How Does a Circular Saw Work?

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Circular saws are one of the most necessary working weapons for builders and carpenters. You must have seen a construction worker using this handheld power tool as it makes every cutting job quick, easy and efficient. Off course, they are not required for every cutting job, but there are chances that you may need one while working on projects related to wood., especially renovations.

A circular saw is powered by electricity to spin its blade that is available in different diameters. Example, 6.5-inch blades are used to cut woods while bigger and powerful blades sizing 12 or 18 inches can go through cement. So, whether you are a beginner or professional, you can take plenty of benefits from this saw.

In this post, we will talk about the working of a circular saw. But, before we do that, it is essential to know the different parts of this saw.

Basic parts of a circular saw


There are a variety of circular saws from different brands. So, we are discussing only the necessary parts that all the circular saws are supposed to have because there are features or parts that may be available on one model but not on the another. If you know about the parts, then it will be also easier for you to purchase a circular saw, which will be helpful for a particular project.

  • Base plate

A square shaped weighted plate with a printed metric ruler is attached as a base in the anatomy of a circular saw. The metric ruler helps you to measure the cuts for complete accuracy and precision. As this is a circular saw, most of the measurements are in circular motion.

The base plate is adjustable anywhere between 45 to 90 degrees, making circular saw one of the most versatile saws available. If you are working on wood projects, you can also tilt the base plate for angled cuts.

  • Blade

Being a saw, it has to feature a sharp blade. You can set the depth of the blade for all kind of jobs, even at 0.3 inches for delicate cuts. Adjustment lever of the blade is mounted at the back of the motor. Keep your hands away all the times from a spinning blade.

  • Blade guard

A blade guard is a safety component that is available in most of the circular saws. There are two parts of a blade guard – fixed and floating. A fixed guard always remains over the top of the blade and you cannot remove it at all while the floating one can be removed once you are ready to use the saw. Most of the guards come with a handle so that you can adjust it if it is coming in your way while working. We will not recommend using a circular saw without a blade guard.

  • Ripping fence

Not all but most of the circular saws comes with a ripping fence. It is used to guide the blade while you cut along a wooden material, especially while making straight cuts. Using a ripping fence, you can achieve smooth and straight cuts, but it will not be of any help while making angled cuts.

  • Dust ejector

A dust ejector cleans all the wood debris from your face while you are busy spinning the blade at high speed. This is not available in all the circular saws, but only some of them.

Types of circular saws


Now, let us talk about the different types of circular saws. You should also know the types so that you can purchase and use one of them according to a particular task.

a. Trim Saws

5-inch (12.7 cm) circular saws that come with a fine teeth blade, usually located on the left side of the motor so that you can have a clear view of cutting path. Trim saws are available with AC mode 120V power supply and also with rechargeable batteries having different operating voltages.

b. 6.5-inch circular saws

If you see a circular saw with 6.5 inches (16.51 cm) of length, be known that it is used for ripping or cutting lumber and plywood for construction and renovation works.

c. Skilsaws

As the name explains, Skil is the major manufacturer of such circular saws that comes with a length of 7 ¼ inches (18.4 cm). Known as the backbone of the construction industry as it is mainly used to rip apart lumbers and also frame them to the required length. Such saws come with a variety of blade options that you can use to cut concrete, sheets, tubes, pipes, and many other composite materials.

d. 8 or 10-inch circular saws

Both of these circular saws are mainly used to rip apart lumbers, similar to 6.5-inch circular saws. But, the former types have an upper hand as they are capable of cutting 4 inches (10.2 cm) thick cuts. Such saws are heavier than any other type and this is the reason why they are mainly used in the industries.

e. Worm drive saw

Such saws with a length of 7 ¼ inches use worm gear drive for power. These are generally used for ripping lumber and cutting plywood sheathing. Similar to 6-inch circular saws, worm drives also has its blade located on the left side of the motor, so that you can have a clear view of the cutting path.

Set up a circular saw for use


Before you turn on the circular saw, make sure you know you have the answer to the following two questions.

a. What materials are you about to cut?

b. Do you need an angled cut or you can use a saw table for straight cuts?

Once you have the answers, you can follow the given hints and use the circular saw to complete the cutting process.

  • Material support

Suppose you are cutting a wooden plank, you cannot just hold that in your hand and cut it using a circular saw. Make sure that, it is placed on a stable surface like a sawhorse or a saw table.

  • Mark the materials

Use a measuring tape and pencil or wood marker to streak the wood plank or any material that you are working on. Marking the cutting path will help you to align the blade for the desired accuracy.

  • Depth setting

Do not stretch the depth setting too much. Example, if you are cutting a wooden plank with a thickness of 50 mm, set the circular saw at 45 mm. Following such practice will result in better accuracy and you will also be safe from kickbacks.

  • Check the saw guard

Make sure that the blade guard is working smoothly. Once you lower down the saw to cut the wooden plank, the guard should be pushed up. Saw guard is there for your safety and “you” have to make sure that it is doing the job.

  • Start cutting

Align the baseplate as per the pencil marks and start the circular saw. Always keep a watch on the guide and maintain your natural position.

Repeat the same process for all the required cuts. Do not hurry and take your time while making the arrangements and adjustments. You always have to be patient while using power tools, especially saws.

Bottom line


Most of the carpenters and other professionals keep circular saws in their workshops as these saws make cutting jobs easy, fast and accurate. You can also take benefit from circular saws if you know it’s working and take precautions to yourself and the power tool.

We have given the overviews of its parts, types and how to start cutting, but you have to keep working and practicing to be an expert. Remember to wear eye protection and face mask while using a circular saw or any other tool that spreads wood debris and dust particles.

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