How to cut a groove in wood with a circular saw?

Circular saws are one of the most common tools that woodworkers use and one of the most dangerous. Whether you’re cutting curves or straight cuts, or ripping, crosscutting, or mitering, it’s important to know how to handle your circular saw properly and safely. This step-by-step guide will help you to cut a groove in wood with your circular saw. So that you can hang picture frames, build shelves, add trim to cabinets, and much more. Read on to learn more!

Circular Saw Safety Tools Requirement

While working with machines such as circular saw, it is recommended not to take your safety issue lightly. Circular saws are those metal blades that rotate at speeds as high as 5000 rpm. A single touch of these rotating saw blades can cause serious injuries to your body. Moreover, some other issues are involved that threaten your health safety. Such as dust produced by a circular saw, extreme cutting noise, etc. Saving yourself from these possible hazards when you are cutting groove with a circular saw is important. And you can do it by using the following safety tools while working with a circular saw and cutting a groove in the wood.

  • Eye protection goggle
  • Industrial Hand gloves
  • Hearing protection
  • Respiratory Mask

How to cut a groove in wood with a circular saw?

Without proper guidelines, it might appear to be extremely difficult for you to cut the groove in the wood with a circular saw, and to make it easy for you, the following seven steps of cutting a groove in the wood will work best for you. When starting the cutting work, you might require some tools for accurate cutting.

Required list of Tools is given below.

  • A pen and a speed square:

In the groove cutting process, you will need a pen and a speed square for marking the lines of the groove, which will be required for accurate cutting.

  • A sacrificial board:

While cutting through the wood, you might require a sacrificial board. It will make the task easier and save your table from getting cut

  • A table:

Working on a table will help you to work at ease without any back pain or distraction from focused work.

  • A chiseling and a hammer:

These two items are required to cut off the extra portion of the cut lines.

  • Sandpaper :

The sandpaper will make the cut surface smooth.

Steps Involved in Woodwork

There are seven steps that should be followed while conducting the woodwork.

Step 1: Mark Edges of Groove

Set up your table saw and mark out two lines using a pen and a speed square; always remember to measure the width and the light of the groove correctly. The line should be the edges of your groove. With these two lines as guides, you should be able to use your saw blade without running into either. It’s important to measure a few times and cut once! A keen eye will reduce the chance of error later on. Using a fine-toothed blade is important; otherwise, it’ll be tough to remove the excess material from inside of those grooves.

Step 2: Set the saw blade depth

Establishing depth of cut and kerf width: Mark your piece of wood where you’d like your groove to be using a pencil or chalk line. Then, using either a framing square or straightedge, mark each side of your line at one-inch intervals up from the bottom. Next, align your blade guard on top of your blade and adjust it so that it is set to make a full kerf across your material at 0.5 inches. This should be equivalent to 1/16th inch when multiplied by two for both sides of each notch. And make sure to double-check everything on the saw blade before starting the cut. If you need to change or remove the blade, you can read our other blog posts on blade removing technique and the guide on changing the saw blade.

Step 3: Aligning the saw blade with the cut outline 

Before you start cutting, take a second to make sure your blade is set correctly aligned. To do so, slide your board through your miter gauge and position it so that one edge of it touches your fence. Once you set up the blade and outline properly, you can go ahead and turn on your saw. 

Step 4: Cut the edges of the groove on the line

If you are using a board as suggested, make sure to attach the board with the table tightly so that it cannot move while cutting the wood and save you from making a wrong cut and spoil the overall work. You can use clamps to tightly attach the sacrificial board and the wood. After doing this, start the saw blade and cut the groove outlines smoothly. It will leave you with two lines along the groove; while cutting through the line wood, make sure the cut of the groove is less than half of the wood thickness, or the wood board can break from the cut line.

Step 5: Hollow out the groove

After making the outline cut o the groove, make sure to cut some more lines inside the two edge lines of the groove. It will hollow out some portion of the wood and make it easier to remove.

Step 6: Clean up leftover woods of the groove inside

After removing as much wood scrap as possible with your saw blade, now it is time to cut out the leftover of the hollow with a chisel and a hammer, chiseling the leftovers of the hollow with a chisel will give you the desired outcome. Put the chisel at a depth of the groove cut and position the chisel at flat to the depth of the cut. Now, using a hammer cut out the leftover of the hollow. Make sure not to gouge too deeply into the wood. It may break the board.

Step 7: Clean up the rough groove with sandpaper

After having your grooved cleaned and visible, the surface of the groove may appear rough and grainy, and to make it smooth, use sandpaper and polish the surface of the cut area with it.   


While making cuts in the wood outline, the blade adjustment should be made properly. Make sure to adjust the blade with the cut depth of desire. It will save the wood from getting too deep cut and breaking apart. Also, don’t forget to wear the safety gear mentioned above while working with a circular saw. These gears will ensure your eyes, ears, and hands protection while you are cutting a groove in the wood.

Bottom Line

If you follow the steps properly and take safety precautions, it is more likely that you will have the groove of your desire without any problem; with these detailed steps, you might have a good experience of cutting a groove in the wood.