How to Square a Board with a Circular Saw [Step-by-Step]

How to Square a Board with a Circular Saw [Step-by-Step]

How to Square a Board with a Circular Saw [Step-by-Step]

You might be looking to square a crooked board or a live-edge board that you have in your shop.

While it's possible to do this with expensive tools, squaring with a circular saw is also an option.

Squaring refers to the process of making the four edges of a wooden piece perpendicular to each other.

In this guide, I'll show you how to do this.

Things You'll Need

  • A Circular Saw
  • A Wooden Board
  • Two Sawhorses
  • A carpenter's pencil (or a sharpie or a chalk line will also suffice)
  • A ruler (or a level )
  • A speed Square (or a try square)

Before beginning, let me remind you that warping in a board cannot be corrected using a circular saw and you need a jointer or table saw (with jointer jig) for that.

Also, you should run your board through the planer after squaring with a circular saw for flattening the faces of your board.

Step-by-Step Method of Squaring a Board Using a Circular Saw

Begin by placing two saw horses parallel to each other.

Sawhorse sitting parallel to each other
Sawhorse sitting parallel to each other

Place the piece of timber you wish to cut onto the sawhorse.

Placing the timber on the sawhorse
Placing the timber on the sawhorse

Inspect the timber for the straight edge. For example, a longboard will have two straight edges and another two irregular edges.

If the wood is dark and you cannot see lines marked on the pencil, use a chalk line or a sharpie.

An alternate way is to fix some masking tape over the area you intend to draw the cut lines.

By using this method, not only you can highlight the cut lines but also prevent splinters on the wood by the use of masking tape.

Stick some masking tape over the area
Stick some masking tape over the area

Once the straight edge has been found, Use a speed square to align with the straight edge perpendicularly.

Speed square on the edge
Speed square on the edge

Using a carpenter's pencil or a marker, draw a line perpendicular to the wood's edge with the help of a speed square.

Drawing a perpendicular line using speed square
Drawing a perpendicular line using a speed square

Extend the line till the end of the board using a level or a ruler.

Continue to draw a line using level till the end of the board
Continue to draw a line using level till the end of the board

Plug in the saw and align the saw blade with the cut line on the board.

align the blade with the line
Align the blade with the line

Turn on the saw and begin ripping along the line.

If you have a straight edge you can use that for guiding the circular saw.

Cutting along the line drawn
Cutting along the line drawn

After ripping the board, check its edges for any curves or irregularities.

After that, stick some masking tape over the area.

Masking tape over area
Masking tape over area

Draw another perpendicular line from the end.

Draw another line from end
Draw another line from end

Just as before, continue ripping that side.

Ripping that side
Ripping that side

check this side for straight edges using a speed square

Speed square on the new side
Speed square on the new side

Repeat this same process for the next side, and you'll have yourself a square board.

Board after squaring with circular saw
Board after squaring with a circular saw

If you want to perfect it, run each side of the board through a planer for finishing touches.

Tips for Accuracy while Squaring a Board with a Circular Saw

  • Remember to support the board equally over the sawhorse so as to prevent it from falling over.
  • 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.
  • Using masking tape before drawing the mark on it can help reduce splinters and lend a more pleasing finish.
  • Make sure to cut outside of the line, so the wood piece that you intend to use has the correct dimensions.
  • Use a rasp to clean and smoothen the cut after sawing. Alternatively, A hand sander or sanding paper can also get the job done.
  • If you are using wet wood or treated lumber, use a blade that's appropriate for that purpose.
  • Use a sharp blade with an appropriate number of teeth.
  • More teeth on the saw blade means better cut but takes longer to cut and large teeth means quick but rough cuts.
  • Masking tape helps in highlighting the cut line in case of darker woods.

Tips for Safety while Squaring a Board with a Circular Saw

  • Inspect the power chord for exposed wire and cuts. If the insulation is removed or exposed, consider changing the power chord immediately.
  • Make sure depth is set all the way down before you begin adjusting.
  • If the piece completely seperates from the wood, let it fall. Never try to catch it while holding a runnning saw in your hand.
  • Never stay right behind or too close to the running blade to avoid injury in case of kickback. Kickback is extremely dangerous and must be prevented at all costs.
  • Once the saw is turned on, keep it steady but never try to force it back in case it veers off.
  • Using excessive force will create pinch points in the wood leading to damage for both the user and the saw.
  • Make sure the saw teeth are facing in direction of rotation. (Anti-clockwise direction in case of circular saw).
  • Using masking tape before cutting can help reduce splinters.
  • If you can smell something burning, immediately stop sawing and re-adjust the mask and saw blade.
  • Before cutting any material, especially wood, make sure there are not obstructions such as nails inside the wood.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do you make a precise cut with a circular saw?

You can make a precise cut with a circular saw using one of the many guiding systems like a straight edge, speed square, and circular saw guide. Of course, an unguided saw can also make accurate cuts, but that depends entirely on the skill and control of the user.

Why does a circular saw blade point in the opposite direction of a table saw blade?

The teeth of circular blades have been designed to cut on the upstroke in a forward direction, whereas table saw blades cut on the downstroke. Since the circular saw is handheld, and the table saw is stationary, it is necessary that the bade of the circular saw be cutting in an upstroke motion as it helps to push the material forward and towards the cutting blade. It also helps in maintaining control of the saw and the woodwork piece.

How do I keep my board from warping?

To keep your board from wrapping, make sure the storage conditions are ideal. Store the wood in a clean, dry and shady location. If the humidity of the room is above 80 percent then wrap the wood in a material that is impermeable to vapor.

Does painting prevent wood from warping?

Paint can prevent warping of wood but only if the wood has been previously dried properly. Wood warps mainly due to the absorption of moisture from the atmosphere. Wood with too much moisture will look straight but as time passes and the moisture evaporates, then begins the warping. Alternatives to paint like varnish or shellac can also resist warping.

About V Susan

Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about DIY projects and dark chocolates! Welcome to MellowPine. We play around with basic woodworking projects, home improvement ideas, and decor for you to try out.

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V Susan

Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about DIY projects and dark chocolates! Welcome to MellowPine. We play around with basic woodworking projects, home improvement ideas, and decor for you to try out.

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