How to Adjust the Height of a Circular Saw?

Learning to use a circular saw is one of the most important skills any DIYer, carpenter, or woodworker can develop. One of the first things many newcomers ask is ‘how do I adjust the height of my circular saw?’

Adjusting the height of the blade changes the saw’s cutting depth, which is important for safety and efficiency while making cuts.

You’ll often hear the advice to set the blade’s cutting depth just a hair beyond the thickness of whatever you’re cutting. This is done for a number of reasons, including reducing the chance of kickback, preventing accidentally cutting your work surface beneath, and creating cleaner overall cuts.

Let’s take a look at how to adjust the height of a circular saw in step-by-step detail.

Adjusting Circular Saw Height – Guide

Step 1: Determine Ideal Cutting Depth

The first thing you’ll need to do is determine the ideal cutting depth for the task at hand.

As mentioned previously, the right depth for most cutting tasks is an 1/8th to a 1/4 inch beyond the bottom of the workpiece.  This will ensure you cut completely through the workpiece with maximum efficiency and minimal chances of kickback.

Method 1: Use the Blade to Determine Cutting Depth

The quick and dirty method of finding the ideal cutting depth is by sliding the blade up next to the workpiece with the shoe flat on the surface.

using saw blade to determine cutting depth
Eyeballing the ideal blade depth on a 2 x 4.

First, unplug the saw or remove its battery. Then, make sure the blade guard slides back as you position the blade alongside the material. Loosen the depth adjusting lever or knob and pivot the base until the blade extends about ¼ inch past the workpiece.

Then tighten the depth adjusting lever or knob until the blade is locked firmly in place.

Method 2: Tape Measure

While the first method works well for the vast majority of cutting tasks, this method is best when you need to cut to a precise depth – such as cutting dadoes, half-lap joints, or anywhere where precise tolerances are required.

First, unplug your saw or remove its battery. Turn it on its side, hold back the blade guard, and but the end of your tape measure against the base at the center of the saw blade.

tape measure to adjust saw depth
A tape measure will give you a precise cutting depth when needed.

Now turn the depth adjusting lever and set the blade depth to your initial measurement from the first step. Lock the blade in place by tightening the depth adjusting lever or knob.

If you’re wondering whether you can use a smaller than normal blade on your circular saw, check out my post here

Denis Gardner

I've loved tinkering and fixing things for as long as I can remember. So, naturally, I gravitated towards DIY and home improvement when I bought my first home. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or messing around with my newest tool!

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