What Size of Circular Saw Should I Use to Cut 4×4 Lumber?

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Circular saws are adept at handling a range of materials, but not all are created equal, especially when it comes to cutting thicker pieces. I remember the first time I had to cut a 4×4 – safety was my paramount concern. 

And that’s a mantra I’ve always held close – never compromise on safety. So, choosing the right size of a circular saw for this wood size is crucial.  If you’re unsure about these aspects, don’t worry. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way for a smoother and safer cutting process.

Circular Saws That Can Handle 4x4 Wood

If you shop around, you’ll realize that most circular saws sold in the market are compact and portable. You may think these tools aren’t suitable for bigger cutting jobs, but the reality is there are plenty of bench-mounted models that could work well for these tasks. 

You can indeed use a standard-sized circular saw. Just keep in mind that it might take several passes to cut through a 4×4 lumber. And if you’re looking for other options, beam saws are a fantastic alternative I’ve used in the past.

circular saw blade

And if the current power saw you own is capable of changing blades, you can always change it to a bigger one to handle a thicker material. 

If you don’t want to change it yet, here’s a quick guide on how to sharpen your circular saws’ blades.

How to Cut 4x4 Lumber With a Circular Saw Lengthwise (Rip Cut Method)

When cutting a 4×4 lumber using a circular saw, the trick is to use different cutting techniques. Here’s how you can accomplish this task by making rip cuts. 

Ensure the circular saw’s blade is sharp and set to the appropriate depth to make clean and precise cuts through the 4×4 lumber.

Related Topic: Chainsaw Cutting Techniques

Step #1: Adjust Blade Depth to Maximum

Different cuts certainly require varying blade depths. For this, I recommend setting the blade’s depth to its maximum. For the common seven 1/4-inch circular saw I often use, a depth of 2.5 inches tends to do the trick.

Step #2: Begin With Each Side

As you cut through the wood piece, you must carefully guide it until the slice reach halfway through the lumber. 

Don’t try to put downward pressure on the wood, as you’re only meant to cut half of the entire diameter of the wood. 

cutting wood with circular saw

After the first cut, flip the lumber over. The uncut side of the material must be facing up, and this time you must start the cut from the opposite side. 

Step #3: Cut the Piece

Next, you’ll need to cut the entire diameter of the piece after the partial cuts meet in the middle. You can opt for a hacksaw to finish this task, but if the circular saw pretty much did everything, precision isn’t something you should worry about. 

How to Cut 4x4 Lumber With a Circular Saw at a 45-Degree Angle (Bevel Cut Method)

Another way to cut a 4×4 wood piece with a circular saw is through the beveling method. This specific technique includes cutting at a 45-degree angle. It’s a crucial method for projects that involves adjoining two pieces of materials. 

Step #1: Adjust Blade Depth to Maximum

Like the previous method, creating bevel cuts requires adjusting your blade depth to the maximum configurations. Setting it up to 2.5 inches deep should be fine.

Read Next: How to Bevel Wood

adjusting circular saw blade depth

Step #2: Set the Bevel Angle

The angle is where everything is different. Because if you want to do beveling, you must set the circular saw’s angle at 45 degrees

Step #3: Cut Each Side

After that, make your cut halfway through the wood’s thickness. And then, flip the uncut portion and let it face upward. 

On the other side of the material, start another cut. It would be best if you guided the power saw until it reached halfway. 

Step #4: Cut the Piece

Now that the partial cuts are interconnected in the middle, you can continue cutting through the entire diameter of the piece. If the material is too thick for your circular saw, there’s no shame in using a hacksaw to finish the task. 

Tips and Reminders for Cutting 4x4 Wood With a Circular Saw

Like any other powerful tool, circular saws (particularly made in the USA), are prone to accidental slips and other hazardous incidents. To ensure there aren’t any accidents when I’m working, I always stick to these safety tips [1]:

circular saw cutting a 4X4 lumber

Best Circular Saw Blade Sizes for Trimming 4x4 Wood

You may not know, but the general rule of thumb in blade sizes implies that the unit can only cut one-third of its size. As I mentioned, models with 7 1/4 inch blades can only go up to 2.5 inches deep. 

4x4 lumber

With that being said, the only blade size that can cut through 4×4 materials in a single pass is a 12-inch model. However, it’s also crucial to note that it means wider surface area and heavier weight. Besides that, not all circular saws can mount a blade that big. 

Beam Saws for Cutting 4x4 Pieces

Big names in the industry, like Makita, introduced a unique kind of circular saw called the beam saw. I’ve worked with these, and they come equipped with substantial blades, around 16 3/16 inches.

They easily slice through 4×4 lumber. The trade-off, however, is that they’re notably heavier than your standard circular saw.

FAQ

How do you cut a 4x4 fence post with a circular saw?

You can cut a 4×4 fence post with a circular saw by using a c-shaped guide. You can’t use a regular cut line because it will be trickier to reach certain areas. If you have no choice, you can also opt for a chainsaw. 

Conclusion

Knowing what size of circular saw you need to cut 4×4 pieces is important to be a well-versed woodworker. Remember that as much as these tools have perks, they also have limitations. 

If you want to be resourceful with your circular saw, it’s always a matter of utilizing and perfecting certain cutting techniques. 

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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