Cutting concrete can be daunting, so you need to use the right tool. If you own a circular saw, you know that it’s one of the best power tools for cutting various materials. But can it also cut concrete?
A circular saw can cut concrete. You can use a dry diamond cut or wet diamond cut saw blade to make shallow cuts. However, a circular saw is not recommended for beginners who want to cut concrete.
Using a circular saw to cut concrete works well when you are patient, as you’ll need to make multiple cuts to deepen the line. Keep reading to learn how to cut concrete with a circular saw in the safest way possible.
How To Cut Concrete With a Circular Saw
1. Choose the Proper Blade To Cut Concrete
When using a circular saw to cut through hard material such as concrete, you must choose the appropriate blade type. The type of blade required will depend on the hardness of the material being cut and the desired finish. For tougher materials such as concrete, abrasive corundum masonry blade and diamond blades are recommended.
Abrasive Corundum Masonry Blade
The abrasive corundum masonry blade is excellent for shallow concrete cuts where you only have a few to complete. They are inexpensive, and you should plan to run through several for a small project.
Here are some things to know about this masonry blade:
- Each cut will be 0.25 to 0.75 inches (0.6 to 0.8-centimeter), so you must make multiple passes for a deeper cut.
- The abrasive corundum blade has a short lifespan.
- Your work area can become dusty when using it.
- Be careful with hot, glowing blades.
- This blade cuts concrete, stucco, and masonry.
Diamond Saw Blades
There are two types of diamond saw blades, the dry diamond blade and the wet diamond blade. They’re both made with a special metal composite containing diamonds that create a durable and reliable blade for large concrete cutting jobs. The advantage of this type of blade is that they are designed to last longer than other types of blades on the market, making them ideal for large projects.
Here’s what you need to know about diamond saw blades:
- The dry diamond cutting blade works ideally to make several shallow cuts, with each pass cutting deeper into the concrete. Its unique serrated edge performs a series of cuts instead of just one straight cut. This technique prevents the blade from reaching high temperatures, so it doesn’t become dull after extended use.
- The wet diamond saw blade uses water to accompany cutting concrete. While this blade cuts quickly and cleanly, you must use water for it to work successfully. Handle big concrete jobs by using a walk-behind wet saw.
2. Get the Work Space Ready To Cut Concrete
Whether you are cutting inside or outside, cutting concrete produces a lot of dust. For this reason, you should prepare the workspace with protection from dust or anticipate a long clean-up process.
- Tape off the ceiling, floor, and doorways to keep the dust contained when cutting indoor concrete.
- You can also cover your workspace with a tarp to collect the falling dust.
- Cover any nearby windows and move vehicles to keep them dust-free when cutting concrete outdoors.
3. Use Chalk to Create a Clean Line
Chalk allows you to cut straight lines on the concrete. It acts as a guide so that your line will be perfectly straight every time. With chalk, you can easily cut straight lines on the concrete without using any other tool or equipment. Plus, since the chalk washes away easily with water, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up after yourself afterward.
4. Don Protective Gear
Using a circular saw, or any saw, requires safety gear and precautions. The last thing you want is to cut off a finger or worse. Wearing appropriate safety gear is wise anytime you are using a saw.
Here are items you should wear for protection from a saw injury:
- Thick clothing with no hanging edges
- Protective shoes like steel-toe boots
- Ear plugs
- Work gloves
- A filtration mask
5. Keep a Garden Hose Nearby
If your concrete cutting job is small, keep a garden hose nearby and drizzle water along the line. This will reduce flying dust and help you make a better cut. If you are planning a large concrete cutting project, renting a walk-behind concrete cutter is best since you attach the hose to the walk-behind saw, and the water feeds over the saw.
6. Set the Proper Depth on the Circular Saw
The best rule of thumb is to set the circular saw to a 0.5-inch (0.6-centimeter) cutting depth. It is better to make a shallow cut and go back over the cut again to gain more depth. When you try to make a deep cut, the blade can get stuck quickly. You must stop, pull out the blade, and start the entire process over again.
Shallow cuts also let you maintain control over the saw. You don’t want to hurry and get injured due to impatience. Keep these tips in mind when performing your cuts:
- Don’t apply too much force. Pushing or pressing the saw into concrete can cause more wear and tear on your saw. You also risk creating uneven cuts due to the intense vibration.
- Keep a constant pressure as you saw. Hold the saw with both hands. Maintain a firm and steady grip at all times.
- Making a solid first cut will guide the rest of the cuts along a line. When you are careful with the first cut, it will set you up to make the rest of the cuts without incidents.
- Allow the saw to throw off excess dust and cool down. The amount of debris produced by a power saw is usually very high, so it’s essential to ensure all of it is removed before beginning another cut.
7. Vacuum Away the Dust
Keep a shop vacuum nearby to remove the dust from the cut and the surrounding areas. You don’t want the cut to fill with dust, as this can throw off subsequent cuts and make the cutting line less visible.
8. Deepen the Concrete Cut With Multiple Passes
When you need to saw completely through concrete, you will need to make multiple passes to deepen the cut. Attempting to cut a deep line right away will result in the saw getting stuck in the concrete. This can cause random cracks to appear, which will mar the concrete slab.
This YouTube video shows you how to cut concrete by making shallow passes to achieve the depth you want.
Some Important Considerations for Cutting Concrete With a Circular Saw
If you’re a beginner, you should probably not use a circular saw to cut concrete. However, someone who is handy and with circular saw experience can use the right saw blade to handle tasks involving concrete.
Here are some things to consider before attempting concrete cuts:
- The best time to begin cutting concrete is between 6 and 18 hours after pouring. When you cut too early, you can have messy edges. If you cut concrete too late, you can get feathered cracking.
- Make trial cuts in one area to avoid cutting at the wrong time. Find a small area for a trial cut to ensure you are using the saw at the right time for a clean line.
- Make sure the blade isn’t dull. A sharp blade will minimize the risk of injury and makes the task at hand easier to complete.
- Take time, and don’t rush. Sawing concrete too quickly can lead to losing control of the saw.
- Know what you are cutting through with the circular saw. Concrete lintels and walls that bear loads are essential in construction as they support and stabilize a structure. You shouldn’t cut through them.
- Keep the saw straight when cutting concrete. Be sure to hold onto both sides of the saw’s handle firmly while cutting, as this will help minimize any potential wobbling or twisting motions that could occur when applying pressure during a cut.
- Ensure there are no obstructions beneath the concrete. When something is beneath the concrete, and you try to make cuts, this can cause the circular saw to kick back, become displaced, and run amok.
As you plan to cut concrete with a circular saw, it is key to wear full safety equipment, a respirator mask to protect your lungs from toxic dust, and be prepared for potential problems.
Many people have a circular saw in their toolbox since it is useful and versatile. The circular saw is one of the first choices to cut concrete when you use a saw blade manufactured to cut through this material.
Whether you are experienced in using the circular saw or recently learned to saw, practicing safety is essential to any successful cuts. Be sure to wear all the recommended safety gear since you don’t want to suffer an injury because you tried to rush the concrete cuts or something unexpected happened, and the cutting went awry.