ok to cut multiple boards at once w/ a circular saw?

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Forum topic by CapableNovice posted 06-06-2013 07:43 AM 3833 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 1779 days

06-06-2013 07:43 AM


First post so please be patient.

I have to cut thirty 8’ boards (1X3) into 2-foot lengths. I have a circular saw and a jigsaw, but nothing fancier. These are easy straight cuts but it’s a total of 120 cuts if I do them individually. Boring, and slow.

Can I safely stack, say, 3 boards on top of one another and cut through them all at one time?

Thanks for any suggestions you have.

14 replies so far

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 2827 days

#1 posted 06-06-2013 07:57 AM

Probably as long as you use some sort of jig or dog to keep the boards from moving. Clamping would be a little cumbersome. Probably easier to lay out say 6-8 boards edge-to-edge.

Perhaps stack a layer or two. But you obviously need some way to keep the boards from moving. Like bench dogs or something like that.

Don’t think you can go beyond 2 1/2 ” depth with most circular saws.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1832 days

#2 posted 06-06-2013 08:23 AM

Yes you could… But I will suggest against it. In my opinion this is an opportunity for you to hone your circular saw cutting skills.

A few considerations:

A stable and correctly positioned cutting surface/apparatus. In my world this is called a set of saw horses. If you’re short, about 32” high. If you’re tall, about 36”. If you are to the extreme of either, adjust accordingly.

Marking: a piece of plywood or other stock such as a piece of 2×6 could be marked so you did not need to measure each piece. You need to consider tolerance. (To what degree of accuracy do you need to cut?) if these need to be exact, maybe create a fence and a stop block, along with a mark which can be transferred directly.(not on your ‘table’ but on your fence exactly where the surface of the board to be cut meets the fence, in your case, that sounds like 3/4” above the table. You could get fancy here, but probably unnecessary.

Cutting motion. If you are not very familiar with using a circular saw, this is a great opportunity to learn the finer points of doing so. 1x stock is more forgiving than 2x. It s also more flexible, so try to keep your line to be cut within about a foot of your supporting surface. I tend to use a plunging motion when I cut, but that might not be ideal for a budding expert. I think you can achieve straighter, cleaner, squarer cuts like this, but developing the motion is important.

Circular saws cut lots of things. 1×4s… PVC… Extruded metals… Us, in moments we didn’t foresee….

Be careful!

Don’t wedge your guard to keep it open! Learn to use the saw with the guard. I insist! :-)

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 3897 days

#3 posted 06-06-2013 08:52 AM

If you get the long blades for your jigsaw, you could stack them all up on their edges, and clamp them with the ends flush. Like Bucket said, you’d want them on some sawhorses, or some other stable surface. Then, using a straightedge, you could conceivably cut straight across all of them. It’d be a heck of a workout for your jigsaw though. By my math, that’d be 22.5 inches across, by 2.5 inches thick. So, in more realistic terms, you could do them in batches of 8 or 10, and still save a lot of time. But, the long jigsaw blades tend to deflect at the bottom of the cut, so you may not get a nice square cut.

So, all that said, you might still want to do the cutting with a circular saw if accuracy and cut quality are at a premium. I think you could still gang them on edge that way, too, as long as you can clamp and support them well. Just wanted to offer an alternative, based on what equipment you said you had on hand.

-- Robb

View jackthelab's profile


313 posts in 2656 days

#4 posted 06-06-2013 10:14 AM

Sure, take even number of boards – say four and get them as even as possible on the ends. Then tape them together as tightly as possible in a couple of locations along the stack with something like electricians tape and then make your cuts. Works for me. Not always pretty or technically correct but given what you have to work with it should certainly help.

-- Dave in Minnesota - If it ain't broke, improve it!

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 1961 days

#5 posted 06-06-2013 10:41 AM

Put then up on some horses and measure and mark multiple boards at once you will be done in no time. You can speed it up a little by using a pattern board to measure and mark rather than a tape and square just be sure the pattern is perfect and mark it so you don’t keep switching patterns. I have cut thousands of studs for framing this way in the days before chop saws.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2639 days

#6 posted 06-06-2013 12:23 PM

Fantastic suggestions above from the guys!

But I think what you really want to hear is…...

you NEED to buy a MITRE saw with a stand that has a stop. Ha!

Ps. What tha heck are you building?

View CapableNovice's profile


6 posts in 1779 days

#7 posted 06-06-2013 12:56 PM

Thanks to everyone for the really helpful responses. I almost wish I had to do a bunch more cuts so I could experiment with all these methods. I especially appreciate all the detailed suggestions from “Bucket head” – I have had this saw for nearly 30 years (was a wedding present) so it’s had a fair bit of use, but I’m not an every-weekend woodworker or anything like that, so it’s good to see advice on sawhorse height, developing a rhythm when cutting and so on.

Since my jigsaw is also old and on the low end quality-wise, and I don’t have an actual workshop space, or any of the I’m thinking I’ll probably go with Dave’s suggestion, but tying with twine rather than tape because I don’t want to leave stickiness on the boards that will resist paint or stain afterwards. Although electrical tape probably wouldn’t leave a residue, would it, the way others (like duct tape) might.

They are 8 foot boards which I am cutting into 2-foot lengths. So I reckon I’ll tie (or tape) at the ends and then also at intervals around where the cuts will be, to keep things in a solid mass. Like this…

X . . . . . . . X . X . . . . . . . . X . X . . . . . . . . X . X . . . . . . . . X

Keeping them bundled will also let me quickly seal the ends with stain when the cutting’s done.

To answer your questions, Mark, I am making short pickets to replace old rotted ones on the fence that goes partway around my little Peter Rabbit vegetable patch. Not really to protect anything but because it’s cute. I won’t be asking “the wife” for anything, because (a) I’m widowed, and (b) when I was married it was to a husband! Maybe I should change my name to “Girl With Saw”?

Oh, and the fence, once it’s done, will be stained pink.

Thanks again, folks.

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2639 days

#8 posted 06-06-2013 01:09 PM

Hey GirlWithSaw,
That sounds like a fun project!

I would think a few small 6” bar clamps would hold much better and faster than tying or taping them together.

Make sure you have a new 40 tooth blade to go thru 3 boards max and achieve a nice clean cut.

View CapableNovice's profile


6 posts in 1779 days

#9 posted 06-06-2013 01:26 PM

Six-inch bar clamps and a 40-tooth blade, coming up! Thanks again.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 1912 days

#10 posted 06-07-2013 12:12 AM

I would lay them out and mark a cut line on each end and cut them one at a time. mark a dozen then cut them one right after another. this is the same thing when framing a house. sometimes you have to cut studs to a certain length for a garage wall. go to the pile mark a bunch and cut a bunch. repeat till your done.

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2527 days

#11 posted 06-07-2013 01:46 AM

Safety wise you could (I like the idea of taping them together). My biggest concern would be accuracy if it was important to you to ensure every board was exactly 24” long and perfectly straight/square.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View SquintyPolock's profile


99 posts in 1860 days

#12 posted 06-13-2013 01:33 AM

Pink is a good color for the garden.

-- It's all in a day's work...

View MT_Stringer's profile


3160 posts in 3194 days

#13 posted 06-13-2013 01:53 AM

If I were you, I would cut the boards 23 3/4 in length. That way you will get 4 boards out of each 8 foot board. Otherwise, one board out of each 8 foot board will be short about 1/4 – 3/8 inch (loss due to the blade thickness of each cut).

I suggest that you procure one of these. I got mine at Lowe’s and use it anytime I cross cut anything with my circular saw. It works pretty good and help’s keep you square and on your line.

Blue painters tape won’t do any harm to your wood. Wrap it around your bundle a couple of times and it should hold them while you make your cuts.
given your tools, here is how I would do it.

Lay out your boards in pairs, stacked one on top of each other.
Wrap with painters tap at each 24 inch mark.
Prepare all 15 bundles like this
Mark, cut, mark, cut, mark, cut, mark, cut
Next bundle.

Hope this helps.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View CapableNovice's profile


6 posts in 1779 days

#14 posted 06-13-2013 01:57 AM

More great tips – especially about the slightly shorter cuts to avoid missing bits – thanks a bunch! It’s been really rainy and the wood was outside and got wet, so although I know wood cuts better in that condition I’ve waited because I want to stain the ends and edges right away and I can’t do that until it dries.

Thinking maybe tomorrow… I’ll post a report!

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