Using a Circular Saw to square up benchtop ends...

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Forum topic by ShannonRogers posted 01-18-2009 04:42 PM 3056 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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540 posts in 5242 days

01-18-2009 04:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench circular saw tips question

I still have a few more laminations to glue on my bench, but I am already thinking about squaring up the ends of this 4” thick top. My circular saw doesn’t have the capacity to do this so I will have to attack it from both sides. Anyone has any tips for doing this accurately so I can get a straight and square cut?

I will be cutting a tongue into the end later to join the end cap for the tail vise so it is imperative that the first end cut be straight and square.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

10 replies so far

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 5218 days

#1 posted 01-18-2009 04:59 PM

Call around and see if you can find a lumberyard or a cabinet shop that has a 12” radial arm saw. But then again, you don’t mention how wide the top is, so I don’t know if that would work or not.

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540 posts in 5242 days

#2 posted 01-18-2009 05:02 PM

Woodchuck, good thought, but the top will be about 28” wide and 8’ long weighing close to 250lbs. There has got to be an easier way. Pat may be on to something that I hadn’t thought of.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

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944 posts in 5218 days

#3 posted 01-18-2009 05:05 PM

4” is pretty thick, thats a tough decision. There are large circular saws, but they are about $500, and I don’t know who you would call that would own one that you could have them cut it. Maybe check a rental outfit and see if they have such a beast.

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Doug S.

295 posts in 5162 days

#4 posted 01-18-2009 05:07 PM

I had the same problem and got a good method from some forum posters. Use a straight edge guide and cut as deep as you can. Then turn it over and clamp the straight edge so that it cuts 1/16” past the first cut. Then use a pattern bit to flush the longer side up to the first cut. One note though – I ended up buying a new circular saw to do this. The old one (a CMan) would not adjust to perpendicular to the plate. It was off by a couple degress due to the motor housing hitting the plate before it reached square. A number of the ones I looked at had similar problems. So double check your CS squareness before cutting.

-- Use the fence Luke

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1079 posts in 5253 days

#5 posted 01-18-2009 05:23 PM

I use a homemade circular saw guide whose edge references the actual blade cut. Having that, it’s a simple job of laying out the cut lines and then clamping the guide dead-on before making the cut. With a deep cut such as you have, I always make a shallow scoring cut before going full depth in order to circumvent any chip-out. If you go this way, make sure your circular saw is tuned, that the blade is sharp and that you’re making a cut that’s square to the table top.

I used this method on my bench top which is 3 inches thick, but I made housed tenons for a breadboard end-cap instead of leaving the end grain exposed.

Good luck.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Loren's profile


11501 posts in 5101 days

#6 posted 01-18-2009 08:07 PM

I would probably just do the cut by hand myself if I didn’t have
a timber-frame saw handy. A circular saw will probably burn
and leave deep marks anyway so you’ll need to clean-up with
a hand-plane either way.

View knothead's profile


163 posts in 5402 days

#7 posted 01-18-2009 08:51 PM

I had exactly the same problem last year when I built my bench, Doug S. did almost what I did but I think his idea of the flush trim bit is one better.

I used a straight edge and set my Circular saw to max depth and squared it up. I crosscut the bench top and then used the kerf left behind by the C.S. as a guide and finished the cut with a hand saw. Came out really well with only a small amount of cleanup work with a sanding block.

Prevented me from having to man handle the top by myself, mine is 3 1/2” thick by 7’ long and very heavy, not to mention awkward if working alone. Anyway, that was my solution, hope it helps


-- So Much Wood - So Little Time! --

View ellen35's profile


2750 posts in 4886 days

#8 posted 01-18-2009 09:04 PM

How about renting a large circular saw?

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Loren's profile


11501 posts in 5101 days

#9 posted 01-18-2009 09:49 PM

KnotHead has it. I use this method to do quick resawing sometimes-
cut a kerf in either edge of a board on the table saw and then
push it right on through the bandsaw – needs no featherboards
or fussy fence settings because the band goes in the kerf
and doesn’t want to leave.

If I used the router bit method it would be only for final trimming
and squaring. I’ve found it unwise to trust routers to do this
sort of heavy cut well… and I’m assuming you don’t want to
screw it up.

View shimmy's profile


131 posts in 4940 days

#10 posted 01-19-2009 06:43 AM

If you’ve got a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, you could get one of these:

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