Best Circular Saws 2019 - Reviews, Comparisons and Cutting Tests
After more than 80 hours of research and hands-on testing, our team of reviewers chose the SKIL 5280-01 as the best overall circular saw. This saw has a powerful 15-amp motor that turns the blade at 5,300 rpm — fast enough to smoothly power through whatever wood you’re working with. Additionally, it has a bevel capacity of 45 degrees, allowing you to cut at the angle you need. Its 6-foot cord is somewhat short compared to other saws, but it is still adequate to reach from an outlet to your workbench.
Not only is the SKIL 5280-01, relatively inexpensive, but also delivers excellent power and great maneuverability. It’s lightweight, comes with a laser guide and has outstanding dust removal.
Black & Decker CS1015
Of all the circular saws we reviewed, the Black & Decker CS1015 is the least expensive. But it delivers a lot for that low price. It’s light, well-balanced and keeps dust out of your way effectively.
The best, most durable and reliable tool to take onto a construction site is the DeWALT DWE575SB. Our reviewers found it to be the lightest, most maneuverable circular saw in our comparison.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Price||Design||Cutting Features||Power Features||Warranty||Weight (pounds)||Height (inches)||Length (inches)||Width (inches)||Cord Length (feet)||Blade Side||Dust Removal Effectiveness||Included Carrying Case||Standard Blade and Arbor Size||Spindle Lock Button||On-Board Wrench Storage||Included Rip Fence||Electric Brake||Laser Guide||Handling Efficiency||90 Degree Depth (inches)||45 Degree Depth (inches)||Bevel Capacity (degrees)||Adjustable Cutting Depth||Positive Bevel Stops||Rpm||15 Amps||120 Volts||Warranty Period|
|SKIL 5280-01||View Deal||4.5/5||4.4||4.5||4.7||4.7||3.8||8.7||6.375||10.75||8.75||6||Right||Excellent||Soft||✓||✓||✓||✖||✖||✓||100||2 7/16||1 15/16||45||✓||✓||5300||✓||✓||1 Year|
|Black & Decker CS1015||View Deal||4/5||5||3.8||3.7||4.7||4.1||8.6||10||11.5||9.5||7||Right||Effective||Not Included||✓||✖||✓||✓||✖||✖||70||2 7/16||1 13/16||45||✓||✖||5500||✓||✓||2 Years|
|DeWALT DWE575SB||View Deal||4/5||2.1||4.7||4.7||4.6||4.4||8.8||9.5||11.75||9||9||Right||Excellent||Soft||✓||✓||✓||✖||✓||✖||100||2 9/16||1 29/32||57||✓||✓||5200||✓||✓||3 Years|
|Bosch CS5||View Deal||3.5/5||2.9||3.7||4.1||5||3.8||10||9.5||13||10||9||Left||Excellent||Not Included||✓||✓||✓||✖||✖||✖||80||2 7/16||1 7/8||56||✓||✖||6200||✓||✓||1 Year|
|Makita 5007MGA||View Deal||3.5/5||1.2||5||4.6||4.9||3.8||10.6||10||12.5||9.5||8.5||Right||Effective||Hard||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✖||90||2 1/2||1 3/4||56||✓||✓||5800||✓||✓||1 Year|
|Milwaukee 6390-21||View Deal||3.5/5||1.9||4.1||4.2||4.9||5||10.4||9.5||13.5||9.25||9||Right||Effective||Hard||✓||✓||✓||✖||✖||✖||100||2 7/16||1 13/16||50||✓||✖||5800||✓||✓||5 Years|
|Craftsman 3284||View Deal||3.5/5||5.4||2.8||4.5||4.8||3.8||12||11.75||10||7.5||6||Right||Ineffective||Not Included||✓||✓||✖||✓||✖||✓||90||2 3/8||1 13/16||56||✓||✓||5600||✓||✓||1 Year|
|RIDGID R3205||View Deal||3/5||2||3.6||4.1||4.9||4.4||11||9.75||12.75||9.25||10||Right||Effective||Not Included||✓||✓||✓||✖||✖||✖||70||2 3/8||1 3/4||56||✓||✓||5800||✓||✓||3 Years|
After our hands-on testing, we chose the SKIL 5280-01 as the best overall. It’s well designed, high-powered, maneuverable and very affordable.
You can use it with both standard and arbor-sized blades, meaning you can cut through 2-by-4s and raw tree wood. The saw blades turn at up to 5,300 rpms – not the fastest we encountered, but more than enough to get the job done.
It weighs only 8.7 pounds, making it one of the lightest circular saws we reviewed. It’s also well-balanced and easy to handle and maneuver. It features a spindle lock to hold the shaft in place while you change the blade, using a single hex wrench that you can store on the tool itself.
One of the best things about this circular saw is that it comes with a laser guide to mark the path to achieve a smooth and straight cut every time.
During our testing, this saw cleared away dust as good as or better than all the other tools we tested. But it’s missing both a rip fence and an electric break. Leaving out these two features aren’t a deal breaker, but the tool would be more versatile and safe if they were included.
For an inexpensive circular saw, the Black & Decker CS1015 is a good choice. You can pick one up for less than $50, and you get a lot, but not everything, for that price.
It turns the blade at a respectable 5,500 RPMs and can make bevel cuts up to 45 degrees. It’s a good saw for short, quick cuts. However, during our testing phase, we noted that the blade bogged down a bit when we tried to cut through larger materials.
This saw allows you to make bevel cuts up to 45 degrees. This is in line with the more expensive saws we tested, like the Porter-Cable PC15TCS. But you don’t get positive bevel stops, which would allow you to make the most common bevel cuts more quickly and accurately.
Convenient features of this circular saw include its on-board tool storage and rip fence. The former makes it easier for you to find the tool you need to change the blades and the latter enhances the straightness of your cuts.
Best for Professionals
If you’re a professional builder, contractor or craftsman, the DeWALT DWE575SB is a perfect workhorse that will work day after day without hassle. In our hands-on evaluation, this circular saw scored perfectly in our handling efficiency test.
It’s also one of the lightest tools we reviewed, at just 8.8 pounds. But don’t let its small stature fool you. This circular saw has a 15-amp motor that delivers 5,200 rpms. That is the slowest speed we encountered, but the saw still performed well in our cutting tests. It has a bevel capacity of 57 degrees, which means you can cut at nearly any angle you need. It is easy to maneuver and delivers high-quality results.
In our dust removal tests, this circular saw again scored perfectly. It blows dust and other debris out of the way of your cut line, so you don’t have to stop to clear your surface. Unfortunately, it’s missing some convenient features, like a rip fence and a laser guide.
Easiest to Handle
This Milwaukee saw is one of the most powerful, easiest to handle and best overall products we compared.
Milwaukee’s patented handle has an ergonomic grip you can adjust quickly, so you can get comfortable as soon as you hold it. The motor spins the 7 1/4-inch blade at 5,800 rpm. This fast rotation makes for quick cuts and easy work on a variety of materials.
Don’t expect to find a laser guide on this to help you make straight cuts. It also doesn’t have bevel stops, which would quickly adjust the tool to make bevel cuts. Although it is missing a couple features found in others, we highly recommend this Milwaukee saw.
Fastest Blade Speed
The Bosch CS5 makes great, fast and easy work out of hard materials with its 6,200 rpm blade speed.
This makes it the fastest blade in our comparison. It’s also the only saw we reviewed that features the blade on the left side. This can give you a clear path to see what you’re cutting, but it also can take a little getting used to.
As you make your cuts, the Bosch effectively removes the sawdust from your cutting path, but it does so by shooting back toward you. When you use this circular saw, be prepared to be covered in sawdust by the end of it. Beyond that, at around $113, this is a good buy for a powerful and effective saw.
Why Trust Us
Top Ten Reviews evaluates products and services with hands-on tests designed to simulate your real-world use. When we tested circular saws, we judged the tools by comparing their design, cutting features, power features and support options. Each product was subjected to a battery of tests, and results were combined with the subjective experiences of our team of reviewers.
We also reached out to the maker community. The maker culture combines do-it-yourselfers with technology enthusiasts to create original items for themselves, family, friends and clients. Vincent Ferrari of Suffern, New York has a maker studio with an exhaustive array of tools “literally every [woodworking] tool under the sun with the exception of a jointer.” He creates everything from game and TV show props to unique picture frames, bookshelves and much more.
When we discussed circular saws, he told us that he mainly uses them to cut down sheet goods like plywood and media density fireboard. He said he bought his DeWalt model because it fit well with the other tools he had from that brand. However, he mentioned that he would probably pick differently now. He expressed a preference for models with a brushless motor, a larger blade and more power.
When asked about how much he would pay for a quality circular saw, he said he doesn’t buy tools on price. “If a good tool is a good tool, I don’t care how much it costs, and I think a lot of people are that way,” but followed up with “it’s not a non-factor, but I care more about value than I do about price.”
He emphasized that you’ll need to invest in a high-quality blade. In his experience, the blades that come included with most circular saws are inadequate. Spending the money to get a high-quality blade means that it will wear out less quickly and deliver a better-quality cut.
We also looked into the best safety practices while using a circular saw. Circular saws are dangerous and can cause major injuries, especially to your hands. If you misuse your tool, you can end up slicing off a finger or cutting into your palm, which can disable you or require surgery to repair.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Trauma Management and Outcomes stated that circular saw injuries cause an average of 8.8 days of in-house treatment and an average of 52 months of follow up. Additionally, subjects of the study missed an average of 14.8 weeks of work. So, it’s financial blow as well as a physical one.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, you should wear safety glasses, a face shield, dust mask and hearing protection when you operate a circular saw. Make sure you take every precaution to protect yourself when using a circular saw.
How We Tested
We subjected each circular saw we reviewed to a battery of hands-on tests. Our team of reviewers verified the accuracy of the manufacturer's specifications and tested the circular saws for accuracy, power and ease of use.
Testing involved cutting 2-by-4s and plywood, similar to what a typical consumer would be working with, at various angles and depths. We assessed the sawdust/dust chute effectiveness, laser guide visibility, accuracy and wood splintering.
These tests gave us a feel for each tool and firsthand knowledge of the advanced features that make them easier, safer and more effective than their counterparts. Part of testing was evaluating the subjective aspects of these tools, such as using the electric brake and checking the blade stability to make sure it does not need tightening frequently.
We also recorded decibel readings to compare the volume of each tool. We compared the splintering on each tool using a high, medium and low standard. We also cut plywood, allowing longer cuts to check for laser and LED light accuracy, sawdust collection and general handling.
As a control test, we exchanged the blades that came with the saws for generic store-bought blades, verifying that the cuts were no different using other blades and that the saw itself performed consistently. Our testing also looked at how easy each tool was to assemble.
Key Features to Look for in the Best Circular Saws
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.
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.
Our reviewers verified the maximum rpm produced by each saw, which ranged from 5,000 rpms to 6,200 rpms. A higher rpm simply means that the blades turn faster, and while that’s great for making smooth, fast cuts, it’s not absolutely essential; for general practice, 5,000 rpms will do for most around-the-house jobs. Higher rpms should be reserved for heavy-duty tasks.
How Much Does a Circular Saw Cost?
Based on our research, the average price for a circular saw is about $118 dollars. The units we compared range from $170 to $47. While the most impressive machine we reviewed, the Makita 5007MGA, was also the most expensive at $170, we found great value and good performance in models that are below the average price, such as the SKIL 5280-01 priced at around $63.
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.
"They're just more common. It's the de facto standard," said Paul Mayer, a Minnesota-based woodworker and tool reviewer you can see in action on the Tool Metrix channel on YouTube.
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:
- 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
- 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
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