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Saw being used on floorboards
We’re showcasing items you need in your toolbox, like the circular saw, a powerful and versatile D.I.Y. must-have.

Circular saw

It’s good D.I.Y. practice to stock your workshop with a few power essentials for repairs and upgrades. A circular saw is a handy addition as it’s the perfect tool for cutting decking, building furniture, or taking on large projects, such as constructing a pergola.

Choosing the right blade

Most mains-powered saws for D.I.Y. enthusiasts are in the 184mm class, meaning they take a 184mm-diameter blade. Some specialised saws, such as Ozito’s plunge track saw kit, use a different-size blade (165mm), while larger units – more often used by tradies – are fitted with a 235mm blade. Cordless circular saws popularly use 165mm blades, but some have smaller blades, as well as 184mm blades.

Many saws have a maximum (or no-load) speed of 4000-5800rpm (revolutions per minute). However, a larger blade circumference means the cutting-edge travels more quickly relative to what you’re cutting, so high-diameter blades tend to remove more material smoothly and swiftly. “For most applications, a 165mm circular saw is a great starter tool and it’s also a good weight and easy to control,” says Daniel Gibney, Bunnings power tools buyer.

Blades are made from hardened steel, with tungsten carbide teeth. A higher tooth count of around 60 teeth gives the cut edge a smoother finish. However, it takes longer to cut through than a general-purpose 24-tooth blade. Specialised blades for cutting metal and fibre cement sheet can also be fitted by tradies and expert D.I.Y.ers

When changing the blade, Daniel advises to put safety first – always. “The number one rule is to remove the power source,” he says. “Unplug the unit or remove the battery. Ensure you follow the manual and check out the many videos online. Finally, new blades can be sharp, so it pays to wear gloves during removal and installation.”

Corded or cordless?

Corded circular saws vary in power from 1200W to 2050W. However, unless you plan to do lots of cutting at maximum depth through thick hardwood, a saw in the 1200-1500W range should be sufficient.

Brushless technology means that some high-end cordless saws can operate at similar power levels to 1800W corded saws. Overall, cordless saws are designed more for portability and ease of use rather than tackling long cuts through the thickest, hardest timber.

Invest in safety equipment

Mains-powered saws are loud, so invest in a good pair of ear muffs – some feature Bluetooth so you can enjoy your favourite tunes while working. Always protect your eyes with safety glasses or goggles, and plug in a portable vacuum to suck up most of the sawdust your tool creates. Even small amounts of fine airborne particles – especially from cutting materials such as MDF, melamine or particleboard – can be harmful to your health, so be sure to wear a dust mask, too.

Your rundown on the kit

There’s no need to be intimidated by all the levers and guides on your saw’s baseplate – as soon as you learn what they all do, you’ll be rocking them like a pro.

The cut-depth control moves the baseplate higher or lower relative to the body of the saw, allowing a greater or lesser section of the blade to penetrate the piece that you’re cutting. Andrew Murray at Ozito says to set the depth so one or two teeth on the blade will cut through the other side of your timber. “This will ensure the maximum amount of teeth on the blade are inside your cut while cutting, and give you the result and finish you will be most happy with.”

 A person using a Ryobi circular saw to cut through a stack of boards

The tilt control allows you to make bevelled cuts at angles up to 45° off the vertical. This lets you cut mitred edges on framing or cladding, as well as creating specialised wall fixings called split battens.

A person holding an Ozito circular saw at an angle against a piece of wood secured to a workbench.

Your saw will also come with an accessory called a rip fence. “A rip cut is a cut you make that is long and straight, often along the grain of a length of timber,” says Andrew. “It is not limited to a circular saw; however, it is a very common application for this particular tool.”

The rip fence locks into the baseplate of your saw and can be adjusted to guide the blade parallel with the edge of the material it is cutting. “A rip fence makes it easy to cut long, straight lengths repeatedly, and create the widths of timber or other timber-like material (such as plywood) you need for your project,” says Andrew.

A person pushing an Ozito circular saw through a plank of wood to cut it in half

What you can do with a circular saw

Get the most out of your circular saw.

Starting out: make perfect right-angled cuts

When cutting wide lengths of timber for a shelving project, clamp a rafter square across the board. Run your saw along the edge of the square for a perfectly neat 90° cut.

Stepping up: trim the edge of a floating floor

When laying a floating floor, you will need to cut the last line of boards to fit the narrow gap that remains between the flooring and the wall. Measure how wide you need the boards to be, fit the rip fence to the saw and set it to cut the boards to the required width. More expert: cut mitred edges

If you’re building furniture that includes mitred corners in the design, use your circular saw to cut precise 45° mitres. Tilt the saw to a 45° cut angle and clamp a rafter square to the timber, running the saw along it as a guide to make sure the mitres will match up perfectly.

Keep in mind…

  • Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses, gloves, ear muffs and a mask, for example) and always follow the instructions for the product or equipment.
  • Before starting any D.I.Y. activity with power tools, make sure you have the appropriate skills for the task at hand and use the correct tools for the job.

Not sure which blade will get the job done?

Check out our five-step guide on how to choose the right circular blade for you.

Some products are not available at all Bunnings stores, but may be ordered.


Photo Credit: Ozito and Ryobi

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.