Circular Saw Safety: Taming One of the Industry’s Most Dangerous Power Tools.

Circular saw safety is incredibly important, because circular saws are one of the most versatile—and common—power tools on a construction site.  With the correct blade, they can cut a variety of materials, ranging from wood to metal, and are available in handheld and table-mounted models. Circular saw safety rules must be followed, or severe injury can occur.

However, as handy as these tools are, they present some real safety concerns. The good news? All the risks can be overcome with some sensible safety precautions and procedures.

Free Circular Saw Safety Course

Watch this free course, provided by Power Tools Institute.


Proper General Training for Circular Saws

When it comes to circular saw safety, any piece of equipment is only as dangerous as the user, and circular saws are no exception. Adequate training not only teaches the user how to handle a tool correctly but also gives him or her a level of familiarity with the tool, which promotes safe operation.

First and foremost, potential circular saw operators should become familiar with the model they’re planning to use, including all working parts. They should also seek out someone who is more experienced at operating the saw so that they can learn proper technique.

Wear the Right Safety Equipment

The right personal protective equipment can go a long way in circular saw safety and preventing circular saw injuries. Safety goggles protect eyes from debris coming off the saw, and ear plugs can prevent hearing loss due to the sound of loud motors. Operators should also wear face masks (also known as respirators) to prevent inhalation of dust and other material generated by cutting.

The correct clothing and footwear choices are also important. If a worker loses his or her grip, the saw can fall to the ground, so he or she should be wearing cut-resistant work boots. Operators should also steer clear of loose-fitting clothing, forego the jewelry and tie hair back, as all of these can be drawn into the saw’s moving parts.

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Conduct a Pre-Use Check

There are several points that the user should check before using the saw. This will maximize the chances of a successful and productive work session. 

  • Choose the correct blade for the material being sawed.
  • Make sure the blade is sharp enough to cut the material at hand so that the saw stays under control. If the saw “catches,” it could jump back toward the user.
  • Check for fluid rotation of the blade.
  • When working with wood, set the saw depth 1/8-inch deeper than the material being cut.
  • When working with metal, clamp the material in place so that it doesn’t move while being cut. Make sure wood is secured as well.
  • Never use a circular saw without first installing a blade guard. This also applies to table saws to prevent the blade from coming into contact with the operator below the table.

Circular Saw Safety Procedures: Focus On Responsible and Safe Circular Saw Use

One of the most important things to remember when operating a saw is to focus on the task at hand and not let the eyes drift away from the blade’s action. Other points to keep in mind while using a saw:

  • Stand to one side of the blade so that you are not injured if something causes the saw to kick back.
  • Whether a table or portable saw, use both hands during cutting operations.
  • Ensure that the material to be cut doesn’t have nails, staples or anything else that could cause kick-back, damage the blade or become an airborne missile.
  • Disconnect power before touching or trying to replace the blade.
  • Never hold a portable saw so that your finger rests on the trigger.

Last, the manufacturer’s manual, along with these tips, is an invaluable resource that contains enough safety and product information to ensure a safe and productive experience when working with a circular saw.

Free Circular Saw Safety Course

Watch this free course, provided by Power Tools Institute.


About the author:

Kim Slowey is a freelance writer based in Florida. She has a degree in journalism but spent 25+ years in the construction industry and is still a Florida certified general contractor. Kim currently covers commercial and residential construction and real estate for publications such as Construction Dive and Forbes. She also writes for The Home Depot, who carries a wide selection of power tools and accessories that you can see here.