How to cut straight with a circular saw

How to cut straight with a circular saw

A circular saw is a great versatile and portable cutting tool. However, it can be difficult to make long straight cuts. So, how to make a strait cut with a circular saw?

A straight cut with a circular saw can be easily made by using a guide. Another piece of wood that already has a straight edge can be used as a guide or a commercial circular saw guide can be used.

I guess you already are aware of the importance of having a circular saw as many tasks in your house and yard can be done very easily with this versatile tool.

But that is not enough, you need to get a saw and get down to business – start building the things you always wanted to have.

Circular saws can be expensive, which is the main reason why many people stop reading and focus their minds on something else.

In order to help you with this, I did research and found circular saws that are cheap, but also with good quality. If your budget is limited, but you still want to get one, check my article for quality circular saw models under $50.

It is not enough to just buy a circular saw…

Just as it is important to have a circular saw, it is equally important to learn how to use it. Before you take the tool in your hands, I would suggest reading the rip-cut versus a crosscut article.

It will help you learn the difference between the two types of cuts, as well as how to perform them. But, what is more important to learn, is how to maintain a straight cut in wood? Grab your saw we are diving in.

How to cut straight with a circular saw?

Let me take a wild guess – you marked the wood and started cutting, but no matter how carefully you followed the line, the cut wasn’t straight enough.

Is this a problem?

Well, you may use the piece of wood even if it is not straight, but this depends on the type of woodwork. Notice that not every task can be done if the cut is not straight.

Imagine you are cutting wood in order to build a shelf. If your cut is not perfectly straight, you will experience problems with assembling the shelf.

That is why it is crucial to learn the straight cut. So, here is how to perform the straight cut.

Before you start cutting, you need to take several other things apart from your circular saw.

First of all, find something straight. You have full freedom to choose what you want to use – it could be a level or a piece of wood you previously cut, but you know is perfectly straight.

Whatever you choose, it needs to cover the full length of the wood you are about to cut.

So, the level or piece of wood will be used as a guide. It is very important to fix that piece and make sure that it doesn’t move.

To do this, I recommend getting a pair of clamps and fixing it on both sides of the lumber. Notice how you are putting the clamps, as you don’t want to hit them with the saw.

Next, set the depth and remember that it shouldn’t go more than a quarter inch below the material.

Using the circular saw, you will need to follow the fixed piece, but before you start with it, you need to check the saw base.

There is no rule from which side you should cut, but whatever you choose to consider the distance to the blade and include that in your calculation.

You may notice that many saws have the same distances from the blade, but I would suggest measuring the saw each time you cut. Or, if you use the same model over and over again, just write the numbers somewhere and don’t forget to include them.

From now on, it is basically the traditional cutting I guess you already know. First, pick up the particular blade according to the material you are cutting.

Make sure you are equipped with all the safety gear, and you can start the saw. Just follow the straightedge with your circular saw and that is it.

As you can see, the process isn’t tough and you will be able to do it quickly. With several practices, you will be able to do the right cut.

It is always better to get a visual on what you are about to do. In order to help you with that, I suggest taking a look at this video that shows the whole process of making a straight cut.

Possible mistake

Many saws come with a guide, that fits on the saw and is used to substitute the straightedge. You may use this too, but it isn’t something I would recommend.

Because that little guide could easily move which will result in a bad cut. Using the clamps and level or another straight piece of wood may require more equipment and time, but is a guarantee that you will get a perfectly straight cut. If you want to use a factory built circular saw guide I suggest you check out the Kreg KMA2685 Circular Saw Guide. It is adjustable but you need to have one strait edge on the piece of wood to start with.

 Kreg KMA2685 Circular Saw Guide for long strait cuts

The Kreg KMA2685 Circular Saw Guide

Tips for cleaner long cuts with a circular saw

Use a finishing blade

Most circular saws come with a framing blade. These are great for rough cuts on wood for framing. If you are doing cuts on wood that need to be smooth then changing to a blade with more teeth and cutting a bit slower can really clean up the cut.

If you have a 7-1/4 in. circular saw I suggest the Diablo ultra finish 60 teeth blade. See it here.

If you have a 6-1/2 in. circular saw I suggest the Diablo 40 teeth Finishing Saw Blade. See it here.

Good side face down

Because a circular saw blade enters the wood at the bottom the top is more likely to get damaged. This may be because the blade if there is some tear out of wood. You can also add a extra wood baseplate to your circular saw.

Keep the wood well supported

Keeping both sides of the cut well supported can help you get a cleaner straighter cut as the off-cut part will not move, bind against the saw or break off at the end of a long cut (rather than being cut off in a strait line).

Blade depth

Set you blade about 1/8 or 1/4 inches deeper than the wood that you are cutting. This gives a smoother shearing cut and cleaner finish.


What do you use to make a straight cut? Do you follow the exact same strategy? Share your experiences below.

Best Good Low Cost Circular Saw

Want to buy a circular saw but not spend a lot? Check out my review of the best low price circular saws here:

Best Low Price Miter Saw

Another tool that every serious woodworker needs is a miter saw! If you want to get a good but cheap miter saw, check out my review of miter saws here:

Best Contractor Table Saw

Do you need a good contractor table saw? You can check out my review of the best contractor table saws here:

Share this Post

Comments 1

  1. I’ve learned the hard way about this way of getting a straight cut. There were too many pieces of wood nearly destroyed and too many times spent on getting a cut right after badly cutting. Now I have a piece of straight wood plate I use just for this kind of work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *