How to Use a Circular Saw Safely and Correctly

Circular saws have been statistically proven to be the leading cause of injuries in most workshops than any other electrical power tool. This is due to its sophisticated design whose purpose in the woodwork sector is hard to substitute. Circular saws can be used to make beautiful products and pieces of art if used properly. At the very least, the saw can develop into an
interesting hobby.

For beginners, circular saws tend to look sophisticated and intimidating, but with this essential guide and techniques, you will be able to make accurate cuts on timber and other materials easily.

Safety First!

If this is your first time working with a circular saw then you probably don’t know the tools that should be used alongside the circular saw or the right saw for the job. First, try out different types of saws before settling for a favorite. Most universally used saws are comfortable to use they are also cheap and easy to access. This will help you find the best saw that suits your needs and over time get more experience.

Naturally, starting with the easier tasks, especially if you are a beginner, will help you build confidence to advance to complicated tasks. After getting the tool, perform a few runs on parts of timber just to feel the mechanics of the saw. Before you start using the saw, there are some guidelines you should follow to make your work easier and keep you safe. Here is a rundown of some of the things you should follow before powering up a circular saw.

  • Always keep any electric cords away from the saw while working. Remember to unplug the cord when replacing the parts or cleaning them.
  • Make sure the blade is sharp and can cut through the intended material. If the blade is chipped replace the blade. Never use a damaged blade.
  • Never take your eyes off the blade. Though modern saws are designed to be safer, there are still high risks involved.
  • Carefully check for any nails, metal, and knots before you start cutting material.
  • The kickback from a circular saw is large so check your position to make sure you do not lose your balance. There are no strict rules regarding the position, but positioning the blade to face the larger part of the wood is safer.
  • Use clamps and strong extensions to firmly support the wood while cutting.
  • Always keep glasses on to protect your eyes. Consider using hearing protection some jobs are noisier than others. A respirator or mask might be helpful as well.

Functions and features

Before you start cutting, it is important to understand some of the parts and functions of the circular saw blade. Not every saw is set out the same but some parts are found in most circular saws. Familiarizing yourself with these parts is not a bad idea.

  • Depth adjustment: A knob used to change the position of the base found on the saw. Always remember to tighten the blade after adjusting the knob/lever.
  • Trigger: this is the power button on the circular saw. The saw has no speed adjustment, ensure the blade is at full speed before you cut any material.
  • Base plate/shoe: allows you to adjust the depth by restricting the size of the exposed blade.

What you will need

To get the best results from, you’ll need to set up your working area accordingly. For starters, a good bench or table is required to provide the support. Other methods are used in supporting the wood, but the bench platform is the easiest method to go about it.

In workshops, the majority of reported accidents that occur when using the circular saw take place due to tripping over the cord. Make sure the cord (if you are using a corded circular saw) is long enough. Always keep a look out on the position of the cord. Basic gear such as glasses and ear protection will minimize the chances of getting hurt. Some drawing materials like set squares, pencils and markers are of course required.

How to make a cut?

There are two main types of cuts that can be made on timber using circular saws, the cross-cut and rip-cut. Cross-cuts are made against the grain while rip-cuts are made along the grain. Both cuts can be made by circular saws, but the cross-cut is easier to go about when compared with the rip-cut. Before attempting the rip-cut it is recommended you perfect the cross-cut.

Unplug the saw then measure the depth alongside the timber you intend to cut. Use the knob to adjust the depth to about 5-10mm. Once the depth is set tighten the knob. Ensure the wood or board is on a stable platform where nothing will be damaged when the blade rotates. The higher the better, this ensures that the cut piece falls. If you are making a piece that requires strict measurements, make marks on the wood to get accurate edges.

After making the measurements, turn on the saw (full speed) and follow the guidelines made using the marks. The blade will cut through the toughest materials with ease, you don’t necessarily need to apply force to make the cuts. If the blade slows down, then you are applying too much pressure. Always keep the base of the saw flat against the surface of the timber.

Once you have finished cutting, the guard should automatically return to the safety position. The cases of the retract mechanism jamming due to debris from wood are not unheard of, therefore, before touching any parts of the blade, make sure the blade has completely come to a stop, cooled down and is unplugged.


There you have it, if you have carefully read the guidelines above then you are good to go, you can now try working with the circular blades and construct your own masterpiece. Remember to maintain the blade by cleaning it after every cutting session. The cleaning can be done using a special fluid. Household cleaners can also be used, but not the aggressive ones like bleaching agent. Hope you have fun with your circular saw.

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