New Circular saw, why can't I cut straight? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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New Circular saw, why can't I cut straight?

Hi,

I just bought a new circular saw by skilsaw, the lowest end one, the $40 model. It should work fine for my needs, but I bought it to cut straight and I can't seem to cut straight. Out of 5 cuts I got one right. I am crosscutting plywood that is 24" in width. I have two sawhorses and two 2x4s running from sawhorse to sawhorse to keep the plywood from sagging. I'm using a long plywood board as my fence and it is pretty straight. The first few cuts my fence was clamped to the plywood, but my plywood was not clamped to the two by fours (2x4s are also not clamped to anything, but they're heavy). So the plywood slid a bit because it wasn't clamped down. For my most recent cut I clamped the plywood and the fence down to the 2x4s. They are heavy enough they kept the plywood from sliding, but my cut still veered away from the fence!

I am right handed and the fence was on the left side of the saw. I read somewhere that perhaps I should try putting the fence on the right side so that when my hand wants to veer that direction it will stay against the fence. Any other tips?
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post #2 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 01:49 PM
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$40 saw has $0.50 blade

That would be my guess, if you bought a good blade it probably cut straight, of $40 saw's base edge isn't parallel to the saw blade

That is about all it could be not counting user error
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post #3 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 02:32 PM
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I just bought the same saw myself a few weeks ago and it cuts fine. I did change the blade however - that's one very important lesson I learned from this forum - blades that come with the saw tend to be less than accurate.

Aside from having a good blade, are you sure the 2x4's you're using for guides are straight?

I know some of the ones I get from HD and L are seldom straight.
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post #4 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 03:36 PM
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Can you watch the saw veer away from the fence?
Maybe you need to aim to the left, all the time?
I did exactly the same, cutting 2x4, even with a good line.

Blades: Buy really good ones.
A really good plywood blade does a very nice job.
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post #5 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 03:50 PM
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practice and experience
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post #6 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 03:58 PM
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On my circular saw, a bottom of the barrel Ryobi, the blade is not perfectly parallel with the edge of the base. That makes it hard to keep it against a guide.

I wonder if yours is like that.

... turning perfectly good wood into firewood every day ... :smile3:
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post #7 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 04:04 PM
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Even if the blade isn't parallel to the edge of the base, you will still get a straight line. You would just have a wider kerf.

I'd guess your guide isn't perfectly straight.
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post #8 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanchez View Post
Even if the blade isn't parallel to the edge of the base, you will still get a straight line. You would just have a wider kerf.

I'd guess your guide isn't perfectly straight.
If the blade is pointed towards the edge/fence/guide, then yes ... that would press the saw harder against the guide, and assuming the guide is secure and doesn't flex, yes, you would get a straight line, but a wider kerf.

If it is pointed away from the edge/fence/guide, then it would want to pull the saw away from the guide. In that case, you would have to use your arm strength to keep it against the guide (or twist the saw a little). That makes it a challenge to keep it against the guide.

Mine is pointed away from the edge. It sucks using that saw.

... turning perfectly good wood into firewood every day ... :smile3:

Last edited by Chris Curl; 12-18-2017 at 04:42 PM.
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post #9 of 28 Old 12-18-2017, 05:05 PM
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Maybe you need a "track" saw.....

A circ saw used against a guide will only cut as straight as the guide is straight AND as only well as the operator maintains a constant contact with the guide. However, a guide allow the saw to wander away no matter how you concentrate on making contact.

On the other hand a "track" saw has a built in track for a rail to ride in and there is no means for the saw to wander. You simply attach a small strip of plastic, wood or metal to the base of your circular saw and make a corresponding width dado or slot in a piece of MDF, or good plywood, The dado must parallel to one edge so you get a straight slot.

As far as blades go, a decent blade will cut straight even if it's not super razor sharp. The Freud Diablo blades at Home Depot are better than decent and for the price offer a good bang for the buck.

Here's a DIY approach to make a track saw that will be accurate and cost less than $20.00:
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The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #10 of 28 Old 12-19-2017, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catpower View Post
$40 saw has $0.50 blade

That would be my guess, if you bought a good blade it probably cut straight, of $40 saw's base edge isn't parallel to the saw blade

That is about all it could be not counting user error
Great advice everyone. Since I've made a total of 4-5 cuts in my entire life, I'm going to guess it's user error. I'll try the track (although that seems like a lot of work) and I'll also get a better blade, just to see if it helps. My guide board is straight. Once I saw my cut was crooked I unplugged the saw and put it back in the groove and sure enough I veered away from it. I need more practice for sure.

Will putting my guide fence on the right side help you think? There's less distance between the edge and the blade if I do that. That is not a safety concern is it?
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post #11 of 28 Old 12-19-2017, 11:23 AM
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It might be user error with me too, but I have problems with the fences that come with the saws, I prefer a good straight edge along the base of the saw
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post #12 of 28 Old 12-19-2017, 11:31 AM
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guide board placement

Depending on the thickness and width of the board, there may not be room for the saw motor to clear it IF it's at full depth of cut. Then you must locate the guide on the narrow side of the saw base.

However, most cits will not be at full depth, so here's what I recommend. Depending on which side your blade is on the motor, left bladed or right bladed, place the guide board on the material opposite side or away from the blade. Then you have a wide portion of the saw base to rest on. You only have to watch the saw base and guide board interface and maintain constant contact all along the cut. It should become much easier with practice!

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #13 of 28 Old 12-19-2017, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garek007 View Post
Great advice everyone. Since I've made a total of 4-5 cuts in my entire life, I'm going to guess it's user error. I'll try the track (although that seems like a lot of work) and I'll also get a better blade, just to see if it helps. My guide board is straight. Once I saw my cut was crooked I unplugged the saw and put it back in the groove and sure enough I veered away from it. I need more practice for sure.

Will putting my guide fence on the right side help you think? There's less distance between the edge and the blade if I do that. That is not a safety concern is it?
It sounds like you have your guide on the motor side of the saw...meaning that it has to be pretty thin to clear the motor, and thus will have more of a tendency to flex under pressure. Try using something a little heavier for your guide (like a 4' level).
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post #14 of 28 Old 12-19-2017, 11:52 AM
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The problem with some blades is there is so little set on the blade it doesn't allow you to correct the direction you are going. If you start off wrong the blade tends to keep you going in that direction. It's often quite difficult just looking at the blade especially if in a package but the teeth need angle outward from the body of the blade a little to give you the control you need.
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post #15 of 28 Old 12-19-2017, 12:11 PM
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I had the same problem until my brother in law pointed out to raise the blade until the teeth and gullets were clear of the plywood. I had the blade all the way down.

A diamond is how coal reacts under pressure.
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post #16 of 28 Old 12-19-2017, 12:44 PM
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If the plywood is moving as you cut you are forcing the cut, either you don't have a good blade or you are feeding too fast. Let the saw do the work, take your time.
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post #17 of 28 Old 12-19-2017, 10:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Curl View Post

If it is pointed away from the edge/fence/guide, then it would want to pull the saw away from the guide. In that case, you would have to use your arm strength to keep it against the guide (or twist the saw a little). That makes it a challenge to keep it against the guide.

Mine is pointed away from the edge. It sucks using that saw.
Thanks for pointing that out, Chris!

I haven't had to deal with a misaligned blade, so I didn't think about the challenge of fighting against the blade's natural travel.
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post #18 of 28 Old 01-05-2018, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron_J View Post
It sounds like you have your guide on the motor side of the saw...meaning that it has to be pretty thin to clear the motor, and thus will have more of a tendency to flex under pressure. Try using something a little heavier for your guide (like a 4' level).
You are correct, but I am using a 3/4 board as my guide. So I don't think it's flexing.
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post #19 of 28 Old 01-05-2018, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
If the plywood is moving as you cut you are forcing the cut, either you don't have a good blade or you are feeding too fast. Let the saw do the work, take your time.
I also didn't have it clamped down, but I'm afraid of the blade so I may be trying to go too fast.
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post #20 of 28 Old 01-05-2018, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
Let the saw do the work
My dad repeated that over and over and over again. Took me 40 years to finally understand.

I was going to offer the same advice: don't rush it. Are you wearing ear protection? Loud noise and inexperience lead to stress, which leads to a rushed job.
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