If you notice your circular saw isn’t performing as smoothly as it used to, then it may be time to change the blade. Dull and damaged blades will create burn marks, increased kickback frequency, plus you’ll have a hard time using them to make smooth and accurate cuts.
Luckily, changing a circular saw blade isn’t a complicated process. The process is similar across most circular saw types, but there are a few variations to be aware of.
Make sure to consult your saw’s owner’s manual if you’re unsure of any of the particulars.
I’ll break down the blade replacement process in step-by-step detail, so you can be confident when replicating the process on your own.
When to Change a Circular Saw Blade?
Before we take a look at how to change a circular saw blade, let’s consider when to consider changing a blade.
You’ll generally notice your saw blade begin to perform less smoothly than it did when you first bought it. Cuts that used to be butter smooth now require an increased effort to push through the cut.
Binding, chipping, and burning will increase, and you may notice blade teeth that are chipped missing or broken. If you notice any of these then it’s definitely time to change blades, as blades like this are more likely to cause kickback and further teeth breaking off.
Another reason you may need to change saw blades is if you need to swap from a framing blade to a finishing blade or visa-versa. Also, if you need to use a specialty diamond granite blade, then you may need to install a slightly smaller blade in your circular saw.
How to Change a Circular Saw Blade – Guide
Step 1: Disconnect Power Source
The first step – and one you really don’t want to skip over – is to disconnect your saw from its power source. If you’ve got a corded saw, then unplug it from the outlet and if your saw is battery-powered, then remove its battery pack.
Skipping this step may seem like a time-saver, but you really shouldn’t change blades while the saw has power. Doing so is an easy way to earn yourself a trip to the emergency room.
Ok, now that the safety lesson is over, let’s get to the meat of the process.
Step 2: Locate the Blade Wrench
First up, you’ll want to locate the blade-changing wrench which is typically located somewhere on the body of the saw.
Corded circular saws typically have a small box wrench located under or near the power cord. Battery-powered saws often have hex keys that are located somewhere near the handle.
Older circular saw’s may not have a blade-changing wrench attached to the body of the saw, so they’re easy to misplace. If this is the case for you, you can also use an open-ended, adjustable wrench, or pair of pliers to get the job done.
Step 3: Retract the Blade Guard and Lock the Arbor
Next up, you’ll want to place the saw on a solid surface and retract the saw’s blade guard all the way until the blade is fully exposed.
Then, locate the saw’s arbor lock. This is a small button or lever that locks the arbor in place so you can loosen the nut. If you attempt to unscrew the nut without engaging the arbor lock then the blade will simply spin in circles.
Some older saws won’t have an arbor lock so you’ll need to lock the blade using other means. A good method is pressing the blade into a solid surface like a piece of scrap wood so it can’t rotate.
Step 4: Loosen the Locking Bolt
Next, with your finger holding down the arbor lock and the wrench around the locking bolt, turn the blade slightly until you hear a “click”. This is the arbor lock engaging, and now the blade is locked in place.
Now, rotate the bolt until it comes out enough to hand-loosen. Then, loosen the bolt by hand and set it aside.
At this point, you’ll be left with a washer that needs to be removed before you can access the blade. In my case, this washer was a little tricky to remove, and I had to slide a blade underneath it to get it loose.
Generally speaking, sidewinder-style circular saws are loosened counterclockwise, while worm-drive saws loosen clockwise.
Step 5: Remove the Blade
At this point, the blade has nothing holding it in place and can be removed freely. Pull it towards you until it comes off the inner washer and then slide it out through the saw’s base plate.
If it’s been a while since you’ve replaced your blade, then you’ll probably notice some dust and debris lining the inside of the saw guard. It’s a good idea to remove this dust with a rag or cloth.
Step 6: Replace the Blade
Now you’re ready to replace your old blade with a nice shiny new one. Pay attention to the directional arrow printed on the saw blade – you’ll want this to match the arrow on the saw’s blade guard.
Another thing to pay attention to is the small diamond located around the blade’s arbor hole. This diamond shape is designed for worm drive saws and will need to be knocked out with a hammer or other blunt instrument.
Don’t do this if your saw is a sidewinder style, as it will cause the blade to slide around and render it ineffective.
Now, slide back the blade guard and place the blade over the inner washer. Then replace the outer washer, insert the bolt and hand-tighten it. Then use the wrench to tighten it a little more – don’t overtighten as this can make the blade difficult to remove later on.
Step 6: Test your Blade
Your new blade is now installed and ready to start cutting. It’s a good idea to make a few test cuts to ensure the blade is installed properly.
Insert the saw’s battery or plug it into an outlet and make a few cuts in a piece of scrap material. You should notice the new blade performing better than the old worn-out one.
Hopefully, you’ve got a good idea of how to change a circular saw blade at this point. The process is more or less the same no matter what type of circular saw you have, so you can apply the above process to multiple saw configurations.
If you’re unsure of anything, it’s always a good idea to consult your saw’s owner’s manual, as it will contain any specific steps that might be relevant to your particular saw.