Garage: How to Cut Asphalt with a Circular Saw

Progress is happening slowly on the garage project. One thing that’s catching up to us acting as our own General Contractors is all the small stuff that each sub we hire doesn’t do because it wasn’t really their job. Here’s an example:

The guys that demo’d the old garage left a jagged edge of asphalt where the asphalt driveway met the concrete slab of the old driveway. They didn’t bother trying to leave a clean edge on the asphalt, and I didn’t really expect them to. Their job was just to get rid of the old garage.

The guys that poured the new slab didn’t clean the edge up either. Not surprising since it wasn’t really their job. I hired them to pour a slab, and that’s just what they did.

Jagged asphalt edge.

So it fell on us to clean the edge of that asphalt up so we could pour a nice concrete apron in front of the garage. The concrete work is happening Saturday morning (fingers crossed), so we needed to figure out how to get this done.

We don’t have any fancy masonry saws or anything, and renting one just didn’t seem economical. Rental fees were going to run in the $75-$100 range, and that just didn’t seem right for the 20′ cut we needed to make in the asphalt.

So I did what I always do when I’m stumped. I give up and go play with my daughter KP. My wife, realizing that nothing was going to get done unless she took matters into her own hands, went to the big box store and came home with a $16 diamond blade for our circular saw. Brilliant!

Here are some step-by-step directions on how to cut asphalt with a circular saw (or at least how we did it):

1. We used a 15 amp Makita 7.25″ circular saw with a diamond blade.

2. The next thing you’re going to want to do is find the smallest pair of shorts you own, and put them on.

Diamond blade on chalk line.

3. We snapped a chalk line, then just tore into it. A circular saw will only cut about 2″ deep, but luckily that was far enough in our driveway. To start, get the blade spinning first, then make contact with the asphalt and slowly sink the blade into the asphalt.

Always wear eye protection. Don’t worry about your legs.

4. I cannot reiterate enough the importance of small shorts.

Just about done.

5. Once the blade was sunk into the asphalt, we just pushed it along easy-peasy. I blew the 15 amp circuit breaker about four times before I wised up and plugged into a 20 amp circuit. Don’t burn the house down, lol.

Sliced!

6. Then just get yourself a shovel or something and lift up the old asphalt chunks. They’ll come right up.

Asphalt pulls up in sheets.

7. And you’re done.

Straight asphalt edge.

Next up, we’ll shovel that area out, set some forms, and get ready to pour concrete on Saturday.

Anyone out there know how to finish concrete?

16 comments to Garage: How to Cut Asphalt with a Circular Saw

  • Katie

    Genius! I never would’ve thought of a diamond blade.

    I think my husband knows how to finish concrete. I’ll ask him.

  • Who likes short short?! Reuben likes short shorts!

  • Sarah

    Note to self: no project is complete without a pair of short shorts. Love it!
    Nice work on the diamond blade Mel!

  • I see the eye protection… but where’s your ear protection? I’m really not a safety nut, but my dad worked in construction for a long time without wearing proper ear protection, so I have a good appreciation for what power tools will do to your hearing. I seriously cringe seeing that saw being used without ear protection.

    At any rate, nice shorts.

  • Desmond X. Torres

    Argh! I wish I found this blog 2 weeks ago! I’ve got about 25 feet in an L shape on a driveway I have to cut out. I’ve done about 12 feet by hand w/ a lump hammer and cold chisel. Exhausting work (I’m mid 50′s and out of shape). Just for a halibut I Google’d ‘how to cut ashphalt’ and this blog was the second hit. Good SEO bud. I am on my way w/ my twenty bucks to get the diamond blade. What was going to be a painful afternoon will now take maybe an hour or two.

    I don’t look too good in shorts- even if they have a stripe. I got a nice beard and ear protectors though! LOL

  • Phill

    Awesome suggestion. Cut a 1/2″ groove across my driveway to install the wire for an invisible dog fence in less than 20 minutes. The diamond 7″ blade cost less than $25 and made easy work of the 12 ft long cut through asphalt. Thanks so much.

  • CHSJ

    That’s really funny — nice job on the cutting and love the sense of humor. More often than I care to admit I’m out sawing or cutting something in shorts & flip-flops!

  • Sandra

    Dude, you rock! I just asked a few contractors to give me bids for a project involving cutting asphalt and building a low retaining wall. For some reason the project seemed too intimidating to handle ourselves. Finally googled “how to cut asphalt” today and there you are in your awesome shorts, going for it!! First thing tomorrow morning will be buying a diamond blade and getting to work (will try in long pants, though – hope this won’t screw it up…)! Thank you for the inspiration (and saving me a bunch of money)!!!

  • Rodney

    I had a friend tell me the way to cut was with a standard blade for the circular saw, but to install the blade backwards. I haven’t tried it yet…but I may skip that and try it your way. I just need to go and buy the blade. Oh, and also buy some short shorts. All of mine are waaaay too long.

    Thanks for posting your cutting tip.

  • Chuck

    Thanks for the tip. I have seen someone cut concrete that way, they did run water while cutting to cool the blade. I’m curious would water help while cutting asphalt? Many years ago I used to use a jack hammer on Ashpalt with a 4″ blade instead of a pointed bit but it was hard to make a very clean line like a saw will.

    Has anyone tried using the reverse direction saw blade? Never heard of that before.

  • Lonnie

    Very cool. Thanks for sharing, especially the tip about the short shorts, I would definately been in way too long pants otherwise! Saved me a bundle too, now that I just got a circular saw for another project!(and i have the ear and eye protections)

  • Very helpful article! I have 150′ of driveway to trim and will head down to the local hardware megaplex and pick up a diamond blade and borrow my wife’s daisy dukes. I not only plan to use hearing protection but I’ll also be blasting “we like short-shorts” the whole time so the cutting noise won’t bother the neighbors.

  • William

    Excellent! I was struggling if I should buy a blade or rent a masonry saws before I googled yoru blog. Now I know what I should do. Thanks very much.

  • Jeff

    Not to sound like a troll but wouldn’t it have been easier and fast to just go rent a mason saw?

  • Marcela

    Ummmmmm,I must mention the huge elephant in the room here…those shorts are really not that short. I would say that those are closer to medium length. You keep talking about how crucial it is to wear the short-shorts, and I was like “Well, why isn’t he wearing them, then?” You probably would have been done sooner had you followed your own advice.

    Thanks for the tip on the circular saw with a diamond blade. Tomorrow, after my husband leaves, I’m rummaging through the garage for his saw and I’m going to cut my asphalt driveway. It’s going to be a good day!

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