How To Use DeWalt Circular Saw

Introduction to how to use a Dewalt Circular Saw

After buying a new DeWalt circular saw, you’re undoubtedly excited to start cutting. If you don’t know how to use the saw, take a second and read this guide. We’ll walk you through the whole process and point out some important safety considerations before you power up your tool.

The Parts of Your DeWalt Circular Saw

You shouldn’t use your saw until you understand the different parts. Let’s review the main components and explain what each of them does.

The Blade

The blade is the piece of metal or silicon with all the teeth on it. This is the part that does the physical cutting when you’re running the tool.

Blades for DeWalt’s are interchangeable. These circular saw blades come in different diameters and tooth configurations.

Make sure you have the right diameter installed in your saw or else it won’t work. Additionally, understand that the different tooth setups can achieve different cuts. The more teeth your blade has, the cleaner the final cut will be.

The Shoe

The shoe is the metal, flat part at the bottom of your tool. It will guide along the material while the blade is whirling around and making the cut.

In most cases, the shoe can be adjusted to give you a different cutting depth.

The Handle

The handle is towards the top of your DeWalt circular saw. Your dominant hand will rest here and control the trigger.

The trigger will activate the saw blade — it will only spin for as long as you have the trigger held in.

The Grip

Towards the front of your tool is a grip. Most DeWalt’s have rubber around the grip, but you’ll notice there’s no trigger there.

This grip is just for stability. Your non-dominant hand will hold this grip and keep the tool centered and balanced as you make your cut.

Without a hand here, your tool might skip along the wood it’s cutting and result in a horrible cut.

The Blade Guard

The blade guard protects you and also shows the directionality of your tool. There is a slight opening at one side of the guard. This shows you where the material needs to be fed from.

Feeding material in the opposite direction will create a horrendous cut and will probably throw material away from the power tool since the teeth are facing the wrong direction.

Ensure your blade guard is functioning properly before even plugging in your saw.

DeWalt vs Other Circular Saws

DeWalt’s circular saw will operate almost identically to others on the market. The only difference is that the reliability, cost, and performance of DeWalt are usually better than a lot of other options.

In fact, you can even use whatever circular saw blades you’d like, as long as they are the correct diameter. This is further proof that the circular saws work about the same between competitors.

Read our review articles on Circular Saws:

Our Pick for DeWalt Circular Saw

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How To Use DeWalt Circular Saw

Now let’s talk about how to use your DeWalt circular saw. These tips will help you understand your tool, set up your project correctly, and get the best possible results.

Set Up Your Workspace

The first step of using your saw is the setup. You want your workstation to have ample space for you to work in. You should be able to walk around the piece that you’re cutting and have a full range of motion for your arms.

If you try to work in too narrow of a space, you could really hurt yourself. Remember, this saw is dangerous, and the blade is unforgiving.

Focus on Safety

Safety is the most important part of this project. As we mentioned, this tool can be really dangerous if you ignore some of the safety steps.

You should always have on ear, eye, mouth, and nose protection when you use the saw. Sawdust that gets inhaled can lead to immediate irritation and lasting damage to your body. We recommend wearing a nice dust mask for as long as you’re working.

Ear protection takes the form of sound-proof earplugs. This protects your eardrums from getting damaged while you’re sawing.

Mark the Material

The old adage in woodworking is to “measure twice, cut once”. Of course, this exists because un-cutting a piece of wood is simply impossible.

Part of this process includes marking your material. You want to ideally use a fine-tip instrument to mark the line that you want to cut. Using a thick Sharpie or piece of chalk will lead to a less accurate cut. Why? The line has a certain thickness. It essentially shifts your measurement by that thickness.

The most accurate way to mark your material is with a mechanical pencil.

In order to find your measurement, use a tape measure. When you get to the right dimension, make two small indications. Combine the two into a “V” that has its point directly on the point you measured.

This is a lot more accurate than an “X” that a lot of people use.

Make sure you also indicate the side of the material that is scrap. This is the piece that gets thrown away while the other piece gets preserved and used in your project. We suggest making a large “X” on the scrap piece, so you remember which piece is which.

Perfect Your Lighting

Another pro tip is to perfect your lighting. If you’re working in a woodshop, shed, or garage that you routinely cut in, we’d suggest splurging on some nice overhead lighting.

Regardless of where you work, it’s a good idea to grab a mobile spotlight. Depending on your body position, you could project a lot of shadows into your work area as you’re trying to cut. This makes the project even harder.

Using a spotlight allows you to position it perfectly and illuminate the marked line on your wood as well as the piece itself.

Set the Blade

A lot of DeWalt circular saws have the ability to adjust the shoe height and bevel angle. These two dimensions are critical for your project.

Before cutting anything, it’s important to set your blade. First off, make sure you have the right blade inserted. Different tooth configurations are made for different materials to cut, so you’ll need to have the correct one installed.

Most commonly, you’ll have the shoe positioned so the maximum amount of blade is exposed. The bevel angle is typically 90-degrees so it’s perpendicular to the wood you’re cutting. Make sure the fasteners are tightened after adjusting these settings.

Know How to Hold Your Saw

If you’ve never held a saw before, you’ll want to practice. The best way to do this is to grab some scrap wood that you were going to toss anyway.

The best holding position is with your dominant foot forward and bracing a little bit. A strong stance will keep everything controlled and avoid the disaster of tripping while cutting.

You’ll want to put your dominant hand on the handle with the trigger on it. The other will be used to hold the rubber grip at the front of the tool.

For the most comfortable stance, you’ll probably be standing on the left of the tool and material as you cut.

For righties, this means your right hand is on the handle with the trigger, left hand is on the front grip, and right foot is slightly forward as you stand to the left of the tool.

Protect the Cord

If you don’t have a cordless DeWalt, you’ll have a cord that can easily be caught up, cut, and ruin your project.

Our tip is to throw the cord over your right shoulder while you’re working. This prevents the cord from dangling and getting in the way of your blade while you’re cutting. Your saw’s blade will shred through the cord instantly if it comes in contact. You’re left with an inoperable tool.

Pull and Hold the Trigger Before Touching Material

When you pull the trigger, the saw will start to rotate. Whenever you want to make a cut, you’ll have to pull and hold that trigger until the cut is done.

Make sure the tool is not touching the material you’re about to cut until the blade is up to speed. The saw should be behind the material as you start holding the trigger. Don’t let go of the trigger until the cut is finished and the saw is on the other side, not touching anything.

Failure to do this will result in a choppy finish to your cut and the potential to throw your material around.

Watch the Blade

As you’re cutting and following the guide, make sure your eyes are on the blade, not the marked line. Staring at the marked line isn’t going to change its position at all.

The reason that you want to follow the blade instead is so that you can correct your path and ensure you’re hitting the mark for the full cut.

Aim to hit either side of the marked line as your tool is traveling.

Consider Using a Saw Guide

Want to get a straight cut every time? Consider using a saw guide. This is simply a piece of scrap material that’s straight and used to guide your tool.

The important part here is that the piece is straight and fastened correctly. If you’re using a warped 2×4, you’ll get a warped cut from your saw.

Use Masking Tape on Dark Woods

When you use pencil on a dark wood, you’ll probably lose your marked line. As a result, the final piece won’t be the correct dimension.

A hack that we learned over the years is to break out the masking tape. Apply masking tape in roughly the area that you want to cut. Then, make your measurement and apply your marked line directly on the masking tape.

Since this tape is light-colored, you’ll be able to see your mark. More importantly, it won’t ruin the quality of your cut or damage the material afterward.

Use Clamps if Cutting at an Angle

Any time you have a non-90-degree angle as your bevel, you should clamp your piece.

This is simply because of the physics at play. There are forces tugging the wood in different directions as you cut on a 45-degree angle, for example.

An un-clamped board can be knocked loose and ruin your cut.

Slow and Steady

Using a circular saw is all about feel. Going too fast will give you a choppy final cut. You’ll eventually learn the right pace, but for now, just move the saw slowly and steadily along the material.


Now you know how to use a DeWalt circular saw. The process is pretty straightforward. Make sure you stay safe whenever you use the tool and you’ll enjoy a long life with your circular saw.

Learn how to make other cuts with your circular saw:

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