What is a Circular Saw?
A circular saw is an electric saw with circular blades that can cut through wood and other materials quickly and accurately.
Circular saws were first invented in the late 18th century but it has been in use and popularized in the United States since the middle of 19th century.
These type of power tool can come in many forms based on their specifications but the two most popular types are corded and cordless circular saws.
Circular saws have a handle with the on/off switch located directly on it, guards to protect the user from the fast-spinning blades, and an arbor nut to hold the blades in. Circular saws also have bevel with depth/height adjustments.
The impressiveness of circular saws is displayed mostly with versatility and portability. A circular saw can make rip cuts and cross cuts on wood. Moreover, with suitable adjustments, you can make plunge cuts without dividing the wood into two pieces.
The circular saw is virtually capable of cutting any type of wood including solid hardwood stock, dimensional construction lumber, dense pressure treated lumber, hardboard, small pieces of millwork and trim, and plywood. When the right blade is used, it can also cut stones, glass tiles, bricks, cement, and metals.
The circular saw is also a very portable tool which you can carry easily while working rather than carrying the wood to the power tool. This feature tends to be stretched even further when it comes to battery powered cordless saws, as a woodworker, you can actually make cuts anywhere.
For example, you are building a treehouse, would you come down anytime you need to make all cuts? Not at all, the portability of circular saws does come in handy in these situations.
Different Types of Circular Saws - Based On Power Source
Corded Circular Saw
Corded saws or circular saws with cords do not depend on batteries to function making them the best when it comes to tough materials and longer sawing jobs. These type of circular saws comes in different sizes with the most common size being 7-¼ inches.
They are mainly used to cut masonry, steel, and other challenging materials. Due to its limitation when it comes to the length of the cord, when a corded saw is used outside, one can get an extension cord to replace the distance.
Cordless Circular Saw
Cordless saws are arguably the most convenient because they rely on battery and they do not need a power source to function. Cordless circular saws provide lots of benefits because they can be used at hard-to-reach-places while making complex cuts which cannot be done with a corded circular saw. Most corded circular saws are smaller than the corded saws which make it possible to work in confined areas.
They are used best for wood and wood products because of the limited charge their batteries carry. Materials like stones, metals, and glass tiles are hard and therefore require more power to cut and at the same time wear the battery power down.
Different Types of Circular Saws - Based On Place of Motor Mount
Worm Drive Circular Saw
They are more expensive and heavier than your average circular saw but can be used to do more. It is the most popular choice in the West and the Midwest. The worm drive motor is mounted towards the back of the power tool, making it look longer and more narrow when compared to a sidewinder saw.
The tool’s cutting power is transferred to the machine’s blade by two gears both set at 90-degree angle. This setting does not alter or hinder the blade’s speed but at the same time, it provides more torque when in use. The length of these types of circular saw makes it very easy to make plunge-cuts.
Sidewinder Circular Saw
Also known as an in-line saw, the sidewinder is one of the most popular saws in use today because it is used both in DIY kitchen remodeling and professional work-site. The motor is mounted on the side of the power tool. Due to this, the motors is not set on the cut off portion but on a solid workpiece. Compared to other types of circular saws, the sidewinder weighs lighter and also the perfect power tool for overhead cuts.
Sidewinder is mostly available as cordless models and most of the time doesn’t require to be greased every time. So when it comes to maintenance, weight, speed, and convenience, the sidewinder circular saw is the best option to choose.
Hypoid Circular Saw
With its appearance almost similar to that of a worm drive saw, it is mistaken from time to time. Although they look alike, the gearbox and transmission are totally different. They use hypoid gear from which its name is derived. Hypoid gear improves blade contract and at the same time improving its efficiency and power, while decreasing motor size and noise. Hypoid saws are perfect for torque demanding operations and they are also quiet when in use while lasting for a very long time.
Hypoid saws come with a sealed motor system so adding oil to the machine is not possible. They are heavier than the worm drive saws and perfect for cutting long pieces of damp or wet wood.
Best Circular Saws
Here is a selection of the best circular saws you can get for your project. Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a professional woodworker, these are the best-selected tools you should consider to get.
BEST CORDED CIRCULAR SAW
DEWALT DWE575SB 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight Circular Saw with Electric Brake
Produced by Dewalt, a worldwide manufacturer of power tools and accessories, this circular saw, according to us, is one of the best-corded circular saws available in the market today. This saw comes with a cut-depth adjustment and can be used with either hand (right or left). The plate base is made of aluminium which can easily last up to 20 years of use.
- This saw has a patented 15-amp motor which can make the blade spin as fast as 5,100-RPM.
- This saw is lightweight weighing only 8.8 lb
- Delivers 1,950 Max Watts Out power to perform cuts on most hard materials.
- It comes with a 7¼-inch carbide tipped blade.
- Bevel capacity of about 57 degrees for varieties of cuts, with 45 degree and 22.5 degree detents.
- It can make cuts of 2 9/16-inch depths.
- Electric brake to control the speed efficiently.
What we liked
- High power output to perform cuts on variety of surfaces.
- It is just 7.2-inches in width and very convenient to use.
- Weighing at 8.8 pounds it is one of the lightest circular saws in it’s class.
- The dust blower in the front keeps the line of cut free.
What we didn’t like
- This saw has no built-in light to illuminate if you are cutting in low-light locations.
- The blades wobble during operation and can be a deterrent for some users.
BEST CORDLESS CIRCULAR SAW
DeWALT DCS391B 20-Volt MAX Li-Ion Circular saw
Produced by an American worldwide manufacturer of hand tools and power tools, this model of DeWALT circular saw is the best cordless circular saw on our list. Although this is a cordless circular saw, you have to buy the battery and the charger separately. This power tool is known to be lightweight with or without the batteries and it has always been capable to get the job done.
- This cordless saw has a powerful 460 MWO delivering speeds of up to 5,150 RPM.
- The handle comes with a rubber overmolded comfort grip with aids accuracy and stability.
- It comes with a 6.5-inch carbide-tipped blade for sawing 2 times material at 45 and 90 degrees and extra cuts per charge.
- Battery and charger are sold separately.
- This saw has about 0 – 50-degree bevel capacity for a multitude of applications.
What we liked
- It is lightweight and easy to use.
- It uses a powerful carbide-tipped blade which is durable.
- This circular saw has built-in features.
What we didn’t like
- Being a cordless version, the power output is limited.
Cordless circular saws generally come in 2 size variants – the normal sized and compact sized. The compact sized one is generally used for smaller jobs and are portable. We have written a review of the best compact and mini circular saws of 2019 which you can have a look if you are looking for a circular saw for the lighter jobs.
BEST WORMDRIVE CIRCULAR SAW
SKILSAW SPT77WML-01 15-Amp 7-¼-inch Lightweight Wormdrive Circular Saw
Manufactured and designed with the woodworker in mind, the SPT77WML-01 model is considered the lightest saw compared to its class and peers. This amazing power tool produces torque and power when driving through difficult cuts. Its 15-Amp can produce no-load speeds of over 4950 RPM.
- When using this saw, Cut-Ready depth helps with quick accurate depth measurements.
- 15-Amp of power give users speeds of up to 4950 RPM to rip through materials in no time
- This model comes with a 53-degree bevel which allows users to make a variety of cuts.
- The lower guard provides smooth operations when it comes to small cut off pieces.
- Built mostly with the lightest magnesium, it cuts down fatigue almost twice as normal models.
What we liked
- It is one of the lightest wormdrive circular saws in the market.
- It is very durable.
- This model has a very wide range of adjustments on wrench which makes it very easy to use.
- This model was designed to last for a longer period of time.
What we didn’t like
- It has no safety trigger.
- It is a bit expensive when compared with other wormdrive circular saws.
BEST SIDEWINDER CIRCULAR SAW
Skil 5280-01 15-Amp 7-¼-inch Circular Saw with single beam laser guide
This power tool ranks as the best sidewinder circular saw in our list. With a powerful 15-Amp motor, this circular saw can produce speeds of up to 5,300 RPM. This is a corded model and it can produce enough power to cut most of your materials. Maintenance on this saw just involves cleaning its body parts and the blade bit does not extend to oiling its parts.
- It has a bevel degree of 51 which can make a variety of cuts.
- It is very light and easy to use.
- This model comes with a dust blower which blows out the sawdust during sawing to make the line of site visible.
- This model comes with a 7-¼-inch cathode tipped-blade which can also be changed easily.
- This sidewinder saw has a powerful 15-Amp motor that can deliver speeds of up to 5,300 RPM.
What we liked
- It is very lightweight.
- It is very easy to use.
- It delivers enough power for basic and complicated functions.
- It is versatile.
What we didn’t like
- It does not come with an auto-on switch
BEST HYPOID CIRCULAR SAW
Makita 5477NB 15-Amp 7-¼” Hypoid Saw
Built by Makita, a worldwide provider of power tools, the 7-¼” hypoid saw is a combination of the company’s efficient hypoid gear system and a powerful 15-Amp motor to give more power, superior cuts, and better performance. This model was made specifically for framing roofs, walls, floors, etc. Using a range of dimensional lumber and engineered lumber like PSL, LVL, plywood, and OSB.
- Sealed gear housing for less maintenance.
- Comes with a carbide-tipped blade and wrench.
- This model boasts of a high-quality hypoid gear which can last for a long period of time.
- Powerful 15-Amp motor with a top speed of up to 4,500 RPM.
- 0-51.5 degree of bevel capacity with positive stops at 45 degrees. 51.5 degree for rafter cut-outs and truss.
What we liked
- It is affordable.
- It is made up of high-quality materials and parts.
- It has a very nice design and can be easily operated.
What we didn’t like
- It feels somewhat heavy.
- When in use, the saw tends to vibrate.
Why Should Every Craftsman Have A Circular Saw?
The reason is actually a simple one. Every craftsman, DIY enthusiast or anyone who handles building or construction projects at homes always need to cut things, be it wood, metal, stones or other materials needed to be cut. This is an inescapable necessity because all materials arrive in a large quantity and at the same time they are not ideal to fit into the size or shape that is needed.
If one builds home furniture and equipment, one has to be conversant with precision especially if they build small furniture like cabinets, drawers, etc. Unless one really wants to suffer or to be slow, they then make use of a handsaw but if they want to be fast, efficient and precise, they have to make use of a fast cutting circular saw.
The size, portability and its speed is not the only thing to consider but also the type of cuts it makes. The circular saw can make almost any cut if one is highly professional with it. Amongst these cuts are; across the wood grain (cross-cuts), with the grain (rip-cuts) as well as plunge cuts too. The ability to create these three different types of cuttings makes the circular saw the most versatile saw in town.
A normal circular saw does not require a lot of space. It can be carried around whether you are working at a high level or you are fixing part of the roof. This type of saw generally handles any type of task being large or small, and at the same time, it does not require professionalism or lots of experience. Even if you do not have a miter saw or jigsaw amongst your tool collection, a standard circular saw should always be a must-have.
What Are The Parts Of A Circular Saw?
To better understand the circular saw, it is best to know about the various parts of this machine and its various functions.
The blade is the part of the circular saw which is responsible for cutting materials. The blade can be changed out when you remove the bolt clamp and the blade needs to be a specific size for the saw’s body.
This part of the circular saw is used for maneuvering when cutting materials. The high-end models boast of ergonomic designs that makes gripping comfortable while cutting materials.
If a circular saw is a corded one, the cord is usually located at the back and most time made to be easily detachable due to storage purposes.
This feature is used to secure the circular saw’s blade to its body.
Located in the middle of the saw, the plate surrounds the saw at each side. The plate improves stability because it is the part of the circular saw that allows the user to set the power tool unto the object while cutting it. The plate can also act as a guide for the machine when moving along the object.
This is located at the front side of the circular saw. When positioning the bevel angle when cutting, this part of the circular saw is responsible for that. The bevel adjustment also allows the user to create angles on the object very easily. This always has a knob attached to it for adjustment.
The blade cover is designed to fit over the blade both on top and bottom with a small opening in front of the blade where sawing takes place. Its function is self-explanatory as the blade cover provides protection to the user from accidental contact with the blade. The blade cover also prevents the blades of the saw from coming in contact with other materials. Another function associated with the blade cover of the circular saw is its ability to trap and prevent sawdust, material particles or debris from flying all over the place. Think of the blade cover as a mudflap that would prevent mud from splashing all over from the tires of a bicycle.
Circular Saw Blade Types
Circular saw blades are made to specifically cut one or more materials. There are different saw blade types available in the market today. Below are types of saw blades.
Wood Cutting Blades
Ripping Saw Blade – Just as the name implies, this blade is designed specifically to get clean and accurate cuts when cutting the same direction as the wood grain or when ripping wood.
Crosscut Saw Blades – Designed to achieve a smooth clean and accurate cuts, these type of blades are used when cutting perpendicular to the wood grain. These type of blades use kerfed teeth meaning that alternate from leaning left to leaning right.
Combination Saw Blades – Being the most common type of blades, this blade is designed to make both cross-cuts and rip-cuts. This combination allows users to cut in both directions and they also come with a variety of tooth counts.
Metal Cutting Blades – These types of blades are toothless with heat expansion slots cut into the blade should in case heat is created when cutting metal. They can be used to cut a variety of metals including copper tubing, aluminum sliding, aluminum flashing and other ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
Masonry Blades – Designed for cutting through hard materials such as natural stones and concrete, masonry blades are made out of fiberglass-reinforced silicone carbide abrasive also found in the same material used to make sandpaper.
High-Speed Steel Blades – Harder than steel blades, this type of blade can stay sharp for a very extended period of time.
Carbide-Tipped Blades – Made with calcium, boron, silicon, titanium, cobalt or tungsten, this blades are extremely hard and can be used to cut other hard materials like plastic, plywood, aluminum, etc. with ease.
Tile-Cutters – This blade is specifically made to cut ceramic tiles. Most expensive tile-cutting blades have a diamond tip.
If you are looking to buy a blade for your circular saw then you might have a look at our reviews of the best circular saw blades of 2019.
What To Look For While Buying A Circular Saw?
As a DIY enthusiast, a professional woodworker or an upcoming creator, there are certain features you have to look into before you purchase a circular saw.
Just like lost power tools, circular saws come with different blade sizes. When getting the corded version, it is somewhat advisable to get the 7,¼ inches but when it comes to the cordless version, the option comes down to both 7,¼ and the 6,½. The choice when choosing a blade depends on your needs. For example, smaller blades make the power tool lighter and able to handle easily while the wider or bigger blades make angle cuts easier and more convenient.
High Cutting Power
Whichever company, model or type of circular saw you use, it has to function properly without bogging down. For DIY enthusiasts, a 15 amp circular saw is enough to cut even the hardest of woods.
Reliable Base Plate
The base plate is the part of the circular saw that breaks down easily. Although made of stainless steel, this does not stop it from bending and totally becoming useless. Magnesium and cast aluminum base plates are more durable than stainless steel but can crack easily if the saw is dropped accidentally. Fiber-reinforced plastic base plates are ribbed and thick and they might be the best option for you because they are the most durable.
Quality Blade Guard
When getting a circular saw, you should make sure the blades are snug-free. When trimming a small piece of material off, the blade guard can accidentally stop the saw which is quite annoying. Most professional woodworkers completely remove the blade guards but this is not advisable because once it is out of the equation, your safety becomes a concern. Therefore you have to pick a model with a blade guard that is capable of handling all depths and angles.
Smooth Bevel Adjustment
If you want to work on roofs or overall you are doing a framing work, you need to get a circular saw with smooth bevel adjustment. Most modern circular saws have bevel stops that can be used at any angle but you should also consider getting one that you can be able to set the bevel to any needed angle.
Good Connection between the Plate and the Blade
Any model of a circular saw you buy, the motor is always connected with the base plate. This allows you to adjust the bevel angle and the depth. The old model of circular saws usually come with a pivot point placed in line with the blade guard which will deny you the bevel you want. Newer models don’t have a pivot point in line which makes the handle more stable.
These feature in circular saw stops the motor within seconds of hitting the switch while saws without electric brakes may require up to 15 seconds to come to a halt. Electric brakes function by quickly reversing the flow electric current in the saw to make the power tool stop. Why you need to choose a saw with electric brakes is because you want to save your hands or limbs before any damage is done and also to put the machine to an abrupt stop when a mistake is made.
This feature is a button that you can press and hold to keep the blades of the circular saw still. When getting a circular saw, one should consider a model that has this feature, this makes changing the blade easier.
Safety Tips While Using A Circular Saw
Circular saws are used for cutting materials which makes them very dangerous and any form of danger this power tool poses needs to be avoided as much as possible. If you want to avoid mishaps, there are a number of tips you should follow to make its usage a safe one.
- Always wear a safety goggle or a face shield during usage.
- Use hearing protection if it becomes too noisy.
- Wear a good dust mask if you are constantly exposed to harmful debris.
- Always check if the blade is sharp enough before use.
- Ensure the retracting lower blade guard works freely.
- Check the circular saw for proper blade rotation.
- Keep the tool’s cords away from the cutting areas
- Most circular saws are made and designed for right-handed use. So left-handed users should be very cautious.
- Keep the retracting lower blade guard and the upper blade guard free of any sawdust so that obstruction does not take place.
- Always make sure that the lower retracting blade guard has returned to its position. Before any cut is made.
- Completely cut off all power when changing the blades.
- Allow the saw to reach its full capacity and momentum before making any cuts.
- Use two hands while sawing to ensure stronger grip with on the front knob handle and one on the trigger.
- Keep the motor clean of any debris.
- Fully hold in place the material being cut to avoid movement and error while sawing.
- Always use the specified blades for each material.
Circular Saw Maintenance & Cleaning
Compared to most power tools, circular saws are one of the machines that are very easy to maintain and care for. The maintenance and cleaning mostly occur with its blade.
When it comes to the body of the circular saw, it is very important to wipe it clean after every use. You have to be careful that the debris or sawdust is not accumulated in any part of the circular saw. You can use air cans used on keyboards to remove accumulated debris.
The blades of the circular saw should be cleaned regularly. If you want to do this, you should first stop the machine if it’s running, dismantle the blade then wipe it clean with a damp rag or a paper towel.
In a situation where there is an excessive buildup, you can use a citrus based degreaser to wipe the blade while being mindful of the saw’s teeth, allow it to dry then mount it back on the machine.