There are two different kinds of angled cuts in wood that are possible using a circular saw-miter cut and bevel cut.
Depending on the angle that you need to make the cut, the method differs slightly for each cut.
In this guide, I'll show you how to make the cut in each case.
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Things You'll Need
- Sacrificial board (MDF, plywood, or something similar)
- Speed Square
- Retractable Tape
- Two Quick Clamps
- A Straight Edge or a Level
- A Circular Saw
- A Carpenter's Pencil
- Masking tape
Miter cuts at any angle in Wood with a Circular Saw
When making miter cuts, there are two kinds of angled cuts that can be made using a circular saw.
The method to make the cut differs slightly in each case.
How to Make Less than 90° Miter Cuts in Wood
In a miter cut, the blade angle is always 90 degrees, while the angle made with the wood's edge varies.
Although the most common requirement is a 45-degree miter cut, with the help of a speed square, a circular saw can be used to make almost any angle.
As an example, we'll make a 35-degree cut.
Begin by placing the sacrificial sheet onto the work surface.
A sacrificial sheet protects the work surface from damage in case the cut is too deep.
Now place the wood on top of the sacrificial sheet.
Once the wood is firmly placed, stick some masking tape over the area where you will likely draw the mark.
This is done so that when cutting the wood, the masking tape prevents splinters.
After applying the tape, using a speed square and a carpenter's pencil, draw the line at 90 degrees to the bottom edge of the wood.
Using the pivot point of the speed square and the carpenter's pencil, align the speed square with the perpendicular line drawn on the wood.
Keeping the pivot point constant, begin rotating the speed square in either the clockwise or anticlockwise direction for an angle with the previously drawn perpendicular line.
To know the angle formed while rotating the speed square, look at the slanted edge of the speed square to see the graduations marked on the speed square.
This denotes the angles formed.
When the desired angle is made with the wood's edge, draw a line along the edge of the speed square with the pivot point as the base.
The angle formed by this line and the previously drawn perpendicular line is the same angle shown in the gauge of the speed square.
If this sounds too complicated, use a protractor to mark the angle instead.
Remove the speed square to reveal the angle made.
To make the miter cut, begin by adjusting the depth of the blade to match the depth of the wood you wish to cut.
Measure the offset distance from the blade to the edge of the shoe.
Transfer this offset distance onto the wood and align the speed square with that line.
The offset distance is for knowing where to fix the speed square so that the blade will align correctly with the cut line.
Make use of quick grip clamps to clamp down the speed square along with the wood onto the work surface.
Now the blade of the saw and the mark to be cut should coincide.
Using the speed square as the guide, start cutting along the slanted line.
If your wood piece is too large to guide using a speed square, make a straight edge and use that instead.
Finish the cut and remove the masking tape.
Smoothen the edges with a rasp or sandpaper if needed.
With that step, your miter cut is finished.
How to Make Greater than 90° Miter Cuts in Wood
For angles greater than 90 degree, simply subtract 90 from that angle and proceed to cut the wood on the other side of the cut line.
For example, inorder to cut a 135° angle (on the right side of the cut line)
Begin by placing the wood on the table.
Fix some masking tape over the area where you are likely to draw the cut line.
Place a speed square flush against the wood's edge with its slanted edge facing the left side.
Draw a line perpendicular to the wood's edge.
Flip the speed square to the right of the cut line.
If you wish to draw a 135-degree line, draw the difference between 135 degrees and 90 degrees on the right side of the cut line.
In this case, its 45 degrees.
Once the 45-degree line is drawn, the total angle on the right becomes the sum of 90 degrees and 45 degrees, which is 135 degrees.
Make the cut along the line with the circular saw to make the 135° miter cut.
How to Make Bevel Cuts of any Angle in Wood with a Circular Saw
A bevel cut of any angle can be made with a circular saw.
I'll show you how to do bevel cuts in all three cases.
Making a Bevel Cut with an Angle Less Than 45 degrees
As an example, a 40-degree cut is shown below.
Just as in the earlier sections, place the sacrificial wood on the work surface.
After setting the wood on top of the sacrificial sheet, fix masking tape.
Mark over the tape using a speed square and a carpenter's pencil.
To adjust the angle of the blade, loosen the screw near the angle guide so that the blade may now sway freely.
Using the indicator provided on the saw, adjust the saw blade angle with the help of the angle guide on the saw itself.
In this particular case, you can set the angle to 40 degrees.
Adjust the depth of the blade according to the depth of the wooden piece you wish to saw.
Measure and mark the offset distance from the saw blade and the edge of the shoe of the saw.
Transfer this offset distance onto the wood to be cut.
Next, set a speed square at the offset point so that the blade of the circular saw aligns with the cut line.
Clampdown the speed square using a quick grip clamp.
Make sure that the wood is clamped and secured.
Begin cutting while using the clamped straight edge or level as your guide.
Cut completely through till the end and make sure the wood is separated into two.
Remove masking tape after cutting is done.
Provide finishing touches using sanding paper.
With that step, your bevel cut is finished.
Bevel Cut with Angle Between 45° and 90°
For making bevel cuts larger than 45 degrees, you need to make two cuts to complete the bevel cut as most circular saw blades can't be tilted more than 45°.
For a bevel cut of X°, the first cut is a bevel cut at an angle of (X°-45°) and the second cut is a miter cut perpendicular to the beveled face in the first cut.
I'll demonstrate it by showing you how to make a 60° bevel cut.
Begin by placing a sacrificial sheet onto the work surface.
Place the wood on top of the sacrificial sheet.
Remember to take a piece of wood atleast 1 inch longer than the actual length needed as the extra inch will be cut off.
A 60-degree bevel is not possible on a circular saw using a single cut because you can only set the bevel angle up to 45-degrees on the saw.
To cut a 60-degree bevel, as the first cut you need to make a cut at 90 minus 60 degrees that is 30 degrees on the other side.
Flip the wood and fix masking tape over the area before drawing the cut line on it.
Set the bevel angle of the circular saw to 30 degrees using the angle gauge and angle indicator.
Set the depth of the blade using the edge of the wood as a reference.
Align the blade with the cut line and cut all the way through.
Once a 30-degree bevel is cut on the wood. Flip the piece and place the wood piece on the face adjacent to the beveled face.
This completes the first cut. For the second cut, set the bevel angle back to 0 degrees.
The second cut is a miter cut perpendicular to the beveled face of the wood piece.
Now, depending on the angle of your bevel cut, it could be a bit difficult to make this miter cut using a circular saw.
In that case, you can use a hand saw.
Once the second cut is also complete, you'll have a 60-degree bevel cut.
You can use this method for all angles greater than 45 degrees and less than 90 degrees.
Bevel Cut with Angle Greater than 90 degrees
For a cut with angle greater than 90 degrees (say X°), simply flip the block of wood on its opposite face and cut the bevel on that side at an angle (X°-90°).
That should provide you with a bevel angle of 90 plus on the opposite face.
Safety and Accuracy Tips for Cutting Wood at an Angle
- Using masking tape before drawing the mark on it can help reduce burrs to lend a more pleasing finish.
- Always keep a rasp around you in case you need to clean and smoothen the cut after sawing. Alternatively, A hand sander or sanding paper can also get the job done.
- Make sure to cut on the side waste side of the line, so the wood piece that's needed suffers no loss in dimensions.
- Stay away from the saw while cutting.
- Using excessive force will create pinch points in the wood leading to damage for both you and the saw.
- Once the saw is running, keep it steady but never try to force it back on the line in case it veers off.
- Before making any adjustments, make sure the saw is unplugged.
- Make sure depth is set all the way down before you begin adjusting.
- While marking, never mark just as a point. Instead, mark it as a 'tick' mark or a 'crow's foot' mark. Doing so helps in identifying the point to be cut easily.
- Never stay right behind or too close to the running blade to avoid injury in case of kickback.
- Kickback is when the back end of the blade catches hold of the wood, and the whole saw jumps back at you.
- Kickback is extremely dangerous and must be avoided.