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Old 10-26-2010, 12:30 PM   #1
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Need Basic Circular Saw Tips


What is the best way to support a board so that it doesn't fall when you reach the end of the cut? I have 2 sawhorses. Should I use 4 so that both pieces are supported? Or is there some way to put a sheet of plywood for support under the boards that I'm cutting?

I'm going to build a bookcase this weekend and need to cut across 12" lumber and keep the cut straight.

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Old 10-26-2010, 12:51 PM   #2
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Need Basic Circular Saw Tips


A 2’x8’ sheet of ” plywood with a 2x4x8’ nailed on end down each side of the sheet makes a decent cheap cut table.

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Old 10-26-2010, 01:30 PM   #3
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Need Basic Circular Saw Tips


For crosscuts, I lay 2 or 3 2x4's on my horses, depending on how much support is needed, then cut across them, and for rip cuts, I use 4 2x4's, cutting between the center two. I guess they could be considered sacrificial, but you only cut into them the depth of a tooth if you set your blade height properly, and I keep the same ones for just this purpose, so even though I use them regularly, I'd guess that at least a couple of them have been used for this for 10-15 years or more.
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Old 10-26-2010, 01:43 PM   #4
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Kwikfixron - I think the sheet of plywood will help with what I need to do, but one thing I don't get. What is the purpose of the 2X4X8s?

Thanks, Dexter, I think that idea will work well for the beadboard I want to rip.
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Old 10-26-2010, 01:54 PM   #5
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Need Basic Circular Saw Tips


Set the plywood onto the sawhorses, then a couple (3) of off-cut 2 x 4's on the plywood.
Place the 2 x 4's you plan to cut on top of the scrap 2 x's so that the "good" piece you are cutting is supported by 2 of them. One should be right next to the cut. The other can be back about 2/3'rds of the length.
The third piece of scrap should be about 2/3'rds of the way along the 'off-cut' piece so that it will drop away from the blade as you finish the cut.

Reduces binding and pinching considerably.
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Old 10-26-2010, 02:02 PM   #6
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Need Basic Circular Saw Tips


A circular saw, even with proper support, is not a good tool for making furniture, as it is difficult to get a straight cut even with a fence. A better tool is a table saw, or a sliding miter saw, both of which can produce straight, clean cuts. An alternative is to make a rough cut with the circular saw, then produce a straight, smooth edge using a router with a straight carbide tipped bit. That is how I made the cuts in plywood for my kitchen cabinets, which have 3/4 inch thick veneered plywood carcases, and maple doors and face frames.

If you do not own a table saw, chop saw, or router, here are a few suggestions for getting the most out of a circular saw.

First, use a very sharp, carbide toothed blade for your cuts. Use a rip blade for the rips, and a crosscut blade for the cross cuts (the teeth are very different on a rip versus a cross cut blade).

Set the depth of the blade about 1 tooth deeper than the cut you want to make.

Use a fence for ripping (which can be an aluminum fence specifically made for the purpose, available for about $15 at a big box store, or a straight piece of wood clamped to the piece you are cutting). I usually cut with the inside part of the saw against the fence, but you can cut with the outer part of the saw also. Experiment on a piece of scrap before you try it with your good stock. Make certain that the piece you are ripping, and the fence, are securely clamped in place. Also make sure there is nothing underneath the piece that will interfere with the cut. Similarly, make sure you have enough cord to make the cut, and DO NOT cut through the cord (I know this sounds silly, but it happens).

When ripping, the best way I have found to support the piece that will drop is to have a helper hold onto it. Make sure they hold it behind the saw. Typically you are going to be ripping several feet, there is no need to support the piece that will be falling until you get near the end, that is where the helper comes in.

When cross cutting, if you are cutting a short length (say less than 12 inches), I don't bother supporting the falling piece. Just make sure you finish the cut rapidly, so the piece does not have time to tear up the remaining stock. Mostly I cross cut on my sliding chop saw, so support is not an issue, but for framing I make cuts outdoors on 2x4 through 2x10 regularly, and don't support the end unless it is relatively long.

The key when cross cutting is to make sure you NEVER cut through the middle of a board that is supported on both ends, as this will lead to binding and possible kickback, which can be a serious problem with a powerful circular saw. If you need to support the length of the board, see the techniques listed by the other posters, or get a chop saw. You can also cross cut on a table saw, but I find it typically very inconvenient compared to a chop saw.

So in summary

1. Never, ever cut a board by supporting it on your leg or knee.
2. Turn off your phone when you are cutting, you don't need distractions.
3. Wear ear protection, the noise can damage your ears.
4. Wear eye protection, the dust and splinters can injure you.
5. Make sure the cord is long enough, and out of the way when you cut. Use an extension cord if needed.
6. Use a fence when ripping.
7. Make sure the working piece (the one that is not going to fall) is properly supported.
8. Only cut with sharp blades, throw out dull ones, it isn't worth resharpening a circular saw blade. Use a cross cut blade for cross cutting, and a rip blade for ripping. Set the depth of cut one tooth lower than the piece to be cut.
9. Make sure there is no metal in the wood, this can destroy a blade, or worse knock a tooth off.
10. Check beneath the piece for a clear path for your cut.
11. Double check the cut to make sure you minimize the potential for pinching of the blade.
12. Use a helper if needed to support the falling piece to minimize chipout.
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Old 10-26-2010, 04:01 PM   #7
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The 2x4’s are to stiffen up the plywood and give you a flat solid surface to cut on. The plywood alone will bow on the horses.

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