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What is a Plunge Saw?

Posted by Katy | Toolstop on 10th Mar 2022

What is a Plunge Saw? This informative Toolstop guide will give you a run down on 6 reasons you should buy a plunge saw and what a plunge saw is used for. We will teach you how to use a plunge saw in many different applications and explain why they are so versatile. We have also included some of the best plunge saws which you can purchase today on our site.

what is a plunge saw

Everything you Need to Know About Plunge Saws

Plunge saws are a big deal, but for many in the UK, they aren’t seen as being an essential tool in the kit. For some, the reasoning goes that a circular saw will do what a plunge saw can do, and maybe a jigsaw can sort those fiddly little jobs in between. However, we’d argue that a plunge saw is an essential power tool for joiners, carpenters, kitchen fitters, anyone who works with laminates, insulation or needs to make lots of cuts in small work pieces. This Toolstop guide explains exactly what a Plunge Saw is followed by 6 reasons you should buy a plunge saw. Shop Plunge Saws here.

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What is a Plunge Cut Saw?

A plunge saw, sometimes referred to as a track saw, is a type of hand held circular saw which slides on a rail during application. You can perform long and accurate cuts with a plunge saw. Unlike other saws, a plunge saw can be fed at the start of the material or be plunged directly into where you need to cut. This is handy for cutting the likes of worktops for sinks and hobs.

A plunge saw is like a circular saw with a blade that spins and cuts, only with much more sophistication and accuracy. Rather than the guard retracting to expose the blade when cutting, such as with a circular saw, it has a fixed guard and the blade is exposed when plunging the handle to the pre-set depth. Oftentimes tradespeople may think that simply using a circular saw will be enough for making some plunge cuts. And while many circular saws don’t have riving knives, therefore making plunge cuts possible, a circular saw won’t give you the clean, accurate cut that a plunge saw will.

Dust extraction and control is superior to a circular saw due to this design, and as we’ll see in this guide, accuracy, control and efficiency is too. So, here’s the Toolstop Guide to Getting the Most from a Plunge Saw with 6 Easy Tips. In this guide we used the DeWalt DWS520K, but these tips will apply to most plunge saws on the market.

makita plunge saw

Plunge Saw Vs Circular Saw

What Does a Plunge Saw Allow You to Do?

While a circular saw will typically need to start it’s cut from the end of the material, a plunge cut saw will let you start the cut anywhere in the material. This makes it the best tool to use when cutting out worktop for sinks or hobs. And when the quality of the finish of the cut matters, a plunge saw will always provide the highest quality of cut possible with no splintering, something hard to achieve with a circular saw.

Using a plunge saw on guide rails ensures clean, accurate cuts. Plunge saws will provide much more accuracy than circular saws.

Is a Plunge Saw Safer than a Circular Saw?

We need to face facts. No power tool that features a sharp blade spinning at high speeds is going to be completely safe. Yes, the saws are designed and engineered to ensure your safety while you work, but 9 times out of 10, operator error or negligence is behind accidents. That being said, could a plunge saw be a safer option over a circular saw?

We need to remember that a circular saw is essentially a fairly basic tool. It’s a motor with a spinning blade and a blade guard that moves out of the way while cutting. Dust control is haphazard, with a port at the back of the saw trying to draw away dust and debris from the front of the blade. It’s not ideal.

Plunge saws, on the other hand, have an enclosed blade with the depth of cut being controlled via a slider at the front of the machine. The blade spins and when the hand is pressed down, the blade plunges from within the guard into the material. This design makes a plunge saw inherently safer to use. And because the blade is spinning within the guard, drawing the dust away from the cut is much more efficient. Mount the plunge saw on guide rails, and the cut will be safe and accurate.

How To Use a Plunge Saw

Plunge saws are relatively simple and easy to use. Follow these steps to start up your machine:

  1. First up, you need to choose the correct blade for the material you're cutting and that will fit your machine. With the right blade, you'll be able to cut oak, wood, veneers, plastic, insulation, aluminium and more!
  2. Then set the depth of the blade depending on how deep you want the blade to cut
  3. Secure your guide rail to the workpiece, usually with clamps, to ensure precise and accurate cuts
  4. To start up to tool, you will need to enable both the plunge release and power trigger. First hit the plunge release. This will extend the blade from the tool's housing. Then, press the trigger to activate the motor before letting go of the plunge release
  5. Allow the blade to reach its maximum rpm before feeding it into the material. This will reduce damage to the workpiece and help ensure a cleaner, faster and more precise cut

6 Reasons to buy a Plunge Saw

1. Using a Plunge Saw and a Guide Rail

This is a match made in heaven. The ability to slot into a guide rail, the friction strips on which will keep everything rock solid on the work piece. It is an amazing way to cut quicker and more accurately, over and over again. By so doing you are absolutely guaranteed that the cut will be 100% true to the line of cut. Using a guide rail gives you huge amounts of control over the saw and is especially beneficial when cutting through tough laminates where more than one pass of the blade is required to make the cut. Simply adjust the depth of cut incrementally per pass.

Make sure your saw isn’t fitted with a riving knife or that it’s a retractable one, then mark off where you want to cut, lay the guide rail along the marks, slot the saw onto the rail, and with a quick adjustment of depth (see below), make your cut.

2. Using a Plunge Saw for Quick, Accurate Cuts, Over and Over Again

Your plunge saw will be easy to set up. That means you shouldn’t have to faff about adjusting and readjusting the depth of cut. The DeWalt DWS520K has an idiot-proof method for depth adjustment. Check it out in our video guide.

3. How to Use a Plunge Saw for Bevel and Mitre Cuts, Even on Small Workpieces

The ability to make quick cuts in small work pieces is another key asset to owning a plunge saw over a circular saw. All you need is a couple of “sacrificial pieces”, a guide rail and the correct depth setting, per above.

Making bevel and mitre cuts in just as easy - Undo the front and rear bevel clamps on your saw, select the desired angle of cut (The DWS520K bevels up to 47º) then make the cut.

Roofers take notice; the make a compound mitre with a plunge saw is ridiculously easy. Check out our video guide to see how it’s done:

4. How to Cut Insulation Using a Plunge Saw

Cutting roofing insulation can be a total pest, especially if you’re not using the best tool for it. We suggest this is a task best left for a plunge saw, and if you watch our video guide you’ll understand why.

It’s not just the mess that’s an issue with cutting insulation. It’s making sure you make the most accurate cut to guarantee the insulation does what it’s intended to. Being able to quickly, cleanly and easily cut insulation at an angle is a massive boon for roofers.

5. Using a Plunge Saw for Cutting Laminates

Making a clean, efficient cut in laminates is one of the hardest jobs for any saw. However, we’ve added it to our list of jobs ably performed by a plunge saw for good reason, as you’ll see when you watch our video how-to guide.

Put away the masking tape, and cut right into the glossy side of the laminate without fear of marking or damaging the surface. It goes without saying that you should be using the correct blade for cutting laminates, so check out our blade buying guide here.

6. Using a Plunge Saw to Cut Doors While Still on Their Hinges

This is a pest of a job if you don’t have the right tool, in this case, a plunge saw. You’re laying flooring and you need to trim a few millimetres off the bottom of a door. You’ve got the choice to either remove the door from its hinges, make the cut then re affix the door. This costs you time and money.

However, with a plunge saw and guide rail you can make the desired cut while the door is in situ. Don’t believe us? Watch our video guide.

So that’s 6 simple, easy to follow and practical tips from us on why you should own a plunge saw. If you’re a plunge saw user already, what tips would you add to our list? Let us know!

Best Plunge Saws at Toolstop:

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