Circular saws are useful for woodworking, carpentry, construction, building crafts, DIY, and home improvement work. They have the size and power to cut larger pieces of material yet can be portable and taken to a job site.
While circular saws may not be better than other saws for precision cuts or specific uses, they are some of the most versatile saws on the market.
What is a Circular Saw Used for?
Circular saws are primarily used for cutting wood, plywood, aluminum, and other types of softer metals, plastics, and types of harder materials, such as ceramic tiles. The cuts are made in a straight line and are generally used on construction sites, but they can also be found in many garages and workshops.
The key to the versatility of the circular saw is the ability to change out the blade. This allows for different materials to be cut with precision. It is why the circular saw is seen in so many parts of the world for construction, demolition, woodworking, metalworking, and many home workshops.
10 Unique Uses of Circular Saw
Following are some of the most common uses of a circular saw.
1. Ripping Wood and Plywood
Although not quite as robust in ripping wood compared to a table saw, a circular saw has two main advantages. First, the circular saw is far less expensive compared to a table saw. And second, a circular saw is far more portable. Imagine trying to move a table saw to a job site. And if you have a garage or work area that is quite small, a circular saw is a better fit.
Circular saws can rip wood quickly and easily. The main difference between a circular saw and a table saw is that you have to move the circular saw through the wood compared to a table saw, where you move the wood through the material.
Admittedly, the table saw is faster, easier to use, and more consistent in ripping wood compared to a circular saw. But that is only if you are ripping large numbers of pieces. If you only need to rip a few pieces of wood, then the circular saw is a great choice.
2. Cross-Cutting Wood
This also applies to MDF, OSB, wood, and more. One bit of issue that many saws have is cross-cutting plywood. Plywood is very wide and cumbersome to handle. Even table saws have difficulty with crosscutting such large pieces of wood.
Because the circular saw is quite small, you can set up the plywood on a table or workbench and customize it to the size that is being cut. The result is that you can more efficiently crosscut plywood, even wide sheets of plywood, compared to all other types of saws.
You will need a way to brace the plywood to get an even cut. But if the precision of the cuts is not that important, then you can simply cut the plywood as you desire.
3. Miter & Bevel Cuts
Achieving miter or angled cuts is a breeze with a circular saw. Simply mark the line that you want to cut using other tools, then make the cut with the circular saw. This allows you to make any angle or miter of a cut that you desire.
It is true that you will need other tools to help you make the cut, unlike a miter saw which can do all the work. But powered miter saws tend to be expensive, and miter boxes and hand saws are limited in their use. If you are only cutting a few pieces at an angle, then the circular saw is the perfect substitute.
For bevel cuts, the circular saw also offers advantages in terms of setting the angle and getting the cut completed in a relatively short time. Like the miter cut, you will need to use other tools and some type of bracing for the wood, but it can be accomplished with the circular saw.
4. Cutting Tiles & Bricks
At first, it may seem like you need a specialty saw to cut hard objects such as tiles or bricks. But there are blades for circular saws available that will let you perform this task. That is one of the big advantages when using the circular saw is the sheer number of different blade types available.
As with most cuts, you will need to mark the line, have some type of guide for the saw, and brace the material. But once you have it set up, you can cut ceramic tiles and bricks using a diamond circular saw blade. Again, if you are only cutting a certain number of tiles or bricks or this is a one-time job, then the circular saw with the proper blade is the best choice.
5. Cut Metal
This is mostly soft metals such as corrugated roofing sheets, metal pipes, or aluminum. You may not think of using a circular saw to cut certain metals, but it is well suited for softer metals such as aluminum or sheet metal that is quite thin.
You will need a metal-cutting blade for the circular saw, preferably one that is designed to cut a particular type of metal. Or one that can work with different soft metals. Cutting thin sheet metal is also possible, but you will need to brace the material and have a guide for the saw to get a precision cut.
It should be noted that circular saws are not well suited for cutting hard metals such as steel, especially steel that is thicker than sheet metal. This is because of the design of the circular saw that is better suited for cutting into softer material even if you have the right blade.
6. Plunge Cuts
One of the most difficult cuts to make is the plunge cut. This is cutting directly into the material without starting on the side. The saw is literally plunged into the location to start the cutting process.
While there are other types of saws that can do this, such as the jigsaw, for example. Such saws normally require a pilot hole that allows the blade to be inserted into the material. The circular saw does not require a pilot hole because the blade itself can make the cut. This is normally accomplished by tilting the circular saw forward, holding the guard so that it does not go underneath the blade, and then pushing down as the blade is spinning.
You will need to mark the location first and take the proper precautions since the saw tends to kickback, which could be fatal. A track saw, which is a circular saw on guide tracks, is perfect for making plunge cuts.
7. Laminate Countertop Installation
Perhaps one of the most common uses of the circular saw on home construction, and remodeling sites is the installation of laminate countertops. The laminate countertop can be cut to a precise fitting based on the available space. The circular saw is a perfect choice, given its portability and ability to create a precise cut when using a brace or just a steady hand.
The material is measured, marked, and then cut using a circular saw. The saw can cut all sides of the countertop so that it can be dropped into place.
8. Cutting Firewood
While many people may think of using only an axe to cut firewood, the circular saw does a pretty good job of cutting, which is often faster and more efficient. This is because the depth that can be achieved with a circular saw is sufficient to cut most firewood.
And firewood that is too thick to be cut apart on one side can be flipped over and cut again, doubling the depth the circular saw can reach. For those who have stoves where smaller pieces are needed, the wood can be cut down to size quickly and easily using the circular saw.
9. Slicing Plastic and Fiberglass
This includes cutting plexiglass and polycarbonate sheets for a wide variety of uses. Circular saws are well-suited to cut almost all types of plastics. This is because plexiglass, polycarbonate sheets, and most plastics are soft enough for the blade to cut through easily. Only hard, brittle plastic is not suitable for the circular saw as it may crack or tear apart from the cutting process.
When cutting sheets of plexiglass, care will need to be taken in bracing the material as it can be fragile. Plus, large plexiglass sheets can be quite cumbersome, much like plywood. This means you will need to prepare properly if you are looking to create precision cuts.
10. Concrete & Masonry Cutting
You may have seen sections of concrete or asphalt cut away using a circular saw. When armed with the proper blade, it can cut through hardened material with relative ease. Plunge cuts are often used to remove sections of a street, sidewalk, or driveway.
Plus, cuts are often made in sidewalks and driveways to allow water to flow out or to stop the formation of cracks in the cement. Circular saws are also used to cut apart sections of concrete for decorative purposes. And it can be used on other stone-type materials that are designed to be cut and shaped.
The circular saw is quite versatile, having many different uses, which makes it one of the most popular types of electric saws on the market today.
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