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How to Use a Circular Saw

A circular saw is a versatile and useful tool. It can do a lot of the same work as a table saw if you know how to use it.

Preparation

There are different kinds of circular saws: sidewinder saws, which are the most common type, and worm-drive saws, which are well-suited for more heavy-duty work. No matter what kind of saw you use, the safety basics are always the same.

  • Secure loose clothing, jewelry or long hair.
  • Wear eye and ear protection any time you use a circular saw or any power tool.
  • Adjust your blade so it extends only about 1/4 inch below the material that you're cutting — you don't want too much blade hanging out.
  • Check your blade guard and make sure it's in place and functioning properly.
  • Clamp your piece to the work surface so you can use both hands to guide the saw.

Cutting with a Circular Saw

  • Start the saw and then move it into the material you're cutting. This method helps keep the two sections of the work piece from pinching — or binding — the blade.
  • Push the blade through the cut and let the pieces fall.
  • There are two types of cuts: crosscuts and rip cuts. Crosscuts go across the grain and rip cuts go with the grain. For crosscuts, you can use a square-cut jig. It helps eliminate guesswork and gives you a nice, straight cut. Watch our video What's That Cut Called? to learn more useful cuts.
  • When cutting plywood, or other larger pieces, you can clamp a 1 x 4 to the work piece to use as a guide for your saw. Make sure it's straight and even so you can get the best cut across the plywood.
Good to Know

Learn more about the work you can do with a circular saw by reading Lowe's Circular Saw Buying Guide and Circular Saw Blade Buying Guide. Watch our video Which Wood Do I Use? to find the best material for your project.