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BEVERLY'S TOOL BOX

#412 - Open House

Featured Tool - Circular Saw

You have seen us use a circular saw a few times already this season. This week we used it to assemble the niches we installed up a wall along a staircase. Just as a power drill/driver is to a plain screwdriver, so is a circular saw to an ordinary hand saw. You can cut about ten times as fast with practically no effort. And it's much easier to cut in a straight line! Therefore as your skills and your toolbox mature, a circular saw is an essential tool to have on hand, and makes many jobs easier.

Today circular saws either come with a power cord or are battery operated. The basic parts of the circular saw are:
  • The handle
  • The blade
  • Blade guard
  • Shoe
  • Depth control knob
  • Angle control knob


The saw operates using the switch that is found in the handle. The blade is attached to the motor spindle with a nut and washer. To change the blade, make sure you unplug the power cord, or remove the battery before attempting to loosen the nut. Next, the blade guard covers the teeth of the blade underneath the shoe. The shoe is the metal base or guide of the entire saw. This part can be raised or lowered to adjust the depth of a cut. Always reset depth before each use - there should only be three teeth visible below thickness of stock being cut. Having saw set at proper depth really helps prevent binding.

When you are ready to make the cut, first scribe a line, on the piece of wood where you want the cut to be. Place soleplate of saw on the wood and line blade up with your mark. DO NOT HAVE BLADE TOUCHING MATERIAL TO BE CUT before trigger is engaged and blade is spinning as it could cause the saw to kick back. Always stand to side of saw (not directly behind it in case it "kicks back". Guide saw away from your body along scribed line, which you can see through an opening in the shoe. Follow through with the saw for the entire length of the line. Always wear safety glasses when operating a circular saw, no loose clothing and keep your hands away from the blade. Follow all safety cautions in owner's manual.

In addition, there are many different types of blades you can get for a circular saw that can cut through different types of materials. The most common blades are used to cut through wood and are usually made from high-speed steel. Blades made out of aluminum oxide can be used to cut through metal, while blades made out of a silicone-carbide can cut through materials such as concrete, brick, or slate. As with any power tool you are using for the first time, make a few practice cuts on a scrap piece of wood to get comfortable with the tool before making your good cut.


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