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JakeS

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I noticed that next week, Lidl is selling a small circular saw, with a max. cutting depth of 25mm. The link is below, although I gather that it randomly works or doesn't work depending on whether you've given them your postcode in the past and/or whether it's sold in your area:

http://www.lidl.co.uk/cps/rde/xchg/lidl ... _33682.htm

Are these things any good? I don't need to break up sheets very often (not least because I can't fit an 8x4' sheet in my car anyway), but when I do it's a hassle.

I can't really justify to myself £2-300 on a track saw, which would obviously be the ideal solution - I just don't need to do this kind of thing that often. Something like this looks ideal - does anyone have any idea how useful/worthwhile/reliable these small things are? Not necessarily just this one, I just didn't realise this class of tool existed until seeing one!
 

samthedog

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Is it mainly for breaking up sheets of MDF?

I have ripped down loads of sheets using a cheap Makita with a quick-clamped straight edge. The advantage is that the regualr circular saws have a larger capacity and can handle heavier cutting. Blades would also be more easily found and possibly cheaper. For a similar price you could have this:

http://www.lawson-his.co.uk/black-and-decker-cd602-cd602-cl-1100w-17-p145248

Although it is cheap it has a standard sized blade, is 1100 Watt and has the ability to saw thicker pieces. Oh, and it's cheaper too :)

25mm cutting depth is very little and with such a small blade, there will be a greater percentage of blade contact with the material than with a larger saw. This means more load on the little motor, resulting in you having to take very slow, careful cuts. If you are able to, get a bigger saw as I am sure it will open other opportunitie / projects that you will be able to do.

Just my 2 cents

Paul.
 

JakeS

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samthedog":27h4k6n6 said:
Is it mainly for breaking up sheets of MDF?
I would say pretty much exclusively for MDF and plywood.

My concern with a regular-sized circular saw is simply that it seems from what I've seen that you have to spend a lot more to get one with the 'plunge' feature. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding something about circular saws, but it seems to me that that would be useful...

And I don't really anticipate the need to cut anything deeper, really. I suppose there's always time to be proven wrong, though!
 

samthedog

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I have cut a lot of sheet material and have never used a saw with plunge. If you cut carefully you can plunge the saw manually and remain accurate in the cut. Plunge cutting is useful if you want to cut a squrae out of the middle of a sheet but for regular cutting, it's not needed at all. If you are breaking sheets down into smaller pieces and rarely have to cut pieces from the middle of the sheet, I would question how useful that feature would even be for you.

Examples where this feature is useful is for making cut-outs on bench tops etc. Unless you forsee this as being a regular activity then I would stick with a regular circular saw. You will save money and can instead invest the extra on a better quality circular saw without the plunge feature.

FWIW, I have renovated 3 houses and been involved in the building / cabinet making / carpentry of probably a dozen or so more. I still don't own a plunge saw :D

Paul.
 

JakeS

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samthedog":1vx0nec3 said:
If you are breaking sheets down into smaller pieces and rarely have to cut pieces from the middle of the sheet, I would question how useful that feature would even be for you.
Rather, I was thinking of two other cases:

- Making cuts without worrying too much about the things your sheet is standing on (how does one make a long lengthways cut on a sheet without destroying sawhorses - or are four sawhorses always required?)

- Cutting slots which don't completely separate one side from the other, e.g. for panels in the back of bookcases, housing joints, etc.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding plunge saws on that last one though - I got the impression that you can generally lock the plunge at a certain height?


(I'm not sure the particular model I linked to earlier has a lock, but in that case it's small enough that shims/a secondary base would, I expect, have the same effect.)
 

samthedog

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For each of the cases you described there are simple and cheap work arounds.

In the first example even by using a plunge saw you will run the risk of hitting the saw horse. You can solve the problem by adding a sacrificial top to your saw horses that can be cut into and then replaced when it gets tatty. This is just glued in place with a few dabs of glue and knocked off with a hammer when it is time to be replaced. With a sacrificial top no saw will permenantly damage the saw horses.

The second example still won't require a plunge saw. If you lay the case on the floor face down, you can set a standard circular saw to cut at a specific depth. Where a plunge saw differs is that the body of the saw is mechanically supported as you sink it into the cut, and then it will usually be used with a special rail that acts as a straight edge. With a standard circular saw you have to support the saw and slowly lower it into the wood and slide it along a straight edge like a long spirit level that is clamped in place.

To quote a popular woodworking article:

"How Plunge-cut Saws Work
The Festool and Makita saws’ plunge operation is like moving your wrist in a hammering motion. The DeWalt saw moves a bit differently. It rocks forward to make a plunge cut with an action similar to moving something from one spot to another – lift, move, then set back down. Switching between the two different motions causes one to think, but individually, their use is intuitive.

What makes these saws operate as they do is the blade set with a “toe-in” design. This allows the saw to cut at the front of the blade with the back of the blade held away from the freshly cut edge. Minimal burn and little tear-out on the money side of the cut is the result. This is also the major difference between the finished cuts from these saws and those of a circular saw when used in combination with a straightedge guide.

There are other features common to these saws, such as track adjusters to dial in the exact fit for a smooth slide, a lockable arbor for quick blade changes as well as blade depth-of-cut adjustments. And each saw is set up for dust extraction via an external vacuum. (See page 53 for more comparisons.)

A significant feature found on the DeWalt and Festool saws, but not on Makita’s saw, is a riving knife. At first, you may question a riving knife’s importance because the blade retracts into the saw if the tool is lifted from the track. But even with that action, there is still an opportunity for kickback and a riving knife defends against that action."


These saws are only really useful if you need a really fine finish because there is no way to hide the cut or the time spent sanding or planing the cut edge will result in lost chargable time. Like I said, I have known professionals who have never needed to buy a plunge saw. If the tool bug has bitten you and you want one, then don't let me talk you out of it but I do think for the tasks you describe a circular saw will be just fine.

Paul.
 

JakeS

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samthedog":t2pjyrv1 said:
In the first example even by using a plunge saw you will run the risk of hitting the saw horse. You can solve the problem by adding a sacrificial top to your saw horses that can be cut into and then replaced when it gets tatty.
Well, with the miniature ones I was originally asking about it would be a minimal problem, as the blade would only protrude a few mm below the sheet at maximum depth, so even if it did scar the top of the sawhorse it couldn't cut all the way through.

I think what I was missing - from a bit more reading around - was the part where "plunge" on a circular saw means "can be moved up and down during operation", not just "can by moved up and down" - I didn't realise that circular saws without a plunge feature can still [sometimes?] be adjusted in depth... in light of that, I see what you mean that the plunge feature isn't so useful as I'd imagined it would be. I was thinking of it more like the difference between a fixed-base and a plunge router - I wouldn't try and cut mortises freehand with a fixed-base router, for example!
 

samthedog

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That's correct. I was trying to convey that point but possibly not clear enough. Nearly any circular saw built in the last 20 years or so has the feature where you can adjust the depth of cut. Plunge saws are a very specialized item where I think you could save a bucket of cash and still do what you need with a run of the mill circular saw.

Paul.
 

Elapid

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Lidls have 190mm circular saws in stock at the moment for £10 less than that. 3 year warranty and it's easy to cut sheets once you make a quick jig out of ply.
 

Deborah

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I am also interested in the Lidl plunge saw, I have recently had new fencing put up, my garden is very large it's 16 panels long and 4 panels wide, the problem I have got is the guy that fit the fencing told me they was good one but I have since found out they are rubbish they are warping with the heat and since the bark has fell off I have ended up with gaps, yes I think I was ripped off, anyway they only have a strenghening bar at the bottom on one side so what I want to do is cut bits off the bits of wood that run down to hold the lap fence in place so that I can put another piece of wood at the bottom on the other side to strengthen it to stop it from bowing, I don't have much strength in my hands or arms due to having fibromyalgia, and this little plunge saw looks like it would be ideal and make a big job a bit more easier for me as I have no intention of getting someone else in to rip my off again, I know it's going to take me some time repair the whole lot but I will get my friend Eileen to help and as we have to take each one out I might as well treat them with wood treatment at the same time as I was going to leave them till next year to do that, do you think this little saw will do the job I want it to do. Thanks Deborah
 

Student

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Graham Orm did a review of the Worx plunge saw last November - sorry I'm not sure how to link to the thread. He was vey pleased with it and, based on his review, a couple of us bought the Worx version. I have been quite happy with mine for cutting sheet materials (DIY use not trade use it has to be said). It's light, easy to use, easy to follow a guide rail and has good dust extraction.
 

finish_that

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Try to hang on till Lidl do the proper sized plunge saw and rail for £60 its the best bargain they do for us - basically 1/2
the price for the same saw sold by others and with a 3 year warranty.
 

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