A Beginners Guide to Circular Saw
A circular saw is an absolute must for any DIY enthusiast or serious contractor when it comes to critical power instruments.
These multi-purpose saws are the cornerstone of electric-powered saws, with applications ranging from huge building projects to minor household duties.
A circular saw, despite its simplicity, can handle a variety of materials other than wood. These saws, like table saw, can cut through anything from masonry to metal, depends on the blades you use and the sorts of blades you use.
Are you unfamiliar with circular saws’ capabilities, design, and applications?
You’re not the only one who feels this way. We’ll walk you through all of the essential facts you’ll need to understand how these saws function and what they can do for you, regardless of your degree of expertise, in this best circular saw guide.
If you’re looking for a circular saw but aren’t sure what to look for, we’ve got your back. Continue reading to find out our everything you need to know.
What Is A Circular Saw And How Does It Work?
A circular saw, in its most basic definition, is any power saw that cuts with an abrasive or toothed disc/blade that revolves around an arbor in a rotational motion.
Although the principle is simple, there are numerous moving pieces within it.
Circular saws can cut a variety of materials, such as wood, stone, plastic, and metals. These saws can be hand-held or attached to a machine, and they vary in size but not significantly.
When it comes to woodworking, the phrase “circular saw” solely applies to the hand-held variety, while table saws and chop saws are also widespread. Skil saw has thus become a general term for any traditional hand-held circular saw.
Although circular saws may cut a variety of materials, the type of blade used for each material is what determines how well they cut. Wood-cutting blades are specifically intended to make rip-cuts, crosscuts, or a mix of both.
The great majority of circular saws are electric-powered., but there are some that are gasoline-powered and even some that are hydraulically powered. The common contractor or homeowner, for the most part, uses an electric-powered version with a cord.
History of the Circular Saw
Circular saws date back to the late 1800s and have a long and storied history., when they were first designed as rip-saws and employed in sawmills to transform logs into timber.
Prior to the invention of circular saws, logs were sawn by hand with a pit saw or powered saws that used an up-and-down reciprocating motion. These saws were effective, but not quite as efficient as they should have been for the job.
Because while spinning, the teeth are constantly moving, rather than the back-and-forth process of other saws, this led to the design of the circular saw, which cuts quicker. Because of the incessant buzzing sound it created when cutting through wood, the circular saw was given the moniker buzz-saw.
These newer, smaller diameter circular saws were first employed in sawmills to resaw dimension lumber used for edging boards and other purposes like lath and wall studs.
Larger diameter saw blades were employed for the head saws as technology advanced and progressed, allowing them to cut through clapboards.
Returning to the original creator of the working circular saw, there are a slew of claims.
The following are the most important claims:
- Samuel Miller, a little-known sailmaker from Southampton, England. In 1777, he received a patent for a sawmill. However, the specification just describes the saw’s form, therefore he’s unlikely to be the one who invented it.
- In 1780, Gervinus of Germany is credited with developing the circular saw.
- In 1762, Southampton’s Walter Taylor established a saw mill where he roughed out the blocks. In 1781, it was replaced by a newer mill design. His machines were described in detail, and he did have circular saws. Taylor patented two other innovations to blockmaking, but not the circular saw, for whatever reason. This indicates that he either did not invent it or that he publicized it without filing a patent application. It might seem odd that he would have these saws without any explanation as to where they originated from, but it’s possible that they were designed by him.
- Some claim Tabitha Babbitt, a Shaker innovator, used circular saws in a saw mill around 1813 after noticing the inefficiencies of traditional saw pits.
Because the demand for a more agile and efficient sawing method was not limited to just one section of the world, it’s extremely possible that several people came up with the idea based on the information above.
Why Should Every Craftsman And DIY Enthusiast Have A Circular Saw?
This is actually fairly straightforward. Every craftsman, whether a professional or someone who wants to do most of their house projects on their own, must cut items at some point.
It’s an inevitable requirement. Wood, metal, plastic, and even stone don’t always come in the right size or shape for what you need.
And if you’ve ever worked on a home project before, you know how important precision is, especially when it comes to larger structures or little details like cabinet drawers.
Unless you want to go the caveman route and use a handsaw for everything, you’ll want a circular saw that is fast, efficient, and precise while still being portable and versatile. A circular saw is what I’m referring to. A hand-held version, to be precise.
You need a saw not only for its size and portability, but also for the kind of cuts it can make.
Cross-cuts can be made with circular saws (across the grain), rip cuts (along the grain), and plunge cuts (which are less common) (Begin by raising the blade above the object and dropping it into it.) The circular saw is the monkey wrench of cutting instruments since it can make all of these kind of cuts.
A traditional circular saw doesn’t take up much room, and you can always carry it about with you, whether you’re sitting on your roof or standing in your child’s half-built treehouse.
As a result, a circular saw can tackle both large and little tasks, and it doesn’t require a lot of training or special equipment to use. A circular saw is a must-have tool in any workshop, even if you don’t have a jigsaw or miter saw.
Circular Saw Anatomy
To better comprehend how a circular saw works, it’s a good idea to learn about all of the different pieces and what they do.
The plate is in the center of the saw and wraps around it on all sides. The plate allows the operator to rest the saw on an object while cutting, which helps maintain it level and sturdy. This can also be used as a guide for moving the saw along the object.
The bevel adjustment is near the front and to the side of the saw. It is in charge of altering the bevel angle during cutting, allowing the user to easily make angles in the product. A knob affixed to the plate is frequently used to do this.
The bolt clamp is used to hold the blade in place against the saw’s body.
The blade cover is designed to fit securely on the top and bottom over the blade, with a small space at the front of the blade for cutting.
As you might expect, this provides protection from accidental blade contact, whether it’s with the user or with other surrounding items.
The cover also acts as a mudflap for a bike tire, preventing debris from blowing all over around.
The saw’s blade is responsible for all of the cutting. The blade must be the correct size for the saw’s body and remove the bolt clamp if you want to replace. There are several saw blades for various materials, which we’ll discuss further down.
It’s very self-explanatory. If you have a corded circular saw, its cord will be on the rear, and it will usually be removable for storage.
When the saw is in operation, the handle is utilized to maneuver it. Higher-end models will have ergonomic innovations that make it easier to grasp while sawing while also increasing stability.
Power Switch And Trigger
This switches the saw on and off, which is extremely useful while working with a saw. When the saw is turned on, the trigger underneath the handle can be used to turn it on and off. An electric brake is available on several circular saws.
Types of Circular Saws
A sidewinder, also known as an in-line saw, is possibly the most popular circular saw. Because the motor is on the side of the saw, it is more compact.
The motor can now rest on the solid workpiece rather than the cutoff part.
Because the sidewinder is typically lighter than other circular saws, it’s ideal for cutting materials from above. Because the motor is so close to the blade, it may spin at a higher speed.
Sidewinder saws are generally available as cordless models, and they don’t always require frequent lubrication. As a result, they are the most suitable in terms of convenience, weight, speed, and upkeep.
The engine of a worm drive saw is situated toward the back of the tool, making it longer and narrower than a sidewinder.
Two gears positioned at 90-degree angles convey the saw’s cutting force to the blade. This arrangement reduces the blade’s speed, but it provides higher torque on the other hand.
Why is this useful?
The saw’s length makes it easier to cut broader boards and plunge-cutting is also easier. This saw does require some additional maintenance, such as oiling every now and then.
Because they have a similar appearance to worm drive saws, they are frequently misidentified. Hypoid saws have a separate transmission and gearbox than other saws, despite their identical appearance.
The term comes from the hypoid gear used by the saw, which is a form of spiral bevel gear with an axis that is not parallel to the axis of the meshing gear. The hypoid design increases blade contact, increases power and efficiency, and reduces motor size and noise.
Because hypoid saws have a sealed motor system, no oil is required. Hypoid saws are heavier than rim drive saws and are better for cutting large sections of wood, especially if the wood is wet or moist.
To summarize, we examined the advantages and disadvantages of these three types and summed them in the table below.
|Best for:||DIY Woodworking||Plunge cutting||Cutting wet wood|
|Pros:||Portability, versatility||Reach, power||Power, adjustability|
|Cons:||Lack of power for deeper cuts.||Maintenance||Weight, price|
Circular Saw Blades
As previously mentioned, there are a variety of saw blade varieties, each of which is designed to cut different things.
Common Wood Blades
Ripping Saw Blades
When ripping wood or cutting in the same direction as the wood grain, these blades are designed to provide a smooth, clean, and safe cut.
They have a small number of big, straight teeth, which allows the chopped dust to be cleaned more efficiently. A good one will easily cut through practically any form of wood.
Combination Saw Blades
These blades are the most common and are designed to cut both rips and crosscuts. Combination blades are available in a variety of tooth counts and can cut in both directions.
For circular saws with insufficient power, combination saw blades are ideal. The amount of material lost is low. The smoother the cut, the more teeth there are.
They’re also known as all-purpose saw blades, so it’s no surprise that they’re found on practically every circular saw on the market.
Crosscut Saw Blades
When cutting perpendicular to the wood grain, these blades produce a smooth, clean, and safe cut. Kerfed teeth are used in crosscut blades, which means they alternate between leaning left and right.
The majority of crosscut saw blades are carbide tipped, therefore you’ll have to replace them out more frequently than the other two types of woodworking saw blades.
As a result, utilize it with caution.
The purpose of a masonry cutting blade is to cut through hard materials like concrete and natural stone. Masonry blades are formed of fiberglass-reinforced silicone carbide abrasive, which is the same material used in sandpaper, and have no teeth.
Masonry blades come in two varieties: one for softer materials like concrete block, brick, and limestone, and another for tougher materials like concrete, marble, granite, and all types of glazed ceramic tile.
Metal Cutting Blades
Metal-cutting abrasive blades are toothless, and they often include heat expansion channels cut into them to dissipate the heat generated during the cutting process.
Copper tubing, aluminum flashing, aluminum siding, and most other ferrous and non-ferrous metals, including brass, bronze, and light-gauge sheet steel, may all be cut with these blades.
These blades are more durable than steel blades and can maintain their sharpness for longer periods of time.
Carbide-Tipped (TCT Blades)
Carbide-tipped blades are commonly constructed of boron, calcium, and/or silicon, as well as metals like cobalt, tantalum, titanium, and tungsten. This makes them exceedingly tough, allowing them to easily withstand other hard materials.
These blades are ideal for cutting through plywood, aluminum, plastic, and melamine with ease, and they’re especially popular among cabinet makers and sign makers because they can even cut through acrylic.
Ceramic tile blades are made specifically for cutting ceramic tile. Diamond tips are found on higher-end tile-cutting blades.
Circular Saw Power Options
Cordless Circular Saws
The most convenient circle saws are cordless circular saws, which do not require you to be near a power source.
Because the batteries have a limited charge, these are suitable for cutting wood and wood products. Other materials consume more energy and deplete batteries more quickly. They can cut harder materials, but the power required quickly depletes the batteries.
Corded Circular Saws
Corded circular saws are more capable of handling long sawing jobs and/or stronger materials because they don’t rely on batteries for power. Corded saws exist in a variety of sizes, the most common of which being 7-1/4 inches.
Remember that corded circular saws require an appropriate extension cord, so read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Specifications of a Circular Saw
When measuring available power, corded saws are measured in amps, while cordless saws are measured in volts. More cutting power is comparable to higher amps and volts.
The maximum depth of cut that a saw can provide. As a result, the larger the blade, the deeper the cut. 7-1/4 inches is the most typical blade diameter. Keep in mind that saws with a smaller blade capacity tend to be lighter and easier to maneuver.
When the trigger is released, electric brakes are utilized to reverse the flow of power in the saw’s motor. Reversing the stream stops the blade faster than just allowing it to spin until it loses velocity. These brakes can usually bring the blade to a complete halt in less than two seconds. The circular saw will continue to spin for up to 15 seconds if there is no electrical brake.
The blade may be changed out considerably more easily and quickly using spindle and shaft locking. The shaft and blade are immobilized by the shaft lock. Please read our comprehensive guide to replacing saw blades.
Bevel Capacity and Laser Guidance
The maximum bevel cut/angle the saw can make is indicated by its bevel capacity. Bevel stops are settings that allow for rapid bevel cut changes. Laser guides, on the other hand, can provide precision cutting by protecting a guiding beam onto the thing you’re cutting and displaying the exact route ahead of the blade.
Safety Tips for Circular Saws
Saws are used for cutting, so they pose a risk that should be avoided as much as possible. There are a few guidelines to follow when using circular saws in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly and without incident.
Before you start sawing, make sure you have the following points in mind:
- Wear safety glasses, goggles, or a full face shield at all times.
- When working with hazardous dusts and debris from the substance, use an authorized respirator or dust mask.
- When in a noisy environment, wear suitable hearing protection.
- Check the lower blade guard to see if it retracts freely.
- Make sure the blade is sufficiently sharp. Sharper blades are less likely to slip, which makes them safer.
- Check the blade rotation of the saw and make sure everything is straight and in line.
- While the saw is unplugged, set the blade depth and lock it at a depth where the lowest tooth does not reach more than 0.3 cm (1/8′′) beneath the wood.
- Any cords should be kept clear and away from the cutting regions.
- Circular saws are designed to be operated with the right hand, so if you’re left-handed, you’ll need to be extra cautious.
Tips for while you’re using the saw:
- Before laying the saw down, make sure the retracting lower blade guard has returned to its original starting position.
- Keep the upper and lower blade guards clean and clear of any sawdust that could obscure them.
- Before adjusting or changing the blade of the saw, turn off the power completely.
- Before you start cutting, let the saw achieve full speed and power.
- When cutting with the saw, use both hands – one on the trigger switch and the other on the front knob handle.
- Keep the motor clean of any debris or sawdust accumulation.
- Always use the appropriate blade for the job. Don’t try to make anything work that shouldn’t.
- To avoid any movement, make sure the material being cut is completely secure.
Here are some things you should never do while sawing:
- In the open position, never push the retracting lower guard to retract.
- Never put your hand under the saw’s shoe or guard.
- To modify, cut, or verify the alignment of the saw, never twist it.
- Use a saw that does not vibrate or appears to be unstable in any manner.
- Do not slash Without first checking for impediments such as nails or screws, start cutting any material.
- Don’t go too far. As you cut, maintain correct footing and balance, and move accordingly.