When cutting a 2x4, most novices use a jigsaw or do it manually. That’s fine, but it’s also slow.
A circular saw offers a much faster solution, assuming that you can deal with it being louder and more powerful.
Of course, that raises the question of how to cut 2x4 with a circular saw. After all, if you struggle to control the saw, you’re going to get an uneven cut.
This article offers some tips on how to use your circular saw correctly, ensuring your get straight cuts every time.
Before cutting anything with a circular saw, you must ensure that both the blade and saw are in good condition. Damage leads to a poor cut, which will ruin your lumber.
For the saw, check that the lower blade guard snaps back into place whenever you release it and that it retracts without any hitches.
If you have a cordless circular saw, you want to ensure the battery has a full charge. Running out of juice halfway through the cut is frustrating and it makes it more difficult to complete the cut properly.
Before checking the blade, remove the battery from your saw and ensure that it’s unplugged. Now, remove the blade and examine the teeth. You’re looking for any chips or cracks. If you spot any signs of such damage, replace the saw blade with a new one.
Setting the Blade
Don’t assume that you can set your blade as deep as you want. A deeper blade than needed presents several safety issues. Firstly, it makes your circular saw more likely to get stuck during the cut, which could result in it kicking back.
Moreover, the deeper the blade, the more of it that’s exposed. Ideally, you’ll want to expose as little of the blade as possible while still having enough to achieve the right cut.
So, how do you select the correct blade depth?
Unplug your saw and retract the blade guard. Now, hold it against the 2x4. Adjust the blade depth until it’s about a quarter of an inch below the bottom of your 2x4. Make sure that it’s no more than a half-inch below.
Once you have the right depth, tighten the blade into place.
Supporting the Wood
Many novices make the mistake of supporting their wood on both ends. This seems to offer more security at first, but it presents a major problem as you near the end of the cut. As you’re about to finish the cut, the board will bend downward slightly. This leads to the circular saw bucking while it cuts, which means you lose some control over it.
Instead, support the wood on one side. You want to make sure that the end of the cut-off piece is able to fall away from the secured wood freely. This is usually best achieved by resting the 2x4 on a sawhorse, with the piece that you want to cut off hanging freely over the sawhorse. Hold down or clamp the part of the wood that’s on the table continuously to ensure the wood doesn’t splinter at the end of the cut.
Incidentally, this technique also ensures that your saw blade doesn’t make contact with anything other than the wood that you’re cutting.
The thickness of a 2x4, combined with the increased speed offered by a circular saw, can make it difficult to maintain a straight line when cutting. There are several things that you can do to ensure you make a straight cut.
The first is a basic carpentry technique that applies to all cutting jobs. If the blade starts to veer slightly off-center, just stop. Turn the saw off and allow the blade to stop rotating. Then, remove the saw from the cut and realign your direction.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to bring the saw back onto the straight line after allowing it to veer away. This is much more difficult than re-sighting the line and starting again. A little practice will help you to get things right.
Beyond that, it’s a good idea to use a speed square tool. This combination of a try square, protractor, and miter square helps you to map out a straight line on your 2x4. However, it’s also useful when you’re cross-cutting.
Hold the speed square’s fence against the edge of the 2x4. This creates a perfectly straight line that you can hold in place. Guide the circular saw against the speed square to achieve a straight cut.
With these tips, you’ll figure out how to cut 2x4 with a circular saw. Granted, it can be more difficult than using a jigsaw or handsaw. However, a little practice will help you to master the technique and ensure you cut straight and safely each time. Moreover, you’ll save time that you can put towards other jobs.