What Is The Purpose Of a Circular Saw? (Explained For Beginners)

Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray

The circular saw is a handy woodworking tool that no hobbyist or professional woodworker can afford not to have in their tool collection. So, you might have been wondering as a woodworking enthusiast, “what is the purpose of a circular saw?”

The circular saw is like a table saw, but instead of feeding lumber through the saw, you pass the saw through the stationary timber or board. Unlike a table saw, you can make freehand cuts with a circular saw, although you will get straighter cuts if you use a “fence” or a “guide.”

Now that we understand what a circular saw is, let us find out all the many ways that you can use a circular saw.

What Is The Purpose Of A Circular Saw?

The 5 Cuts You Can Do With A Circular Saw

The circular saw is the most helpful handheld power tool to own. It is an excellent tool for woodworking projects if you do not own a table saw or have limited space.

Since it is a portable tool, you can use it to build woodworking projects anywhere, in your driveway, patio, or even on your balcony at home. Here are a few ways in which the circular saw is used.

1. Cutting Through Big Sized Timber In Sawmills

Circular saws have been used in the past to cut through big-sized timbers in sawmills. Before the large-scale saws used in sawmills now, they used circular saws to cut through big blocks of timber. Nowadays, sawmills prefer to use larger circular saws with a blade diameter of up to three meters.

2. Cutting Through Logs For Firewood

Circular saws have powerful blades that rotate at a very high speed, making them ideal for cutting through tough and hardwood such as firewood. It is not uncommon for the circular saw to be used to cut through cordwood.

3. Cutting Through Metals

The circular saw with the wide radius blade and sharp teeth can be used for cutting through metals like steel, brass, and bronze. The circular saw fitted with a guide or fence makes it ideal for cutting slots into the sheet metal used in other manufacturing processes.

If you want to have smooth and even cuts on your metal or timber, you should use a circular saw with a blade with a large count of teeth.

4. Creating 45 Degree Angle Bevels

If you require an angle to be used for joins, your circular saw is ideal for this purpose. You would not get perfectly sloped angles, but it does the job when you need it to. 

5. Cutting Through Plywood

For most woodwork projects, you will be working with plywood of all lengths and shapes. For this reason, the circular saw can be used for cutting through plywood, as it does the job clean and neatly.

What Materials Can a Circular Saw Cut?

Circular Saws Cutting Steel

Now that we have had the opportunity to glance into the many uses of a circular saw, you might be curious to know what materials will a circular saw cut through?

I have already listed a few of these materials in the section above, but let us look at these and a few other materials you might not have thought about.

As stated previously, the circular saw can cut through logs for firewood, long sheets of plywood, timber, and metal. You might be astounded to learn that you can also use a circular saw for cutting through PVC pipe and tubing as well. 

Circular Saw to Cut PVC

When cutting through PVC pipes, you would typically use a hacksaw, but when you do not have a hacksaw close by and your only other tool in your arsenal is a circular saw, then cutting through PVC pipe can easily be done using this tool. 

However, it is worth noting that when you cut PVC pipe or tubing with a circular saw, you utilize the correct blade for that purpose. It would help if you used a blade with a minimum of fifteen teeth per inch to cut through PVC. In addition, you should not use a circular saw for cutting through PVC pipes that have a very small diameter.

It would be helpful if you did not use your circular saw for cutting through a PVC pipe, which is one-eighth of an inch in thickness. The reason for this is due to your blades not having adequate support when you begin cutting the PVC. Your blade will be stuck in the PVC, and you can either damage your saw or injure yourself in the process.

You can also use your circular saw for cutting through metal as well. And like cutting PVC or plastic, you must ensure that you have the correct blade fitted to your saw to do the job. It is not highly recommended to use a circular saw to cut through metal as metal is much tougher. 

Circular Saw to Cut Metal

When you do use a circular saw to cut metal, you should also ensure that you are using the correct blade for the job. In addition, you should always wear gloves, goggles, and protective clothing to prevent yourself from being injured, as the fine metal pieces could get into your eyes or skin.

When cutting through metal, you should use a carbide-tipped cutting disc that is durable enough for cutting through all types of sheet metals and brass. 

Before cutting through the PVC pipe or metal, you should first clamp down the materials onto a fixed sturdy surface to ensure no free movement when running the circular saw through any of these materials.

How Do You Use A Circular Saw Effectively?

Circular Saws Metal Cutting

So far, we have covered the purpose of a circular saw, and I have also talked about the various materials that the circular saw can cut through. The only thing that is left to discuss is using your circular saw effectively. 

Like any other power tool in your tool shed, or garage, you need to take precautions when working with an electric power tool such as the circular saw. 

The saw is a helpful and handy tool to have around, but if it is not used effectively, it can lead to damaging your saw, your blades, or even injure yourself. Let me take you through some helpful tips to get you started using your circular saw effectively.

Your circular saw will have double handles to help you to control the saw with both hands. The rear handle has the “trigger” that you must push down throughout the board or timber. Some circular saws have a safety button that you need to press first to prevent accidental starts. 

Typically, the blade would be to the right of the motor, but if you are left-handed, you can also buy a left-handed saw, which aids in keeping the blade to the left side of your body.

The base plate of the saw rests flat on the surface of the wood and keeps the blade running at a constant angle to the wood, which is usually a ninety-degree angle. 

If you need to make angled cuts, you need a saw with a steel base that tilts to cut at different angles. These circular saws come with a gauge that you can adjust for the angle you want to cut. If you need to make deeper or shallower cuts, you can adjust the blade to get you the right depth of cut that you require.

Also, most circular saws have a blade guard that automatically retracts when you start to cut. 

Circular saws come in all sizes for all varieties of purposes. The most common size is the seven-quarter-inch blade, and these blades are ideal for woodworking and other DIY projects around the house.

A new circular saw will come with an all-purpose blade with 24 teeth and should be sufficient for most woodworking and DIY projects.

When cutting through plywood, you would use a finer toothed blade, up to 140 teeth blade for finer timber cuts. 

The circular saws come in battery-operated cordless saws as well as electrical corded saws

Every saw will come with its unique mechanism for changing the blades, and you should check with your owner’s manual first before attempting to change the blade on your saw. Remember to unplug the saw first before changing the blades or making other changes to adjust the blade settings.  

The saw should have a lever or button to lock the spindle in place to allow you to remove the blade. Push the button down or hold the button in place while you remove the nut or bolt to your blade, and then drop the blade into place, making sure you have the blade facing the right way. 

The blade would have arrows indicating the direction of the spin. Remember that the blade spins counterclockwise and cuts on the upstroke. The wood you cut must be held securely to prevent injury and get perfect cuts.

A sawhorse or a pair of sawhorses is handy for this reason. 

Take note that you should avoid clamping down both ends of the wood to prevent the two halves of the board from collapsing into each other when you get to the end of the board.

Clamping both ends of the wood can cause the saw to kick back and make the saw lunge toward your body. If the saw does bind or kickback, release the saw so that it is not “pinching.” 


And there you have it; I have provided you with sufficient information to effectively use your circular saw for your home and construction DIY projects. You should now know what materials you can cut using your circular saw and how to use your circular saw for your woodworking projects effectively. Always remember to be cautious when using your saw.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

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