How to Choose a Circular Saw
The top performers in our review are the Makita Magnesium 5007MGA, the Gold Award winner; DeWALT DWE575SB, the Silver Award winner; and, SKILSAW 5780-01 the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 systems.
In the pantheon of power-tools an electric saw is pretty high on the list of must haves for do it yourselfers and carpenters alike. Whether you want to build furniture or frame a house, you'll need a reliable circular saw with power and portability. That's why we've narrowed down the best corded-circular saws available.
A corded-circular saw is an electrically powered blade with powerful cutting teeth attached to an adjustable lever, which allows you to cut at various depths and angles. Circular saws are helpful for quick woodwork or DIY housework. Using the saw, you would set it up on a wooden board or sheet using sawhorses or a worktable and line up your blade with the area you want to cut.
This kind of tool would be an excellent addition for craftsmen who are looking for a portable and easy to use option. With a corded-circular saw you can connect to a power source, be it on the job or at home, and make quick work of projects. Circular saws are very fast to set up and easy to take with you, as opposed to a chop saw or other types that are too bulky to take on the go.
If you want to build furniture, remodel parts of your home or frame out an addition, a powerful circular saw will give you the versatility to meet your project goals. If you are looking into adding a circular saw to your power-tool collection you might also take a look at table saws, laser line levels and cordless drills for additional tools to help complete your DIY projects.
Circular Saws: Consider a Different Type
All circular saws share a few common elements, such as portability, basic design foundations and relatively high power. However, there are a few different types of circular saws that lend themselves to specific projects better than other circular saw types. The most common type of circular saw is the sidewinder circular saw, also known as an inline saw. The blade of these saws attaches directly to the motor's driveshaft, allowing for a lightweight, compact design. All of the circular saws we reviewed are sidewinder saws because of their power, design and versatility. However, there are other saw types to consider for different situations.
Worm drive saws are some of the best portable cutting tools on the market because of their raw power. As opposed to sidewinder saws, this saw type utilizes a worm gear to translate the power from the motor to the blade more effectively. These saws can carve through even the most difficult material without issue, and even if you do meet resistance while cutting, the handle rests behind the tool so you can better resist kickback. However, the tool sacrifices maneuverability for its raw power making it slightly more awkward to handle, especially for smaller cuts.
Cordless circular saws are the epitome of portable cutting tools. This type of circular saw is less powerful than its corded counterparts, but the fact that you don't have to drag an extension cord with you is very convenient. If you're working in an area where power isn't easily accessible, cordless tools become that much more useful.
Finally, mini-circular saws, also known as trim saws, are ideal for finish work or wall paneling because you can make quick cuts on the spot. This saw type allows you to rip through a variety of lighter materials ranging from low profile lumber to fence boards. To learn more about trim saws, check out our article on the Rockwell Versacut Mini-Circular saw. You can also learn more by checking out our articles on circular saws.
Circular Saws: How We Tested, What We Found
During our research, we looked into a variety of circular saws, and different types of saws. We noticed that what people are primarily interested in are corded-circular saws. Using this data, we narrowed our results down to the 10 best models on the market based on their power, cut capacity, design, safety and help features.
While researching, we identified the features and categories that would be most helpful to users and compared the circular saws. We used the products hands-on to test manufacturer's information, verifying accuracy, and tested the tools for subjective features you would only understand from using the tools. This allowed us to independently rank the products based on their features and handling. We tested each of the saws using 2x4 wood boards and plywood, which are the most common wood types for the everyday consumer. We tested each of the features, cutting depths and angles as well as safety features. For each product we contacted the manufacturer as both a reviewer and an independent consumer to fully inspect the tools capabilities and ensure there is no difference in the tools services and support based on who the manufacturer speaks to.
After assessing our products and gathering testing data we use scientific formulas to weigh each of the features based on importance to you, the consumer, and determine the best circular saws. Our rankings are more than subjective; they use numbers and real data to determine which products deserve the top spots.
What Should You Look For In a Circular Saw
When you first think of a power tool you may think that their power or cutting ability would be the most important decision makers, but in the long run, when comparing the absolute best saws on the market the cutting features and power are all reasonably similar. That's why design is our highest ranked category. Design features separate which saws can do an ok job and which can do a great job. This is important when you take into consideration that each of these saws will cut through wood, they will be accurate, and they will be powerful. Therefore, the differentiators are in the design. Some important aspects to consider are dust chutes and blowers. When we tested we realized that some tools had both a chute, like an opening on the back of the saw, that whipped saw dust toward the back and away from the blade, making it easier to see and cut. Other saws featured a dust blower, which pushes sawdust away from the blade and clears visibility in order to maintain an accurate line. Some saws featured both, and this was particularly helpful when seeing the blade and line are crucial for keeping all your fingers.
Another feature we noticed was helpful were carrying cases. These saws are lightweight, all under 12 pounds, but still, they are clunky and not the sort of thing you want to haul around without something to contain all the pieces. Saws that included a carrying case were easier to transport and store. On a job site or in your backyard this feature will come in handy and ensure you don't misplace any of the included pieces, extra blades or twist up the cord. Lastly, some tools included a wrench to help remove the blade, and even offered on tool storage, meaning that the wrench fits neatly into the saw so you won't lose it. This feature was very helpful when assembling the tools, tightening the blade, and taking it apart for cleaning.
The intention behind purchasing a circular saw is to cut something, so cutting features, while similar across the board are important to note and especially to verify. While testing we explored each tools' ability to cut both 2x4 boards and plywood sheets. Well, they all can cut, but some can cut better than others. Depending on the tools' bevel capacity, it can cut at a sharper angle and offer more versatility. Some of the saws also offer bevel stops, which are designed for increased accuracy. You can use the bevel stops to lock in a degree, a common one being 45 degrees, and guarantee the saw cuts at a 45-degree angle. You can also compare the depth of cuts at popular angles like 90 and 45 degrees; this helps if you know that what you are planning to cut is deeper than 2 inches or any standard wood depth.
When it comes to power features, the important thing to remember is that all the tools we reviewed are powerful, extremely so. They have an average of 5600 RPMs. The numbers are similar across the board whether they are RPM or maximum watts out, the amount of wattage the tool is using to power the motor. The main discovery on power features was an intangible feel for the tool. How did it handle while testing? Was it slow? Did it stick or jam? These are the sort of subjective offerings that reading about a tool's RPM won't tell you. Each of our reviews will break down the specifics on how the tools handled during each phase of testing and which displayed more power and efficiency.
In an effort to retain all our fingers we took safety precautions including work gloves, protective glasses and ear covers. However, the tools have additional safety features, which would certainly be an important factor when purchasing a circular saw. Professionals and experts may feel comfortable using saws this powerful without additional safety features, but DIY users and beginners will likely enjoy features like electric brakes and trigger locks. Each saw is equipped with a blade guard, covering the blade when the saw is not running. Additional features included trigger locks, much like the safety on a handgun. When the trigger lock is on, the blade will not spin even if you pull the trigger. You have to physically set the lock to off before you can power up the saw. Additionally, the electric brake feature rapidly slows down the blade so that you don’t have a blade spinning at 5,000 plus RPM once you are done cutting. Also, some saws have indicator lights which tell you that the saw is plugged in. You might think that is a frivolous feature, but considering how often you might come back to make another cut or adjust an angle and forget that your saw is plugged in, it is a helpful feature that your hands and local paramedics will appreciate.
Help & Support
All the products that made our list come from reputable manufacturers with established customer service. Each tool has a warranty. These saws aren't overly expensive, but a warranty is still nice when you have a power tool with multiple parts. Many products feature online manuals and Frequently Asked Questions to help you narrow down your decision and maintain the life of your tool after purchase.
Circular Saws: Our Verdict and Recommendation
After testing a variety of circular saws, we determined that the Makita Magnesium 5007MGA, the DeWALT DWE575SB and the Skil 5780-01 are the best circular saws currently on the market. These tools feature excellent designs, which we considered highly valuable during our testing process. These three tools also offered excellent cutting capacities, making them highly versatile and easy to handle. Finally, these tools offer a high level of power that allows you to cut through even the most difficult of materials.