Smooth right-angle bevel cuts
1 of 4
Photo 1: Set depth of cut
Start by adjusting the depth of cut. Unplug the saw, retract
the blade guard and set the saw on your board. Adjust the
saw's base plate until the blade extends past the bottom of the
board about 1/4 in. Tighten the depth-adjusting lever.
2 of 4
Photo 2: Hold the Speed Square tight
Line up the front of the blade with
the cutting mark. Slide the Speed
Square against the base plate and
then hold it tight against the board.
3 of 4
Photo 3: Make the cut
Keep the saw's base plate tight
against the edge and slide the
saw through the cut. Let the short
cutoff drop free.
4 of 4
Photo 4: Keep the saw steady
Maintain firm contact between
the back of the saw base plate
and the square until the saw blade
completely clears the board.
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
1 of 4
Photo 1: Line up the saw and guide
Align the blade with the cutting line and slide the square up
to the saw's base. Grip the guide firmly against the board.
2 of 4
Photo 2: Push into the cut
Slide the base plate against the
guide and push the saw firmly into
the cut. There will be initial resistance
from the blade guard.
3 of 4
Photo 3: Keep the saw moving smoothly
Concentrate on keeping the base
plate tight to the guide and the
saw moving at a constant speed
throughout the cut.
4 of 4
Photo 4: Complete the cut
Complete the cut by moving
the saw steadily forward while
keeping the back of the base plate in
contact with the guide.
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
1 of 2
Photo 1: Pull the blade guard up
Retract the blade guard as you start the cut. Align the
saw blade and the mark on the saw's base plate with
the cutting line and start the cut.
2 of 2
Photo 2: Release the guard
Release the blade guard gently and continue the cut.
Keep the saw moving straight along the line until the
saw blade clears the board.
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
Rough beveled rips
1 of 2
Photo 1: Mark the cut
Mark the rip width on the board and line up the end
of the tape with the mark. Pinch the tape and slide it
along the edge of the board while holding a pencil tight
to the end of the tape.
2 of 2
Photo 2: Secure the board
Tack the board to the sawhorses. Set the saw to the
desired bevel and set the blade depth to 1/4 in. deeper
than the thickness of the board. Saw along the line using
the notch or line on the saw's base to help guide the cut.
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.