How to Make a Plunge Cut With a Circular Saw

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Learning how to create plunge cuts is essential if you want to make clean cuts through materials without damaging the edges. Using a circular saw to do it may seem difficult, but with practice, it quickly becomes relatively easy.

In this brief guide, our team of woodworkers will guide you how to make circular saw plunge cuts for your next construction project! 

4 Plunge Cut Steps Using a Circular Saw

Tools and Materials

Before starting anything, make sure to get the following materials ready: 

green circular saw on wooden surface

Once the materials are ready, you can now proceed with the steps. 

Step #1: Measure and Draw the Lines

Prior to anything else, draw the cut line on your workpiece’s surface. To do this, you must first measure, then carefully mark the line.

This is necessary before cutting because as soon as you start the plunge cut, it will be irreversible and you can no longer make any adjustments. Thus, make sure to mark the line as accurately as possible.

Step #2: Adjust the Blade Depth

The next step is to adjust the depth of cut on your circular saw so the blade extends about a quarter of an inch beyond the base of your workpiece.

This will make the circular saw function efficiently and protect anything under the wood piece you are working on from being damaged by the blade.

adjusting circular saw blade depth

In some cases, you may not want to completely cut through the wood to make a plunge cut. In this case, we suggest making certain that you set the correct plunge depth.

Step #3: Set the Saw in Position

If you want to ensure that your plunge cut is entirely straight, we suggest drawing a line that’s perpendicular to the surface you are cutting on. 

This line will serve as your circular saw guide. You are going to rotate the saw blade into the workpiece by rotating it into that line and using it as your pivot point. 

To do this, you need to align the tip of your saw with this line. And to denote this line, you can either use a combination square [1] or a speed square. 

aligning saw in position

Now, place the circular saw so that the front part touches the line you have drawn perpendicular to the workpiece, but the rest of the circular saw is suspended over it. 

When you are ready to make the plunge cut, pull the blade guard of the saw back and place it securely so that it cannot move forward during the cutting process.

Step #4: Start Cutting

The objective of this step is to rotate the saw so that the cutting edge is facing forward to completely penetrate the material.

Take a firm grip on the circular saw using both of your hands, engage the trigger, and push the blade slowly into the surface of the workpiece. Do this until the shoe is flush with the surface’s top.  

At this stage of the cut, the blade has already penetrated right through the wood, thereby finishing the action of the plunge cut. 

making a plunge cut with a circular saw

Finally, once the initial plunge cut has been made, you can cut further as needed.

Quick Tip: You can use a circular saw to cut square and rectangular holes. However, you should be careful with the corners. We suggest using a hand saw to continue the edges rather than using a circular saw. 

FAQ

Is a plunge saw the same as a circular saw?

No, a plunge saw is not the same as a circular saw. They are two different types of power saws. Plunge saws can become your go-to tool for straight cuts of any kind and depth, while the circular saw is a universal tool for many different projects.

Conclusion

With this guide, you now know how to make circular saw plunge cuts. Take note that making a plunge cut does not necessarily need a plunge saw. 

You can use a circular saw as well to make the necessary cuts.  You usually require this type of cut when constructing cabinets, trimming doors, etc.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson

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