8d ripping assistant
Nail boards to sawhorses for stability
Whenever you have to rip boards and there’s no table saw around, nail the board down to the top of the horses with 8d nails. Just keep the nails away from the cut. It’s much safer than holding the board with one hand while you cut with the other. And you’ll get a straighter cut. When the cut is complete, pull the board free, tap out the nails to expose the heads and jerk them out.
Work off the stack
Cut boards where they are
Don’t pick up sheets of plywood and place them on horses every time you have a cut to make. Save your back and your time. Get down on your knees and work off the stack. Slip a couple of 2x4s under the sheet undergoing surgery, make your marks and then your cut. It’s that simple. By the way, a drywall square is the perfect tool for marking crosscuts on plywood.
Cutting through stone and masonry
Use diamond blades
Forget about those throwaway abrasive masonry blades. Diamond blades have dropped in price in recent years ($25), and they’re the key for this task. Find a volunteer to hold a slow-running garden hose right at the cut while you saw your way through. That’ll keep the blade cool, speed up the cut and eliminate dust. And don’t worry. It’s safe as long as you’re plugged into a GFCI-protected outlet.
Mini circ saws
Smaller saws are light and versatile
If you have a yen for an extra circular saw, consider picking a mini saw with a blade in the 5- to 6-in. range. You’ll love it. It’s much lighter than a standard 7-1/4-in. saw, yet you can still cut 1-1/2-in.-thick material at 90 degrees. But here’s the big reason. On most mini saws, the blade is on the left side of the motor (called a “left-tilt saw”). Sometimes, this saw will fit in places where a larger saw won’t.
Nonbinding compound cuts
Pull back guard for steep angles
Cutting steep angles, especially if they're compound (cuts with a bevel and an angle), requires one special step. That’s pulling the guard back from the blade as you begin the cut. Skip this step and your guard will get bound up as you enter the cut and make it impossible to continue.
Your foot as a sawhorse
Prop board on your foot (safely)
Master this trick and you won’t have to lug lumber to the sawhorse for every cut. It’s simple and saves countless trips back and forth. It’s also perfectly safe as long as you keep your foot at least 12 in. away from the cut. Just prop the board on your foot with the other end resting on the floor or ground. Tilt the board up and make the cut.
Cutting thin metal
Use a metal-cutting blade
With a metal-cutting blade in your circular saw, metal roofing cuts as easily as aluminum foil. No magic to it—just place the show side down for a nicer finish. If you have metal to get rid of, like old exterior doors or even old metal tanks, you can cut them up into bite-size chunks that’ll fit in the trash can or make them easier to haul to the dump.
Steep bevel cuts
Subtract the angle you want from 90
Most circular saws will make bevel cuts of only 45 degrees. Here’s a trick for cutting bevels that exceed 45 degrees. Let’s say you need a 55-degree bevel. Subtract 55 (or whatever bevel you’re after) from 90 and set your saw at that bevel (in this case, 35 degrees).
Support saw base with a block as you cut
Next, clamp or screw a block even with the end of the board to support the saw base while you cut. The blade probably won’t complete the cut, but it’s easy to finish it with a handsaw or reciprocating saw. This trick works for compound cuts as well. Cut the angle first with the saw at 90 degrees, and then use the off-cut to support the saw while you cut.
Use a circ saw for gradual curves
A circular saw will do a sterling job for long, gradual curves in a fraction of the time a jigsaw will. Plus, you’ll get a much smoother cut. If you’re cutting plywood, set the saw to cut just deep enough to cut through the wood. The deeper the blade, the harder it’ll be to make the cut because it’ll get bound in the kerf. If you’re cutting thicker material, cut halfway through on the first pass and then make a second, deeper final cut following the original cut.
Dealing with pipe
One-step roof cuts
Perfect, painless, safe siding cuts
Screw it to the wall
Snap guidelines on the siding. Then align and screw the jig right to the siding with the edge of the plywood directly over the desired cutting line, and set the cutting depth to cut just through the siding, including the thickness of the jig. The saw’s base will ride on the flat surface and you’ll get a perfect cut every time. With a diamond blade, this trick works great for stucco, too.