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Tool Tutorial Friday – Circular Saw Tutorial

Today is Friday! And you know what that means…it’s time for another Tool Tutorial Friday! Today I’ll be introducing you to the circular saw.


But first, how are you? I don’t know about your week, but I’ve had a busy one. If you follow me on Twitter (I’m not sure why anyone would), you would have been privy to the rainbow of color casts my son has been collecting. He received his 4th cast yesterday. But, who’s counting, right?! Anyway, I learned two things about casts in the process.

  1. Little boy arms will swell to adult proportions post surgery, but will eventually return to normal size…eventually. At that point, a new cast is desired to keep the arm from finding a way to wiggle out.
  2. If you put two brothers in the bathtub and leave the room for one nano-second they will find a way to water log a tightly plastic bagged and saran-wrapped cast that is merely 5 days old!

Mr. Green up there, he only lasted a mere 5 days! You could probably tell by the one signature on it. My mom is trying to convince us to paint white stripes around his current red cast to make it into a candy cane. Hee, hee.

And now let’s plug in some power and start this tutorial!

A circular saw is essentially a portable power saw that can make easy cross cuts like a miter saw. But, it can also rip long boards like a table saw. This little hand held bad boy is a necessity if you are working on an exterior project like a deck or a fence, or anything that is too big to put on the miter saw or table saw work surface. Trimming the varied lengths off newly laid deck boards would be near impossible without a circular saw.

Before I owned either a table or miter saw, this was my power saw. And this baby has cut a lot of wood in its life.

If you are familiar with circular saws, this particular model may look a little bit backwards to you. That is because this is a left-sighted circular saw. I think Porter Cable is one of the few companies (if not the only one) to make one. I am right handed, but for some reason, this saw seemed more comfortable to me. When I was shopping for my circular saw, I spent about an hour or so picking up, holding and imagining using the saw. What I liked about the Porter-Cable is that it had a smaller grip and I was able to span my hand width between the hand hole and the guard lever while cutting.

If you go shopping for a circular saw, spend some time holding them and see what feels most comfortable to you.

Circular saws range in price from as low as $30 up to $300 or more. They come in a variety of  sizes (5 3/4″ – 9″) which refers to the blade size. The most common size people buy is a 7 1/4″.

Before you make any cuts with a circular saw, you must set your depth of cut. If cutting through a board, set the blade about 1/8″ – 1/4″ lower than your lumber. Support your lumber on saw horses or a raised surface (4″ x 4″ posts on the ground work well.) It is imperative that you think through your cut before you actually saw a board. Make sure that your waste end will fall away from the saw after it is cut. Otherwise, the blade will get pinched between the boards and can kickback (see the example in the video.)

You can also change the bevel angle of your cut by adjusting the base of the saw after loosening the bevel adjustment knob.

As with any other power tool. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your power tool. Read the manual and only use a power tool when you are alert and not distracted.


The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic circular saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a circular saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)


27 replies
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  1. Alice
    Alice says:

    Love your tutorial. I wonder why it seems so much clearer when a woman explains something instead of a man. Perhaps a yellow cast would round out the colors. However I do like the candy cane idea since it is the season.

  2. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Thank you for continuing your education for women on power tools! I learn so much from your posts. I’m also glad to know that my son wasn’t the only one with multiple arm casts! Pink hammer – cool.

  3. Kas3dot0 (Stephanie)
    Kas3dot0 (Stephanie) says:

    Yay finally a tool tutorial with the next power tool that I’m planning to purchase. Thanks PHG! As always very informative tutorial. Since I don’t have room for a table saw I think a circular saw is the next best thing. I hope your son is getting better. Hmm.. maybe the next color should be purple! A pink hammer would be awesome!

    I hope I can make it to the next workshop. I think it’s this weekend at the Cary store.

  4. Monique
    Monique says:

    Thank you for all the Tool Tutorials. They’ve been very informative and I feel better about attempting to use the tools. At least when I go to one of the big box stores, I’ll have some knowledge about what to ask for and how to use it. In other words, I won’t look like an idiot, maybe. 🙂

  5. seansmom
    seansmom says:

    Am envious of your saw. The only circular saw around here belongs to hubby, is a million years old and weighs a TON, so I never use it. Guess I need to ask Santa for one of my own!
    Your tutorials are great..clear, concise and easy to understand. Great job!

  6. John
    John says:

    Two things. I am a real tyrant about safety on my job site; Don’t wear jewelry, and do all of your adjustments with the saw unplugged.

  7. Felicia Kramer
    Felicia Kramer says:

    I’m embarrassed to admit that the circular saw I bought a LONG time ago is still in the case because I’m a little intimidated by it. I think this tutorial will help me work up my courage! Thanks.

  8. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    I bought my first circular saw on black friday. Can’t wait to get started. Thank you so much for the tutorials. Can you please add the links to all these tool tutorials under the MY TOOLBOX tab? It will be so easy to find them for future reference. Thanks again. you are awesome.

  9. Suzanne B
    Suzanne B says:

    😉 love Susie’s comment.

    I am thankful for your Friday tool tutorials. I just got a Kreg jig for my birthday last month. I am learning so much from my blog idols;) I’d love to get the pink hammer- I have a house full of boys, they would leave my hammer alone.


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