October 5, 2021

How to make Straight Cuts with a Circular Saw

If you want to make straight cuts with a circular saw, use a cutting guide, rip-cut sled, Kreg Accu-Cut, or a cutting guide.  As much as you put your effort as you try to keep the blade going, it wanders away from the pencil line. It binds up, and you end up wasting plywood. However, there are ways to cut straight lines using a circular saw. 

Since there is no fence when you buy a circular saw, incorporating a fence or cutting guide helps the saw make straight and precise cuts. If you do not have the cutting guide, you make one or buy one. Below is a more detailed article on how to make straight cuts with a circular saw.

Ways to make straight cuts with a circular saw

Speed Square

Using a speed square is quick and easy. It makes short and straight cuts, and the versatile tool also adjusts a miter saw when you aim to have accurate cuts. Keep the speed square close to your workpiece. 

Flip it to the opposite side to see how it fits on the workpiece. Better results come when you place the speed square on the same side where the cut starts. Press it into the workpiece. Measure and mark the locations for the straight cut. 

Put the blade on the marked spot and the speed square against the base plate of the saw. Start pushing the base plate of the saw against the speed square and cut. It is also ideal for 45-degree miter cuts.

Cutting Guide

Using a circular saw guide helps you make straight cuts. The cutting guide represents a fence that the saw does not have. The base plate of the saw rides against the saw fence of the jig. The saw fence makes the saw cuts exactly where you want them. Low-budget users make their cutting guide. 

Use two scrap pieces of ¼ plywood. MDF works as a substitute for plywood. The large piece of plywood is the base for the jig, and the narrow piece is the fence of the base plate. For longer cuts, make the jig longer.

Measure and mark the cut and place the edge of the jig on the marks. Clamp in position. The base plate of the saw has to be against the fence and make the cut. The only way to limit your straight cuts lies in the length of the cutting guide.

Kreg Rip-Cut

The Kreg Rip-Cut gives you straight lines with our circular saw. Use the universal Rip-Cut sled as you attach it to your circular saws. The Rip-Cut fence follows the straight edge of our workpiece, and that ensures accurate cuts. 

Adjust the fence to your size, and you are allowed to make cuts that are 24inch wide. Set the saw fence once and enjoy multiple rip cuts. Measure and mark the locations for the straight cut and adjust the saw fence. 

The blade starts cutting along the marked area. Push the fence against the workpiece and cut. Use it for repetitive cuts and for breaking down plywood sheets.

Kreg Accu-Cut

The Kreg Accu-Cut helps to cut straight lines with your circular saw. The Accu-Cut is compatible with multiple circular saws. It converts the circular saw into a track saw, and the saw rides on a guide rail or track as it cuts. Long, straight and accurate cuts are made possible. 

What separates the Accu-Cut from the Rip-Cut is that it cuts any width board or plywood. The Rip-Cut has a limit of 24 inches, and the Accu-Cut also makes any angle cuts. The two versions of  Accu-Cut include the Accu-cut that makes cuts up to 50 inches long and the  Accu-Cut XL that makes cuts of up to 100 inches long.

 The Accu-Cut attaches to a circular saw the same way the Rip-Cut does. The Accu-Cut has anti-slip guide strips at the bottom that keeps it sturdy. There is no need to clamp the  Accu-Cut in position. Measure and mark the locations for the cut and put the edge of the Accu-Cut on the marks. Place the saw on the track and start cutting. It works on long straight crosscuts and rip cuts, any degree miter cuts, and breaks down sheets of plywood or MDF.

Tips for Cutting Straight with a Circular Saw

Position any of the above tools to cover the side of the workpiece you want to keep. The saw cuts on the waste side, and the chances of damaging the piece are low.

Make cuts on a piece of rigid foam board insulation since it gives a great work surface for cutting large sheets of plywood and prevents the saw blade from accidentally cutting your workbench.

Steps

  1. Secure the wood by clamping it

To secure the wood, clamp it. That shifts your focus from the wood to the cut. Experienced woodworkers may go free with cutting unclamped material. The weight of the wood also prevents shifting during cutting. Clamping gives maximum control to the operator and results in straight cuts.

  1. Hold the blade properly.

The way you hold your blade determines the accuracy of your cuts. There is the right-hand saw and the left-hand circular saw. As the name implies, right-hand circular saws are for righties, and left-hand saws are for lefties. Using your hand increases the visibility of the cutting blade. Avoid using your hands crossing over when you use your hand type.

  1. Set the appropriate depth of cut

Set the correct depth of the cut for straight and accurate cuts. That should be your starting point. Failure to do so results in the blade deviating from the straight part. Setting the depth keeps you safe when making cuts. Adjust the saw blade so that it just protrudes from the bottom of the wood you’re cutting.

  1. Use a circular saw guide.

Use a circular saw guide for straight cuts with a circular saw. You do not have to measure and draw a straight line to mark the cut line. Lock the Kreg reg circular saw guide on the width you want to cut and make your cut.

  1. Avoid Splinters 

Prevent splinters by cutting with the good side of the board facing down. Use the pointed side of the blade teeth rotating upwards from under it into the wood. Cutting across the wood grain gives you splinters at the top. Cut with the good side of the board facing down so that when there are splinters at the top, they can stay hidden after assembling your work.

  1. Full speed on the blade

Allow the circular saw blade to come to full speed before making your cut as it contacts the wood you are cutting.

Safety

  • Follow all the circular saw safety rules.
  • Wear protective equipment like safety goggles to protect your eyes from sawdust and debris.

Final Thoughts

A circular saw is not complete without tools for straight cuts. Use a cutting guide or fence to make accurate and straight cuts using the circular saw. Your needs determine the type of tool you need, including the thickness of the material, type of cuts, and type of material.

David D. Hughes
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