Last updated on March 9, 2021
Not knowing how to use a circular saw is what is holding most people back from having a go at doing some DIY or woodworking. This guide covers how to use an electric or cordless circular saw so you can make quick and easy cuts in wood instead of struggling by hand with a hand saw.
Be-aware: Circular saws can cause a serious injury used incorrectly, only do what you feel comfortable doing, have someone watch you that knows how to safely use one and knows about, kickback, RCDs, and how to position timber for cutting, read down below.
Dangers to watch out for using a circular saw:
Steps to safely use a circular saw
1. Check and set up your circular saw
2. Position your work comfortably
To reduce the likelihood of a kickback you need to position the wood you are cutting in a sturdy way.
3. Position yourself safely
It’s important to position your body so that if kickback happens, the cutting blade will not touch you. Do this by always having the saw lower than your torso, even just of the ground is best.
You have a better grip and more control holding the saw at a lower height, and the blade is further away from your torso and vital organs making it safer.
Imagine the saw going forward and backward, and position yourself so you are not in its path both in front or behind the blade incase kickback happens.
4. Have a good cutting technique
It’s important to hold on to the saw with two hands as much as possible and again to use good quality clamps to secure your work every time you cut.
With experience and for 4/2, you can use one hand on your work and one hand on your saw, tilt the timber on an angle downwards and use the weight of the saw to make the cut.
When cutting a large piece of timber and the offcut that will fall away would be large and heavy, note that this weight is going to be folding onto your saw blade and could cause a kickback. To get around this cut first 8 inches longer than your exact cut length but do it very quickly so the saw doesn’t have enough time to catch. Then make a second slow careful cut, when now the weight of the offcut isn’t enough to fold and jamb on the saw.
5. Diagnosis of overheating
A circular saw blade will wobble if it overheats; a saw blade could be overheating if the blade is not rated for the RMP of the saw. If you are doing a heavy amount of ripping (cutting timber along the grain) this could also overheat the blade.
Maybe a more powerful motor is needed for the work you are doing, or stop the tool for a rest and let it cool down if the blade is getting too hot.
What circular saw to use?
The smaller a circular saw motor (amps), the less power it has, and the easier it is to control for beginners. But if the saw is under-powered for the work you want to do, and the saw is struggling this can be a problem. You want to get a saw you can easily control and is also not underpowered for the job you want to do.
A small 1400-watt Makita or Milwaukee corded circular saw can be a good overall choice, but at a disadvantage when ripping heavy amounts of timber, although it’s better to use a portable table saw for ripping jobs instead.
A battery-powered circular saw is a safer option for small jobs, and even easier to control for beginners that want the better portability of a cordless Makita or Milwaukee 18v circular saw.
You can never be certain a kickback won’t happen but you can make it unlikely to happen by improving the technique and positioning of your work.
As you get more experience using a circular saw you can do more and more different types of cuts, and the building and woodworking world can start to open up to you.
If you haven’t got a saw yet and your a beginner I recommend getting a cordless saw first click here to read my review.
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