with these tools.

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