Portable Circular Saws

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Portable Circular Saws

The portable circular saw was originally developed to help construction workers for house-framing lumber to be cut to size right at the job without the time and effort formerly necessary by the hand saw.

Hand sawThe power tool will cut a 2 x 4 in seconds whereas a hand saw would take up to a minute for the same job.

With some knowledge and a few jigs, portable circular saw applications can perform as a table saw or miter saw. You can use a circular saw to cut dadoes, bevels, miters, and rabbets for pieces of identical sizes.

The greatest advantage is you can carry the circular saw and apply it to the work for preliminary cuts on a large plywood panel in the shop or trimming roof deck boards at the work site.

Saw size is specified by the diameter of the blade. This determines the depth of the cut or the thickness of the material it can cut through on both straight cuts and on 45-degree bevels. If you only plan to use it for 3/4-inch stock, there is no problem; however, it’s more practical to think in terms of 2-inch thick stock.

Most Used Models

Crafts people typically use the 6- to 8-inch size. The larger the size the more expensive and heavier it will be. A small size will be more comfortable to operate if it will do the work you want to do.

Parts of a typical portable circular saw

Parts of a typical portable circular saw

After you purchase your circular saw, try it out to become familiar with it and how it handles for you. Make test cuts on 3/4-inch plywood clamped securely and try it on a 2 x 4 length supported on saw horses or other platform.

Circular sawsBe safe and away from the line cut so that the weight of the saw is supported by the bulk of the material not the part being cut off.

Facing the blade, it will be turning counter clockwise, meaning it’s cutting on the up stroke. This means the good face of the stock should be down when you cut.

Feed speed is judged by how the saw is cutting. Elements for consideration are thickness and hardness of the wood and cutting with or across the grain. The most important consideration is keeping the blade cutting without slowing down putting undo stress on the motor.

Portable circular saws will kick back easily if you bind the blade by going off the line. Binding can also happen on green wood when the kerf closes. To prevent this, use a shim in the kerf to keep it open. Some saws have a riving knife. This is comparable to a splitter on a table saw.

The newer circular saw models have a slip clutch feature to prevent the blade from kicking back when there’s a knot in the wood. The motor continues to turn but the saw blade doesn’t. Your User’s Guide will tell you how to adjust it.

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