Circular Saws

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  • Circular Saws
  • Shibboleth
    Member

    I need a circular saw for cutting MDF, ply etc, can anyone give me any pointers as to what to look for, ie blade size, power etc.

    Don’t want to spend a fortune but don’t want something that’s not up to the job…

    Thanks!

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    if it’s for sheet materials I would really recommend something with a guide rail – makes it so much easier and accurate.

    I think Skil do a version of their saw with a guide rail set.

    I ended up getting a DeWalt one which wasn’t cheap, though.

    alpin
    Member

    Makita or Hitachi. think that guides are available for both.

    if you really want to impress the have a look at Festool. the smaller 55 and guide can be found for under 350 notes.

    trail_rat
    Member

    how often are you cutting stuff ?

    i use a 75 quid hitachi and a pair of irwin quickclamps with a long spirit level/another sheet of wood clamped down as a guide if i need it to be exact.

    i dont cut alot of sheet.

    if your doing it on a day to day basis then i cansee the merit in guide rails .

    Premier Icon thepurist
    Subscriber

    trail_rat + 1 – I had a one off DIY job that needed loads of ply cutting so used a cheapie circular saw and this 20 quid cutting guide from Axminster. Worked OK for me.

    tonyd
    Member

    I bought one of these a few weeks ago. Not cheap but not stupid money either, we just moved house and I’ve got a lot of work to do so could justify it (to myself at least). Very pleased with it, although the blade that comes with it is for ripping so I had to buy a finer blade (more teeth) for cutting conti board etc. It came with a guide too.

    Edit: I don’t know, but would imagine blade size and power will depend more on what you intend to cut. Bigger blade will allow you to cut bigger timber, although if you’re just cutting board it’s probably more important to get one with an adjustable guide (depth of cut). Power I suppose gives you more torque which would be better for hardwood etc perhaps? Although it would probably give higher rpm also which implies a cleaner cut (I think)

    toby mc
    Member

    What Alpin said – Festool are great. I’ve been using them for 10 years, my supplier sells 10 to every 1 Makita. You can usually find a deal of some sort including an extra rail – Toucan tools in E10 is who i use… Edit – the extraction on Festool is brilliant too, very helpful for domestic work and your health. Worth the extra IMO.

    eyerideit
    Member

    I got a this Bosch saw for about £100 and use a clamping rail or a spirit level and clamps as mentioned above.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    one thing, if you;re doing any cutting on a board with a finish you want to preserve do a very light scoring cut first – really just deep enough to cut through the finish. Then do the proper cut through the material one – much less chipping that way.

    Shibboleth
    Member

    Thanks for all the advice chaps, don’t really want to spend more than a hundred quid as it’s only going to be occasional use.

    Like I said, it’ll mainly be for MDF, so I think a finer blade would be a priority…

    And apologies for putting this in the bike forum… Mods!

    project
    Member

    Cutting MDF with a portable saw is a nightmare ,without a decent extractor, vacuumn, minimum blade pentration through underside of sheet, a descent mask, eye goggles, sleeves rolled down, cut it outside.

    Easier to get it cut at B AND Q, who cut it for free if trade or small fee if public, cheaper to buy a sheet 8 x 4 then get it cut to size, than the smaller sheets.

    The dust flour is also very slippy, so either brush or cvacumn the area after cutting.

    Shibboleth
    Member

    It would be used outside… There’s only so much you can get done by the supplier – it’s often just those little trimming jobs that need doing onsite that cause the biggest headaches!

    gazc
    Member

    dont bother with a clas ohlsen one. borrowed one at weekend and whilst i got desired result the locking mechanism to set the height/angle seemed pretty flimsy and i nearly bent it!

    globalti
    Member

    Terrifying tools.

    alpin
    Member

    ^^

    circular saw… also known as a (s)kill saw…. 🙂

    nah.. i’ve injured myself more often with a chisel than i have with a skill saw.

    seen more people cut their finger tips off with a table saw.

    back in August a lad almost cut through his foot with a skill saw. cutting on the floor, using his foot to hold the timber in place and dropped the saw onto the wood before letting the blade get up to speed. he was an idiot, though. sent him home after three days.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    I use a Bosch tracking saw, which gives perfect straight cuts every time:


    Ripping Ply with Bosch Tracking Circular Saw by brf, on Flickr


    1st cut for the lap joints in the verticals by brf, on Flickr

    trail_rat
    Member

    treat it with respect and itll be grand.

    hooli
    Member

    I have a £30 special from homebase/B&Q and it is more than adequate for the tasks I use it for – mainly MDF for making wardrobes and toyboxes.

    I use 2 clamps and a straight edge and never had a problem as long as I keep replacing the blade every so often.

    As said above, use a mask and cut outdoors for MDF.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Subscriber

    Probably the cheapest plunge saw / rail combo you can get is the one from Scheppach (PL55). – Over your budget but not by a huge factor

    You can make your own rail for a regular circlular easily enough though – like so – like the shop bought rails the first cut with the guide also cuts the guide edge itself, after that you just sit the guide right on your marks and it’ll right there and also not splinter as the guide and blade oppose each other like scissor blades. If you do go down the DIY route the good thing is you can make a bunch of guides in different lengths so you don’t end up trying to balance a 5ft long guide on a 1ft work piece

    Aside from the rails though, proper plunge saws work much better with dust extractors – a good saw is almost completely clean to use, where as a more traditional style of circular saw will produces tons of dust and throw it absolutely everywhere.

    Mac(2-Mafells)cruiskeen

    pocketrocket
    Member

    I’m a chippy by trade and I’ve been using a skil saw for years, week in week out with not a hint of trouble.
    Just searched for it and came up with this, not exactly the same but looks very similar with same sort of spec.

    http://www.powertoolworld.co.uk/skil-5866mb-circular-saw-190mm.html

    Seems an unbelievable price so it would make me question whether it’s right though?

    northernmatt
    Member

    I’m cutting MDF to build some wardrobes at the minute. Fairly simple design so just got supplier to cut it to size longways and any cuts I need to do are done using one of these which was about a tenner. OH wouldn’t let me buy a circular saw after I’d just bought a mitre saw for skirting/architrave etc.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Aside from the rails though, proper plunge saws work much better with dust extractors – a good saw is almost completely clean to use, where as a more traditional style of circular saw will produces tons of dust and throw it absolutely everywhere.

    Yep, use mine with a Festool Vacuum and it keeps the sawdust right down:


    Festool Vaccum and Bosch Circular Saw by brf, on Flickr

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    OP wants circular saw for a bit of mdf cutting and we’re showing him pictures of £400 plunge saws and £300 quid extractors?

    Good going…only 600% over budget so far. 😀

    EDIT: I may have spoken too soon…I think that might be the cheapie Bosch saw. ^^^

    Shibboleth
    Member

    Yes, some of those would be rather over-the-top for my needs! Can’t believe the price of that SKIL saw, what’s the catch??

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    OP wants circular saw for a bit of mdf cutting and we’re showing him pictures of £400 plunge saws and £300 quid extractors?

    Buy cheap, buy twice…

    Anyway, even the pro range Bosch kit is dirt cheap compared with Festool…..

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    what’s the catch

    None probably…not sure I’d want a Skilsaw that cheap though, even for infrequent use. Not sure how they’re making/selling it that cheaply.

    OP, have a look at this from FFX – comes in £15 under budget. For most of your needs, some decent clamps and a long straight edge (or make some guides like mccruiskeen’s above (which I made and used for a while before upgrading to a proper rail-saw) will be more than sufficient.

    Wee tip: measure the distance from the edge of the blade to the edge of the base on the circular saw (x). It’ll usually be a fairly round number e.g. on my Hitachi, x = 130mm – for your cut, clamp your straight edge x mm to the left of the line, check for parallel each end and off you go. Always clamp your stright edge to the left of your cut, against the wider side of the base (you’ll notice on pics of circular saws that the there is more of the base on one side of the blade than the other).

    As mentioned above, some H&S considerations are important with circular saws. Never assume the guard has sprung back into place before putting the saw down. Dust-mask is a good idea for mdf cutting as is rigging up a Henry ghetto-style (masking tape, tubes, etc.) for extraction. Never try and deviate from your cutting line. Straight cuts only!! 😀

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Also, think about what happens when you finish your cut, I’ve ripped 8′ ply down the middle using two trestles and had both halves collapse on me (with the spinning saw) as I finished! Bit of a Doh! moment, but you only make that sort of mistake once….

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    Buy cheap, buy twice…

    I’m with you all the way on that one. My Festool plunge saw, rails and extractor are absolutely lovely bits of kit, but suggesting them to the OP might be getting him over-tooled somewhat, don’t you think?

    Btw, the Bosch equivalent of the Festool Plunge saw is, at the last time of checking, more expensive, which I found a bit of a shocker, but there you go.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Subscriber

    Btw, the Bosch equivalent of the Festool Plunge saw is, at the last time of checking, more expensive, which I found a bit of a shocker, but there you go.

    Festool’s price seems to have really dropped (or retailers are discounting them a lot). So many festool-a-likes have appeared recently that they’re maybe getting squeezed. There used to be just them and Mafell in the market but even the new Mafells have an extra groove in the base so you can use them with Festool guides – perhaps to tempt Festool users with an existing kit.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    but suggesting them to the OP might be getting him over-tooled somewhat, don’t you think?

    You cannot be over tooled….

    So many festool-a-likes have appeared recently that they’re maybe getting squeezed.

    Their track saw patent expired recently, hence there is loads of choice. 3 years ago, no one else could make one.

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    EDIT: I can’t be bothered.

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    Festool’s price seems to have really dropped

    Indeed! I was shopping around for rail saws before Christmas. I wanted a Bosch system but the price of a TS55, rails, joiners and bag was waaayyyyy less than the Bosch equivalent. Festool have also added one or two features to their TS55 which are very nice indeed. There are now two depth gauges on the saw…one for the actual and one for the depth you’d be cutting if using the rail (and they’ve turned the guage “upside-down” so you can read them from where you’re normally looking anyway 😆 ). The guy I was buying from is the Bosch guy in Brizzle but admitted that going for the Festool was a bit of a no-brainer (tbf, he was getting the sale anyway).

    Shibboleth
    Member

    Lots of useful advice, especially that video of the rail/jig…

    What tooth-count do I need for MDF/ply and first cuts on lapping joints?

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    What tooth-count do I need for MDF/ply and first cuts on lapping joints?

    Good guide here on Toolstop (also good for buying power tools).

    EDIT: makes really exciting reading. let me tell you. 😆

    Shibboleth
    Member

    Thanks DD, this looks good value… Makita

    Any thoughts?

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    Any thoughts?

    Don’t think you’ll go far wrong with that. I see them in daily use plenty of times when I’m on bigger sites. If it fits your budget, it’ll be just fine.

    mrmonkfinger
    Member

    if it was literally ‘a few bits of mdf’ then get a cheap one. the skil saw linked to is on sale (hence the low cost) and looks fine.

    the catch? probably not the most accurate saw around, maybe uses a lot of plastic, etc, but for ‘a few bits of mdf’ you’ll be grand. more expensive saws will have more accurately made metal arbors and better guides / shoes / motor / etc. plus a cheap saw, will have a cheap blade

    I used to have a B&Q special (which broke) which was ok until the point it went bang, and I now have a dewalt which feels an order of magnitude more solid but was 4 times the cost.

    edit: that makita looks good if you’re in budget.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    I wanted a Bosch system but the price of a TS55, rails, joiners and bag was waaayyyyy less than the Bosch equivalent

    I paid £350 for the Bosch GKS 55, 2x 1.6m rails, joiner, box, bag for the rails etc. Couldn’t find the Festool equivalent for much under £500 at the time.

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    It was the GKT55 I was looking at.

    The GKS wouldn’t have been up to the kind of stuff I need it for. 🙂

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