Cut narrow pieces of wood with a circular saw

By Pinktoesandpowertools | Woodworking Tutorials

Hello and happy spring! I know it’s not quite spring, but today the sun is shining and it’s making me feel like spring is just around the corner. Except for the windy weather it brings, I love everything about spring, so that makes me happy 🙂 So let’s humor the woman with the pink toes and pretend that spring is here, shall we? And let’s also talk about how to cut a narrow piece of wood with a circular saw because that’s what the title says this post should be about.

**DISCLAIMER** This is what I do to cut a narrow piece of stock. I am not a power tools expert, just a DIY girl with a blog. I have safely and successfully used this method quite a few times now, but nobody has told me specifically that it is a safe method!! Use this tutorial at your own risk!!

First of all, I make the cuts for this using the method for cutting with a circular saw I talk about in the video I did. I can only vouch for my safety and success using this method, since I’ve never tried a different one. When I speak of a narrow piece of wood, I am talking about a piece of wood you want to cut, but you can’t clamp it to the straight guide because it is narrower than the straight guide. For demonstration purposes, I will be showing a 1×2. If you’re a complete beginner to the world of power tools but you still want to have a go, I would recommend buying a few tools on a website like Stonex to get you started. I use my power tools all the time and if you think you will too, they’re well worth buying!

Obviously the 1×2 cannot be clamped to the straight edge–it is completely covered up by it! So what we need to do is find a larger piece of wood the same thickness of the narrow piece you want to cut. The 1×2 is 3/4″ thick, so I used 3/4″ thick plywood. They need to be snug together.

Lay your guide over both pieces and line up the edge of the guide to your marks on the narrow wood. Keep in mind that the side that is visible at this point is the waste side (the part under the guide should be the piece you want after the cut). That is because the saw blade is going to eat away about an 1/8″ (depending on your saw blade’s width) to make the cut and you don’t want that 1/8″ eaten away from your careful measurements!

Before you clamp, make sure that both pieces are still snug together and didn’t shift as you added the straight edge jig. Now you clamp to the larger scrap piece of wood. Your narrow piece is just floating under there, not clamped to anything. After I clamp I like to give the narrow piece a nice smack back toward the clamped piece just to make sure it is snug. If it moves at all you need to reclamp.

The saw’s weight and your slight pressure back toward the straight jig is what holds the narrow piece in place. Now I am going to admit that this 1×2 is the narrowest I have attempted using this method, and it was a fail. The saw started pushing the 1×2 halfway in the cut, so I stopped the saw and you should too, if that happens to you. Do not operate the saw with one hand to try to make this work! It’s not worth it. If you have to stop in the middle of a cut don’t raise the saw while the blade is still moving–if it touches anything else it might send it flying or it might send the saw flying. But I did get half through and just cut that to show you. The pictures and process are all the same and this works with slightly larger than a 1×2 piece!

That one more way I’ve gotten around not having a table saw in my arsenal of power tools. But I will admit to asking some questions about the table saw selection at Lowes, especially since SawStop doesn’t appear to be interested in sending me any surprise packages…

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