Blade Essentials For Circular Saws. Ripping circular saw

Blade Essentials For Circular Saws

Circular saws are versatile tools that can be used to make a range of cuts in wood, metal, plastic, concrete, and various other materials. However, you are only as good as the blade you are dealt- and project success heavily relies on selecting the right blade for your job. We hope this is an informative introduction for doing just that.

There are several factors to consider as you choose your blade:


The type of material to be cut.

Is it plywood? Granite? Sheet metal? Acrylic? Choose a specially made blade for the material you need to cut or risk a project failure.

The type of job the cut will accomplish.

Are you making quick, rough cuts that will be hidden once the project is finished, or do you require clean, perfect cuts? Blade types exist for both!

The type of cut perfect for your job.

Circular saws can be used for a countless variety of projects. They can make a basic straight ‘n simple cut, but there are also blades on the market for ripping, crosscutting, and more.


A good rule of thumb is the fewer teeth, the quicker and rougher the cut. The more teeth, the more precise and cleaner the cut.

The tooth angle will affect how the blade cuts as well. Teeth that lean forward (positive angle teeth) cut more aggressively and are suitable for rough rip cuts. The less severe the angle, the better the blade for clean crosscuts.

The gullet is the space between each tooth- the deeper the gullet, the better at removing large wood chips. In contrast, a shallow gullet will remove fine sawdust from the cut.

Some blades have expansion slots, allowing the blade’s metal to expand as it heats from use so that you may continue cutting accurately and efficiently.

The standard circular saw blade is 7 1/4,” but they come in other specialty sizes. Make sure you choose the correct size for your tool.


Ripping Blade– Designed to cut along the grain of the wood. They have fewer straight teeth, usually 14 to 24, and a deeper gullet. Perfect for fast, rough cuts. The tooth design allows dust from the cut to be cast off and removed quickly.

Crosscutting Blade– Created to cut across the grain of the wood. They have more teeth and a shallower gullet than a ripping blade. The blade cuts with kerfed teeth, meaning the teeth alternate from left to right. These are designed for slow, smooth, and clean cuts.

General Purpose Blade– The perfect in-between of a crosscutting and ripping blade, beneficial if you intend to make cuts along and across the grain of the wood in a single project and don’t want to keep switching out blades. This is a solid choice if you fancy a practical, all-purpose blade for various projects. They come in a variety of tooth counts.

Finishing Blade– Has many teeth to create very fine, precise cuts that will be visible in the finished project.

Dado Blade– A special blade for a special job, this is explicitly used to cut dadoes and grooves but can also be used to cut moldings and tenons.

Thin Kerf Blade– “Kerf” refers to the width of a cut, and a thin kerf blade makes narrow cuts for use with softwoods. Not recommended for rugged woods, as the blade can warp.


Treated Wood– You’ll want a thicker kerf when cutting through tough treated wood, ensuring an accurate cut with no flexing.

Plywood– There are blades explicitly designed for cutting plywood as it chips and splinters easily. These blades pack a lot of teeth, usually 40 or more, and minimize any potential splintering.

Plastics– You can also use the same blades you use for cutting wood for cutting plastic. A large teeth count of about 40-60 will give you a satisfactory result.

Masonry– Masonry blades are in a particular category all their own, as they have no teeth. They are made of fiberglass-reinforced silicon carbide abrasive and wear away at the masonry project instead of slicing.

Metal– All kinds of specialist blades exist for cutting metal. Most metals, including ferrous and non-ferrous (I.e., metals containing iron and those without iron components), can be cut by toothless blades with expansion slots.


We’re big fans of their blades, for sure. They offer a wide variety of saw blades, from standard types to specialty and finishing. Their blades feature laser-cut stabilizer vents to reduce noise and vibration and a Perma-Shield non-stick coating that helps reduce friction, corrosion, heating, and gumming-up. Diablo is known for its quality, longevity, and great value. They are an excellent choice while shopping for a new blade.

Saw blades for framing to diamond blades for cutting concrete and offering a variety of high-quality blades to outfit your saws for virtually any job. Makita’s Max Efficiency line of circular saw blades are engineered to provide longer blade life and up to 70% faster cutting and cordless runtime compared to standard blades. Our Premium Diamond Blades, available in various sizes and rim types, are designed to cut up to 40% faster and last up to 4x longer than competitor diamond blades.

Their circular saw blades and accessories are built to last long and deliver strong performance every time. Accessories like their framing, ripping, general-purpose, fine finish, ultra-fine finish, and fiber cement blades deliver precision and durability for every use. A line of carbide teeth cutting accessories delivers premium performance and the ability to Cut Longer, Cut. and Cut Faster. Designed with our core trades in mind, Milwaukee’s circular saw accessories are perfect for construction, woodworking, metalworking, and other heavy duty applications.

Their ‘Trade Credit’ system is simple. Return ANY used blade and SAVE on a BRAND-NEW Trade-a-Blade Returned blades are melted down and recycled by a local steel recycler, with all proceeds going to charity.

The Trade-a-Blade system rewards users by providing instant savings to returning customers. Every Trade-a-Blade product has a ‘Trade Credit’ of 2, 4, 8, or 12 that can be applied to a future Trade-a-Blade purchase.

Choosing and Using a Circular Saw

A good circular saw should have enough raw power to slice through everything from wet lumber to dense hardwood without bogging down. “When the motor slows, the blade heats up and dulls quickly,” explains Tom Silva, This Old House general contractor. This not only produces a poor cut, it’s dangerous because the blade can climb out of the kerf and push the saw back toward the user.

However, evaluating power from the motor ratings can be misleading. Amps indicate only the amount of electricity a motor draws, not the power it sends to the blade. Horsepower accounts for torque (rotational force), but not necessarily under working conditions.

In the end, the most reliable appraisal may be price. A dependable sidewinder — the more compact design, in which the motor sits alongside the blade — starts at around 100. There are many saws on the market under this price, but they’re not as powerful, nor are they built for a lifetime’s use. Professional-grade sidewinders, which run quieter and cut through dense wood better, cost between 125 and 150. TOH master carpenter Norm Abram prefers this tool, noting that buyers should choose one based on balance and maneuverability. “I’d never buy a saw I didn’t have a chance to hold first,” he says.

On the other hand, a good worm-drive saw, Tom’s choice for framing because of its high torque output (its beefy spiral gear transfers power to the blade more efficiently), will set you back at least 200. Either way, a top-of-the-line saw, if treated with care, should still be cutting well when you’re ready to hand it down.

Saw Styles

The motor is in line with the blade, delivering enough torque to carve up wet lumber or saw through concrete, which makes a worm drive ideal for framing or major renovation jobs. With the handle farther back, a user can better resist kickback and steer the 16-pound saw through long rips. As on most full-size worm-drive saws, the blade of this Skil HD77 sits to the motor’s left — in easy view for right-handed users.

The motor sits alongside the blade, making for a lighter (11 pounds or less) saw, which is more maneuverable over a long day than a worm drive. The helical gearing on higher-end sidewinders, such as this Milwaukee 6390-20, beefs up the torque, making these models worthy competition for worm drives.

Weight, balance, and handle size are all key features to consider when choosing a saw that fits you. For a slight-bodied person, a small pro model like this 7.7-pound Makita 5740NB may be more appropriate than a full-size sidewinder.

Battery-driven models have increased in size as their power packs have gained voltage, making them convenient tools out in the field or when the electricity’s not on. This Bosch 1660K sports a 6 ½-inch blade and a 24-volt battery — the largest in its class. However, cordless models still have limited run times and generate less torque than corded saws.

For finish work or paneling, Norm Abram prefers a small trim saw; blades range from 3½ to 412 inches. This Porter-Cable 314, with a 4½-inch blade, is the one worm drive on the market — all others are sidewinders.


Large, smooth-cornered lever locks and full-round knobs that can be tightened down with the whole hand, like this one on the DeWALT 364, make it faster and easier to change the depth of cut and bevel settings than small, hard-to-grasp levers and wing nuts.

“No matter what you do, you will drop your saw,” warns Tom Silva. Cast-metal shoes with raised reinforcing ribs on the top surface, as seen here on a Porter-Cable 347, won’t bend like flat aluminum shoes if the saw hits the ground. On the other hand, a cast metal shoe adds weight to a saw.

Norm’s Circular Saw Basics

Circular saws can be dangerous. Always wear safety glasses and follow the safety instructions printed in your saw’s owner’s manual

Set the blade so that its bottommost tooth is 1/8 to ¼ inch below the work piece. Always make sure the power source is unplugged before making any adjustments to the saw.

Support the material on a bench or two strong sawhorses, overhanging enough so that the cut piece will fall. Never prop up this off-cut, or the material will buckle and bind the blade, causing a dangerous kickback.

For an accurate cut, mark the side of the material that will become waste, then line up the blade to just leave the pencil line on the keep side. To make the cut, support the front of the saw shoe on the work piece, but keep the blade about an inch from the material. Then start the saw, letting it come up to full speed before pushing it steadily through the wood.

TIP: For 90-degree cross-cuts, use a speed square to guide the saw (below).

Place large sheets of plywood on 2x4s laid across sawhorses and positioned to support both sides of the cut. Clamp a strip of plywood or other straight material to the work piece at the right distance to guide the saw shoe while cutting the line. Walk alongside the plywood as you cut, holding the cord to make sure it doesn’t get snagged.

TIP: For narrow rips, keep the saw straight by holding the shoe with your free hand and bracing your forefinger on the wood’s edge. You can also use a pair of locking pliers (below) or a rip-fence accessory.

of Norm’s Tips

As a circular saw blade cuts up through wood, the fibers on top splinter off, a condition known as tear-out (usually worse on cross-cutting). If appearances are important, put the good side down when cutting. If you must cut the board face-up or if both sides will show, score the cut line with a utility knife before cutting.

TIP: When cutting a finished piece, such as a painted door, duct-tape the bottom of the saw shoe so it can’t scratch the finish.

A saw blade sinking through the face of a board can “walk” back across the surface, so make sure that no part of your body or the cord is in line with blade. Release the lever for the depth setting and drop the shoe below the blade. Then tighten the lever slightly to keep the blade from dropping, but don’t lock it all the way. Bring the saw up to full speed, lift the guard, and slowly push the body of the saw down to start the cut.

blade, essentials, circular, saws

starting the cut in the middle of a board

TIP: Make sure to start back far enough so that you only push the saw forward; never drag a spinning saw back.

If a board is too wide for the saw shoe to hang over the edge during a rip cut, hold a narrow scrap of wood between thumb and forefinger, bracing your finger along the edge of the board, and butt the saw shoe against the edge of the wood scrap as you push both along the board.

When cutting more than one piece of plywood to the same size, stack them on top of each other (or side by side in the case of dimensional lumber), clamp them together firmly, and cut the lot in one pass to save time and ensure consistency.

Blade guards have a tendency to jam on steep bevel cuts, so carefully nudge the guard lever with one finger to ease it over the edge. Once the cut has been started, let the lever go. Never remove the guard or rig it so that it stays up permanently.

blade, essentials, circular, saws

Circular Saw Rip GuideMy Version

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first to… About Phil B »

Rip guides like this one can be found on YouTube and in other Instructables here. They are very handy for precise ripping of large panels and for trimming things like doors. I am including a couple of modifications, though, that I think readers will find very beneficial. One is a cost reduction. A second is no need for making a precise cut during the construction of this guide. Another is a way to clamp the guide so the clamps do not interfere with the motor housing on the saw. The fourth is two working edges in case one should be damaged.

In the photo you see my rip guide prepared to trim 1/8 inch from the bottom of a door.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

  • Rule
  • Drill with bit and countersink
  • Screwdriver
  • Sawhorses

Have the store rip 15 or 16 inches from the long side of a sheet of 4 x 8 feet Masonite. It does not matter if the cut is not completely straight, but the panel saw will likely yield a straight cut. (My saw’s base is wider than some with almost exactly 5 inches between the edge of the base under the motor housing to the nearest side of the saw blade. If your saw’s base is smaller, the Masonite could be narrower. But, the Masonite needs to be twice as wide as the base dimension on the motor side of the base plus the width of the trim board. Leave a little extra on both sides to be trimmed away.)

I had a car, not a truck, when I went to the store. I had the store cut the remainder of the Masonite so I had two pieces about 33 x 48 inches each. They may not go into a car trunk, but will slide through a rear car door and not rise above the seats to obstruct your rear view on the way home. (The panel saw at my store is poorly aligned and corners on crosscuts are not square. The operator has tried several times to get the management have the saw aligned again, but has been unsuccessful. Be aware.)

Plans for rip guides like this often suggest ripping about 6 or 8 inches from the long side of a sheet of 1/2 inch plywood. This is aligned along the edge of a sheet of Masonite. That means you may be buying both a sheet of plywood and a sheet of Masonite. One advantage to my version is that you buy a sheet of Masonite and a trim board only, which makes for a lower cost. (Also, if you are cutting the piece that will actually guide the saw, you will need a means of guaranteeing that cut is perfectly straight. That may not be possible in a beginner home workshop. The straight trim board will be a big advantage for getting a straight guide without a large table saw the beginner workshop may not have.)

Center the trim board on the long Masonite piece and clamp with “C” clamps. Support this sandwich with enough sawhorses to keep it from bowing.

Step 2: Attach With Screws

I chose to have the saw base ride on the smooth surface of the Masonite. So, the rough surface will be down on the finished guide. Here you see the two pieces inverted for assembly. I measured so the screws would form a line down the center of the guide. A screw is installed about 1 to 2 inches from the end. Then I placed screws every 8 inches. The heads are countersunk so they do not scratch a finished surface in use.

Step 3: Trim the Excess From Both Sides

Once the Masonite has been attached to the trim board with screws, invert and support the assembly on enough sawhorses that it does not sag.

I positioned the edge to be trimmed away off to one side so that the saw will not cut into the sawhorses and metal roller support shown. Make certain the cord is not restricted. With one smooth movement hold the saw base against the trim board and move the saw the length of the saw guide to trim away any excess. Notice that I clamped the assembly to the sawhorses with “C” clamps so I did not need an assistant while cutting.

I loosened the clamps and turned the assembly end for end. Then I clamped it again as before and trimmed the second side. That gives me the advantage of two edges that mark the cut. If one is ever damaged, I still have another.

My saw has no “run out” that I can determine. On some saws, especially lower-priced saws, the blade moves outward a tiny bit when the saw is powered up. Cutting in one smooth motion is to eliminate the effects of run out. I will use this guide most often on cuts much less than 8 feet long. I have decided to guard against any run out by starting the saw an inch or so away from the cut line and move the saw base toward the edge of the trim board as I move the saw forward to begin the cut. I will also move the saw away from the trim board before the blade stops spinning.

Step 4: In Use

One of the frequent problems with clamping a straight edge for guiding a circular saw is that the “C” clamps obstruct the movement of the saw by colliding with the motor housing. But, the Masonite on both sides of the trim board means I can clamp the rip guide by means of the Masonite on the side opposite of the saw cut, which is yet another advantage of my version. The “C” clamps are far out of the way, and the guide is securely clamped in place. (You can see a piece of 1 x 2 in the lower left of the photo. It is functioning as a cushion piece to protect the finished surface of the door so the clamp does not leave a mark. Also, the left rear corner of my saw’s base is cut at a diagonal, which explains what you see in the photo.)

If you watched the YouTube video linked in the Introduction, the author of that video cut the piece that guides the saw to be extra wide to allow his small saw to clear the clamps. Too much width increases the weight of these guides. The version I made weighs 14 pounds, but provides two working edges. You will need to make your own choice.

Step 5: Trim

Align the edge of the Masonite with the cut line. After the guide has been clamped in place, make certain the cord is out of the way. Start the saw and trim the excess from the panel or door.

Step 6: Finished Cut

The photo shows the bottom of the door after it has been trimmed. Notice how neatly and smoothly the cut edge follows the edge of the Masonite.

Years ago I purchased a two piece aluminum saw guide for ripping. It deflects a little in the middle and I always had to buttress it from the side. Even then, it was not completely satisfactory. This guide from Masonite and an MDF trim board is so much better. When I need to cut something less than 8 feet in length, I just allow equal portions to hang over at the ends and it all works very well.

I stand my rip guide against the wall when I am not using it. After a while it will begin to bow a little. That is not a big problem, but I can also turn it over periodically so the new position takes out the old bowing. After a while I will need to turn it again.

This guide is made to be used with my saw and the blade I currently have on it. A different saw or a different blade can introduce variables and should have their own custom constructed guide. Also, using this guide with a different saw could render it useless for my saw. If you lend your guide, lend your saw and blade, too.

I wish I had known about these rip guides years ago and had used one then instead of making do with improvised guides that often left “C” clamps in the way of the saw’s motor housing. I am also glad I was able to make mine without buying two sheets of plywood.

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Комментарии и мнения владельцев

I hang mine from a screw in the wall of my shop. Really helps keep it straight and flat.

blade, essentials, circular, saws

That is a good idea. My shop has also usually been a garage with two cars parked in it, too. Any wall space has many things of various lengths standing against it or it has pegboard with hooks on it.

Hi Philgreat instructable (and nice job replying quickly to everyone’s Комментарии и мнения владельцев!)

1.) I have a piece of aluminum angle “iron” (a 90 degree piece about 6′ long). It appears to be very straight (that’s why I bought it). Do you think this would be an adequate substitute for the MDF? It’s ‘faces’ are about 1.5″ tall.

2.) If I was going to use this guide to cut a 45 degree bevel (to make French cleats), would I need to modify the guide in any way, or just shift it further from the desired cut-line to account for the angle?

I think your aluminum angle could work. It may flex sideways a little in use. I would still mount it to Masonite with screw bolts every few inches to eliminate the possibility of flexing for straighter cuts. That also allows the edge of the Masonite to define the cut line for easier setup. One reason I like the MDF is that it has a low profile and the saw motor can pass over it without obstruction. The higher profile of the aluminum angle will likely get in the way with many 90 degree cuts. A 45 degree cut for French cleats should not be a problem.

Excellent instructable. I used a metal guide for years and almost always had to clean up the cut edge on my table saw (never easy with a very long board). The more woodworking I do the more I appreciate the many jigs I’ve built that make the job easier and safer.

Thank you for looking and for commenting. I hope you can use it. I do not use it often, but it has been handy when I needed it. I wish I had had one of these years ago.

This is a nice design and just what I was looking for. One limitation to be aware of. the 1×4 under the motor housing may not allow the saw to be set to it’s maximum depth of cut. While this isn’t a problem for most applications, it limits the depth of cut just enough that this jig won’t work on a 1 3/4″ wooden door, at least not with my saw. A thinner piece, such as 3/8″ plywood would allow just enough clearance for my saw to make the cut. Nevertheless, this setup is super easy to make and super handy for most ripping applications, and I’m glad I made it. I wound up just using the edge of the Masonite base as the guide for trimming the door. Thanks for the nice design! I wish I’d had this guide years ago.

Saws do vary. The 3/4 inch 1 x 4 works fine at maximum depth with my saw. As shown, I was able to trim a door with my saw and a 3/4 inch guide strip. The usual design for one of these jigs involves fastening the machine cut edge of one sheet onto another sheet of material possibly of another thickness. That results in a cutting guide with cutting on one side, not two sides. In my experience the clamps pose an obstruction to the saw. With two cutting sides, one can be used for clamps and there is no obstruction to the saw motor. Your comment about wishing you had one of these years ago reminds me of some custom cars I have seen. The seats are so low to the floor that a person is too old to get in and out of them by the time he is old enough to afford one. Thank you for looking and for commenting. I would be interested in seeing a photo of the one you built.

Luella, I am sorry to hear about your friend’s injury. Power saws can be dangerous. Learning about safety precautions is very important. I find it helpful to set the depth of cut to the minimum needed. People actually hold the wood from below with their fingers in the path of the saw blade. Keeping the depth of cut as shallow as possible means an injury from unsafe practice would make a flesh wound rather than cutting fingers off. Stand off to the side a little so you are not in the pathway if the saw kicks back. Make certain the blade guard works properly. Keep the power cord out of the way so you do not cut into it. Do not support the weight of the saw by the part that will be cut away and fall off. Do not let long hair hang down near the spinning blade, and keep loose clothing away from the saw. Do not set the saw down until the blade has stopped spinning. Unplug the saw when you are not using it, even between cuts.

I am having difficulty understanding why you were not able to use this successfully. Perhaps a friend with experience using one of these saws can help you master using this.

Ripping Wood with a Table Saw and How to Minimize Errors

When ripping wood with a table saw, you are prone to encountering a myriad of problems. These issues can range from annoying to dangerous.

blade, essentials, circular, saws

Still, no matter how you measure it, using a table saw to rip your lumber is infinitely preferable to using a circular saw – especially on the jobsite.

Whether the problem is incorrect cuts, waste or injury, these mistakes can be minimized or avoided with some basic instructions, techniques and the right equipment.

Common Table Saw Ripping Errors

The most worrisome errors are binding, kickback and ejecting the wood stock. In a fraction of an instant, a table saw can eject a board straight at your face or another part of the body. This can potentially cause severe injury or even death.

Pinching the blade occurs when you’re almost through a cut and the weight of the cut segment causes the portion near the blade to lift off the cutting surface. This phenomenon also occurs when using a handheld circular saw. While ripping wood, your piece can push the saw blade back out of the cut, resulting in kickback. To avoid this problem, you need a means of supporting the wood.

Another common error is burning the wood with the friction of the saw blade. This can happen if you cut too slowly or if you stop mid-cut and restart. It can occur on thick pieces of lumber if your saw isn’t powerful enough to handle the cut at the correct speed. If you have a dirty or dull blade, or if you’re using the wrong blade on your saw, you’re much more likely to encounter burn. Incorrect blade height can also cause potentially deadly errors.

How to Avoid Errors with Your Table Saw Cuts.

A great place to start is making sure you have the right equiptment. For table saws we would recomend a dewault. The battery powered Dewaults have also come a long way in terms of longevity and power. If we are talking table saw stands than we are going to immediately point you to the CutHub.

A good thing to remember, esspecially if you’re a begginer is that there are many differnet blade types for a multitude of materials. Make sure you are using the right tools for the job before ever ripping wood (or other materials) on your saw.

Many errors can occur depending on where your table saw is mounted. If you choose a uneven or rouch surface for your setup your table could wobble or shift. This results in incorrect cuts due to binding or bouncing of the wood.

Having a stable way to support the lumber that has already gone by the blade, like an outfeed table, is crucial for table saw cuts. It provides your board (especially the longer pieces) the stability it needs on a vertical plane to not bind or bounce as well.

In conlusion some of the ways of reducing errors include:

  • Buying a high-quality saw and following the manufacturer’s instructions for its use.
  • Using the right blades and making sure your blades are sharp are also important.
  • Mount and place your table saw on an even surface.
  • Having an outfeed table or support for the overhanging piece

A Great Place to Start

CutHub’s table saw stand setup solves all your problems in one sturdy, portable solution. One person can set it up, break it down and transport it easily from jobsite to jobsite.

Our customer reviews speak for themselves: CutHub improves safety, comfort and efficiency while reducing waste. You can have a new, inexperienced crew member making journeyman-level cuts in a matter of minutes. Because you can train faster and build faster, you can complete projects in record time. Our customers unanimously agree that CutHub pays for itself.

You’ll rip lumber more safely and accurately than you ever imagined. And, because the lumber stays on the same level, you’ll avoid troublesome pivot points.

Contact us today to request a quote, or to learn more about how the Cut Hub portable jobsite cut station can help you eliminate the potentially dangerous and costly errors that commonly occur when ripping wood on a table saw.