Tips for When Your Circular Saw Stops Mid Cut

Tips for When Your Circular Saw Stops Mid Cut

Those of us who engage in woodworking projects understand safety requirements like goggles and masks and make it a point to follow basic safety precautions when we’re in our shop.  But safety doesn’t stop there.  We want our project to turn out well, and we also want to do so without being harmed.

Keeping our power tools in good working order, following manufacturer’s recommendations for power tool maintenance, using our power tools only for their intended purposes and in their intended ways, and maintaining a clean work area are all a part of shop safety. 

For instance, keeping the blades of our power tools sharp helps us make clean cuts.  A dull blade is not only of little use to us, but it can also be a safety hazard.

Using a power tool to cut materials for which it was not designed to cut not only makes a bad cut, it also makes a safety hazard.

A case in point for this article is your circular saw.  Each of the major brand names, whether DEWALT, Milwaukee, Ryobi, Skil, or any other, includes a user manual with their tool.  If you are wise, you will read it carefully and follow not only the instructions but also the recommended uses.  A failure to do so might very well cause problems in your shop, problems that could harm you.

SKIL 15 Amp 7-1/4 Inch Magnesium Left Blade Sidewinder Circular Saw Skilsaw - SPT67M8-01

Have you ever had a binding problem with your circular saw?  Perhaps the kerf closed enough that the blade became stuck.  Perhaps a dwindling charge on a cordless circular saw slowed blade speed enough that it could not cut. 

Let’s dig a little deeper into possible circular saw issues and offer some solutions for you.

Why Does My Circular Saw Keep Stopping?

If your circular saw keeps stopping, the first two causes to look for are fairly obvious:

The blade

A saw of any kind, circular saws included, is only as good as its blade.  If the blade is old and has become warped, or if it’s been a long time between sharpenings, it’s simply not going to cut.  Even if everything else about your saw is in good order, it’s not going to cut, and the saw will stop working.

The solutions are:

  1. Clean the blade.  This you can do yourself.
  2. Sharpen the blade.  You can do this yourself, too, with a file.  However, if the blade is carbon-tipped, you’ll need to have it professionally sharpened; or,
  3. Install a new one.  Buy a good quality blade sized properly for your saw, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on changing the blade.
Circular Saw

The motor

If you’ve determined it’s not the blade (and most times it will be the blade), the culprit could be motor issues of one sort or another. 

Possible issues include:

  1. Motor brass.  If the saw is old, the brass might be damaged.  Open up the motor to check, and if the brass is damaged, remove and replace it.
  2. Motor grease.  Again, if the saw is old, it might be a grease issue.  Over time the grease will harden, and when that happens, the saw will simply stop.  Get in the habit of greasing the motor at least once a year to keep the motor in good working condition.  The manufacturer’s manual will instruct you on how to do this needed maintenance.
  3. The arbor.  This is the piece that extends through the hole in the center of the blade that holds it in place.  Make sure it’s tight and clean, and the blade is secure.

Beyond those two obvious possible causes, there are other general saw use causes to consider, including a frayed cord, or in the case of cordless a weak battery charge, or a blade setting that is not deep enough to cut the workpiece.

However, you also don’t want to set the depth of the blade more than ¼ inch below the piece you are cutting.  Too much blade will become exposed to wood, and the blade can get stuck.

Proper use can also be a culprit causing your circular saw to stop mid-cut.  Make sure you are moving the saw in a straight line or using a jig to keep the cut straight.  If you begin veering or angling from a straight cut, the blade will be caught in the kerf and pinched, with the wood pressing against it, and it will simply stop.

Another proper use issue is cutting a material the saw is not intended to cut or cutting something the saw is simply not powerful enough to cut.  Again, this goes back to reading the manufacturer’s manual carefully.

Why Does My Circular Saw Kickback at The End of A Cut?

We know that kickback happens when the blade is pinched, or the saw stalls suddenly in the wood, and the saw gets driven back at you.  As a safety precaution, never stand directly behind the circular saw when cutting; stand to the side.

The solution is to make sure the blade doesn’t get pinched.  Keep the blade sharp, and don’t force it through the cut.  Just like in the kitchen when using a chef’s knife – – let the knife do the work for a clean and easy cut.  Let the blade of your circular saw do the work and move it smoothly and slowly through the cut. 

How Do You Fix a Sticking Circular Saw?

Circular Saw Cutting Thick Wood

We don’t mean this to sound like a fresh answer, but preventing it from sticking in the first place cures the issue.

Keep your blade sharp; make sure the piece you are cutting is properly supported so that the wood does not pinch the blade and cause kickback; replace a damaged or warped blade; ensure the blade is tightly secured to the arbor; keep the motor in good working order; make sure the cord is not frayed and is properly plugged in.

Follow these simple guidelines, and your circular saw should not stick.

Does a Circular Saw Need Oil?

Keeping your circular saw clean is important.  Get in the habit of cleaning it of debris and dust after each use. 

After cleaning your saw, a little bit of oil will help keep it in good working condition, as well.  It doesn’t need to be oiled often, but once in a while will keep it turning smoothly for you.  A little oil on the inner washers, too, is a good idea.

Again, this is not just a maintenance issue – – keeping your circular saw in good working condition is a safety issue, too.

To illustrate the recommendations we’ve made in this article, we found some very helpful videos for you both on saw maintenance and on the proper use of your circular saw:

Easy circular saw maintenance:

Worst circular saw mistakes to avoid:

Knowing your circular saw and using it as intended results in effective and efficient work on your projects.  Maintaining your saw well and knowing how to diagnose problems will help keep you safe in its use and extend the life of the saw.  A good circular saw well maintained can last you 20 years.  Make them all good and safe years.