The circular saw was one of the first power tools I purchased when I began my journey into woodworking. This saw, created by a Shaker named Tabitha Babbitt, has many uses and is highly portable.
The amount of data on tools like this can be overwhelming, not to mention the sheer number of products available for purchase. I am writing this guide to help you cut through the mountain of information, revealing benefits and features that are important to consider. Also, I have included a closer look at some of the top-rated circular saw models out there to help with your research.
Top perfomers of this roundup review:
Table of Contents
Why Do You Need A Circular Saw?
My late grandfather once told me that if he could only have two power tools from his shop they would have to be his best circular saw and his favorite drill. I discovered why he said this as I got older and began building DIY projects as well as other items from wood.
Circular saws are versatile
This power tool can make a variety of cuts. You can cut the ends off of framing timber or other cross cuts on other boards and thin paneling. Those same pieces of lumber can also be rip cut with the same circular saw.
Another feature that makes these products handy is the blades that they use. You can cut a variety of wood and manufactured materials like MDF with consistency if the blade is designed for it. A circular saw can even cut bricks, glass, concrete, masonry, and various metals that many DIY projects consist of.
Your circular saw is designed to cut straight and it will do a good job with these cuts if you take the time to mark your project beforehand. The only cuts that a circular saw cannot do are the curved cuts that a jigsaw is designed for.
Circular saws are portable
Perhaps the biggest stand-out feature of a circular saw is the portability of the tool itself. This is beneficial as it allows you to take the blade to the project instead of the project to the blade. That can be critical, especially if you are cutting something that cannot be placed on a table saw or in the path of a blade mounted on a miter saw.
This allows you to make cuts at a job site that has a standard house outlet. Your reach, in that case, will be limited only by the reach of a properly rated extension cord. A cordless design will eliminate the need for an outlet or extension cord (you will still need an outlet to charge the batteries, obviously).
Circular saw vs miter saw
The two benefits mentioned previously are highlighted when comparing a circular saw to a miter saw. Miter saws are designed for making crosscuts, beveled cuts, mitered cuts, and combinations of these. A circular saw can make crosscuts on wider boards and can also make rip cuts as well.
A miter saw may provide a safer cut, but it lacks mobility. You can take your circular saw anywhere on the job site or in your home. I do have to admit that the cuts that a miter saw makes will be cleaner and more accurate, however.
Circular saw vs table saw
Obviously, portability favors the circular saw once again. The table saw, no matter how small the design, is just not meant to carry around. This is the stand-out feature when comparing the two.
On the other hand, the table saw will produce cuts more accurately than you can consistently make with a circular saw. That can be a big advantage to the table saw models, especially if you make repeatable cuts often.
How To Buy The Best Circular Saw
I want to give you a few ideas on what to look for before we take a closer look at the power tools below. These features will help get the job done the first time, allowing you to spend more time building than fussing with your tools.
Best Circular Saws on the market
DeWALT DWE575SB - Best for woodworking
DeWALT provides its customers with great service. This includes quality manuals and paperwork, as well as a three-year warranty on the saw. A blade brake on this circular saw will really improve the speed at which you work. This particular system should stop the blade in just a couple of seconds instead of having to wait for it to slow down naturally.
DWE575SB provides you with a bevel capacity of 57-degrees. That is steeper than some models and it is worth noting DeWALT includes positive stops at 45 and 22.5-degrees.
A well-designed integrated dust blower will allow you to keep dust and chips out of the way. This feature lets you keep an eye on your marked line as you cut.
A nine-foot cord is included standard by DeWALT. That is longer than many power tool cords and it is also high quality for greater longevity.
For its drawbacks, you may find that the shoe, or baseplate, has a little play in it straight out of the box. If this is the case, you will need to address the issue so that it does not affect your cuts. Also, there might be a bit of wobble that develops on the blade if used for extended periods of time. You will need to keep an eye on this and tighten the blade if needed.
- Lightest magnesium construction reduces user fatigue for less down time
- Cut-Ready depth of cut system helps with quick, accurate depth measurements
- 53° bevel allows users to complete a wider variety of cuts
The stand out feature on this circular saw is the worm drive that SKIL has installed. You will get far more torque out of this product than you will a sidewinder circular saw. That will allow you to take on denser materials.
SKIL uses copper wiring throughout the motor build. That design element is nice as it will help to keep the saw running at a cooler temperature. It is built to run cooler and presents less weight, both features that a professional will appreciate while on the job throughout a long day’s work. This model also uses an anti-snag guard design. That will prevent the guard from getting caught while you cut through thin panels.
It offers only 5,300 RPMs under no load, though. That may be a bit underwhelming to you, but it is also not surprising for a worm drive design. It also has a higher price point due to the worm drive build. That may put it out of reach if you are working with a small budget
PORTER-CABLE PCC660B - Best For The Money
- High-Performance Motor delivers 4000 RPM's for aggressive cutting
- 6-1/2" Carbide Tooth Blade delivers a 2-1/8' cutting capacity
- Beveling Shoe pivots up to 50 degrees
This cordless model delivers 4,000 RPMs, which is a fair speed for a battery-powered product. It uses a bevel guide that has plenty of positive stops at various angles used in construction and home DIY projects. Taking an inch off of the blade size drops the price point on this model. That will allow budget-minded users to afford this circular saw without it being too small for their needs.
This model has an over-molded handle. That design element provides you with extra comfort as you operate the saw. That could be important if you make longer rip cuts or have to cut a lot of boards. This circular saw is easy to adjust and use. It may be an ideal product for someone new to power tools or a user who is a bit intimidated by a circular saw.
Unfortunately, the materials used for building the housing are lighter, but they are also less durable. They may be more prone to crack or snap and they will also transfer more vibration as you cut. Additionally, while the 6.5-inch blade is larger than other compact circular saw sizes, it still lacks the depth of cut of a 7.5-inch blade. That is worth considering since this saw is not that compact when compared to a 4.5-inch saw, for example.
Still, this one makes our list as the best budget circular saw.
WORX WORXSAW WX429L
- Cut 2x4's in a single pass with an easily maneuverable compact saw that weighs 50% less than a traditional 7-1/4" circular saw
- Thin blade makes for less tool strain, resulting in full size circular saw cutting speed and performance.Blade Size 4.5 inches. No-Load Speed 3500/rpm
- Easy-set depth gauge lever and 0-45-degree bevel settings for quick adjustments. The WORXSAW is substantial enough to cut through nominal 2 inch lumber, yet light enough for the DIY'er to easily and...
This compact saw design may prove ideal for those who work with smaller cuts and thin stock. The 4.5-inch blade can make clean crosscuts and shorter rip cuts on softwoods without bogging down. It has a budget-friendly price that allows even a novice to consider it as a first circular saw buy.
It also has a small profile and is lightweight. This can be an advantage if your DIY project or job site needs have you cutting in tight places or awkward positions above your head. You can easily work with one hand due to the size and 4.4-pound weight of this saw model. That can increase your workflow in some instances.
For its drawbacks, this compact circular saw design can only cut through 1 11/16-inches when beveled at 90-degrees. That limits the project size that you can effectively use this item on. What’s more, it can only generate 3,500 RPMs under no load. That speed is low, especially for a corded saw. This will further limit the types of material you can cut through smoothly.
- Magnesium components create a lightweight saw (10.6 pounds) that is well balanced and jobsite tough
- Powerful 15.0 AMP motor delivers 5,800 RPM for proven performance and jobsite durability
- Two built in L.E.D lights illuminate the line of cut for increased accuracy
A 15-amp electric motor drives this Makita product. It generates up to 5800 RPMs, a higher rating than found on other circular saws in this range. It offers handle angles that provide a natural hand position as you cut.
The motor on this circular saw can run on ac or dc power. That feature gives it more versatility than other saw on this list for power sources. Makita has included an LED light on the circular saw. This feature will help you stay on your mark as you make the cut. This product has easy to use adjustments. That makes working with it a quicker experience and may prove to be a bonus for novice users.
The blade guard on this circular saw might stick from time to time. You will need to keep an eye on this so that it will provide the protection it was designed for. Additionally, you could experience some kickbacks with beveled cuts. The chances of this will increase as you get near 45-degrees or greater in angle.
- Powerful 15-amp motor delivers 5,300-RPM for greater speed and faster cuts
- 7-1/4-in carbide-tipped blade included. Spindle lock for easy blade changes.
- 51 degree bevel capacity for a wide variety of cuts. Arbor size: 5/8 inches, cord length: 6 feet
You will find five marks on the bevel adjustment, points that indicate the most popular angles used on cuts. Its laser pointer has been integrated into the housing. That position provides a clear path for the light to guide you while also providing protection that an exterior mounted LED would not have.
Its base plate has multiple notches for guides. This provides you with a better idea of the blade position in comparison with your marking guide
This product weighs just over six pounds. That makes it a fairly lightweight circular saw that will be easier to use all day long. Its build and construction allow the manufacturer to offer it at a medium price point. It symbolizes a balance between budget and quality.
Unfortunately, its lightweight design is achieved through components that are less durable than those found on heavier saws. That might be an issue, especially if you use the circular saw a lot. Additionally, its shoe, or base plate, is thin and may have a tendency to transfer more vibration as you cut. This can increase hand fatigue and could make cuts in paneling less smooth in appearance
Milwaukee M18 2630-20
- ELECTRONIC BRAKES will stop your blade quickly when you’re finished with your cut. You won’t need to waste time waiting around for the blade to slow down, so you can get back to work quickly
- SOFT GRIP HANDLE provides maximum comfort so you can work with precision in slippery environments
- BEVEL AND DEPTH ADJUSTMENT: You can adjust the depth up to 1 1/2" and the bevel up to 45 degrees, giving you a huge degree of versatility in your cuts
Magnesium guards on the upper and lower portions of this saw help to protect it from accidents and heavy use. That is an advantage on construction sites and will allow this circular saw to last for a long period of time in most woodworker’s shop. You might be surprised by this product’s weight, coming in at just over eight-pounds on a unit that uses batteries.
It also appears that the manufacturer includes a second battery with your purchase. That will allow you to have one charging while you use the other to work with. This saw comes at a great price point for a battery-powered circular saw. That becomes more obvious when the second battery is added to purchase.
Its shoe, or base plate, is made from aircraft aluminum. That will provide plenty of support and durability while keeping the weight down.
What isn’t so great about this saw is that the seams on the two halves of many components may have gaps in them. This would be an indication that they saw is not completely sealed off and that the parts may separate with use. Also, it can only generate 3,500 RPMs. That may seem a bit slow, especially when compared to corded sidewinder models.
- Power - Brushless motor provides 5200Rpm and maintains speed under load
- Runtime - 100 cross cuts in a 2x4 (Pine)
- Capacity - 7-1/4" blade provides 2-9/16" depth of cut
DeWALT uses a brushless motor design and a 20-volt max battery platform to help generate 5,200 RPMs. That is a decent speed for a cordless circular saw design and you should note that those RPMs are under a workload. The 20V Max platform allows you to use the batteries with multiple DeWALT power tools, a feature that lets you spend more on tools and less on batteries for each.
DeWALT employs a brushless motor on this cordless circular saw. That design will have fewer parts that could break down, giving it the potential for a longer lifespan in your shop. This saw should provide a true 18-volt platform during use. That is due, in part, to the 20-volt maximum charge the battery platform provides.
A larger battery should allow you to run for longer periods of time between charges. That could mean more cuts before the saw is drained.
What’s unfortunate is that the battery is not included with this model. That means you need to make sure you get a battery and charger before you can use this saw. It has a higher price point considering that you have to buy the battery separately. That could be a shock to your wallet if you were not prepared for the extra purchase
How Do You Use A Circular Saw?
If you are just starting out in woodworking or working with power tools in general, even the best-rated circular saws might seem a bit intimidating. The saw blade can cause serious injury if safety features are not in place or the circular saw is not used correctly. Once you learn how to use your circular saw and make some cuts with it, however, your fear will disappear and your respect for its ability will grow with each project.
Study the owner/operator manual
Familiarity can increase confidence. Take the time to learn about what the manufacturer has designed the circular saw to do and what it is not designed for. Each product will be different, and understanding the features will improve your workflow as well as safety measures.
Learn by observing
Watching someone use a circular saw is another great way to become comfortable with their operation. If you know someone who is familiar with these power tools, having them demonstrate its use allows you to watch and then ask questions about things you are not sure about (my grandfather was the one who showed me how to use a circular saw). Also, videos online are another great way to watch and learn about these saws and how to operate them correctly.
Be safe as you work
Following proper safety guidelines will keep you working and prevent trips to the emergency room.
- Make sure that all safety features on the tool are working, including the blade guard. Check the blade you intend to use to verify it is designed for the cut and material and that it is also sharp.
- Set your bevel angle and then adjust the blade depth so that the blade will stick out from the wood surface by 1/8 to 1/4-inch at most.
- Make sure your project is secure and that the shoe, or plate, is making proper contact. Get the blade to full speed before you start to cut and allow it to stop before you lift it from the project surface.
- Wear safety gear. This should include glasses to prevent dust and debris from getting into your eyes, ear protection to dampen the loud noise from the electric motor, and a dust mask or respirator when required.
Top Circular Saw - Which One Makes The Cut?
I liked all of the products above for various reasons. However, I think that the DeWALT 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw (DWE575SB) is the best circular saw of the group. I think it is excellent for home use as well as working on the construction site.
This product is corded, which allows it to offer a bit more muscle to the cut than a battery-powered saw can. That power can be shut down quickly, thanks to the blade brake DeWALT added. A standard 7.5-inch blade size will offer you a greater depth of cut range at both 90-degrees as well as beveled settings.
Speaking of the bevel range, you can make adjustments up to 57-degrees. That offers more versatility than that found on some of the other products reviewed here. A longer heavy-duty cord and well-designed dust blower add convenience to a solid build.
You might have to double-check settings to make sure everything is snug with no play, but you will be hard-pressed to find better customer service than what DeWALT offers. The warranty is one of the best in the business and highlights the quality yoou will pay for here.