June 7, 2021
If you do not own a table saw, you can always find the circular saw an excellent tool for your woodworking projects. It is a portable tool that lets you build anywhere, in your patio, driveway, or even on your balcony. The circular saw is like the table saw. However, instead of feeding the lumber through your saw, you let the saw pass through a fixed or stationary board. It is also perfect for cutting dimensional lumbers like the 2x4s.
Of course, when cutting 2x4s, you got several tool choices that you can use to accomplish perfect cuts. You can use, for example, a handsaw, jigsaw, miter saw, and even a table saw. But the circular saw is most convenient to cut 2×4 wood. These advantages include its versatility, convenience of use, efficiency, reliability, and excellent results. But how do you cut 2x4s using the circular saw?
Simple Steps on Cutting 2x4s Wood Using Circular Saw
As you kickstart your woodworking career, you will indeed find yourself cutting 2x4s using a circular saw. Getting a high efficiency and accuracy level when using the circular saw to cut 2x4s requires learning some tactics to do it best. Here is a rundown of the simple steps you need to follow to raise your 2×4 cutting skill a notch higher using the circular saw:
Step 1: Inspect Your Circular Saw and Its Blade
Before using any power tool like the circular saw, the first thing you need to do is to inspect your circular saw and its blade thoroughly. Check the lower blade guard to see if it is moving smoothly. It should snap back to its position once you let go of it and should also pull back without a hitch.
If it happens to exhibit no problem or hitch, then it will perfectly work. But if it fails to snap back or pull back, then something is wrong with it. You should at least replace it if it is not functioning well. Nevertheless, if it is working well, you can continue with the next step.
Step 2: Set Right the blade
If you want to replace the blade, you should turn off the saw and unplug its cord. Position the saw on your worktable’s side with the guard raised and the blade resting next to your worktable. You would then press on the Spindle Lock button on the saw’s top.
Insert your blade wrench onto the blade’s center bolt, and turn it clockwise. You remove the bolt then and the outer washer and slide out the blade off its spindle and the blade slot.
Once done replacing the blade, set the blade’s depth right. Do not set the blade greater than what you require, for an array of problems may ensue if you do this. One of these problems is it can lead to a circular saw that sticks or binds when it cuts. This sticking or binding may end up in a kickback which can be dangerous to you.
Another risk is that when you cut deeper than what is needed, you expose the blade more. Always remember that the less exposed the blade is, the less it would cause any problem. So, ensure that you go for the least possible exposure of the blade when cutting. It will do you good to set the depth of the blade right at the onset.
The blade should at least extend a quarter of an inch below the material. Anything deeper than that would create instability because it creates more blade surface that could bind up. So, remember that anything beyond the quarter of an inch will not help you.
Step 3: Support One Side of the 2×4
Beginners tend to support both sides of the 2×4, but there is no good reason to do so. It doesn’t have any accuracy or safety purpose. Instead, it can cause a kickback once the cut line bends downward and binding occurs. Binding, of course, happens because of too much pressure on the saw blade itself. This binding causes the motor to bog down, and the saw to leap out of the cut. That how injuries happen, so you must avoid it.
Before cutting using the circular saw, you need to secure the 2×4 you are working on comes with another support. You can support only one side of the 2×4, and you will be fine. You can also support the material with scrap wood underneath. Just make sure the support is near the line of cut. It will also help to use a clamp to keep the material in place.
Step 4: Make Sure You Cut Straight
Once you got the 2×4 adequately supported, you can go on with the cutting process. But before you cut, you need to measure twice or thrice. Ensure that you have accurately marked the wood. You can use a pencil and a scale when measuring and marking. In this way, you can make a straight-line guide. Allow for a zero margin of error when marking your wood piece.
When cutting, you may find it hard to cut straight without a guide. If you swing away from the cut lines even for just 5 milliliters, for example, your cut will indeed end not perfect. Several reasons may cause you to make an imperfect cut. Your hand may be shaky, or the vibration from the circular saw is making it hard for you to cut straight.
You may attempt to rectify the saw’s direction, but it is not good to do so while the blade is spinning. When you feel that the blade is steering away from the cut lines, you should stop at once. Turn the saw off, then wait for the blade to stop. Then, pull the saw out of the wrong cut and reset your cut direction. Once ready, you can start the saw and begin cutting again. Follow this step when you see that you are veering away from the cut line.
You can also use a speed square to guide your cut, and the use of a speed square, of course, is the most straightforward setup you can do to get a perfect cut. Such a speed square is perfect when making crosscuts on 2x4s. You can combine the miter square and the protractor to achieve a straight cut on a 2×4. You only need to position the speed square against the 2×4 margin and then cut using the saw against the speed square for a perfect cut.
How to Cut Multiple 2x4s at Once? (Gang-cutting on 2x4s)
Another way to optimize using the circular saw when cutting 2x4s is by making a jig to allow you to cut uniformly your 2x4s. If you are engaged in cutting multiple 2x4s (gang cutting), you need to make a jig to set the cutting length and facilitate the cutting process using your circular saw. Here are the steps on how to cut multiple 2x4s using a circular saw:
- The first step in cutting multiple 2x4s uniformly is by creating a jig. You can use a scrap of plywood to make this jig. You can use a plywood that has straight edges for this purpose. Measure and then mark the length. Position a stop-block on the plywood’s left side since circular saws are mostly right-handed.
- Then, from the stop block, measure your required length and then mark. Afterward, square it across the 2x4s. If you are cutting several 2x4s at once, you can cut a plywood strip that could cover the width of the parallel 2x4s. It should at least be three inches wide to support the saw as it cuts across the cut lines.
- Then, set the depth of the saw at 1/8″ deeper than 2x4s. In doing so, you can ensure that you can cut the entire 2x4s.
- Then, cut your mark. Ensure that the blade is positioned on the line’s right side. Afterward, set down the saw with its blade positioned in the groove and centered in a single 2×4. Then mark the saw’s table’s right side. Square across both 2x4s the line.
- Afterward, fasten one 2×4 along the marked line across the other 2x4s to serve as a guide to the saw table for your next cuts. Then, remove the stop block. Slide the board that you want to cut under the guide block between the rails from the right.
- Align the board that you want to cut to the rails’ end. Then, run your saw along your guide block to get a cut according to your required length. With the proper and correct jig, you can with ease engage in gang cutting. Always make sure that you make the accurate measurement, for it is not fun to make mistake when gang cutting.
How to Make Crosscut on 2x4s Using a Circular Saw?
The circular saw is perfect for making crosscuts on 2x4s. A crosscut is only a cut across the 2x4s grain. You will usually do this in most of your carpentry projects because you will use 2x4s more often. To make an accurate crosscut, you need to make precise measurements.
To get the desired measurement on 2x4s, you can use a tape measure. Put its tip on the end of the 2×4. Then, pull the tape measure until you reach a little farther than the desired length. Then mark the desired length with two marks.
Take a straightedge and link the two marks using your pencil. You can use a rafter square or a combination square for this purpose. You should measure more than once to ensure that you get the exact measurement. Mistakes are not funny when cutting wood for your wood project.
So, you already have your cut line drawn ostensively on the 2x4s. You don’t have to cut right away. You still need to ensure that your circular saw is appropriately set up. At this point, you need to set up your circular saw so that it will cut at a right angle.
But before tinkering with your circular saw, you should unplug your circular saw and adjust the blade’s depth and bevel settings. You can loosen the knobs or levers and make changes to the setup. Then, tighten back the levers or knobs. Once done, you can start making crosscuts.
How to Make Miter Cut on a 2×4 Using a Circular Saw?
If you are only kickstarting your woodworking career, you may end up scratching your head once you hear the words miter cuts and bevel cuts. You are not alone in doing so, for I was like you eight years ago when I was only a newbie in woodworking. Miter cut, of course, is like the bevel cuts for both are angled cuts. The difference lies in how you cut through the wood.
If you cut angles along the width’s length of the wood, then you are making angled cuts. But if you cut along the wood’s vertical or thickness, you are cutting a bevel cut. To make a miter cut, you need to angle the blade through the wood’s horizontal plane.
Making a miter cut on a 2×4 is more complicated than crosscutting. This is because the saw will tend to drift as you make that angled cut. Yet, you will get the hang of it as you become more experienced in cutting miter cut. Make sure that you make the correct measurement. Moreover, you should clamp the wood to ensure that it will not move while you slide the circular saw along your cut line.
How to Make Rip Cut on a 2×4 Using Your Circular Saw
When you do a rip cut, you are cutting along the wood’s grain. This type of cut can be challenging when you are using a circular saw. You would seldom rip-cut your 2x4s because you can buy a 2×2 lumber easily. Since the 2×4 is not that wide, you will find it hard to rip-cut this lumber. Hence, most probably, you will end with an imperfect cut. Moreover, you will find it hard to support your long 2×4 to accomplish the rip cut. I would advise you to utilize the table saw which is more suitable for rip cutting such a narrow wood.
But if you got no choice, you can buy prefabricated guides to help your circular saw cut straight. You can also build your jigs if you don’t want to spend on prefabricated jigs.
How to Make Bevel Cut on 2×4 Using Your Circular Saw?
As mentioned above, a bevel cut is a cut along the wood’s vertical edge as opposed to the horizontal. When doing bevel cut using your circular saw, you can adjust the baseplate angle to get the correct bevel cut. Before changing the angle, you need to unplug your saw. Afterward, you should loosen the bevel adjustment lever of the saw.
You need to find the lever or knob because it is situated differently depending on the manufacturer. Once you have adequately adjusted the angle, you can tighten the lever. Then, you can plug your saw again and make the necessary cut on your cut line. Pull the trigger and follow your cutline meticulously.
Safety Precautions When Cutting 2x4s Using Your Circular Saw
Besides knowing the steps on how to cut 2x4s using your circular saw, it will also help to be cognizant of the following safety tips and precautions when cutting 2x4s with your circular saw:
- When using a power tool like the circular saw, you need to ensure that you set the blade to its proper depth before you start cutting. Too deep a setup may cause the blade to get stuck, leading to binding, which may cause kickback.
- When you start cutting, and the saw deviates from the cut line, it is always best to start over to get into the groove or momentum. It is better than regaining your speed when you stop in the middle.
- When cutting 2x4s, it will be best to secure and support one side of the wood and let the other side overhang. If you support both sides, there is a big chance that the wood would bend in the middle, leading to the lost of control of the saw.
- It will help to refrain from wearing loose clothing when working with the circular saw because the saw blade can pull on your loose sleeves.
- Always use the circular saw with both hands to gain maximum control of the circular saw. It will also help if you clamp the workpieces down to ensure that they are not moving while you cut.
- Avoid altering the lower guard to ensure that you are safe from the blade.
- Always ensure that the blade has already stopped moving before you set the saw down on your worktable. Moreover, it will be best to look for a saw that has a blade brake.
- Always ensure that the best side of the wood is facing downwards.
- If you have a new circular saw, always check its manual. Power tools are continually improving, and manufacturers are constantly working on new safety features. Reading the manual will ensure that you know how to operate and use your new circular saw properly.
The circular saw is perfect for ripping sheet materials. But it is also ideal for cutting dimensional lumber. As a beginner, if you want to put your circular saw to work, you should always be mindful of the safety tips when using this power tool. The circular offers around 5000 RPM, and it is as powerful as the table saw. The primary difference between these two saws is that the circular saw has no fixed path.
Since it has no fixed path, the only thing that keeps your circular saw on the right track is your hand, wrist, and arm. So, if you fail to control it, it is capable of making those kickbacks and lurches. Thus, when using the circular saw, always ensure that you are in control and have followed the safety tips mentioned above to let you enjoy your woodworking activities free from injuries.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.