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Yeah, we’ve made all the “frickin’ laser” jokes we can think of, and Sean even drew up a comic making fun of manufacturers’ predilection toward slapping lasers on anything and everything. But as we have yet to spend quality time with a laser-toting circ saw, we thought we’d ask you: Do you have any use for the laser guidance option on your circ saw?

A few parameters to the question:

First, have you actually used one with a laser? We haven’t, which is why we’re asking. Like you (probably), we suspect that it’s not necessary. We’ve never really had trouble finding the cut line with simple notches in the shoe. And how does the laser work in terms of showing you the 0 vs the 45 degree bevel cutlines? I’m guessing that, since the laser appears mounted in the blade plane, the bevel won’t change things and you’ll continue to see a good line on your workpiece.

What about laser positioning? We’ve seen LEDs on saws that light the cutting area — but not all the adjustments — leaving them pretty useless in the dark. Is there always enough material in front of the saw to give a good line with the laser? Does it suck on short cross-cuts?

As always, we appreciate your expertise in comments. And we’ll probably find one with which to snag some hands-on experience soon.

7-1/4″ Skilsaw w/Laser (Pictured) [Skil]


25 Responses to Do You Really Need A Laser On Your Circ Saw?

  1. swedub says:

    I find is easier to get the cut going straight. Once the cut gets going it’s not like your going to change directions that much.

    Maybe this guy needed a laser on his circular saw …

    Fort Lauderdale man accused of child abuse after trying to remove son’s cast with saw

  2. fred says:

    Learning to cut to a line with a circular saw or a handsaw is a skill worth developing by practicing. I don’t think a laser helps much to develop this skill. If you need absolute precision – a stationary machine or a track saw would be a better option IMO

  3. Vincent says:

    Yes! You need a laser on it. Everything needs a laser on it. Sharks! Sharks with lasers on them. Lasers everywhere!

    Seriously, I have never used one either so I don’t know if it would work or not.

  4. Jerry says:

    No laser user here either. Being an old geezer, I learned on a real cheapo circ how to follow the line. No if the laser could be aimed just right and then burn through the wood without moving the saw I would get on board. I really think small lasers make better toys for teasing the cats than for cutting a straight line.

  5. Fong says:

    I’ve given up long ago trying to make a long straight cut with a circular saw freehand. Though I agree it’s a handy skill, I’d rather take the time to clamp down a straight edge as a fence. I’ll only rough cut freehand now and don’t need a laser for that. Besides, most of the time I use a circ for short cross cuts. For me, it’s superfluous.

  6. JohnRoscoe says:

    Actually, the circular saw is one of the only tools I have a use for a laser on! I’ve had a Craftsman with a laser for 5 years or so and have found that using the laser to follow a cut line on a sheet of plywood leaves VERY straight cuts.

    Because the laser extends several feet in front of the saw, if you can keep it on the line out in front, you’re going to be very accurate where the blade is.

    For breaking down sheet goods, the laser on a circ. saw is one of the best applications I have seen it added to a tool.

  7. browndog77 says:

    If I need a (nearly)perfect cut from a circular saw, I use a guide or a fence. The best thing you can do w/ your saw is to learn where the cut falls in relation to the markings on the table. Then simply trust in that knowledge & forget about watching the blade!

  8. James says:

    I bought my first circ saw about 2 years ago, it was actually the Skill model in the picture for the post. As a beginner with no real experience using a circ saw the laser was basically a selling feature. For those of us who didn’t grow up doing any kind of wood work and are teaching our selves, the laser sounds like a good way to help keep a straight line. In actuality though it is not quite as useful. I found that I could adjust the laser so that it lined up with the cut marking on the plate, but that does not mean that it is inline with the blade. If the laser is just a few degrees off, then it is worse than useless. You start out using it to track the cut, then realize you’re off so you adjust back to the original cut line. You then unconsciously start using the laser to track again, and what do you know….you have a cut that a jigsaw would envy. I eventually turned the laser off.

    A company can slap a laser on any product very cheaply now a days. The expensive and hard part is making sure that it is mounted correctly to make is accurate. This is where I think most companies fall down. They throw a laser on it to appeal to customers like myself who had no real idea what we’re doing.

    Does it help? I would say no. It’s just a feel good factor that can actually make the job more difficult if the laser is not properly mounted to the tool.

  9. Mac says:

    Agree with Jerry, lasers more fun with teasing animals… hey… The cats will go berzerk if teased with a laser circ saw!

    Haven’t tried one, and not really tempted. Just use a fence/guide if it has to be THAT straight.

  10. Steve says:

    I read an article some time ago in Pop Woodworking where they broke down whci tools lasers were useful and which were just slapped on. Circ saws were in the useful category. Drill press was also useful. Band saw was in the useless category. Dont recall the others.

  11. tommy says:

    More to the point; Do you really need a circular saw to cut a 1/4″ slice of plastic pipe??? Whether it’s laser guided or not.!

    Seriously now, I think that a laser on a good circular saw is very useful, look further up the cut and you can get a very straight line. I love my Festool TS-55 but it’s good to do things the old fashion way every now and then.

    Tommy – Bristol, UK

  12. Dave D says:

    I have no experience with laser-guided circular saws, but the lasers I’ve seen used on miter saws aren’t visible in direct sunlight. Unless circ saw lasers are a lot brighter, I’d think their usefulness would be somewhat limited–you can’t always work indoors or in the shade.

  13. Toolfreak says:

    I haven’t had much luck with lasers on tools. Aiming with the laser doesn’t seem to work as well as just following a pencil line with the blade.

    I would say a laser on a circular saw would make a lot of sense for more casual users though, being the majority of them have the blade on the right side, and the majority of people are right handed, so of course you can’t see the blade when you’re cutting.

    I think the better solution for when you need accuracy is a left sided blade, but those are hard to find, other than on worm-drive and cordless saws.

  14. PutnamEco says:

    I have never had any luck trying to cut a straight line while looking at the blade of a circular saw, I have had much better luck by using the markings on the saws shoe. I think lasers on a circular saw are just another sales gimmick used by the manufacturers to try and make the tools look futuristic to the unskilled user. The only use I have for lasers are levels and rangefinders/rulers.

  15. Sander says:

    Lasers on circular saws are very handy, just not in the way the manufacturers intended. Cats love to chase lasers projected onto the wall. Use the laser to attract neighborhood cats. Throw cats in freezer. Next day use the circular saw to cut cat into little steakettes. You solve the problem of stray cats and get tasty, fast-cooking treats. It takes a bit to get use to the flavour. It’s like chicken, only more gamey. I can’t say anything on how nutritious cat fillets are. If you now what ferals eat, you know what I mean.

  16. Fong says:

    Just a general observation on tool lasers..Seems the red laser is still being used whereas green lasers are much more popular in pointers for stinkin’ Powerpoint presentations. Why hasn’t the tool industry adopted the more visible green laser? As Dave D points out, I can’t see my miter saw laser at all in sunlight (even indirect sunlight).

    • Chris says:

      Because most of the lasers in the tool industry aren’t actually being incorporated on tools to be useful; they’re being incorporated to check off a “feature checkbox” and sucker in a new customer.

      And because red laser diodes are dirt-cheap. Green ones are still expensive.


  17. Sam says:

    Was hoping to find a solution for circular saw with laser light that quit working. Any help from your end.

  18. Tuna says:

    Lasers on circ saws are great. It is not always possible to use a guide. Example, cutting window sills for installing new double panes. I use a very small circ saw with a laser and the windows mate to the sill with no gaps. The laser allows you to keep that blade straight, especially when cutting upside down on old houses with wood completely around the window frame. I used to poo poo laser saws until I used one for this kind of work.

  19. Amy says:

    I think the lasers can be helpful once starting out, but many people still prefer to use a circ saw without!

  20. macky says:

    try actually using one. not just about accuracy-you can keep your face away from the cut and sawdust with a laser circ saw. no sawdust in the face!

  21. Amy Thomson says:

    I had a Ryobi circular saw with a laser guide and I loved it. Being a crap carpenter, I found it much easier to cut a straight line using the laser guide. The trick was to scribe a line for your cut and line the laser up with that. And it worked cross cutting 2x4s as well as long cuts on plywood. I was able to build a chicken coop and I still have all my fingers. I would not recommend the Ryobi, because it died after fairly light use, after sitting in storage in a cool, dry garage. But a laser guide sure made my life easier! I’m looking for a new circular saw with a laser guide!

  22. wildbill says:

    I might suggest for those who have not used a saw with a laser guide… try one with a laser guide, then comment 😉

    Laser guides are one of the best ergonomic features to be added to saws in a long time. Aside from straighter lines on the fly, they also come in really handy on chop/trim saws when you have stop blocks on the bed/table and are doing a ton of identical/repeat cuts. Plus, the added calibration and quick ability to know right away if your stop blocks vibrated out of alignment or came loose, is well worth having the laser feature.

  23. Jake says:

    Laser on circular saw Is a helpful tool. I find it easy to maintain a straight cut even if the saw dust cover the proximity drawn line all I have to do is put laser inline with the further drawn line not covered by saw dust. Its always nice to have additional options.

  24. Lee says:

    I’ve used circ saws as a DIYer many times before lasers. I always marked my line. Got this new saw with laser. I don’t like it. I found I got a truer cut following a marked line using the notch. With the laser I tended to look too far ahead and wound up twisting. Probably best to stick with what has always worked for me.

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