The Circular Saw


The circular saw is one of the most useful tools for any woodworker or DIY enthusiast. It is a versatile cutter that can do most jobs easily and with a fair degree of accuracy. I have found it an indispensable tool in my home workshop. 

Ripping a board with my circular saw

I use it to make most cuts since I do not possess a table saw and I usually do not use my hand saw. I also have a Skil jigsaw that I use to make small and curved cuts. My jigsaw does not cut as neatly as my circular saw and the pieces cut by the jigsaw usually have to be cleaned up afterwards, which is often a tiresome task.


Bosch GKS 190 Cicular saw: A great and versatile all purpose saw.

I had an old locally made circular saw for many years which served me well but which was not particularly accurate. In retrospect, I think I should have invested in better blades rather than letting the old fellow go.

Last year, I bought a brand new Bosch circular saw (Model GKS190), which is a great machine that cuts through board, plywood and so on like a knife through butter. I like the machine as it is accurate; feels powerful and on the whole makes clean cuts. However, it could cut cleaner, especially cheap board that tends to chip along the edges while being cut. The other problem with the saw is the short length of the electrical cord supplied with it and an equally cheap two pin plug that never seems to fit any socket.

My other grouse is that Bosch India does not provide the dust extraction attachment for the saw. The dealer from whom I bought the saw did not even know what that was. The saw throws out quite a bit of dust and the dust extraction attachment, which is nothing but a piece of plastic, should be provided as a standard accessory.

A circular saw I think is used mostly to rip pieces of board and plywood. This job is does very well but I find it hard to use when cutting smaller pieces of hard wood like teak and so on. Especially difficult to make are longitudinal or lengthwise cuts on smaller square batons.

The circular saw will usually not make perfect cuts in the freehand mode. It requires a guide for accurate cutting. A guide could even be strip of wood clamped on the work piece and I initially used an aluminium channel fixed on a 1/4mm strip of plywood. This did the work but I realised I was not getting a clean edge because the aluminium edge was not perfectly straight. 
A simple but effective guide rail. The only problem is getting good quality aluminium extrusions in India. If the aluminium is not high grade it bends and has imperfections which get transferred to the work piece. Otherwise this is a very effective guide system; the circular saw cuts along the right edge of the quater inch plywood base.

A guide, I realised, is as good as the quality of its edge. If the edge is not perfectly straight then all the imperfections, dents, etc. will be transferred to the work piece. I therefore purchased a guide rail from abroad – paid quite a bit for it along with two clamps and an attachment for the saw. The guide rail and its accessories cost double the price of the saw because I had to import them – Bosch does not sell those attachments in India. The saw now rides along the guide and makes pretty straight cuts most of the time. However, this system is far from perfect because there is a significant degree of play (or movement) in the guide attachment and even a slight tilt of the saw while it is running along the guide will cause problems.
Bosch circular saw rides with attachment along the raised section of the guide rail, which is made of aircraft grade aluminium. The guide is light, extremely strong and tensile. This system can make almost perfect cuts.

Bosch does sell different kinds of blades for its circular saw. I have three kinds: one for general cuts especially on hard woods; another with 60 teeth for fines cuts; and finally one blade for cutting metal, acrylic, polycarbonate and so on. These blades need to be maintained and kept sharp and will provide good service for many years.

Bosch Guide Rail for Circular Saw: The guide rail without the saw or attachment.

For perfect cuts, a normal circular saw will not do. For that you need something like the Festool plunge saw with its unique guide rail system. But that costs several thousand rupees while my Bosch machines cost me just about Rs 5,000, if I recall correctly. Moreover, Festool in India seems to suffer from some problems; once when I tried to buy something from their Delhi office they behaved very suspiciously.   

At any rate, I discovered that Makita and Bosch also make plunge saws but those have not been released in India and I have not come across any reviews. An Indian company, Eastman Power Tools, also manufactures a plunge saw, which looks good but I cannot say how effective it is.

While a circular saw is great for making rip cuts (those made along the grain of the wood) on long pieces of wood, it is less accurate and difficult to set up to make cross cuts on small, square pieces of wood like those for the legs of a chair or a framework for a cabinet. Even cutting those pieces lengthwise is a problem as I have earlier mentioned. 
Difficult to cut such pieces of wood lengthwise with a circular saw
The problem arises mainly from the difficulty of clamping smaller work pieces and setting up a guide to make accurate cuts. Setting up a cut on the long square piece of wood is not impossible but can often be time consuming, frustrating and lead to inaccuracies.

Ideally, a woodworker should have a table saw, which is a highly versatile machine and can perform all kinds of jobs. The best thing about a table saw is that once it is set up correctly, it is very easy to cut precise widths repetitively. A circular saw on the other hand, usually requires that the work piece be set up every time a cut is made. Although repetitive cuts can be made by attaching a parallel guide (which is a standard attachment supplied with most circular saws), the cuts will not generally be as accurate as those made by a table saw.

Pieces of wood cut on a good quality table saw look very professional and do not require much cleaning. I do not have one because those saws cost a lot; besides, a table saw can be potentially dangerous. I usually get my smaller pieces cut at a local carpenter’s workshop. But going back and forth to the local carpenter for cuts can be frustrating sometimes and perhaps one day I will take the plunge and buy a table saw.

18 February 2012

Comments

  1. That was a very nice write up! Yes I suppose I too am destined to make many trips to the local lumber mill until I have enough space, money and courage to go for a table saw.

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  2. Although I admire several Bosch products circular saws is not among them. I would recommend Makita or their Maktek brand circular saws. Maktek is even cheaper than Bosch but compares well. Skil is at the bottom of my preferences. On a budget I choose Eastman power tools.

    I wish you had bought a guide rail with a sliding base plate, that should have taken care of the play troubling you. I still use a wooden guide.

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  3. You are right about a sliding base plate - but Bosch did not have one at that time.
    As for Makita abnd Maktec - I sold my Maktec after 10 years of service for Rs 1,000 to a local carpenter.
    Makita is more expensive and the Bosch service centre is much better than that of Makita or Hitachi.

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  4. Anonymous15 May, 2012

    I can understand your frustration on not having an table saw. There are some plans and articles on the web to make the circular saw under a table to make it a table saw. It might be just enough for your needs. I will see if I can find some thing and email them to you.

    I used to see very old table saws in some lumber yards. It might be useful if you could check out some of these lumber yards they usually dont use these machines and you might be able to get one for cheap.

    Kittu. I

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  5. I was seeing your post somewhere that you did not have a table saw. Have you explored the newer Festool and DeWalt plunge type circular saw which is sold with a sliding blase plate. In a pinch it will do a lot of the work of a table saw. Put it under a table you and use a car jack to jack up the blade then you can even have a facility to raise and lower the blade. Get a welded steel frame put a plywood top attach the circular saw underneath and put a granite top with a hole for a blade add a fence cut a two grooves perpendicular to the edges of the granite and you have almost every thing you need in a table saw!! I know it will be an headache to make it but I think if you want to get it made you will find some one in Delhi who can even fabricate a regular table saw for you. You might save a substantial amount if you go that route. Also I find a table saw many more times safer than a circular saw so dont be concerned on that end. Bosch also has a small table top table saw it sells in India. It is expensive though.

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  6. Anonymous11 May, 2013

    I am a hobby woodworker and after looking around could not find a portable table saw .. Hence I build my own . Now I use these to make my furniture and is fairly accurate .. I build it using a circular saw (inverted it over a 12 mm laminate ..not laminated board) I used my router to make guide slots and now I can use it for miter cuts also ...I use aluminium sections for fence and also have build a wooden fence with dust extraction mechanism ... BUT I shifted to a smaller place hence I had do away with my frame in which this table sat on ... Planning to build one again from scratch if any one is interested I can post the pictures
    Diptesh

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  7. Diptesh: Please share photos of your saw set up. You could put it up on Picassa or Google + for us to be able to access them.

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  8. I was taking to the Makitaguys they have two models in India the MLT100and 2704 MLT is priced at 42k but they give you a discount of 30% about 29K if you guys are interested I can provide you the contacts ... Bangalore contacts you can figure out the prices and availability of the products from the sales guy . Another cool site is Aliexpress ...it is the consumer portal for Alibaba it ships products from china ... I have got some liner bearings needed for a project .. They send it thru china post takes about25 days to reach but will come .

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  9. Diptesh: Please provide the contact number and email of the Makita guys. It would be useful for all. Thanks.

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  10. Hi! Can you please recommend me a good table saw preferably costing around rupees 45000. Thanks.

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  11. any idea what a Bosch Circular Saw currently costs?

    Also, any about the Black and Deckker brand. Home town stocks them up in hordes and hence the query.

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  12. Manish: The Bosch GKS190 circular saw costs about Rs 5,500 in Delhi's Chawri Bazar. I haven't any personal experience with B&D power tools but they should work just fine especialy for a hobbyist.

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  13. Nice blog. Thanks.
    How much does a local/cheap/small table saw cost?
    Where is the main/popular market for such machines in Delhi?

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  14. Sumit: I have not come across any locally made table saw in Delhi. The only two table saws I have seen are two bench top models - one by Makita and the other by Bosch. The Makita machine could probabaly be had for Rs 30,000 while the Bosch saw costs about Rs 40,000 after discount. The best place to buy power tools in Delhi is the Ajmeri Gate/ Chawri Bazar area.

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  15. Hi just come across your blog from google. Nice to be here. Good tips. I've been thinking so much about buying a circular saw but to be sincere I thought I should read about it first and you provided me with helpful insights I was looking for. Thanks for sharing. www.woodworkingbank.com

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  16. Is the guide rail available in india
    ? I do own a Bosch table saw. It is of course much easier to cut with a table saw. I use a circular saw for rough dimensions to manageable sizes, before putting them thru the table saw. I prepare a face and an edge on a jointer. Another useful Jig is a Rip cut from Kreg tool company, which I bought from Amazon. I use it in conjunction with a circular saw to rip 8' x4' plywood sheets.

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  17. Bala CV: Yes, the circular saw is great for cutting large sheets to more manageable sizes. The Bosch guide is not available in India; I had to import it. Now Bosch has come out with a better guide and track saw both of which they don't sell in India. Bosch like most other foreign companies milk the Indian market by selling their older or made in China items. Their top of the line products are not sold in India. Nowadays I use a handsaw to size sheet stock, its easier and as accurate as a circular saw with a guide. Plus the set up time is much less.

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  18. Hi everyone,

    I made my own table saw BY USING SKIL CIRCULAR SAW. works fine and very accurate. fence is make of iron L (with perfect 90 degree shape done at lathe machine). Power button placed outside for easy switch on/off. No tool for fence adjustment. dust collection in box (still lot of dust coming outside). It looks like a coffee table as I don't have any space left in my house for tools. surprisingly, still my family supports me a lot. if you want to see the photos kindly let me know the address to post it.

    One more table saw is available in India is Metabo TS 250 heavy duty & solid build (Rs. 38000 to 40000).

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  19. Sunil: Congratulations! Making a table saw is not for the faint hearted. Do send in your photos to indian.woodworker@gmail.com

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  20. I intend to buy skil 5301 which has chute for sawdust.
    Any idea if its worth it. I intend to make storage shelves with laminated bards or mica plated boards
    Diptesh, pls do pst the pics of DIY table saw setup

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  21. Again another great article. Indranil which bosch circular saw would you recommend for plywood. I will be using mainly blackboard or plywood. Also Do I have to pick up specific blades for this purpose?

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    Replies
    1. Apologies for the delay in replying - missed your question. Yes, try to get specialist blades for cutting plywood and other man made materials. Blades for plywood usually have more teeth per blade (about 60 teeth). These cut finer and do not splinter the veneer on plywood. Bosch, Makita, Hitachi, Freud, Lietz and a whole number of other makers supply specialist blades.

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  22. Hi prad. Me and indranil sir have Bosch gks190. It shud work just fine for ur needs( I don't know what blackboard is). I got it for rs 6000 in Chandigarh from

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  23. Mveeh keen on buying a table saw.. Any great features I shud be knowing about? Or maybe DIY my way to a table saw with bosch gks190(circular saw)
    Plz expert comments needed.

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    Replies
    1. Amzy: Not too many choices for DIY table saw or benchtop table saw. Bosch makes a good one 10-J or something like that. Only one model is available. Makita offers one but that has not got good reviews and sells at a considerable discount in India. I hear from a frind that Metabo too is selling its table saw here. That should be a good bet. Look up metabo.com and their Indian partners. Metabo has offices in all metro cities. As for features, most important are a riving knife, blade guard and good fence. A decent mitre gauge is another feature you might want. Best wishes.

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  24. anantk77@yahoo.com27 April, 2015

    Sir where can i purchase bocsh guide rail in delhi

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, Bosch does not sell its guide rails in India. Try amazon.co.uk

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  25. Could you please tell me where I can get my SKIL Circular saw repaired? I am in Bangalore. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. You should be able to get it repaired at any Bosch Swervice Centre. I suggest you go to the Bosch India power tools website at bosch-pt.co.in and find out where your local service centre is.

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  26. Excellent article.Thanks for sharing it.

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  27. Kannan Ram27 May, 2015

    Namaste,

    Thanks for this informative post. I have queried many people and yet to find a *proper* answer. I have a 7-1/4 inch circular saw; unfortunately most if not all stores only stock a 4" or 5" blades, and most do not even know the difference between a "fine" blade and an "aggressive"; and one said "if it can cut granite, it can cut anything"; but my understanding is that different materials require different tooth counts, etc. However, I was able to locate one store who had carbide tipped blades for plywood, hardwood and softwood and one hybrid 20T 5" blade for plywood and softwoods. Wondering if it would be safe/practical/plausible to use on a saw which is designed to house a 7-1/4" blade. BTW - the bores are identical 20mm (?).

    FYI -- I am talking about shops in Mumbai (and this is in a area where the whole street houses ONLY tools/power-tools/hardware); most shopkeepers / store owners have absolutely no idea about the different jigsaw blades (metal/aluminum/wood/curve-cut etc. and the different types of shanks - T, U, Bore etc.).

    Thanks in advance.

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    Replies
    1. Zain Replies: Yes you can use a smaller radius blade with your circular saw without any problems.

      Bosch sells 7 1/4" blades in India. I have seen them in a number of bigger shops in a few cities in india. Though you might not find much variety in the type of blades.

      Marble/stone cutting blades cut stone through abrasion. Not suitable at all for cutting wood.

      Bangalore, Hyderabad & Delhi do have dealers who might sell different style jigsaw blades. Im sure Mumbai too has some main market for buying tools and hardware. Take pictures on your phone to show to dealer what type you are talking about.

      Indranil adds: Go to the Bosch power tools site at www.bosch-pt.co.in and check out their local Mumbai phone numbers - they even have a helpline. This would be the easiest way to get to your local Bosch dealer from where you could buy all kinds of blades for your circular saw.

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  28. Hi Indernil,
    You are doing a fantastic job with your blog. I have some info about table saw Jai industry make a table model J 533 for 8000/- motor another 7000. The dealer is prakash electric 01123218694. Mr amrish the owner is a sweet guy very helpful. I am based in gurgaon and use mainly hand tool for my woodworking.

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  29. Hi Indranil, i love your blog and refer to it as much as possible. I do a little bit of rustic wood work using pallet wood and recently received a GKS190 for my birthday, i found the same unwieldy problems that you mentioned and found it difficult and unsafe to try cutting small pieces(most pallet wood is 1inch by 3 inches) so i made a quick melamine covered cabinet side (perfectly straight) and mounted the saw underneath. this has a fence made from the factory edge of a 3 foot piece of 1 inch marine plywood and a cross cut fence as well which was a simple butt jointed L piece that runs on both sides of the table.

    maybe this will work for you, ill have pictures up soon or if you could ping me at melly7886@gmail.com, I can send you some pics.

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  30. Thanks Lucifer! Pictures will most cetrainly help, even if they arrive from Hades.

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    Replies
    1. Sir,
      I am a new in woodworking. Though I have some experience but I am in dilemma whether I have to purchase jigsaw or circular saw of Bosch 7000 for working especially on plywood. I am concern about straight cut.please guide me.

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    2. For straight cuts on plywood a circular saw would be a better option.

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  31. Your cut is straight as your guide rail could deliver. It would be easier and effective to make a guide rail using the company's edge of plywood. They are usually straight. Buy the Bosch GKS 190 instead of the 7000. The GKS 190 is much powerful at 1400 watts in comparison to the 1100 watts of the gks 7000. Having a powerful motor will have less kickback and be more safe. It is a misconception that powerful motors are dangerous. The more power the better in the same size class. You won't need 1400 watts to cut off your fingers. even 50 watts is enough to cut off your entire hand if you are foolish enough. so more powerful the better. THINK SAFE, WORK SAFE AND BE SAFE.

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  32. Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

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  33. Friends, I need help finding a mini circular saw similar to the one in this link https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00QV8ZE1U

    Buying from aliexpress is an option, but the charges incurred doesn't make it a great buy.

    Any help in this would be a great help. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try Einhell - represented in India by Red Elepant (http://www.redelephant.asia). They have a hand held mini saw. I have one I bought a year ago and hardly used for sale; email me at indian.woodworker@gmail.com if interested.

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  34. It's been a month now the bosch GKS 190 professional works great for my DIY PROJECTS.It costed me around 7k @Bosch brand store, HYDERABAD. Thinking to convert the saw to table saw it could be dangerous like it make kickback while cutting wood because theirs no Splitter or Riving knife in it. Can any one post photos who built it one with all safety precautions.

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    Replies
    1. Search the woodworking forum at diyable.net - some members have built such tablesaws.

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    2. I do not think that it is a good idea to convert a circular saw into a table saw. Even the company designed and made saws are inherently dangerous tools. Trying to make one is foolhardy. Sorry to say this but even a fraction of a second of inattention could leave one with a life changing injury. My advise to all table saw buyers is to buy a table saw from 'Sawstop' company or do not buy a tablesaw at all. This company makes a table saw that has a sensor and actuator that breaks and brakes the saw blade to a stop on detecting human contact on the blade. This saw costs around Rs.70000 in the U.S. Most of the workers in this blog are not professional wood workers. They have other professions and like wood working as a hobby. So any potentially dangerous tools to the limbs are a big no. The hospitalization expenses for such injury would set back a couple of lakhs. Trust me. I have been in one industrial accident though not related to wood working and had to visit a hospital for one and half years. THINK SAFE, WORK SAFE and BE SAFE.

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    3. People resort to DIY tool building because they cannot afford fancy things like the Sawstop. My hobby is to make small or large items using wood/ply as the material, but it was never my hobby to make a DIY table saw from a circular saw. Yet, I can never afford an imported Sawstop. So I choose to rely on taking more than necessary safety precautions when using my DIY table saw. I do understand that my fingers/hands/life is far more costly than a sawstop, but yet, i cannot afford the sawstop, and i feel ok, knowing the risks and trying to take as much care as possible when using the power tools.

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  35. Hi Sir , I notice this post is quite old. Did you get a chance to see any new more efficient lighter circular saw available in market. I am very much interested to buy one although I am little scared of this saw.
    Thanks
    Subhrajit

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    Replies
    1. No haven't tried the newer saws. All power saws are inherently dangerous and need to be used with care. These days I do most work with plain old handsaws.

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  36. hi

    i am a hobbyist & planning to built a table saw using a seven n half inch circular saw, but after hearing all the risks especially kickbacks i got sceptical. As my setup wouldnt be having riving knife, i thought of using a sled riding on a pair of telescopic channel which will feed the job & use clamps to hold the job with sled. I can feed the sled from side holding those clamps from sideways thereby avoiding standing in path of blade. Even if i use a rail guide it will run on top of the sled for whole length of the table. Do you think its workable. Any suggestions will be very helpful

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    Replies
    1. Using a circular saw as a table saw in my humble opinion is a bad idea, Period. Second, couldn't quite understand the bit about the rail guide running on top of the sled. Also, I am not qualified to give you an answer to a potentially dangerous operation. As for using a sled on a regular table saw, this is generally considered a safe operation because it is normally used for cross cutting where there is little danger of binding. Most problem arise in ripping if the wood closes in on the kerf and jams the blade. This is a complex issue on which I cannot offer any definitive suggestion. At the same time, making a riving knife is not all that difficult and its function can be duplcated by a piece of wood or metal equal to the thickness of the blade at the end of the blade. My advice, and one sadly that few heed, is using a large saw for ripping. It works well.

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  37. These are actually wonderful some ideas in the blog. You have touched good quality points here. In whatever way continue writing.http://sawspecialists.com

    ReplyDelete

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