Best Circular Saws: Our 2017 Consumer Guide
Last Updated October 2017
A circular saw is a type of power-saw that uses a circular blade. This blade is toothed or abrasive as with any saw but it rotates on the spot in order to cut through smaller items with easier control and less effort.The best circular saw can be used for cutting wood, masonry, plastic or even metal and it can be either hand-held or mounted to machine. Often in woodworking the term refers to the hand-held type, with other terms for these saws being chop saw and table saw. ‘Skil saw’ is a generic trademark that refers to the regular hand-held circular saws.
While you wouldn’t use a circular saw to cut down a large tree trunk in most cases, it can be useful for smaller tasks such as sawing off branches or sawing through planks of wood. In these scenarios, the design is able to offer more power and precision with just one hand and without so much back and forth (literally!).
If you are going to be chopping down a tree, you may also want to consider using a chainsaw.
In this post, we’ll be going over the different requirements to find the best circular saw and different options. We’ll also be looking at some of the best circular saws currently on the market so that you can make an informed choice.
Picking Your Circular Saw
When buying any power tool, there are various factors to take into account. For example, you need to think about your budget of course, with some saws simply being more affordable than others. At the same time, you should think about the amount of power that you’re going to require. As a general rule, a more powerful circular saw is going to cost more as well and will often also be larger. Smaller units tend to be more affordable as well as more portable and practical but these will tend to come packing less power and fewer extra features.
Ultimately then, it’s all about deciding what your requirements are. Do you need something powerful enough to cut through the toughest materials and to keep going even when you’re doing a lot of cutting every single day? Or can you get by with something more affordable and perhaps a little easier to handle that will perhaps cost less as a result?
In the next section, we’ll be reviewing some of the best circular saws currently on the market. These are our top 10 picks and any of these will be a good choice that will stand the test of time and provide very good value for money in terms of power, capability and versatility.
The Best Circular Saws on the Market Right Now in 2017
At the end, we’ll go over some of the different features and options in more detail. While reading our rundown, you can refer to this section as a reference in order to learn more about the various different options. So take this into account when reading the following short reviews. These are all great saws but depending on the kind of work you’re going to be doing and your budget, you may choose to go with a lighter and more affordable option, or a bigger and more powerful model.
Table of contents
- what the options mean?
- blade type?
- speed and control
- battery and practicality
- extra features
Another great offering from DEWALT that is attractively priced right at the lower end, with lots of speed and power (5,100 RPM) and an electric break to keep you safe and also improve overall productivity. As with all DEWALT’s products, this is very well made and very durable, so it shouldn’t stop working on you!
Makita 5007MGA Magnesium 7-14-Inch Circular Saw With Electric Break
This is a very similar model to the other Makita we are going to look at but it comes with the nice addition of an electric break which is a very helpful safety feature that could potentially prevent a serious accident. It is made from magnesium components to keep the device light yet durable while the speed is very impressive at 5,800RPM thanks to a 15AMP motor. LED lights are handy for finding the line of cut. Overall, this saw can once again offer the kind of power that a professional would require while remaining very attractively priced.
This is a very affordable, very light and very convenient saw that should be suitable for every day DIY tasks, even if it can’t handle the more heavy duty tasks of some of these other saws. Corded and light on features, the main selling point this time is that price, even though the build quality is still perfectly serviceable. For a truly budget option, this is one of the best out there and possible the most affordable we’d recommend!
DEWALT DWS535 7 ¼-Inch Worm Drive Circular Saw
DEWALT are firm favorites among hobbyists and DIY-ers. Their products very often provide a great balance between power and price and this tool is no different. Here, you’re getting a lightweight 13.8 pound circular saw that is nevertheless powerful enough to cut through a lot of heavy duty materials. That’s thanks to a very impressive 4,800RPM that makes it suitable for pretty much any roofing application. It has a 2-7/16 depth cut at 90 degrees and bevel capacity of 53 degrees for going deeper still. It also comes with a lot of safety features and time saving design elements. These include spindle lock for easy blade change and a ‘TOUGHCORD’ cord protection system to prevent cord jerk protection. Yes, that does mean this is a corded product but for the power you’re getting, this is a fair trade off.
For the price, it’s hard to find anything else this powerful.
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-14-Inch Circular Saw With Single Beam and Laser Guide
Here we have the SKIL 5280, which is another very affordable option from SKIL. This time you’re getting just a little more power and an single beam laser guide, which is very useful for keeping your lines straight. It’s a neat feature and on such a budget product, it’s a welcome surprise.
Makita XSC02Z 18V Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Metal Cutting Saw, 5-7/8’’
This is a significantly more affordable option than our last Makita but that doesn’t mean it’s pushover. Far from it in fact: at an RPM of 3,900 it’s actually one of the fastest we’ve seen yet (of course this is relative to the size of the saw, so it doesn’t mean it can cut thicker materials than the Festool!). It can cut a variety of metals and even cut through pipe and steel. It is ergonomic and compact despite this and weighs only 6.4lbs. It’s also battery powered so you’re free to cut untethered.
The slight catch? It doesn’t come with the battery! When you are aware of this going in though, you get a device that’s actually pretty perfect and no compromise. Powerful, easy to use, easy to manage and steer and affordable… No wonder most of the reviews are 5/5 stars!
Bosch Bare-Tool CCS180B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 6-1/2-Inch Lithium-Ion Circular Saw
This is an affordable circular saw that offers cordless use and a 50 degree bevel for a great range of applications. It has an easy to read depth-of-cut gauge and an anti-snag lower guard to keep you safe. Spindle lock is also handy for changing the blade.The no load RPM is also very impressive again at 3,900 and the net weight is 6.6lbs. Once again, this is a powerful saw and at 18V it should be enough for most applications.
To look at, this may seem more kettle or a strange vacuum cleaner than a circular saw. That’s because this is a plunge saw, which means that it is intended to be used along with Festool guide rails. These allow you to glide along a pre-laid track for a perfectly straight cut with absolutely minimal margin for area.
This will appeal to a lot of users, as will the phenomenal 3,550rpm that’s capable of cutting through pretty much anything. That speed is adjustable though so you can lower it to 1,350 if you don’t need that much power. It cuts to a depth of 2-3/4 inches and is generally super powerful. It’s corded, very heavy and not cheap. But this is a professional grade piece of kit that can help you craft some beautifully cut items in your workshop and that will never let you down.
Milwaukee 6370-21 13 Amp 8-Inch Metal Cutting Circular Saw
This is a corded circular saw that will offer a lot of power and durability but a slightly lower price point and certainly a lighter weight than our last option. The motor should offer a lot of power with an RPM of 3,700 running off of 120 volt AC mains supply. The blade diameter is 8 inches and this combination is capable of ploughing through up to 10 gauge sheets and even ¼-inch steel plate day in and day out.
There are also a ton of additional features here. These include an on-board sight-line and blade-point-of-entry indicator – both of which should help you to deliver a much cleaner and straighter cut. A 90 degree cutting depth means you can dig deep, while you also get a blade shield for safety, plunge lever for effective and easy plunge cuts, a quick release shield latch for waste disposal and blade change and more.
Rockwell RK3441K Compact Circular Saw Kit
This compact circular saw is particularly well-suited to those looking for a portable and convenient device. Small enough and light enough to be held and operated with just one hand, the design is perfect for optimal manoeuvrability and control. Depth adjustment is quick and easy and capable of offering up to 2-inch cutting. The blade is 4.5 inches and the whole model weighs less than 5 pounds for minimal strain. The battery is 120 volts but this is not a cordless product: so yes, it will need to be plugged in while being used. But for most of us working in a workshop or garage, finding a power outlet isn’t going to be a huge problem.
And of course this isn’t going to offer the same kind of RPM as a full sized circular saw but for most people that won’t be necessary anyway. All in all, this is a well-rounded (no pun intended) and well-designed choice for anyone who is looking for something that is very easy to handle.
What the Options Mean
So now you’ve seen some of the best circular saws currently on the market, the next tough bit is going to be choosing which one is right for your purposes.
To that end, it can help to know what some of the different terminology actually means. So with that in mind, let’s look at some of the different options and considerations available when picking a circular saw…
Looking at the blade is a good place to start and this can tell you a fair bit about the capabilities of your saw.
The cutting capacity and cut of the circular saw is normally based on the size of the saw’s blade. The standard is 165mm.
You also need to think about the type of blade and sometimes these will be interchangeable. It’s very important you have the right type of blade for the specific job at hand. The depth of cut meanwhile refers to how far in you can go. The maximum cutting depth that any circular saw will be capable of will be at 0 degrees. This is achievable when cutting a bevel and is possible where you have an adjustable base plate. But the maximum cutting depth at zero degrees is going to depend on the design of the saw and this will tell you whether or not you can cut straight through a plank of any given thickness.
Speed and Control
One of the most obvious metrics when choosing a circular saw is relating to the actual cutting capacity. Just how powerful is this saw? What kinds of materials can it handle? And what type of cut will it make?
If you have a powerful circular saw, then the motor will be able to turn the blade faster and this will actually give you more control over the cut too. The all-important number here is the RPM – revolutions per minute. This tells you just how fast the blade is spinning.
battery and practicality
If you have a huge circular saw that is connected by a cord and weighs a ton, then you will have a harder job operating it when you just need to make a quick cut. The advantage of the smaller circular saws then is just how much lighter and more portable they are.
But now you have a tool that will be limited by the amount of juice in the battery. Different saws come with different amounts of power and this will impact the power, weight, life and charge time. A circular saw provided with an 18v lithium battery (and ideally a fast-charger) should be more than sufficient for most jobs.
The shape of the device is also important as it can affect the types of angles you’re able to handle it at and the spaces you can reach into!
You may also find that you want to add extra features for your power tool and there are several neat options that can come with certain models of circular saw. For example, fans and cooling systems can be very useful to help keep the motor cool. Advanced breaking systems are also very desirable as these will cause the blade to stop rotating instantly if you should slip or there should be any other kind of emergency. This can prevent and accident and is always important to look for.
LED job lights are also a popular choice to help you see into darker spaces where you might be working! Better yet are the laser guides that help you to cut in a straight line.
Note that some circular saws are referred to as plunge saws. The term is largely interchangeable but very often it will denote that the device comes with a guide rail that the circular saw can move along. You simply attach the saw onto the rail and it will then follow it along for a perfectly safe and straight cut with no risk of anything going wrong.
Ultimately there is no wrong answer here – as long as the saw is capable of cutting through the materials you need it to and it’s within your budget, it will have been a good buy! Take a look at our recommendations and anything from there should offer good build quality and smart design.