Can a Circular Saw Cut Wood?

If you are considering buying a circular saw or are new to saws and how they work, you might be wondering whether a circular saw will cut wood. A circular saw has many applications and is a handy saw to have as part of your tool collection. 

A circular saw can make straight cuts and create bevel edges on wood. You can use a circular saw as a table saw for straight cuts on long boards or wide sheets of plywood. While the circular saw does not make the same cuts as a table saw, it helps cut unwieldy boards. 

A circular saw in your collection can let you cut boards, plywood, metals, and other materials. It is an easy saw for novices due to the attached guide that helps you cut straight lines. Keep reading to learn how a circular saw operates and the most useful types for cutting wood.

Materials You Can Cut With a Circular Saw

You can cut various materials by changing the circular blade on a circular saw. All circular saws cut wood, but they will also cut the following materials: 

  • Metal
  • Roofing metal
  • Masonry
  • Plastic

It is best to use a circular saw designed for metal cutting since this saw type catches the small metal particles that fly from the surface. 

What Is a Circular Saw?

If you’re new to using this type of building tool, you might be wondering how a circular saw differs from a standard saw.

A circular saw is a dynamic tool that cuts wood into multiple pieces. Its spinning blade circles quickly to make cuts. This saw can also cut metal, plastic, and concrete using special circular blades designed for those materials. 

How a Circular Saw Works

A circular saw works by forcing the attached round saw blade with teeth through wood or another material. Understanding the various parts of the saw will help as you learn to use one for woodworking and other projects that need a saw of this kind. 

  • The power trigger causes the circular blade to turn. This trigger has no adjustment, so the saw blade is either spinning quickly or stopped. 
  • The blade guard covers the blade when not in use to protect the user. The blade guard is retractable; it slides away when you’re cutting wood and returns to cover the edge when you are done. 
  • The saw safety is a switch that prevents the saw from running accidentally. You activate the saw safety switch with your thumb to turn it on and off. 
  • The saw motor turns the saw blade. Most circular saws have cords you must plug in for the motor to work. 
  • The saw blade is a flat metal circle with sharp teeth along the edges. When the saw blade spins, it cuts upward from the bottom of the wood. 
  • The depth adjustment knob lets you change the depth of cutting. This knob enables you to score wood or cut entirely through. 
  • The saw plate is a guide that allows you to follow a straight line for a clean cut. The saw plate is steel or aluminum and has a thumb guide at the front to maintain a straight cut.
  • The bevel adjustment accommodates a change in the angle of the cut. The standard angle for a circular saw cut is ninety degrees, but the bevel adjustment allows for other angles. 

The Types of Circular Saws and What They Cut

Among the circular saw types, six specific saws are worth considering to cut wood:

  • Corded circular saw
  • Cordless circular saw
  • Worm drive circular saw
  • Hypoid circular saw
  • Mini circular saw

The circular saw is excellent for many uses and is easy to operate once you use it two or three times. Knowing the circular saw types will help you choose the best one for your use. 

The Corded Circular Saw

A corded circular saw has an attached cord that plugs into an electrical outlet. This is the most common circular saw with the power to cut most anything you wish. The electricity moves the circular blade the fastest to cut through wood, metal, and cement. This is the most common choice for a circular saw.

The Cordless Circular Saw

The draw for a cordless circular saw is its mobility. This means you can take a cordless circular saw to many places where a corded saw won’t operate due to a lack of electricity. This saw is ideal for cutting a heavy piece of wood you cannot move. 

The Worm Drive Circular Saw

The worm drive circular saw is a popular choice since the motor is on the back of the device, allowing the saw to have a longer, thinner blade. In addition, the gear placement lets you cut at various angles with more power. The worm drive circular saw is durable and handles heavy cuts with ease. One detail to note about the worm drive saw is that it needs oil periodically to continue operating. 

The Hypoid Circular Saw

The hypoid circular saw also has the motor at the rear of the saw and can be confused with the worm drive circular saw. This saw makes accurate ninety-degree cuts with good torque for a clean finish. The hypoid circular saw is exceptional for large cutting jobs where you will need a lot of power. 

The Mini Circular Saw

The mini circular saw lives up to its name as a portable saw that you can easily carry anywhere. The drawbacks to this type of saw are that it has limited cutting depth due to its size, limiting the materials you can cut. However, the fact that this saw is easy to transport makes it a desirable addition to your circular saw collection. 

The Sidewinder Circular Saw

The sidewinder circular saw has a side-mounted motor. Many carpenters like this circular saw since it is lightweight and can cut wood on ceilings and around window frames. The motor placement sits beside the blade, making the sidewinder saw wider and lighter. Many left-handed people like the sidewinder because the handle sits on the left side of the blade. 


If you are thinking of buying a circular saw, know that it is an intelligent investment for making straight cuts on wood. It is easy for beginners to use to cut long boards and wide plywood. With a different blade, you can also cut metal and masonry.

Damien Madeira

Damien has been doing woodworking for the last 5 years. He began as a hobbyist with hand tools and slowly worked his way up to own larger machines and mill rough wood into beautiful creations. While still considering himself a hobbyist, he has a passion for woodworking and enjoys working with epoxy as well.

Recent Posts