How to Cut a 45 Degree Angle with a Circular Saw

It’s hard to deny the power of a good circular saw. They open up a world of possibilities when it comes to home woodworking projects. Even the simplest of circular saw projects is likely to need some form of square joint.

Once you need a square joint, you need to be able to cut at a 45 degree angle. To the uninitiated, aiming for a specific angle cut can seem pretty daunting at first. The thing is, with just a little patience and knowhow, the process is simpler than you might think.

This page will teach you how to cut at a 45 degree angle with your circular saw. Read on to up your cutting game.

How to Cut a 45 Degree Angle With a Saw — Before You Start

The preparation involved with 45 degree cutting is just as important as the actual cut you make. It’s vital to make sure your circular saw has been properly configured for this type of cut. Taking the right steps to protect your safety is also very important.

We outline some key considerations below.

Circular Saw Safety Considerations

Circular saws are incredible tools, but they can cause serious damage if you don’t treat them with the respect they deserve. Consider the following when making a cut at 45 degrees:

  • Eye protection is a must when working with a circular saw
  • Make sure your base plate has been properly secured
  • Adjust the saw only when it is unplugged
  • Work in an environment that can handle dust and debris
  • Consider a respirator/ face mask for particulates
  • Keep distractions to a minimum
  • Keep your circular saw chord clear of the cutting area at all times
  • Consider hearing protection in noisier work environments
  • Remember that your circular saw is built for right-handed operation – extra care will be needed when operating circular saws left-handed

Measure Twice Cut Once

At this point it’s a huge cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth repeating. Before your saw blade gets close to performing a cut, you should have closely measured and then double-checked your readings.

Paying extra care with your speed square now can save a whole lot of hassle later. This goes for cutting at 45 degrees, but it’s true of any and all woodworking!

Speed Square Power

While we’re on the subject, it’s definitely worth picking up one of these tools. They’re the perfect companion for cutting at a 90 or 45 degree angle. The triangular shape comes with a built-in 45 degree angle along the edge.

This makes them a must-have for guiding this type of cut with a circular saw. Use them to make sure you’re cutting straight and accurately.

Consider Your Material

If you’re already familiar with working with circular saws, then this tip might be overkill. If you’re brand new to this, however, it’s worth reiterating how important it is to make sure you’re using the right saw blade for your chosen material.

All the prep in the world will fall short if your saw blade isn’t tough enough to cut through your wood. Double-check your blade before cutting.

Practice Cuts Make Perfect

If you’re new to working with circular saws, it may take a few attempts before you’re making cuts confidently every time. If possible, do a few trial cuts on some scrap material to get a feel for your tool. Once you’ve got a few attempts under your belt, it will be much easier to work well with your circular saw.

Cut With a Circular Saw at 45 Degrees — Our Guide

This section outlines how to achieve flawless angled cuts with a circular saw. Follow the steps below to get the cuts you need.

Unplug Your Circular Saw

The first step of this guide is to make sure your circular saw isn’t connected to a source of power. You’ll be adjusting the blade depth and moving your blade guard. For this reason, you want to eliminate the possibility of your blade firing and causing injury.

Adjust the Base Plate

Setting your circular saw to a 45 degree angle means adjusting the base plate. Towards the front of your tool you should see a retractable dial or knob that’s attached to a gradient. The specifics of this setup will vary depending on your particular circular saw.

The good news is that they’re usually fairly intuitive to operate. Adjust the base plate and reset the knob at 45°. Use the numbers along the gradient to help you.

Double-Check Your Surface

You’re nearly ready to put saw blade to wood, but it’s worth double-checking your surface first. There’s no point spending time setting the right angle if you’re going to be cutting wood on an uneven surface. Use a clamp and a sturdy table to keep your board firmly in place.

Once you’re satisfied that your wood is level, you should continue.

Retract the Blade Guard

Once you’ve set the right blade depth, it’s time to retract your blade guard to make your tool ready to cut. Only do this when you’re 100% sure that it’s safe to do so. Carefully retract your guard and get ready to make your cut in the next step.

Repower Your Circular Saw and Cut

Once you’ve been through the above steps in the guide, you’ll be ready to plug your saw back in and make your cut. Keep the following in mind:

  • Circular saws should be held with a firm, confident grip
  • Make sure you’re standing a comfortable distance from your wood
  • Check and double-check the safety considerations outlined above
  • Always consult your tool manual if you’re unsure
  • Only perform cuts that you’re qualified to make; your safety matters!

Last Word

We hope this page has begun to clear up any confusion. The ability to make flawless angled cuts is one of the best parts of owning a circular saw. Remember that it might take a little practice to get things perfect. There’s no shame in doing a few dummy runs on some scrap material.

If you’re still scratching your head about how to perform this kind of cut, check out this guide from Aaron Adams on YouTube.

Check out the rest of our site for our woodworking tips and tricks, especially this guide on cutting straight with a circular saw.