Mastering the Art of Crosscuts with a Circular Saw
Making accurate cuts with a circular saw doesn’t have to be perplexing. By utilizing a few tools that are commonly found in a professional’s arsenal, you can effortlessly achieve flawlessly precise crosscuts whenever the need arises. Here, I have shared some of my top techniques.
Utilize a Rafter Square for Unerring Circular Saw Cuts
To achieve precise crosscuts with a miter saw, I rely on a simple yet effective method: guiding my circular saw shoe along the rafters using a rafter square. For larger 2×6 lumber, I prefer using 6″ squares, while wider planks call for 12″ models. Lightweight plastic rafter squares are ideal as they provide sturdy support and can easily fit into a back pocket. Steel and aluminum squares are equally suitable options.
It is crucial to orient the point of the square’s triangle towards you for two key reasons. Firstly, it provides enhanced guidance at the beginning of the cut where it is most needed. Secondly, it allows your hand holding the board to naturally wrap around the square and the board, positioning it against the saw’s thrust.
In addition to ensuring stability and accuracy throughout the crosscut, this method eliminates the need for drawing lines on the board. Simply align the saw’s cut line marks with your measurement marks, slide the square onto the saw’s base plate, and get cutting. For enhanced accuracy, try using a ballpoint pen instead of a thick pencil for marking.
Watch our video on this method!
Achieve Accuracy with a Straightedge for Circular Saw Cuts
When it comes to longer cuts, especially if the cut line isn’t entirely visible, using a ruler as a guide allows you to achieve precise results. Measure the exact distance from the edge of the circular saw shoe to the same side of the saw blade.
Once you have determined the measurement, add it to the original mark and create a new line. Place the ruler over the new mark, securely clamp it, and commence your cut.
From using a random straight piece as a quick guide to purpose-made guides for flush cuts, there is a range of options when it comes to straightedges. Opting for purpose-made guides not only reduces tearing but also eliminates the need for calculating the width of the saw shoe. Personally, I find a 3/8″ plywood strip bent in the middle to be an excellent choice. By holding the strip with the bow side up, I can easily secure it with one hand. When I need a tighter grip, I flip it over with the bow side down and clip the ends, leaving the middle part firmly in place.
Editor’s note: Check out our recommendations for the best cordless circular saws.
Consider the Depth of Cut
Be mindful of the thickness of squares and rulers when using circular saws with thin bases or low motor placement. To prevent the blade from shifting during the cut, adjust the saw’s depth accordingly. If the motor encounters the T-end of the rafter square while the blade is still in motion, simply trim away a bit of plastic from the square’s top edge to ensure clearance.
If you have any additional tips for achieving precise cuts with a circular saw, please share them in the comments below.