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Best circular saws 2020: Corded circular saws and cheap options

Best circular saws 2020: Corded circular saws and cheap options
(Image credit: Getty)

The best circular saws are a key item in almost every tool kit, thanks to their ability to make fast, accurate cuts in lots of different materials, but they come with a range of features and prices vary a lot too, so we’ve rounded up the best circular saws on the market right now to save you hours of researching. 

When it comes to choosing the best circular saw for you, it’s important to keep in mind the type of work you expect to use it for as well as how often you expect to use it. The best cheap circular saws tend to have fewer features that would be helpful on long or complicated jobs, but are more than sufficient for handling a range of simple DIY jobs around the home. But if you’re expecting to handle tough materials or your circular saw is going to be put to regular use, then splashing out on one of the best circular saws with more power and durability will prove much better value in the long run.

Next, you’ll need to choose whether you want a cordless circular saw or a battery-powered saw. The best corded circular saws offer great power for a lower price than the comparable battery-powered counterparts. Until recently, they were also far more suitable for sustained, heavy-duty cutting too as you didn’t have to worry about battery-charge levels, but the technology is catching up. Cordless circular saws are still very useful if you need to cut in areas where no outlet is available, but corded circular saw models tend to be that bit more useful thanks to their ability to offer more sustained power.

The best circular saws tend to be rated in amps, with 15 amps being fairly standard. While you will find lower amp models available and usually at a lower price point, the loss in performance isn’t really worth the savings, especially if you’re investing in a tool you expect to be using for years to come.

If you’re looking for the best circular saw for plywood, it’s worth noting that a huge amount of a circular saw’s performance comes down to the blade itself, and most come with a blade designed for making rough cuts in construction lumber. For smoother cuts in plywood, upgrade to an 80-tooth blade. The small teeth reduce chip-out and produce a much smoother edge.

For other DIY essentials, head to our guide to the best cordless drills.


1. Dewalt DWE575 Circular Saw: Best circular saw overall 

Dewalt DWE575 Circular Saw review

(Image credit: Lowe's)

Dewalt DWE575

The Dewalt DWE575 is an easy-to-use circular saw with an ergonomic design and great features.

Weight: 8.8 pounds | Dimensions: 16.25 x 10.13 x 8.94 inches | Speed: 5200 RPM

 Light 
 Good bevel options 
 Strong power cord 
 No variable speed control 

The Dewalt DWE575 is a versatile circular saw and is a nice upgrade to Dewalt’s previous popular circular saw models. With the Dewalt DWE575, you get an increase in the bevel degree capacity and the design is more refined - all within a reasonable price range too! While it might be double the price of the real budget models, it offers enough features to rival pricier models for a place in a professional tool kit.

With a powerful 15 amp motor, durable power cord, and ergonomic design, a lot of thought has been put into making the Dewalt DWE575 circular saw suitable for long and heavy duty jobs. At a weight of just 8.8 pounds and with features like an integrated dust blower, it’s also a real pleasure to use. It also has a decent three-year warranty that will help ensure you get the most out of this saw.


2. Makita 5007MG Circular Saw: Best circular saw for professionals 

Makita 5007MG Circular Saw review

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Makita 5007MG

The Makita 5007MG circular saw has a wide range of professional features and a refined finish.

Weight: 10.6 pounds | Dimensions: 12.5 x 10.375 x 9.5 inches | Speed: 5800 RPM

Magnesium components 
Large cutting and beveling capacity 
Powerful motor
Loud 

The Makita 5007MG may be the priciest model on the list, but it also has the most expansive list of professional features too. From highly durable magnesium components to a powerful 15 amp industrial motor, this circular saw creates clean cuts while also being lightweight enough to prevent aching wrists on long jobs. It has features you’ll often find on other saws, like a built-in dust blower, as well as nice-to-haves like built-in LED lights to illuminate the line of cut.

The Makita 5007MG circular saw also comes with one of the best blades, a 7 1/4 inch Premium Ultra-Coated Framing Blade complete with carbide tips, so it can power through even nail-embedded wood with ease. Between the high-end blade and powerful motor, the Makita 5007MG can easily tackle a wide range of work, whether it involves dense structural panels or framing walls, floors, and roofs in a range of dimensional lumber.  


3. Milwaukee 6390-21 Circular Saw: Best circular saw warranty 

Milwaukee 6390-21 Circular Saw review

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Milwaukee 6390-21

The Milwaukee 6390-21 is a professional level saw with a good range of features and an impressive five-year warranty.

Weight: 10.4 pounds | Dimensions: 19.6 x 17 x 10.7 inches | Speed: 5800 RPM

 Five-year manufacturer warranty 
 Long cord 
 Lock-on switch for extended use 
 No electric brake 

The Milwaukee 6390-21 was a rival for the best professional circular saw category, but it was just pipped to the post thanks to the extra level of refinement on the Makita 5007MG. However, the Milwaukee 6390-21 is still a great option for professionals and serious DIY enthusiasts alike, plus it has an impressive five-year warranty so Milwaukee expects this saw to be with you for a while.

This circular saw has a great power-to-weight ratio and the cushion topped handle has eight different position options, enabling adjustment for any job while maintaining both comfort and control. It’s a reliable model that comes with a tough carry case and 9-foot power cord, so Milwaukee has definitely put a lot of consideration into professional job needs. One thing that lets this circular saw down, however, is that it’s missing bevel stops for quick adjustment, but it’s still a great saw that’s easy to use.


4. SKIL 5280-01 Circular Saw: Best cheap circular saw 

SKIL 5280-01 Circular Saw review

(Image credit: Amazon)

SKIL 5280-01

The SKIL 5280-01 is a great value, lightweight model that’s perfect for DIY jobs.

Weight: 8.7 pounds | Dimensions: 14.25 x 9.75 x 8.5 inches | Speed: 5300 RPM

Laser guide shows you exactly where to cut
Excellent dust removal
Spindle lock and included hex wrench, making changing blades easy
No rip fence
No electric brake

The SKIL 5280-01 is a budget saw that’s lightweight and easy-to-use, with more features than you might expect in a $60 circular saw. It does sit towards the lower-end of the scale power-wise so it’s not the best choice for heavy lumber work, but it can reliably work through DIY jobs. It has some nice extras, like a laser guide and advanced dust blower, for safer and more accurate cutting and the anti-snag lower guard is a nice touch too.

The one-year warranty is pretty limited, many other saws on this list have three or even five-year warranties, however, they also cost more. The SKIL 5280-01 is also missing an electric brake, so the saw won’t stop immediately when you turn it off, but it does have a safety lock. You need both hands to turn it on, but it’s handy for preventing the saw from starting accidentally.


5. Black & Decker BDECS300C Circular Saw: Best lightweight circular saw 

Black & Decker BDECS300C Circular Saw review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Black & Decker BDECS300C

At half the price of some professional models, the Black & Decker BDECS300C circular saw still offers good cutting power.

Weight: 7 pounds | Dimensions: 14 x 9.9 x 8 inches | Speed: 5300 RPM

 Laser guide 
 Lightweight 
 Spindle lock for quick blade replacement 
 No trigger guard 

A good all-rounder that won’t break the bank, the Black & Decker BDECS300C Circular Saw is also one of the lightest on the market, weighing in at just 7 pounds. This is particularly useful if you suffer from sore joints or expect to be using the saw on long jobs. It doesn’t pack the power of some of the more professional saws on this list, but at less than half the price of those saws, a little loss of power and fewer features are to be expected.

The 13 amp motor offers enough power for most cutting applications, especially DIY jobs, and the laser guide is a useful feature for more precision cutting. A spindle lock allows for quick and easy blade changes too. This saw doesn’t come with a carry case and upgrading the blade will provide a better performance, but for DIY jobs this saw is more than adequate.


What to look for in a new circular saw

Design
It’s easy to think that sheer power makes the best circular saw. In fact, it’s the smaller things, such as dust chutes, cord length, spindle locks, rip fences, and electric brakes, that make all the difference. A saw can cut at 6,200 RPM, but if it doesn’t include any of these features, it’s going to be a pain to use in the long run. These features enhance the durability and versatility of the tool in a profound way. An accessory as simple as an included carrying case makes the saw more portable, and therefore more useful.

Cutting features
The most important test we conducted was for handling efficiency. Our reviewers used each saw for several hours and compared their experiences to come up with a percentage score. Additionally, they looked at how deeply you can cut at 90- and 45-degree angles. They verified the bevel capacity, the wider the better, so you can cut at whatever degree you want. Positive bevel stops are also an important consideration since they allow you to quickly adjust the shoe for common angles.

How thick can a circular saw cut?
Circular saw blades range from about 6 1/4 inches to 10 1/2 inches in diameter. Generally speaking, the most common blade diameter is 7 1/4 inches, which can cut wood up to 2 inches thick. You can also cut materials up to 2 inches thick with a 6 1/2-inch blade, but 7 1/4 inches is still the most popular.

Still, less common, larger blades may come in handy if you work on projects that involve larger wood beams. Mayer mentioned the thick slabs needed for building tables and benches specifically.

Beyond size, there are other factors to consider as you choose the right blade for the job. Look for masonry blades when you need to cut brick or cinder block and tile-cutting blades for your flooring project. Also, you may need blades made of specialized, durable materials for certain projects. There are high-speed steel blades, which stay sharper longer than normal blades, as well as carbide-tipped blades that stay sharp even longer. Diamond tips can improve the quality of cuts on tiles.  

Can I use a circular saw instead of a miter saw?

The answer is yes, but beginners beware. Novices are probably not the best candidate for a solely circular saw project. Circular saws are much more versatile than miter saws, but they also require a bit more skill, at least for certain jobs. Some of the other differences between these two saws are obvious but still worth pointing out, especially if you are buying your first saw of any kind. Here is a breakdown:

Miter Saws

Pros:

  • Great for getting accurate angles for things like baseboards and picture frames
  • Your hand is not usually as close to the blade
  • Limited to about 12-inch-wide cuts, at most, so any project with sheets of plywood is out of the question
  • The unit is stationary so the wood has to come to the saw; the saw can't go to the wood. Also, it takes up workshop space

Circular Saws

Pros:

  • Can handle longer cuts on large pieces of wood
  • Smaller and more portable for packing, which adds versatility
  • Less expensive
  • Angled cuts are more difficult with a circular saw
  • Reputation for leaving splintered edges, though a fine-toothed blade can minimize this