Circular saw is one of the most useful handheld power tools to won and every shop should have one. Plus its a great tool for woodworking projects if you don’t have table saw or if you just have limited space. Since it’s a portable tool, you can build projects anywhere. In driveway, your patio, or even on a balcony.A circular saw is similar to a table saw but instead of feeding lumber through the saw, you pass the saw through a stationary board. Unlike table saw though, it’s safe to make freehand cuts with circular saw. Though you will get straighter cuts if you use a fence or guide.
Circular saw has two handles to help you control the saw with both hands. The rear handle has trigger that you will hold throughout the cut. Some saw have safety button that you need to press first to prevent accidental starts. Typically the blade is to the right of the motor, but if you are lefty there is left-handed saw you can buy. It will help you keep the blade to the left side of your body. But some right-handlers actually prefer having the blade on the left side where it’s easier to see. It’s just a personal preference.
The base plate of the saw rest flat against the surface of the wood and keep the blade running at a constant angle to the wood. Usually of course that 90 degree angle. Some circular saw have aluminum base plates which are lighter weigh and less expensive. But if you plan to use the saw for more than just occasionally get better resluts with a steel base. The base tilts for making bevel cuts. The saw has engaged to set the angle you want and it also you can adjust the saw up or down to make deeper or shallower cuts. All saw will have blade guard and it’s retracts automatically when you start cutting.
The circular saws come in with variety of sizes for all kind of purposes. The most common size is the seven and a quarter inch saw. Meaning it uses seven and a quarter inch blades. There is battery operated saws or corded one. It’s probably a lot easier to use cordless saw rather than messing around with an extension cord, but corded saw are less expensive. New circular saw will most likely come equipped with combination or all purpose blade. Every saw may have its own unique little system for changing blades, but they all pretty similar.
To get good cuts and to prevent injury it’s important that the wood you are cutting is held securely in place. A sawhorse or pair of saw horse is handy for this especially when you are cutting boards or small pieces of flywood. Just clamp the workpiece in place. It’s better not to clamp down the offcut piece because the two halves might collapse in on each other when you get to the end of the board. This can cause the saw to bind and even kickback. While kickback on a circular saw isn’t as dangerous as kickback on table saw it can be very jarring and can cause the saw to lunge toward your body. If your saw does bind or kickback, release the trigger and adjust the wood so it’s not pinching. The problem with not supporting off cut piece is that its weight can cause the wood to break or splinter as you get toward the end. Instead I prefer to cut most pieces on the ground om top a styrofoam. This method provides offcut support giving you cleaner cut and eliminates kickback.
Like a table saw, a circular saw really can only make straight cuts. First set depth of your cut by adjusting the blade along the edge of your board. Set it as barely deeper than the thickness of wood and lock it down. There is usually scale that indicates ideal setting for whatever thickness of wood. The easiest method for making cuts is freehand. But you can also draw a line where you want to make the cut and follow along the line. This is handy for rough construction projects and framing where the cuts aren’t critical.
To make a cut set the front of the base plate flat against the wood surface. The base has two notches that tell you exactly where the blade will cut. One is for regulare 90 degree cuts and the other is for bevels. Make sure you are wearing eye protection and hearing protection, and it’s not a bad idea to wear a dust mask. Squeeze the trigger and start feeding the saw into the wood after the blade is spinning. Position you body to the side not directly behind the saw. Follow the line using that notch for reference, you can also look at the blade from the side. The blade guard will automatically spring back to its closed position allowing you to safely set the saw down while blade is coming to stop.
To get straighter and more accurate cuts you will need to set up a guide of some sort for you base plate to ride along. You can use anything for straight edge including the factory cut endge, or even a level to your workpiece.