How To: Use a Saw Properly

By Bob Vila | Updated Jul 31, 2020 12:10 PM

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How to Use a Saw


Preparation is the most important ingredient for making clean, accurate, safe cuts. To properly prepare for a cut, you must follow a strict regimen of steps:

  • Determine and set up the saw and blade best for the material.
  • Carefully measure and mark the cutting distance, angle and depth.
  • Adjust the saw controls to precisely match those measurements.
  • Check that every element of the saw and workpiece are secured.
  • Think through the cut you are about to make, rechecking your measurements.
  • Finally, after each of these steps has been completed, you can put on a pair of safety goggles and perform the cut with the confidence of knowing that the result will turn out exactly like you’ve planned.

Rough Framing
Rough framing cuts are best accomplished with a circular saw. Its portable size makes it ideal for making fast rip and crosscuts into plywood and 2 x 4’s—a must for building a deck, house framing, and large remodeling.

Smooth Cuts
Smooth intricate and curved cuts are made with a sabre saw. The tiny teeth cut in an upward motion as the saw is slowly pushed down a straight or curved path. The saw can also be plunged to make internal cutouts.

Notches and Cutouts
With the right blade a reciprocating saw can cut anything from soft woods to heavy metals. The saw’s shoe rests on the surface as the blade slices back and forth like a knife to cut through the material.