woodworker using circular sawCircular saws are for cutting straight lines and jig saws for curved lines. Right? Well, you already know that circular saws can cut curves – just look at the edge of that piece of plywood you cut freehand. You know the one I’m talking about – the piece you had to throw away because you weren’t paying attention. The line looks more like a gently curving stream instead of a straight line.

So, what kind of curved line in what kind of material can you cut with your circular saw? The gentler the curve and the thinner the material the better. While you can get great results with a little practice, this should not be considered a technique for fine woodworking. It’s great, though, for so much of what you need to do around your home.

The technique is pretty simple. Draw a good strong curved line to follow. Set your circular saw so that the blade extends just below the wood. Take your time on the cut, using gentle pressure to keep the saw blade to the line. Make sure the shoe is in full contact with the wood. If your circular saw starts bogging down or smoking, you will probably need to switch to the jig saw.

With a good sharp blade and good technique, you should be able to cut an 18″ to 24″ radius on a 3/4″ sheet of plywood. As always, wear hearing protection and goggles. I used to think it didn’t matter – now I wear hearing aids!

Go ahead and give it a try. You might be surprised at how often you use this new trick for an old tool!