How to Cut Thick Wood with a Circular Saw

How to Cut Thick Wood with a Circular Saw

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If you’re like most woodworkers, then you often have your circular saw up and running during the course of a project. That’s only natural, given how useful a circular saw for making a variety of rip and cross-cuts.

But as a seasoned woodworker knows, a circular saw cannot make every cut on its own. In fact, circular saws are well known for coming up a little short when it comes time to slice through thick wood stock.

This can be aggravating for many woodworkers, some of whom resort to manual sawing to finish the remainder of a circular saw’s cut through thick timber. That method is tiring, though, especially when there’s a better way that only requires you to use your circular saw.

This guide will outline this method and demonstrate why you should be using it.

How to Cut Thick Wood with a Circular Saw

Let’s jump right in and take a detailed look at the process.

Step 1: Measure Wood and Adjust Saw

If you’re starting from square one with new wood stock, then you’ll want to measure it out. Specifically, you’ll want to measure the precise width of the plank, board, or beam you intend to cut through. This will allow you to properly adjust your saw so that you can cover as much of the cut as possible in a single pass.

With that in mind, your next step should involve you adjusting your circular saw’s blade depth based upon the width of your workpiece. Chances are, you’ll need to adjust your unit to its deepest depth setting based upon the fact that you were previously unable to cut through this workpiece in a single pass.

If your circular saw doesn’t allow for depth adjustments, you’ll just need to make do with its set depth.

At this stage, you may also want to switch out a standard width blade for a blade with more width. Such an upgrade can help stabilize the blade and make it more effective when working through the added width of your workpiece.

Measure and Mark Your Workpiece First

Step 2: Mark Cutting Line and Stabilize Wood

Once you’ve adjusted your circular saw properly, you’ll want to grab a straight edge and marking tool.

Using this ruler or similar measurement tool, you’ll want to measure out and mark the exact spot where you’d like to make your cut. However, rather than doing this on just a single side, you should expand it to every side of your workpiece. This will ensure that your cut is properly in-line during the next step.

Before taking your saw in hand, you should also be sure to stabilize your workpiece. This can often be done by clamping it down to a solid, stable work surface.

Step 3: Begin Cutting

Once you’ve stabilized your workpiece and have double-checked its markings, you’re ready to begin cutting. To do this, be sure to don proper PPE and grab your circular saw. Then, place the saw’s blade up against one of the outer edges of your workpiece and turn it on.

As the blade begins to spin up, it should create a small grove.

Using this initial groove, continue to cut down to the maximum depth allowed for by your current circular saw set-up. Once you’ve reached that depth, withdraw the saw and repeat the process across the saw’s length. After that is done, you should be through about half the width of your workpiece (if not more).

To learn more about the basics of using a circular saw, read this article.

Cutting Thick Wood with a Circular Saw

Step 4: Flip and Finish

At this point, you’ll want to unclamp your workpiece and rotate it. This should be a full 180-degree rotation so that you can begin to work towards your original cut from the opposite direction. Once you’ve completed this rotation, re-clamp your workpiece and grab your saw again.

From there, you can begin sawing once again on the marked line you created earlier.

In time, you should reach the cut that you created from the other direction. Be prepared for this moment as the portion that you are cutting off may drop free suddenly. Ideally, you should be standing clear of that space to prevent injury.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

All things considered, this method of cutting through thick wood with a circular saw is easy to understand and implement. However, there are a few mistakes that must be avoided in order for it to work correctly.

The first of these involves trying to free-hand your measurements around your work piece’s width. Always do this with a measuring tool to prevent your cut from becoming angled on accident.

Some users of this technique also try to get a few more centimeters of cutting depth out of their circular saw by forcing the blade into the cut space. Not only is this ineffective, but also considerably dangerous.

Instead, if you are unable to complete a cut, even after flipping over your board, consider finishing up with a hand saw. This will give you far more control of your blade once it finally finishes the cut.


Now that you’ve learned the ropes of cutting through thick wood with a circular saw, you should be fully prepared to take on some more advanced DIY projects.

That being said, the method outlined above should only be utilized with proper foresight and planning that maintains your safety throughout. After all, the best method for cutting thick wood with a circular saw is, in the end, the one that keeps you safe and gets the job done efficiently.