What Should You Not Do With A Circular Saw – 11 Pro Tips

Last Updated On February 10, 2023

A circular saw is basically like a freehand table saw. They have 13 to 15-amp motors, which spin a seven and quarter inch blade at upwards of 5000 RPMs. That is a lot of cutting power in a small saw that has no fixed path. 

This makes a circular saw one of the most dangerous ones as the only thing keeping your circular saw in line is your hand, wrist, and arm. Kickbacks can happen if you don’t use the saw carefully and they cause a lot of injuries each year.

Keep reading our guide to learn what should you not do with a circular saw in order to use it safely.

What Should You Not Do With A Circular Saw – The Best Circular Saw Safety Tips

Here are 11 things you should avoid while using a circular saw. Your safety is in your hands and you should always be careful.

1. Don’t Put Yourself On The Cut Path

This includes putting your free hand in front of or behind the saw. Don’t do that. Also, don’t put your knee, leg, or foot behind the saw or in front of it. 

Always stand just to the side of the cut path when you’re using the saw. Whenever possible, keep both hands on the saw and don’t place your fingers beneath your piece when you’re cutting. This could put your fingers in the cut path from below. Instead, use clamps to hold your piece steady and get your free hand out of the way.

2. Don’t Let Your Blade Bind

Blade binding occurs when a spinning blade receives too much pressure from the wood it’s cutting through. 

When the saw cuts a path, the blade sits in the channel that it has cleared. This channel is known as the kerf, which keeps the blade free of contact with the walls and the cut. 

However, if you twist the saw while cutting, pressure will build against the blade. This pressure will cause the saw to kick and jump backward out of the cut toward you. 

So, don’t twist the saw while you’re cutting. Keep pushing it in a perfectly straight line. Also, make sure your piece is supported near the cut. This will keep the cut line from collapsing and squeezing the blade causing it to bind and kick back. 

3. Don’t Neglect To Prop Your Workpiece

In order for a circular saw to work, the saw blade has to extend beyond the bottom of the piece you are cutting. This causes a problem because anything below your piece is in danger of being cut. You can’t just cut flat on the floor on your work table because you will cut through those surfaces.

So, you need to prop up your piece to cut it. The easiest way to do this is to just put some scrap wood beneath your material. You can space it so that your blade avoids the scrap blocks but the workpiece is still firmly supported.  You can also place the blocks in the cut path and just let your blade pass through them. 

That’s really the easiest way you avoid some of the problems with spacing blocks underneath can cause unintentional binding when you space them too far apart. 

4. Don’t Set The Saw Too Deep

You should have less than a quarter inch of exposed saw blade hanging below your material. More than this causes instability because it creates more blade surface that can bind up. Anything beyond a quarter inch isn’t helping. It’s just increasing the chances of kickback while you’re cutting. 

5. Don’t Adjust The Saw While Cutting

It seems obvious but don’t adjust the blade’s depth or angle in the middle of a cut. The moving components are meant to stay locked during operation, including the bevel feature and depth set. 

6. Don’t Retract A Spinning Blade

This is when you finish a partial cut and then yank the saw out while the blade is still in motion. Just release the trigger when you’re done and wait a few seconds for the song to spin down, then retract. This will prevent binding that can happen if you twist the saw on the way out. 

7. Don’t Remove The Blade Guard

The blade guard is there to prevent the spinning blade from contacting anything. It springs back the moment the cut is finished. Obviously, without the guard, the blade is more likely to cut you but just as bad if it lands blade down while it’s spinning. It’s going to run away like the Road Runner. 

Keep your blade guard on and make sure it works. If your guard stops working it’s time to retire the saw or at least install a new spring. 

8. Don’t Set A Saw Blade Down

You’re never supposed to set a saw blade down just in case the guard didn’t spring back. If it didn’t spring back, it might go running. So instead you’re supposed to flip the saw over before setting down.

You can also train yourself to inspect whether the guard has slipped into place after each cut. If yes, you’re safe to set it down with the blade down as it’s protected by the guard.

9. Don’t Start The Blade With Direct Contact With Wood

Let the blade start spinning before making initial contact while beginning a cut. If you made a partial cut before and want to finish it, you should move the blade backwards along the kerf. Then start the saw before moving it forward to cut further. This way you start without contact and there’s no additional pressure on the blade during startup.

10. Don’t Let The Cord Drag 

Consider holding the cord in your free hand when starting a long rip cut until you can safely hang it off to the side. Make sure it doesn’t trail and catch on the end of the board. 

You can also solve this problem by stepping on your own cord. Before making each cut, consider where the cord is and where it’s going to wind up. 

11. Don’t Forget Trigger Discipline

When you’re carrying a saw around between cuts, keep your finger off the trigger. Just carry the saw with the rest of your hand; three fingers and your thumb. 

After you’ve made your initial lineups, you can go ahead and put your finger in the guard, pull the trigger and let the saw spin up. When the cut is finished, release the trigger and take your finger right back out of the guard.

Final Words

Hopefully, now you have a clear understanding of what should you not do with a circular saw. When you act recklessly, you increase the chances of causing an accident.

Circular saws are useful tools that you will use a lot if you are into DIY projects. You would be hard-pressed to avoid them. So, it is better to learn the proper discipline of using them to keep yourself safe.
If you are wondering about the dangers of circular saws and how common are circular saw accidents, our article should be an interesting read.

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