What Size Circular Saw Should You Need To Cut 4x4?

What Size Circular Saw to Cut 4x4

Circular saws are a handyman’s best friend. They are versatile, easy to carry and use, and can be adapted to cut through a large variety of materials.

They come in different types and sizes to cater to different needs. However, we can all agree that one of the biggest applications of circular saws is in cutting and shaping lumber.

Whether for general building purposes or for rough shaping of finer work, circular saws are useful in all situations. But what if you need to cut some really big lumber, like a 4×4 piece?

In this article, I’ll guide you on how to cut 4×4 lumber with ideal sized circular saw.

Which Circular Saws Can Cut 4×4 Lumber?

Circular saws are generally made to be handy and portable, there being the bench mounted saws for the larger jobs.

There are a few options, however, that are available to you when you need to cut some of the big ones and we’ll look at them in turn.

  • Using a normal size saw to make several passes
  • Using a beam saw
  • Fitting a larger blade to your current saw

How to Cut 4×4 Using a Normal Sized Circular Saw to Make a Number of Passes?

Most circular saws sport a 7 ¼” blade which has a cutting depth of up to just over 2 ½” at 90 degrees and usually less when cutting bezels.

The smaller 6 ½” blade cuts to a max depth of 2 1/8″. This means that the two most common blades are not large enough to go through a 4×4 in a single pass. Therefore, you would need to make several passes.

This is likely to compromise on the quality of the cut and cause a rough or mismatched edge if you’re not careful enough. Nevertheless, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure a straight cut with more than one pass.

For this, you’ll also need a speed square and a pencil.

➢ Clamp the workpiece down securely.

If there is a lot of overhang you can rest it on both sides. But it has to be at level and close to the area you’re cutting. Otherwise just let it rest on a table, bench or a flat place.

➢ Measure and mark the length you will be cutting. Then use the speed square to mark all four sides and ensure all lines meet at right angles,

➢ Make sure your blade is square to the shoe plate (you can still use the speed square for that too). Make the first pass.

➢ Turn the workpiece 450 and make the second pass.

Turn it over once again and repeat, and go for a fourth pass if necessary. The saw will have a notch to show you where the blade will pass, so that you can follow the lines accurately.

Making such cuts with accuracy will take some practice, and for repetitive work, it can prove a hectic task.

Again, you might have to split a 4×4 lengthwise (rip cut), and having to turn it over and repeat the process increases the chances of messing it up.

There is an excellent video on YouTube by Family Handyman showing just how to do this. I request you to kindly watch to understand the procedure in detail.

 

What is The Best Circular Saw Blade Size to Cut a 4×4?

Some saws will allow you to fit and operate a larger diameter blade, up to 12”. This definitely makes work easier as a bigger blade will be able to cut deeper in a single pass.

In comparison to the 7 ¼” blade, the 10 ¼” has a maximum depth of 3 13/16” while the 12” blade can cut to 4”.

This shows that the 10 ¼” blade will still not be sufficient for your needs while the 12” will only just barely make it. There are problems with fitting a larger blade to a normal saw as it has not been designed for such.

One issue is that the blade is heavier and the increased surface area offers more resistance and will overload the motor. This is not a good thing for its service life as well as power consumption.

Another consideration is safety because you might have to keep the guard retracted all the time or possibly remove it altogether. For more detailed information on circular blades, their capacity and other technical details, visit this blog about circular saws.

Why Beam Saws are Best to Cut 4×4 Lumber?

The development of circular saws is still not at its peak and the most prominent companies are still at it trying to develop better saws.

In this spirit, Makita and Skilsaw have both come up with a completely new calibre of circular saws called beam saws.

These are huge, taking a 16 3/16” blade and the motor to spin it. They are also heavy, with the lighter Skilsaw weighing in at 27 pounds or just over 12 kg.

These beam saws might prove to be your best tool if you are planning on handling large pieces of lumber repetitively. These beam saws will let you cut through 4×4 effortlessly and help you to save time.

The best thing is that since they are ideally designed for this kind of job, there is no extra danger associated with using them. And they can still handle the smaller jobs just as efficiently.

There is also another video showing one of these beam saws in action. Kindly check this video to understand how to use them.

Conclusion

When you need to cut through a 4×4 piece, you have very few options to choose from.

It will generally depend on how often you need to cut 4×4 lumber. It also depends on what equipment you have at hand.

For general infrequent work, you can use your usual circular saw and blade and make several passes. If you have a larger blade on hand, it will also help to fit it instead and will allow you to complete the cut in fewer passes.

For more regular work it would be best to invest in the right beam saw such as Makita 5402NA 16-5/16-Inch Circular Saw.

It will help you make your work easier, quicker, and more efficient. It is heavier though and more difficult to handle, so it will take some time to get used to its operation.

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