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How to Use a Circular Saw Without a Table: 4 Tips & Tricks

person using handheld worm drive circular saw

Circular saws are important in any wood shop and are among the tools that you will use the most often. Most people use them with a special table to make straight cuts on large boards, but the entire unit can be quite costly for someone just getting started, which can cause many people to wonder if you can use a circular saw without the table and make straight cuts. The short answer is yes, you can. Keep reading as we provide several tips and tricks that you can use to make accurate cuts with a circular saw without a table.

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Getting Prepared

Before cutting with the circular saw, it’s important to acquire and put on the proper safety equipment. Circular saws create large amounts of dust, so you will need eye protection and a safety mask. Having plenty of ventilation will also help. Some machines enable you to connect a vacuum to the saw to automatically remove dust particles, which is better for your health and helps keep your workshop clean. These saws have extremely sharp blades that move at a fast RPM and can easily cut the skin or remove a finger, so it’s important to practice proper safety methods.

circular saw in front of stacks of lumber
Image Credit: James Kovin, Unsplash

The 4 Tips & Tricks on Using a Circular Saw Without a Table

1. Sawhorses

If you don’t have a table, you can use sawhorses to hold your project off the ground while you make your cuts. Sawhorses are inexpensive, and you can even build your own for an affordable yet fun project that improves your workshop. Place as many as you need under your project to keep it stable while you work. One advantage to horses is that you can use several of them to hold a much larger project than you might be able to put on a table.

2. Foam Pads

You can use thick sheets of foam if you need to cut large boards but don’t have a table or sawhorse. Styrofoam sheets are usually inexpensive, and they only need to be thick enough that the blade doesn’t reach the ground while making your cuts. It’s a great option for straight cuts because it provides a stable base, but it does get damaged and makes quite a mess.

Circular Saw
Image Credit: Pixabay

3. Long 2×4 Boards

If you don’t have sawhorses or foam pads, you can use long boards, like 2x4s, to lift the wood off the ground just enough to make your cut. The primary downside to this method is that people often put the board only under the side that they are cutting, which puts the project at an angle and can result in an angled cut. Placing boards so the project is level will help you produce more accurate cutes.

4. A Straight-Edge Guide for Straight Cuts

One method that works extremely well is using a straight-edge guide, like a spare piece of wood or a level. The straight edge provides a bumper that you can rest the saw against as you move through the cut, which keeps the saw moving in a straight line.

person using WEN CT1065 10-Amp 6.5-Inch Plunge Cut Sidewinder Circular Track Saw

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How Do I Use a Straight-Edge Guide?

Straight-Edge Guide:
  • Place the board that you want to cut on sawhorses or foam padding or prop it up on spare wood so the area that you want to cut is high enough off the ground that the blade won’t scrape. Use long wood pieces so the project remains stable while you make your cuts.
  • Carefully measure where you want to make your cut, and measure the distance from the saw blade in your circular saw to the edge where it will bump the straight edge, so you can make the proper adjustments to your measurements. For instance, if you want to cut off 1 inch from your project, and there are 3 inches from the saw blade to the edge of your circular saw that will rest against the straight edge, you will need to mark your project 4 inches in to get the cut that you want.
  • Mark where you want to position the straight edge on each end of your project board, and clamp the straight edge down. It should extend the entire length of the cut that you intend to make.
  • Carefully rest your saw against the straight edge at one end of the project, and make your cut by gliding it along the straight edge to the other side. The result will be a perfectly straight line.

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The best way to use a circular saw without a table is to use sawhorses that will lift your project off the ground and keep it steady while you make your cuts. Without a sawhorse, you can use thick foam sheets that lift the project just enough to protect the blades or use long board, like 2x4s, to create a miniature horse that will enable you to make your cuts safely. Use a straight edge clamped to your project to provide a guide that will help you keep the saw straight to create perfect cuts every time.

Featured Image Credit: SHIRI SAN, Shutterstock


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