Smooth right-angle bevel cuts
Cutting wide baseboards or fascias
to form a tight, clean corner
joint requires a perfectly square and straight bevel cut on
the end of each board. Slide miter saws and radial arm
saws work great for this type of cut. But with practice, you
can make a near perfect cut with a circular saw too. The
key is to use a guide. A Speed Square makes a perfect saw
guide for 90-degree and 45-degree cuts.
After you've lined up the blade and positioned the
square, hold it firmly to prevent it from slipping. If you're
having trouble, try clamping the square to the board.
Start the saw and nick the board with the blade to make
sure it's aligned exactly with the mark. Reposition the
square slightly if necessary.
Pay close attention to keeping the saw's base plate
aligned with the edge of the square. A common mistake
is to lift or twist the saw at the end of the cut, which
results in a wavy cut. Steady, straight ahead follow-through
is the key to avoiding this problem.
Smooth angle cuts
Deck boards, deck railings and
fascia boards often require angle
cuts, and the neater you make
them, the better your job will look. As with the beveled
cut we showed previously, the key to smooth angle cuts
is using a guide. We found this large, protractor-like
angle guide at a woodworking supply store. It has an
adjustable arm that allows you to set the angle and a
wing nut that you tighten to lock it in place.
The trick to this type of angle cut is getting started
cleanly. You'll have to push firmly at first to overcome the
resistance of the blade guard. Then use the same cutting
technique for angle cuts as we showed for right-angle
bevel cuts. Adjust the blade depth, line up the cut and
make sure to keep the saw's base plate in contact with the
guide for the entire cut.
Rough compound-angle cut
Rough cuts are the ones you make when you're framing a roof
or wall. They need to be accurate, but they don't need to be
pretty, so you can cut them freehand without a guide. To make
this cut, set the saw to the desired bevel. Then draw the angle
across the board and cut along the line.
The key is to make sure the saw blade is parallel to the
cutting line when you start. Many saws have a set of notches
or marks on the front of the base plate to help in aligning and guiding
the saw for freehand cuts. Line
up both the saw blade and the mark on
the saw's base plate with the line to cut
parallel to the line.
The blade guards on most circular saws tend to push the saw
away from the line when you enter the board at an angle. Hold
the blade guard up when you start the cut to eliminate this
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Rough beveled rips
Once in a while, you'll run into a situation requiring a beveled
cut along the length of a board. Long cuts parallel to the grain
are called rips, and table saws are the usual tools for ripping
boards. But a circular saw also works great for rough rips. In
fact it's often easier and safer to move the saw along the board
than to wrestle a long heavy board through a table saw.
The first step is to draw a line along the board. The technique
we show in Photo 1 below results in a line that's parallel to the edge of the board, even if the
board isn't straight.
The board has to be held in place
while you rip it, but clamps would get
in the way. The solution is to temporarily nail or screw the
board to sawhorses. Be careful to place the nails where you
won't hit them with the saw blade.