While circular saws are among the most efficient and commonly woodworking tools, they also rank as one of the most dangerous. Circular saw safety is crucial for this very reason. Though the saw’s upper and lower guard pieces create a buffer around the blade when it’s not in use, the lower guard opens when the saw is engaged with the material being cut, exposing the blade and creating a very real hazard to the user.
8 Circular Saw Safety Pointers
To avoid becoming one of the thousands of people who arrive in hospital emergency rooms with lacerations or amputations each year, always follow the circular saw safety tips below.
Looking for which circular saws are the best for your needs? View our guide to the best circular saw for the full scoop on the following recommended models:
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But without any further ado, here are the eight vital circular saw safety tips:
Use proper safety equipment
When using a circular saw or any other power tool, be sure to wear the proper protective gear, including hearing protection, safety goggles and a face mask. Wearing loose-fitting clothing, jewelry or gloves is not recommended, since they can become caught in the saw’s moving parts.
Set the right cutting depth
When making a cut, set the saw depth to one-eighth of an inch more than the thickness of the wood being cut. Exposing more blade than necessary increases the risk of catching it on something below the wood, and the resulting cut also won’t be as clean due to the angle of the blade.
Manually retract the blade guard only when necessary
If your blade guard isn’t retracting properly, use the hand not holding the saw to grasp the blade guard and raise the handle to keep the saw moving forward. Never wedge the blade guard into an open position with another object.
Keep your blades in good condition
Before using your saw, check the blade to make sure it’s sharp and free of cracks. Cracked, dull or misshapen blades can get caught in the wood and kick back, potentially causing injury, and they also won’t cut as quickly or as cleanly as a sharp, unblemished blade.
Secure your work area
Before starting your work, make sure the wood being cut is sitting flush on a stable surface with plenty of room for the section being removed to fall away without binding or catching. For example, when cutting a sheet of plywood, place four two-by-fours underneath it, with two of them spaced on either side of the cut line.
If using sawhorses, be sure the cut is outside the sawhorses and not between them so the smaller piece falls away while the larger piece remains supported. You can also use clamps to secure the material.
Get a handle on safety
Circular saws have both a front handle and a rear handle, and using both of them gives you greater control over the movement of the saw while also keeping both hands out of the way of the spinning blade. Never use your hand to hold the wood in place.
Position yourself for success
As you cut, stand to one side of the blade to avoid being hit by any flying material if the saw kicks back. Additionally, make sure the wood doesn’t contain nails, staples or any other foreign objects that could cause kickback.
Once you’ve finished cutting, let go of the trigger while keeping the base of the saw connected to the cut piece until the blade is no longer spinning. Wait until the blade is completely motionless to let go of the saw. This will prevent injury as well as possible damage to the power cord.
Circular Saw Safety is Crucial
Ensuring you know how to safely use your circular saw is a good way to keep things running smooth and accident-free. The above eight tips will get you most of the way there. Common sense takes care of the rest. Looking for more information about the best circular saws? Check out our guide to the best circular saws for the full scoop.