Saws

11 Circular Saw Safety Tips to Minimize Injury Risk

While circular saws are robust, efficient and convenient power saws that come in handy for various projects, they pose a significant danger to the users.

There are risks associated with kickbacks, point of operation and flying hazards and hence the need to take safety precautions.

You can do several things to keep safe when using a circular saw, and our tips below explain some of them.

1. Wear Safety Equipment

Wear Safety Equipment

Photo: Stanley

Before using a circular saw, the first thing should always be to protect your body by wearing protective gear and equipment. Safety gear will minimize the risk and extent of injuries even if accidents were to occur.

The most important thing is to wear personal protective equipment, which includes things like a hard hat or helmet, eye goggles, earplugs or earmuffs, gloves, face shields and steel tip boots.

Additionally, you also need to ensure the safety equipment you wear is high-quality and hence protective enough. For example, the eye goggles should have a shatter-resistant material and include side screens to keep flying debris off the eyes.

2. Do a Saw Check

A saw check is a vital safety tip you need to keep in mind when using a circular saw and should be one of the first things to do before handling the tool. By giving the saw a thorough check, you can easily spot issues like damages that pose safety risks.

When doing the check, you need to inspect the blade thoroughly to determine whether it is still in good cutting condition and sharp enough. Also, remember to check other things like the engine or motor to ensure everything is in order.

Making saw checks a part of your routine maintenance is beneficial as it makes it easy to spot potential risks before you start using the saw.

3. Hold the Saw Properly

Given the circular saw is a handheld saw, its safety level largely depends on how you wield the tool when cutting. If you do not hold it properly, you will be putting your hands and fingers at unnecessary risk.

Circular saws are available in left and right-hand use models, and so it is always vital to choose what is meant for your dominant hand. When it comes to holding the tool, you have to make sure each hand is in the right place.

For right-handed woodworkers, it is always better to use the right hand for the trigger and place the left hand on the forward grip. But, there is no hard and fast rule here as the most important thing is to ensure you feel safe and comfortable when holding the tool.

4. Only Use Sharp Blades

Only Use Sharp Blades

Always make sure the blade on your circular saw is sharp enough to cut through the wood with ease. A sharp edge chews through the wood with ease, and your job is only to guide it where you want to cut.

If you find yourself forcing the saw to cut by applying extra pressure or pushing it into the wood, these are signs the blade is not sharp enough for use. A dull blade increases the risk of accidents as your hands can easily slip into the cut line as you force the saw to cut.

Using a dull blade increases the likelihood of getting kickbacks when cutting, which can pose a significant safety risk for a woodworker.

5. Use a Safe Cutting Depth Settings

When using a circular saw, you have to make sure you set the correct cutting depth. You have to choose how much the blade sticks out and hence cuts the workpiece. What you are cutting should guide you here.

Setting the cutting depth too short means the blade cannot cut the material through, while making it too long means there is a spare blade sticking out of the material, which can be dangerous.

Although it might not sound like a significant safety risk failing to get the cutting depth right increases the likelihood of getting kickbacks.

6. Secure the Piece You Are Cutting Properly

You do not want the workpiece to keep moving as you make the cut and hence the need to ensure you secure it properly before cutting. Make sure the workpiece is as solid as possible to minimize the risk of kickback and potential accidents.

Clamps are handy here as they help hold the board tightly. But also make sure you place the material on a stable enough workbench or any other flat surface, as this helps keep it in place.

7. Never Use a Defective Saw

Never Use a Defective Saw

Some woodworkers tend to use circular saws with minor defects that might not look very significant for them. However, this is never a good idea because using a defective saw poses a colossal risk no matter how small the defect might appear.

No matter how minor it might look, any issues on the saw make the tool harder to control and affect its cutting accuracy significantly.

Hence, if you notice any problem with the saw, you should always have it checked and repaired before use as minor issues can quickly escalate into significant safety hazards.

8. Do Not Overreach

Sometimes you can be tempted to overreach when using the circular saw as you do not want to stop the cut and move the piece or the saw. While you can often get away with a little overreaching, it is still a dangerous thing to do.

When you overreach as you cut the stock, you can quickly lose balance and end up with injuries. Furthermore, overreaching also often affects the overall quality of the cut, so it is not worth the risk.

9. Keep Live Cords Out of the Way

Keep Live Cords Out of the Way

When using a corded circular saw, there will be some live cords around you, which can include the tool's power cable and extension cord. These live cables carry a lot of electricity, meaning they can easily cause accidental electrocution if you were to cut one.

Besides the risk of cutting the cord, there is also the probability of tripping as you work. Hence, it is vital to keep the cables out of your way as you use the circular saw.

10. Do Not Place Your Body in Line with the Saw

You should never line your body or any part of it with the saw's cut line. Lining up the body with the cut line puts you in the blade's path, hence increasing the risk of accidents.

Remember that circular saws are prone to kickbacks, so if one happens when your body is in line with the tool, it can hit and injure you. You want the saw to go into an empty space in case of a kickback and not your body.

11. Unplug the Saw when You Done

While unplugging the circular saw might sound like the most obvious tip, many woodworkers tend to forget to do it, especially when in haste or tired after a long day in the workshop.

Leaving the saw plugged in can result in a myriad of issues, from short-circuiting to electrocution. Also, someone that does not know the saw is still plugged in can switch it on unknowingly, and the outcome can be catastrophic.

Conclusion

Circular saws can be pretty dangerous handheld power tools, and so before using one, you need to know how to do it properly. Our tips above will be handy at minimizing the risk of injury, but ultimately the most important thing is to ensure you understand how to use the tool correctly.

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