When it comes to making grooves or dados in wood, a circular saw can do the job for you.
Although a groove can be cut using more sophisticated tools, a circular saw is the most affordable and widely available tool to achieve this.
Things You Will Need
- A Circular Saw
- Wood For Cutting the Groove
- A Speed Square
- Two Clamps (Quick grip clamps preferably )
- A Sacrificial Sheet (MDF, Plywood or Similar)
- A Mallet
- A Chisel
Step-by-Step Method to Cutting a Groove Using a Circular Saw
The method to cut a groove varies depending on whether you need to cut a groove along the length of the wood or along the width (cross) of the wood.
I'll explain how to do both.
Cutting a Groove Along the Length
In this section, I'll explain how to use a circular saw for cutting a groove along the length of the wood.
You could use a speed square for making a lengthwise groove with a circular saw, but a rip-fence is the ideal accessory.
To do this, first, place the wood over the sacrificial sheet.
If you are using a relatively thin piece of wood like a 2x4, there might not be enough space to run the circular saw.
The solution, in that case, is to place another wood piece with the same thickness on the side of the wood to be cut, for support.
Next, Mark the groove boundaries on either side using the speed square.
After the groove is marked for cutting, adjust the blade length and clamp at the middle and at the end.
Using the rip-fence or saw the track, align the blade with the groove boundary while keeping in mind the kerf loss.
If you don't have either of those, make a straight edge using scrap wood and use it as a guide for cutting.
Make multiple passes inside the groove to make a series of cuts within the groove area.
After this, use a chisel and hammer to remove the cut-up wood.
With this step, you will now have a smooth and clean lengthwise groove.
If there are splinters, use sanding paper to hand-sand the rough edges.
With this step, you'll now have a smooth and accurate groove in the wood piece.
The difference between a rabbet and a groove is that a rabbet is made at the edge of the wood piece, unlike a groove.
It is possible to make a rabbet with a circular saw if that's what you are looking for.
2. Cutting a Groove Along the Width (Cross)
Place the sacrificial sheet on the table and place the wood to be grooved, on top.
Using a speed square measure and mark the groove onto the wood while making sure both lines are parallel.
Adjust the height of the blade in the circular saw to match the depth of the groove you need.
To do this, keep the blade at the edge of the wooden piece and adjust according to the cross-section of the wood visible from the side.
Remember, cutting more than half of the thickness might make the groove too deep and separate the wood into two.
Set the speed square such that the blade of the circular saw falls just inside the boundary line of the groove. Then clamp the speed square in place.
In case you only have one speed square, Make a pass on one side and then unclamp the speed square and clamp it next to the other boundary line.
The loss in wood due to the thickness of the blade is termed kerf loss.
After cutting both boundaries of the groove, continue cutting inside the groove area to remove wood. multiple passes with the saw should do the trick.
All that's left now is to hammer and chisel away any pieces that stick out. Leading to a splinter-free, smooth groove.
Here's that clean groove along the width of the wood.
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