Animations for “Cutting, Slashing and Trimming” – Saws

saw banner

Using an animation adds impact to phrases like “cut expenses” or “trim overhead.” This post uses saws as cutting tools for the animation; an earlier post uses scissors.


I try to use PowerPoint’s built-in shapes to create icons and images; this is generally simpler for average PowerPoint users than drawing “freeform” shapes. However, the handle on a traditional saw is difficult to create this way. So, I found some more modern saw images and used them for inspiration; here’s the result:


Here are some notes:

  • The handle is a pretty klunky group of built-in Shapes; you may be able to do better:


  • The blade consists of a Right Triangle, a Rectangle and a group of small triangles for the teeth:


  • The teeth can be created quickly using the “dupe and group” technique (see this post). Create the first triangle and then use the Duplicate tool to create the second triangle. Without clicking on anything else, move/Nudge the second triangle to the appropriate position. Now, use Duplicate several times to create a row of triangles. If necessary, use Align/Middle on the triangles to keep them aligned. Now, group the result, duplicate it, adjust as above, and continue duplicating. Finally group the groups. You will probably make adjustments to the teeth group when you assemble the saw blade.
  • Group the handle and blade and add fill color.

Usually, a handsaw cuts on the downstroke. So, the blade will make progress during the downstroke and the upstroke will move parallel to the blade with very little motion towards the sawyer. This picture shows the path of the saw:


This layout will help in drawing the motion path. Some notes:

  • Add lines (blue) to the saw object to locate its center of gravity.  Flip and rotate the saw to about a 45 degree angle.
  • Draw a line (red) from the center of the saw object down and to the right of the saw and then up, paralleling the saw blade to a point level with the starting point. This represents the first downstroke (that will move the saw to the right as well as down) and the upstroke.
  • Set up drawing guides at the extremes of the red line.
  • Duplicate the red line several times and align (blue lines).

Now, draw the motion path (freeform option) along the lines for this result (the smooth start/stop options are unchecked):

The object that will be cut by the saw represents money; I used a $100 bill image. Here are the steps:

  • Rotate the image, create a rectangle (shown in red) the same size as the image, and use Fill/Picture to fill the rectangle with the image.
  • Next, apply a 3d rotation (Perspective Relaxed) to the rectangle, add a few points of Depth and remove the outline. I also adjusted the Lighting. Here’s the process:


  • Why not just apply the 3d rotation directly to the image? Try it and see.
  • As a result of the sawing process, I want the currency image to fall into two pieces. I made the pieces by converting the bill image to a png (Copy/Paste Special) , and using duplicate and crop to create two pieces:


  • I added a line to the upper piece to mimic the depth.

Adding the currency images to the saw animation yields and adding some additional animation provides this result:

Here are some notes:

  • Place the currency pieces next to the saw blade; adjust the height and width of the saw motion path using the handles.
  • Add a Down motion path to the bottom half near the end of the saw animation and adjust the end point. Add a Spin With the motion path.
  • Add another motion path (Custom Path/Freeform) and Spin for the bounce. The path may snap to the center of the object when you complete it; just move/nudge it to the end of the first Down path.
  • You will probably need to experiment to get the locations and timing so that the animation is convincing.

Here’s the set-up for the handsaw animation:


 Power Saw

I looked at several images of a power/”skill” saw and drew a simplified version using standard PowerPoint shapes:


The blade is a 32-point Star with the depth of the points adjusted. A circle and a Hexagon provide the blade mounting hardware. The upper blade guard of the saw is a Block Arc with handles added. The upper handle is another Block Arc and a Rounded Rectangle; the front handle is an Oval and a Rectangle. The base plate is a Trapezoid.

The lower blade guard (green) is a Block Arc. It will be grouped with the blue circle to assure that it Spins properly.

Note: A Block Arc is one of the PowerPoint shapes that rotates (while editing) and Spins (animation) around different centers; here’s the difference:


The blue lines identify the center of the object when it is rotated while editing (e.g., using the green handle) and the red line identifies the center for a Spin animation. Several other shapes share this anomaly including Arc, Chord and Pie. Surprisingly, transformed text (e.g., Arch Up) rotates and Spins around the same center.

(The PowerPoint animation designers apparently came from a different planet and were not allowed to converse with other designers.)

Here’s the power saw with color added:


I grouped the saw elements into three parts that move independently: the blade assembly, the lower blade guard and the saw “body”:


Here’s how I did the animation:

  • Set up a “target” for the animation; this is a copy of the saw positioned at the desired location. This is a technique I use often for animations (see this post on animating vehicles for more).
  • Set up drawing guides to identify the centers of the three saw parts.
  • Add a Right motion path to each part and edit the motion paths so that the endpoint is at the appropriate center. As usual, Smooth Start/End for the motion paths are unchecked. Here’s what this looks like:


  • Add the Spin animation to the blade assemble so that occurs simultaneously With the motion path. For some Spin values,  the blade may appear to spin more slowly than expected, backwards or to stand still (maybe a strobe effect). Adjust the spin duration so that you are satisfied with the animation. I ended up with 1300 degrees Clockwise Spin in 1.3 seconds. The motion paths and the Spin should have the same duration.
  • The lower blade guard pivots up when it encounters the object being sawn and drops back when the saw passes over the object. I added a Clockwise spin of 115 degrees near the beginning of the action and the corresponding Counterclockwise spin near the end. Here’s the animation pane:


  • And here’s the animation:
  • I added a rectangle to represent the object being cut. Later, I’ll use a different object and adjust the blade guard timing accordingly.

You can use the power saw to “cut’ currency (like the handsaw above), or a dollar sign or bar graph like I demonstrated in the scissors post.  Here’s the power saw in another animation involving a graph:

Here are some notes:

  • The graph is created with a series of horizontal and vertical lines to form the grid, the label, and the arrow representing growth. The arrow is hand drawn (a Freeform) but you could use one of the built-in arrow shapes or a heavy line with an arrowhead.


  •  Duplicate the arrow shape and add Fill color to the two copies; make one copy a slightly darker shade.
  • Convert the arrow shapes to a pngs and make two halves using the technique used on the $100 bill above. The break should align with one of the horizontal grid lines on the graph. You only need the top half of the darker arrow. Invert the dark half and align the parts on the graph. Here’s the process:



  • Add the animated power saw (three parts). Position the saw along the horizontal grid line and adjust the blade guard timing so that the saw “cuts” between the two parts of the arrow:



  • The animation of the cut-off arrow uses Collapse and Stretch animations. There are three steps: first,  the upper part gets an Exit/Collapse to bottom animation. This is immediately followed by Entrance/Stretch/From top for the darker, inverted piece. Finally, there is a Down motion path overlapped with a quick Exit/Collapse to bottom of the darker piece. Here’s the final animation setup:


If you want a free copy of a PowerPoint file demonstrating these techniques, use this form:

1 Response to “Animations for “Cutting, Slashing and Trimming” – Saws”

  1. 1 Animations for Cutting, Slashing and Trimming – Axes and Knives | powerpointy Trackback on October 13, 2014 at 11:17 am

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