How to Use a Circular Saw

Getting to grips with new power tools can be a little daunting for any DIY novice but whether you’re making something new, fitting a floor or helping out on-site with a build, our guide on how to use a circular saw is here to help you get to grips with the basics.

Using a Circular Saw: Safety Precautions

Before you start, we recommend that you wear protective eye goggles and take extreme care when using any power tool. Ensure that you follow advice on setting blade depth to help prevent kickback or binding from the saw, and that you keep your saw guards in perfect working condition. Testing that they work correctly before use, according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, can make a real difference to your safety. Remember that you need an entirely different kind of blade to cut metal than you do for cutting wood.

This short step-by-step guide will explain how to use a circular saw for basic cutting of a simple length of material e.g. a plank or wooden flooring.

What you will need:

  • Circular saw
  • Sawhorse or saw table
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • A square (steel, angle or tri-square)

Step-by-Step

  1. Set up your sawhorse or saw table and then securely support the material you’re about to cut on it. Ensure that there is nothing directly underneath the material where you’ll be sawing. You must also make sure that there is room for any excess board to fall away freely once you have cut through, meaning that the board is not supported at both ends.
  2. Take your measuring tape or ruler and measure the length you wish to cut. Make a clear mark with your pencil.
  3. Take your square and mark, in pencil, the path that the blade should follow across the wood. This will serve as your guide when using your circular saw.
  4. Ensuring that it’s unplugged, set the saw to the correct depth for the cut. Measure the depth of the material you are cutting, then set the depth of your saw to 5-10mm more. The less difference there is between the depth of the blade and depth of the cut, the less kickback or binding will occur once the saw has gone through the wood.
  5. Line up the right-hand side of the saw blade to your pencil marking, then look at the two guide notches at the front of the saw and line them up with the marking.
  6. Put on your safety goggles, if you haven’t already. Plug in the saw, turn it on and begin to cut, ensuring that the base of the saw remains flat against the material. Keep your movements slow and steady, applying enough force to keep the blade cutting through and moving forward but not enough to cause binding.
  7. Once you have cut through the piece of material you’re working with, turn the saw off and ensure that the blade guard has returned to its safety position.

Now that you know how to use a circular saw, there’s no shortage of projects you can undertake. Remember to wear protective clothing and take care when operating the tool. Check out our handy how-to guides on other power tools, like angle grinders, and learn new skills at Wolseley.