Circular Saw Depth of Cut. How Deep Can I Cut?

How deep can a circular saw cut? See the circular saw cut depth for different size saws at various angles.

Circular saws are some of the most common types of saws found both on job sites and in woodworking shops. The relative ease of use, versatility, and portability make the circular saw a popular device. It’s also relatively inexpensive for the number of different cutting jobs it can perform.

How Deep Can a Circular Saw Cut?

Circular Saw Depth of Cut
One of the most common questions about a circular saw is how deep it can cut. The answer depends on the size of the blade being used. The bigger the blade diameter, the deeper it can cut. There may be exceptions depending on the saw itself, but in most cases, if you purchase a bigger blade, it can deliver a deeper cut for your needs.

What follows are the most common size of circular saw blades and their normal depth of cut at a 90-degree angle as well as a 45-degree angle.

Saw Size Max. Depth at 90° Cut Depth at 45°
5 ½ inch Saw 1 ¾ inch 1 3/16 inches
6 ½ inch Saw 2 13/32″ 1 11/16″
7 ¼ inch Saw 2 ½ inches 1 13/16 inch
8 ¼ inch Saw 2 7/8″ 2 ¼″
10 ¼ inch Saw 3 11/16″ (3.6875 inches) 2 ¾″ (2.75 inches)

In theory, a circular blade should be able to cut to a depth equal to the radius of the blade minus the flange nut or arbor diameter, whichever is larger. However, in the case of circular saws, you should also consider the thickness of the footplate or base shoe and the safe distance. Besides, too much protrusion of the blade will result in severe kickback and is not safe.

You also consider the angle of cut in the case of bevel cuts. Obviously, a 90-degree cut provides the maximum cut capacity while the 45-degree bevel will limit the thickness you cut through.

DEWALT (DWE575SB) 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with 15-Amp
Pic: Dewalt 7 ¼″ Saw Cutting Bevel – See Details

The same is true in case of a table saw, miter saw, and other similar power tools.

7 ¼″ Saw: How Deep Can a 7 ¼ Inch Circular Saw Cut?

This is arguably the most common size for circular saw blades. The 7 ¼″ is large enough to handle most jobs while being small enough to be portable and lightweight.

    Maximum Depth of Cut

  • 90-Degree: 2 ½″ (2.5 inches)
  • 45-Degree: 1 13/16″ (1.1875 inches)

SKIL 5280-01

SKIL Saw with 7-1/4 Inch blade

  • Saw Size: 7 ¼ -inch
  • Brand: SKIL 5280-01
  • Motor: 15 APMS
  • Bevel Angle: 51 degree max
  • Laser beam guide, Dust Blower
  • Price: Click Here to See the Price


6 ½″ Saw: How Thick Can a 6 1/2 Circular Saw Cut?

Not far behind the 7 ¼″ circular blade is the 6 ½″ saw, at least in terms of popularity. While the blade itself is smaller, it also makes the circular saw lighter and somewhat easier to handle in comparison to larger blades.

    Cut Capacity

  • 90-Degree: 2 13/32″ (2.40625 inches)
  • 45-Degree: 1 11/16″ (1.6875 inches)

8 ¼″ Circular Saw

This is the most popular of the larger types of circular saw blades. These are usually worm drive circular saws since they offer more of the power and torque. However, it is also heavier and less nimble compared to the 7 ¼″.

    Cutting Depth

  • 90-Degree: 2 7/8″ (2.875 inches)
  • 45-Degree: 2 ¼″ (2.25 inches)

5 ½″ Saw: How Deep Can a 5 1/2 Circular Saw Cut?

The smallest of the more common types of circular saw blades, the 5 ½″ is mostly used in woodworking shops and in homes because of its lightweight design. It can also be used on job sites as well, although not quite as versatile as the larger versions.

    Maximum Depth of Cut

  • 90-Degree: 1 ¾″ (1.75 inches)
  • 45-Degree: 1 3/16″ (1.1875 inches)

Can You Cut a 2 x 4 with a 5 ½″ Circular Saw?

Yes, but it will take more than one cut to do the job. That’s because there will still be ¼″ of the wood left after the first cut, so you will have to flip the board and cut again to go through the remaining material. All the other blades mentioned can go through the 2″ on a single cut.

8-inch and 9-inch Saws

These are not among the common sizes that you can find in your local tool store. However, they do exist and if you are buying online they are definitely an option. But before you buy any of the odd sizes check the availability of the blades.

How deep can an 8-inch circular saw cut?
The 8 inch Skilsaw has a cut capacity of up to 2 ¾ inches deep at 90-degree.

The 9-inch saw can cut to a thickness of 3 ¼″ when cut straight and 2 1/8 -inches at an angle of 45-degrees.

Circular Saw Depth Adjustment

Keep in mind that while circular saws are portable, they are also rather limited in terms of cuts compared to a jigsaw. A circular saw is designed to make straight cuts rather quickly, which includes both crosscuts and rip cuts. You can also make bevel cuts which is a great feature, although it may take a little practice to perfect.

As the name implies, the blade itself is in the shape of a circle with the teeth jutting outward. The top of the blade is covered with a blade guard to protect against dust and debris from flying away from the material. A shoe or footplate is set around halfway down the blade and will rest on the material itself. This allows for the cuts to be made.

Adjusting the Depth of the Cut

Circular Saw Depth Adjustment
How to adjust circular saw depth?
You can adjust the depth of the cut by moving the footplate or base shoe. Unlock the footplate lever which is usually located behind the blade guard. Then lower or raise the footplate to get the required blade depth and lock the base in position.

This allows you to work on different thicknesses of material without having to change the blades. However, the blade itself will determine the maximum thickness of the material which can be cut. There is also a bevel adjustment available on most circular saws for that type of work.

Best Circular Saws to use on 2x4s and 4x4s

Every blade that is listed in the article, save for the 5 ½″, will easily cut through a 2 x 4. You will need a second pass for the 5 ½″ circular saw to successfully cut a 2 x 4. However, a 4 x 4 is too thick for most of the blades mentioned to cut in a single pass. Plus, it cannot be cut by the 5 ½″ diameter saw blade at all since the maximum depth of the blade is less than 2″.

For cutting 2x4s, blades from 6 ½″ and up are recommended since you can cut the material in one pass. And the same size and above are recommended for cutting 4 x 4s, even if you need another pass to do the job.

For most woodworkers, the standard 7 ¼″ blade is good enough for most of the work you will face. It can cut 2 x 4s in one pass and 4 x 4s in two passes. Plus, it is versatile enough to be used in many different situations, making it the jack-of-all-trades circular saw for the type of work that it performs. If you are looking for something smaller, but not too small, then the 6 ½″ blade is probably right for your needs.

Worm Drive vs Sidewinder

The most common type of circular saw is the Sidewinder. This device has the motor on the same axis as the blade. The motor moves the blade thanks to a shaft that extends outward and makes a solid connection. The result is a powerful saw that is relatively easy to maintain and use.

The other type of circular saw is the worm drive which positions the motor at a right angle to the blade. This type of circular saw is designed for heavy-duty work as the gears used to drive the shaft which is connected to the blade add more torque. This type of circular saw tends to be longer and quieter compared to the Sidewinder and is generally used on construction or job sites.

The larger 8 ¼″ is generally reserved for the more expensive worm drive systems of circular saws. If you are doing a lot of heavy work on a job site or woodworking shop, then the larger circular saw blade makes perfect sense.

What Size Circular Saw to Cut 4×4?

The actual size of a 4″ x 4″ lumber is 3 ½″ x 3 ½-inches. If you want to cut through a 4×4 in a single pass, use a 10 ¼ inch circular saw. Although this saw is heavy, it can be very handy in situations such as cutting the top of fence posts that are already installed.

Largest Circular Saw

I am sure some of you are wondering what is the largest circular saw available in the market that offers the maximum depth of cut. Skilsaw and Makita make 16 5/16 inch circular saws that can go up to 6 ¼ inches deep. This means you can cut a 6×6 lumber in one cut which is some serious depth of cut!

SKILSAW 16-5/16 inch Large Circular Saw