I am a novice DIYer and recently purchased a Makita circular saw (7 1/4"). The manual says that I should always put my two hands over the saw and that it is not safe to hold the saw with one hand while holding a lumber or plywood with the other. But, when I check most of tutorials or videos on Youtube, I often find that the saw is held with one hand while the other hand is grabbing the object. Is holding a circular saw with one hand a unsafe practice? Or, is the manual just over-concerning?


  • How many of the folks in those videos are wearing safety glasses and hearing protection? Should you? Same answers, I'd bet.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 7, 2015 at 0:40

3 Answers 3


Holding the saw with one hand is an advanced, and unsafe technique. You'll often find that folks in the construction industry (especially those on YouTube), do not follow proper safety precautions.

Holding the saw with two hands will reduce the chances of the saw kicking uncontrollably, if the saw happens to bind or hit a foreign object. It also insures that both hands are in a safe place while cutting.

  • 1
    +1 for making sure your hands are in a safe place. Also make sure that your groin is in a different plane from the saw and cut piece. I had a sergeant in the Army who made that mistake. After the accident, his nickname was 'uniball'.
    – Edwin
    May 7, 2015 at 1:29
  • 2
    Completely agree with this but the reason most don't use two hands is because they don't take the time to secure the wood they are cutting. So not only are two hands needed on the saw, but a sturdy work surface and quick release clamps.
    – diceless
    May 7, 2015 at 4:06
  • 1
    @diceless Most people don't use two hands, because they never learned the proper way to use a saw. They learn from YouTube, or the older guys on the job site. Nobody reads instructions, and I don't think any schools have shop class anymore. So most folks never learn the proper way to use tool.
    – Tester101
    May 7, 2015 at 4:15

Tester's answer pretty much sums it up.

The biggest mistake people make is not understanding how quickly things go wrong - they figure they will be able to get out of the way. Here's a kickback experiment done on a table saw to give you an idea of how quickly things go bad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7sRrC2Jpp4. The man doing the demo is well experienced and he almost lost his hand doing this admittedly dumb experiment.

Your safest route is to keep both hands controlling the saw, and not need any hands to hold the board. Even getting a helper to hold the board can be dangerous. In the case of cutting a big panel (plywood), one way to do this safely is to place the panel on top of some thick foam and cut through the board, into the foam. The board will be supported on both sides throughout the cut and you can safely keep your hands on the tool.

  • 1
    You must like cleaning up foam bits, I find using 2x4's laid on either side of the cut plus any others to level the board work just fine.
    – diceless
    May 7, 2015 at 4:11
  • +1 for the rigid foam. Works like a champ, no downside that I can see. Way safer, easier to get a very straight cut. Foam bits? Yea, that'd be a big problem if it were (a) a real thing and (b) not overwhelmed by the copious sawdust you are creating anyway.
    – user51965
    Mar 27, 2016 at 5:34

One hand on the saw is not a safe work practice, especially not for someone who self-describes as a novice. Hang on solidly for a few years and then see if you want to adopt a few bad habits.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.