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.


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?

37 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.

    • Yea, it was pretty loud, that’s true. I’m not sure if I have any ear protection! I should have asked my wife to stand behind me with her fingers in my ears.

  • 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!

  • Alex

    Great tips…. and just in time for my project this weekend!

  • jim

    Did the asphalt melt or liquify as the blade cut? Wondering if the saw is all gummed up with black asphalt drippings?

  • […] I did not want to cut large number of pavers to size. I think full rows look better than partial rows and cutting pavers is slow work. This means that my paver patio will be slightly larger than my old concrete patio and I will need to cut a straight line into my asphalt driver. It turns out that cutting a straight line in the asphalt was slow, but not difficult – I just needed a special blade for my circular saw. If you want more details on how to cut asphalt, see this fellow’s blog post. […]

  • Vein Rokk

    Hey! How to make sure that the outlet is 20 AMP, not 15? Thanks

  • James

    Perfect – I have to remove a 40″ asphalt path and was looking for a cheap way to cut it away from the existing driveway. This should do nicely! (And, as a runner, I have plenty of short-shorts)

  • Kipper

    Was that blade a special diamond tip blade for asphalt or was it just a standard wood cutting blade?

  • Alistar Vasile

    Interesting article.

    I didn’t know that a circular saw can be used to cut asphalt.

    Great job!

  • Jim

    Did you cut full depth in one shot or multiple passes? Also did you have to stop frequently for heat?

  • Glen

    I have often used a blade in a circular saw backwards.That’s how we cut vinal siding. Blade didn’t get mealted vinal siding stuck to it. Worked a treat. I think a regular blades should work on the ashfelt in the same manner as cutting siding. Saw is not really cutting, but mealting due to the speed of the blade. Diference between 15 & 20 amp plug Is 20 has not just straight slots for plug but has a extra little dash to the he slots.IF PLUG WAS INSTALLED CORRECTLY!

  • Randy

    Just to clarify, reversing a plywood saw blade on your saw will cut vynal siding wonderfully. The diamond saw blade for asphalt is a great idea, thanks for the tip.

  • Wayne

    Problem with the concrete pour, is that you only have a screed edge on one side. I’d form up about four 6′ sections and screed away from the concrete pad towards the asphalt. Only pour every other section. After 1-2 days, remove the 2 x 4’s and you don’t need any other forming. Just screed off the existing concrete section you just did. Good luck.

  • Big T

    Defiantly short shorts!!! That s awesome!!! I am cutting my driveway this week!

  • Nick

    Thanks for sharing. I had the same idea and your post confirmed it’s the right course of action. Will be cutting our asphalt this Saturday. Will begin shopping for appropriate shorts.

  • Brian

    Awesome post! I’m gonna cut my driveway today to install an invisible fence wire. Is it OK to do it completely pantless? If not, then I may borrow a skirt from my wife and go commando underneath. Any thoughts?

    Seriously, great post, and this is going to same me time, money and frustration.


  • Dan

    Almost houses built in the last 30 years plus the electrical code calls for 20 amp breakers in the kitchen. Due to the fact that toasters, coffee pots use more energy. It would also be a good idea when using power tools outside to plug into a GFI breaker which are clearly marked next to the kitchen sink.