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Circular saws aren’t necessarily a tool that everyone can use, but it is one of the tools that will become a woodworker’s best friend. A circular saw is one of the most popular tools in existence, being a power saw that spins in a circle and cuts through the wood using a toothed blade. When used safely, the best circular saws can provide a clean, accurate cut on a number of different boards – though not all at once. They can cut through dense boards, wet boards, and even pressure-treated wood with ease. At the same time, these saws can also handle some of the finish work you may need to do. However, there are many saws on the market, so to get a top pick, you need to do some research.
As such, circular saws are truly one of the most versatile tools currently available on the market and the ideal friend for any woodworker with his or her salt. However, finding the best one can be difficult, especially since manufacturers make so many different products. Luckily, we’ve done plenty of research and believe we have picked out the top options that would work for novice, amateur, journeyman, and even master woodworkers alike! Just read this buying guide to not only determine the style of circular saw you might want, but also the make and model itself. After all, not all saws are made the same, and it’s important to get a good model that will do what you need without posing unnecessary danger to yourself.
- Our Favorite Circular Saws
- What Are the Different Types of Circular Saws?
- How to Find the Best Baseplate for Your New Circular Saw
- What Are the Features of the Top-Rated Circular Saws?
- What will it cost me to buy a Good Circular Saw?
- IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CIRCULAR SAWS?
- Let’s Have a Look at Some Reviews
Our Favorite Circular Saws
The best tools will come with added safety features, user controls, and an overall design that protects people when the saw is engaged. Naturally, the best circular saw must also meet these requirements, especially since the saw itself is essentially a sharp, toothed blade of doom when mishandled. Far too many people make mistakes and cut themselves or lose digits, so it’s important that our favorite circular saws be safe, easy for a user to control, and protective of the user. There may be different weights and sizes, but all of these top-rated tools have the same key ingredients for a consistent user experience. In particular, they feature adjustable power, revolutions per minute or RPM, a carbide tipped blade, a brake, and other elements to improve job safety.
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||Max Amps||Price|
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||Max Amps||Price|
|Bosch CS10 Circular Saw|| 4.2 ||15|| $$$ |
|Skil Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser Guide|| 4.6 ||15|| $$ |
|DeWalt Lightweight Circular Saw w/ Electric Break|| 4.7 ||15|| $$$ |
|Porter Cable Heavy Duty Circular Saw|| 4.5 ||15|| $$ |
|Black and Decker 20v Lithium-Ion Circular Saw|| 4.2 ||12|| $ |
|Skil 5180-01 Circular Saw|| 4.4 ||14|| $ |
|Makita 5007MG Magnesium Circular Saw|| 4.7 ||15|| $$$ |
|Rockwell Versacut Ultra-Compact Circular Saw|| 4.3 ||4|| $$ |
|Worx Worxsaw Compact Circular Saw|| 4.4 ||4|| $$ |
|DeWalt DWS535 Worm Drive Circular Saw|| 4.7 ||15|| $$$$ |
What Are the Different Types of Circular Saws?
Circular saw shopping can be tricky since there are a couple of different types of motors and orientations to look for. Here, we start with motors, since these control just how the tool is operated by a woodworker. When you’re shopping for a new circular saw, you’ll usually find recommendations to purchase either a “sidewinder” or a “worm drive” saw. These are two different types of motors that can be used to turn the blade.
Sidewinders are direct drive saws. They work by having the blade connected directly to the motor. This means the tool keeps the saw perpendicular to the motor. It’s the standard design that most people use on a regular basis, including woodworkers. For those who don’t know, this perpendicular angle is one where the table is horizontal and the blade itself is vertical, so the saw cuts down on a piece of wood supported by the table.
Worm drive saws, which are sometimes referred to as hypoid saws, are geared down and more independent of the motor. This causes the blade speeds to be reduced, but the saw is able to generate more torque to create a clean cutting experience. Almost all worm drive saws also operate in a perpendicular fashion but are not as close to the motor as the blade in a sidewinder.
In general, neither the sidewinder nor the worm drive circular is better than the other. Instead, the decision will come down to what you are more comfortable handling. If you are brand new to woodworking, we highly recommend experimenting with a worm drive saw because it moves more slowly and can help you become accustomed to fine tuning your work. If this isn’t your first wood rodeo, then we recommend investing in a traditional sidewinder.
After figuring out if you are more comfortable with the sidewinder or worm drive, you will also want to look at the expected RPM of the blade. RPM is controlled by how much power runs through the tool and determines just how fast the blade in the circular saw will rotate. Faster rotations tend to create smoother, finer cuts but might be difficult for amateurs to handle. When you have lower RPM, you increase your likelihood of some slight tearing along the grains of a piece of wood, but these motors use less power and typically allow more control of the blade. Both sidewinder and worm drives can have variable RPM, so be sure to check each product carefully to find a speed you can handle.
Once you’ve settled on the type of drive you want to have, you’ll need to consider the orientation of the saw. Most models today have a right-sided orientation, which means the blade is set on the right-hand side of the tool’s handle. This is done because when you cut on a bench or one of the best saw horses in your possession, the weight of the tool can be supported.
Right-side orientation also prevents many of the kickbacks that can occur when the blade binds up during a cut. Yet for some left-handed individuals, a blade-left orientation may be more comfortable to use. Blade-left units are not routinely made by today’s manufacturers, so if this is your preference, we recommend the Bosch CS5 as a great option to meet your needs. If your right hand is your dominant hand, we naturally suggest you avoid using units which have the blade on the left since these will be difficult for you to control. Remember: Nobody wants to lose a hand.
Finally, there are a couple of extra features you can consider when looking for a new tool. One is an electronic safety brake, which you can use to turn off the circular saw if you feel like something is going wrong. A safety brake for a saw resembles those that you find on other power tools or in cars – it’s a convenient mechanism that you can push, pull, or handle without obstruction. While some are electric, the majority are also manual. The idea is that the brake will trigger a mechanism that shuts off the power. Once the power is gone, the blade will stop spinning and you can get your hands and materials away from the saw.
You can also decide whether you want a corded circular saw or one that runs on heavy duty batteries. The majority of the models on the market, as well as the products listed here, are corded circular saws. This is because the connection to an outlet provides a stabler power supply and can increase a devices RPM and general efficiency. However, if you don’t have an ideal place for woodworking and find outlets to be in short supply, you can always consider going cordless.
How to Find the Best Baseplate for Your New Circular Saw
All circular saws come with a base plate. This is the flat component that the saw rotates through when you’re making a cut. You set the baseplate on top of your working piece and then run the saw through the cut line.
Most models tend to come with a base plate that is made of either magnesium or aluminum. Either option will work for woodworkers because it increases the durability of the tool. You can save some money by using a base plate that is made from stamped steel, but this style tend to have curled edges that can make it difficult to obtain a straight-edge cut.
The curl will stop the blade from going fully through the material and can also reduce the power in the cut because it provides a noticeable obstruction. For those familiar with the use of table saws, you might recognize that the curled edge of metal can produce dangerous sparks. However, this situation tends to vary case by case, and there are numerous reasons why a novice or amateur might be interested in a stamped steel base plate.
However, besides expense, there are a couple of reasons why you might want to choose a stamped steel base plate, especially if you’re a beginner. In general, a stamped steel base plate is heavier than other materials, meaning it is more durable. The steel is also easier to fix than magnesium or aluminum, which require more care and specialty equipment. Unfortunately, there are some downsides. While the steel is easier to fix, it is also far more likely to bend when dropped. There is also the aforementioned issue of sparking.
Almost every time someone enters woodworking, carpentry, or a similar field where a circular needs to be used, we hear the same thing: “I just won’t drop the saw.” After all, everyone assumes that dropping a saw is a rare occurrence. However, dropping a circular saw happens a lot, and is actually one of the most common ways woodworkers injure themselves. So, you need to consider whether or not you want a base plate that bends easily but can be fixed, or one that is likely to crack – such as aluminum or magnesium – but is more difficult to repair. Some people try to avoid this problem by investing solely in table saws, but these do not have the flexibility and maneuverability of a traditional circular saw.
Between magnesium and aluminum, there is not a lot of difference. Magnesium base plates tend to be lighter than aluminum base plates, but their durability is about equal. Magnesium only has a slightly smaller chance of cracking when dropped, so it really comes down to whether you anticipate genuinely needing repairs or not.
As you look at your base plate options, you will also want to consider how the lower guard works with it. If the lower guard is slightly oversized or undersized, then it can sometimes snag on you. That creates a jumping action during a cut, which can then cause you to burn the edge. Look for an anti-snag lower guard in the saw reviews to ensure you avoid this issue with your work. Anti-snag lower guards tend to be about the right size, helping eliminate the snagging problem.
What Are the Features of the Top-Rated Circular Saws?
Circular saws may come with a wide variety of features these days thanks to technological developments. One of the most useful features is a laser guide, which directs your cutting as you move through your working piece. You may have a chalk or pencil line to follow, but the laser guide helps you make sure that you remain straight throughout the cut. The laser guide also has the added bonus of not being drawn by you or another human, so it is more likely to be completely even and straight. This is a feature we highly recommend investing in if you want to get the best deal for your money.
These additional features can also be found on many of the best circular saws that are available today.
- Bevel Capacity. The best circular saws for woodworkers tend to have a bevel capacity that exceeds 45 degrees. This gives you added flexibility for certain cuts that you may need, especially if you’re cutting miters or creating roof framing. For those that don’t know, the bevel capacity determines how large of an angle the circular saw is able to cut at. So, a saw that only has a bevel capacity of 45 degrees can at best create a cut at an angle of 45 degrees. Naturally, most professionals desire a tool that can do more.
- Saw Size. Many units come in a standard 7.25-inch size. This refers to the circumference of the blade. There are several other sizes that are available, including portable 4-inch blades. Whether it’s larger or smaller than the standard size, each option has specific advantages that are worth considering.
Large blades tend to be great for general cutting and shaping and tend to have an easier time slicing through bigger pieces of wood. A small blade, on the other hand, is lightweight and easy to use and has some benefits when it comes to the shaping of more intricate work. Small blades also tend to be easier to handle for beginners.
If you’re just starting to experiment with woodworking, we recommend getting the standard 7.25 in. blade so you get experience with a regular saw. If the size makes you uncomfortable, consider investing in the 4 in. portable blades. While you might be unable to practice some of the finer points of woodworking like the rip cut, you will become used to the amp motor and cutting depth of the blade, and will understand the power behind the machine.
- Power Source. You can find corded and cordless designs available to woodworkers right now. Corded models tend to be lighter, but they also limit the locations where you can work. On the other hand, cordless models require you to purchase a battery and charger in most instances, which adds to the final cost of your purchase today.
Besides the locations where you are capable of using each circular saw, there is little difference between corded and cordless models. Some people claim that cordless models are lighter than corded, while others firmly believe that corded models tend to be stronger. The only real difference you’re going to have to get used to is location, location, location. If you are the type who likes to do your woodworking outside, then a cordless option might be the best so you can move around and work in the grass. If you have your own little workspace in a shed or garage, though, then corded should work fine.Although there are lots of good contenders for our best circular saw, overall we think the title should go to the DEWALT model for its excellent design and high level of performance. It possesses a magnesium plate, is comfortable to use, and also consumes wood at a ridiculous rate, which is great for woodworkers who want to be able to use their circular saw constantly for a wide variety of projects.
What will it cost me to buy a Good Circular Saw?
Most circular saws are available for less than $150 right now. This includes cordless models where the rechargeable battery is included in the final price. The cheaper models tend to use stamped steel and may have blade guards that are difficult to use, but can still create a solid straight cut when called upon. Higher-priced models create more consistency while requiring less long-term maintenance.
For the average woodworker, expect to pay about $100 for a good saw with the specific features that your creativity may need. If you’re an individual who really does a lot of work and wants something more durable and reliable than the average, inexpensive circular saw, then you can expect to pay between $200 and $500.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CIRCULAR SAWS?
Depending on where you are buying your circular saw, you might see a lot of extra or special features. If you are just trying to buy a basic product, you don’t need to consider investing in these features since they won’t help you develop your skills. So, you probably don’t need to buy a circular saw with LED lights, an integrated dust blower, magnesium shoes, and a carbide tipped blade. You also don’t need to experiment too much with different powers, RPM, or extreme bevel adjustments. However, some of these are important to know.
One of the first things you’re going to encounter is the presence of a spindle lock. A spindle lock is actually a necessary feature because it stops the blade of the saw from rotating when you’re trying to remove it to replace the blade. You definitely want a model with a spindle lock because it might just save your fingers. However, if you do invest in this type of a circular saw, you might need an efficient screwdriver to loosen blades during replacements.
A dust blower of a dust collector can also be a useful addition but isn’t necessarily something you need. A blower and collector are used to maintain the sheer amount of sawdust produced by woodworking. The blower will shift the dust away from you so you don’t wind up smothered with fine splinters, while the collector will gather the sawdust is an easy to remove bin so it can be disposed of. Both are useful, but neither is perfectly necessary.
LED lights are also fun but not necessary. These are bulbs commonly used to add extra light when working so you can make sure you are hitting the desired lines exactly. However, you don’t really need an LED light on the saw, and it’s better to just have great lighting in your workshop.
If you see the term “magnesium shoe,” don’t get confused. It’s just another way to refer to the base plate since it sits at the bottom of the circular saw.
Finally, you might hear of carbide tipped blades and extreme bevel adjustments. The majority of the blades used in circular saws are going to be made of carbide or tipped with the substance because it provides a smooth cutting surface that is easy to sharpen. Again, don’t be confused when you see this time. Extreme bevel adjustments, meanwhile, refer to the angles you can set the blade of the circular saw to. In general, you do not need a product capable of extreme angles because such cuts are rare and require experience. If you are just starting out, don’t invest money in such a feature.
Now, on to the buying guide!
Let’s Have a Look at Some Reviews
Thanks to the stamped steel shoe on this unit, you’re given an optimal line of sight that gives you an accurate cut every single time. It also features a metal upper and lower blade guard so that you don’t have to worry about cracking or fracturing when you’re in the middle of a cut. The design is also well-balanced, so you won’t feel over-tired when using this tool despite its added weight. This allowed us to create a smooth, clean cut every single time over a wide variety of different woods. It performed slightly better on soft woods than hardwoods, but with a little extra patience, the end result was always the same.
We could get about 45 minutes of continuous use out of a full charge of this battery. With that being said, the amount of power that we received over the last 5-10 minutes was much lower than the amount of power when first getting started. If cutting continuously, we’d recommend using this saw for about 30 minutes before sending the battery for a new charge to avoid consistency issues. This saw is a left-handed design option, so your cuts will require you to support the full weight of the saw as you push it through your working materials. This Black and Decker model can be great for individuals who are capable of using a left-handed design and don’t have too much woodworking to do, but it works best for people who have limited projects and want something portable. For this reason, it is one of our recommended projects.
You have three options when looking at this model. You can purchase the saw on its own, have it come with a rip fence option, or have it come with the saw blade. If you choose the former, then be aware that this tool takes the standard 7.25-inch blades. It features a 15-amp motor to provide consistent cutting power. This allows it to produce a no-load speed of up to 5,200 RPM. We really liked the design of this particular saw when it comes to making bevel cuts. The lower guard has been designed to work with the integrated dust blower so that you always have a clear sight line while performing a cut. Most Dewalt products are corded, so remember this when deciding whether or not this circular saw will work for your woodworking lifestyle.
The base plate on this SKIL model is made from steel, although the thickness of the base plate might be a little questionable. Normally stamped steel base plates tend to be quite thick, but this one felt suspiciously light, indicating SKIL either cut back on materials or mixed steel with more metals like magnesium or aluminum. We didn’t have any cutting issues with this saw that involved the performance of the base plate and it remained in excellent condition throughout our time with this particular saw. We found that if we relied on the laser guide alone and didn’t take the curf into account, however, the actual cut was nearly a full quarter-inch off from what we wanted.
The best reason to purchase this particular unit from Bosch might be because of its adjustable bevel and depth levers. This allows you to take advantage of multiple cut angles for your woodworking needs, allowing for more detailed work. The adjustments only take a few seconds to complete as well, so you’re not stuck facing a lot of down time with this tool in your collection. You have a total bevel capacity of 56 degrees and positive detents of 22.5 and 46 degrees. In general, a Bosch circular saw tends to be corded, but many others are also cordless, so it’s going to depend on which one you’re comfortable with.
The 14-amp motor on this unit makes it stand out. So does the reduced weight of the saw, which helps prevent a lot of the arm fatigue that you can find with this tool. After all, no one wants their arm or wrist to get tired while they’re trying to operate a powerful, sharp metal saw while cutting. The dust blower works pretty effectively with this tool, especially when you’re working on a bevel cut. This means you have to worry less about getting sawdust in your eyes. You have a 51-degree bevel with positive stop at 45-degrees, which increases its overall cutting capacity. We found this model to be powerful, consistent, and it didn’t bind even on a long, thick cut.
This model takes advantage of magnesium components to create a lightweight option for those who have daily woodworking tasks to complete. As we’ve said again and again, the magnesium is also extremely durable, so it is unlikely to bend, crack, or break like other metals when dropped or working with heavy wood. We appreciated the double LED design for better light at the cut line, though it isn’t as effective as a laser guide. It does still work well, though. The large cutting capacity of 2.5 inches at 90 degrees was consistent and there are positive stops at 22.5 degrees and 45 degrees with the bevel capacity of this saw. Grab it and you’ll want to get to work right away.
This ultra-compact unit is a dream come true for woodworkers. Equipped with a 4-amp motor, you’ll be able to make quick work of the smaller cuts that you need to make. The 4-inch blade won’t let you tackle thick wood pieces, of course, but this saw does have the power to cut through tile, plastics, and sheet metal with ease. It’s great for people who are just becoming interested in woodworking and would like to experiment a little while still having safety and a device that is easy to use. The slim-grip handle gives you a solid grip at all times with this saw and there is a laser guide built into the saw so you always know the right place to cut. The metal guard also makes plunge cuts simple and easy to do.
Although this 4.5-inch compact circular saw with a small blade is more of a hobbyist tool than a true contractor’s item, you can still easily cut through a 2×4 in a single pass with this tool. You have more maneuverability and less strain, giving you consistent speeds for clean cuts time and time again. It also features a left-handed blade design so you have better cut line visibility, though this also means you may need to support more of the saw’s actual weight. The depth gauge lever was easy to set and our cuts were consistent without chipping out, so we highly recommend this handy tool. As a side note, right-handed individuals might struggle a little with trying to use the left-handed blade design, so see if you can find an opportunity to hold one of these models before deciding whether or not you’re comfortable with it.
If you want a saw that is durable and can withstand whatever woodworking chores you might throw its way, then this is the saw you’re going to want to have. The extra wide hook accepts materials up to 2.5 inches wide and you have a better cord jerk protection with this saw as well. The cast magnesium footplate gives you the solid cutting platform that you need without compromising on the handling. Since the plate is magnesium, you can also be assured of having little damages and a footplate that is unlikely to crack or bend under pressure. It has a 53-degree bevel capacity with the common detents at 22.5 degrees and 45 degrees. It will cut whatever wood you put in front of it and be hungry for more
This buying guide can help you find the circular saw with the right features and durability to make short work of your woodworking chores. We’ve done the work for you in identifying reliable, efficient, and effective circular saws, so now all you have to do is consider your options, what you would like, and what you think would work best considering your needs. Once you’ve chosen a model, consider going to a local hardware store to see if you can test it out before purchase. Then, pick up yours today and you’ll find that making a straight, clean cut has never been easier than it can be with the right saw.
As a final note, remember to always wear the proper equipment when operating a circular saw no matter how experienced you are. This means having gloves, eye protection, and a nose and mouth guard so you don’t inhale the dust.
Now get out there and cut that wood!