How To Cut Straight With A Circular Saw & More Skil-Type Tips: Our Foolproof Guide

Our Foolproof Guide

While a lot of DIY fans are very comfortable when using tools like a jigsaw or electric drill to complete their woodworking projects at home, a circular saw is often a lot more worrying. With their noisy, dangerous and powerful reputation, circular saws look frightening so it’s no wonder that even the keenest DIY enthusiast is wary about picking one up. They can do a lot of damage both to property and you yourself if you don’t take the appropriate precautions and take the time to learn how to use one properly.However, they’re not so difficult to use if you follow these helpful tips.

Knowing how to cut straight with a circular saw is vital before you start using your equipment. Here is a quick guide to make sure you stay safe.

Inspecting Your Saw

Inspect your saw, making sure that its lower blade guard is retracting smoothly and snapping back when it is released. Check for any broken or chipped teeth and replace if you discover any damage. Check that the power cord is intact or the battery has been properly charged.

Never cut using a blade that is damaged, rusty or dull. Use a thin-kerf carbide-tipped combination blade as this is ideal for use on plywood and solid wood alike. Adjust the cut depth so the blade will extend no further than a quarter of an inch past the edge of the board.

Positioning Your Saw

There aren’t any fixed rules about which direction you should make your cut, however if possible, always position your saw with the motor facing the bigger section of the board. This will ensure that the shoe or base plate of the saw is well supported so you won’t need to hold up the saw’s weight.

Making A Crosscut

Make a square crosscut. You can do this by guiding the saw using a speed square, framing square or layout square. Hold your saw with the blade on the cutting line then move the square so it is against the base plate of the saw, pressing it tight to the board’s edge. Check to ensure the blade doesn’t make contact with the board. Squeeze the trigger, allowing the saw to get up to its full speed before guiding it along the square producing a square and clean cut.

Supporting The Sheet

Put four 2x4s under the sheet being cut, with one close to both sides of your cutting line. When you cut, each half will have good support throughout the cutting process. If you are cutting using a sawhorse, ensure the cut is outside the pair of sawhorses rather than between them.

Rip Cuts

Rips cuts run parallel to the wood grain and the majority of circular saws are supplied with a rip guide which attaches onto the base plate of the saw. Unfortunately, these only allow a rip of approximately 6 inches in width. Instead, use an 8 foot long board and clamp it in place as a straight edge guide. Mark your cutting line on the bit of wood you’re ripping and measure the length from the saw base plate to the saw blade. Measure that distance from the cut line then screw or clamp your straight edge guide into place. While making the cut, keep the base plate of the saw closely pressed to the straight edge guide.

General Advice

Avoiding Splintering

The blade of a circular saw goes through the board’s bottom and then exits through its top, and this often causes splintering on the surface. While this isn’t a problem if you’re cutting floor joists or wall studs, it could be an issue if you’re sawing through hardwood. You can avoid it happening by putting the panel or board with its nice surface face down and this means splintering only occurs on the back or top. If you’re trimming a door to size, eliminating splintering on both sides is necessary, but this can be done by again placing the nice side face down, then scoring the cut line edge using a utility knife. When you cut, the wood fiber breaks cleanly off at the line you’ve scored, leaving a splinter free, smooth cut.


If you’re cutting several sheets of plywood to an identical size you should try gang cutting. This involves stacking up to 5 sheets together keeping their edges aligned perfectly. Clamp all the pieces then adjust the blade of your saw to its max cut depth. Saw through the sheets all together. This saves you time and effort and ensures that all of your sheets are identical.

Bevel Cuts

Every circular saw is adjustable to form angled bevel cuts of a minimum of 45 degrees. Yet if you tilt the base plate all the one to one side, often the guard of the lower blade will catch on the board’s edge. Should this happen, avoid forcing the saw. Release the saw’s trigger instead, lift up its blade guard manually before making the cut. After the blade has made an inch deep cut into the wood, releasing the guard is possible.

Gravity Cutting

Should you need to make a vertical straight and long cut into a wall, you should use a circular saw to achieve your goal. Always start at the very top of your wall and then cut downwards as this will ensure gravity is in your favor, allowing the saw’s own weight to move the blade as you progress through the cut.

What’s Next

Follow these top tips and you should find that cutting a straight line using a circular saw isn’t as difficult as you thought that it might be. Of course, you must always take appropriate safety precautions when using any kind of power tool and wear proper safety gear and eyewear so that you don’t accidentally get injured during your project.

You can find current reviews of the best circular saws here!

Stay safe and enjoy your next woodworking project using your circular saw – cutting straight will seem easier than ever!

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