If you are planning on tackling a big project that requires long rips or controlled plunges, you absolutely need one. There simply is no substitute to using the best circular saw when your project requires consistent, repeated use at different stages of development and across the span of the jobsite.
Moreover, they allow you to work relatively quickly due to a premium on power and control compared to many other power saw options. This applies to any person looking to complete a big project from the weekend warrior to tested professional.
Here's the deal...
Tying to figure out how to choose a circular saw can be a challenge.
That's why we have put together one of the most comprehensive buying guides you're liable to find. We'll walk you through the makes, types, and features of different circular saws.
So by the end, you're competently capable of figuring out which is right for the job and what distinguishes one as better than the other. Then we'll provide a convenient list of the best saws we found in each category to save you the effort.
For those that want a sneak peak, here's a list of our top 10 circular saws.
- Makita 5007 MG Magnesium 7 1/4-Inch Circular Saw
- Milwaukee 2630-20 Bare-Tool 18-Volt 6 1/2-Inch Circular Saw
- Rockwell Versacut 4.0 Amp Ultra-Compact Circular Saw with Laser Indicator RK3440K
- DeWalt DWS535 7 1/4 Inch Worm Drive Circular Saw
- Makita 5007MG Magnesium 7 1/4 Inch Circular Saw
- Hitachi C7
- Makita 5007MGA Magnesium 7 1/4 Inch Circular Saw with Electric Brake
- Black & Decker CS1014 12 Amp 7 1/4 Inch Circular Saw
- Bosch Bare-Tool CCS180BL 18-Volt Lithium Ion 6 1/2-Inch Circular Saw
- DeWalt DCS391B 20 Volt Max Li-Ion Circular Saw
How to Choose a Circular Saw
The market is flush with options to choose from. There're a host of manufacturers, a litany of different types of circular saw, and laundry list of features to choose from.
When figuring out which saw is right for you, any one of these categories can provide enough work to make even the most dedicated consumer cringe from the effort required to track down all of the information.
Of course, there are plenty of uses for a circular saw with smaller projects as well. Thankfully, manufacturers have been working hard to innovate on the design of a tool that can find so many uses on the work site. In this regard, the circular saw has seen its “standard” frame become more lightweight and slender.
Want to know the best part...
For exceptional precision or hard to reach spaces, circular saws have even been developed in a compact, almost miniature, design that can be held and used with only one hand--no matter the user.
Moreover, not all job sites will be as convenient as one would like. Often, the absence of connection to the electrical grid can threaten the pace of the work flow. While using a portable generator is an option, that also requires the additional cost of another piece of equipment--and that cost is not at all trivial.
That does not even consider the hassle of lugging the generator around and ensuring that it's properly fueled. To alleviate this problem, battery powered circular saws provide the convenience of “go anywhere” availability, though so caveats do apply.
Ultimately, the job you intend to do will determine the saw that you need. While the same circular saw may admirably serve in a variety of contexts, generally you'll want to select the saw that's specifically designed for the type of job you intend to do. Depending on the tasks, this may require the use of other saws that aren't of the circular design.
What's the bottom line...
With enough understanding of the qualities and features, you can often limit the number of tools necessary to a circular saw and 1 or 2 other types of saw, like a jigsaw or oscillating saw.
Best Circular Saw Manufacturers
Black & Decker
Started in 1910 in Baltimore, Maryland, Black & Decker originated as a machine shop. The owners, S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker, designed many of the power tools and features that have become ubiquitous today. Though, Black & Decker is also known for making kitchen appliances, lawn care equipment, and host of other appliances--mostly due to lucrative contracts with General Electric.
However, it was not until the mid-70s that Black & Decker made the shift from professional grade to consumer grade tools. Today, Black & Decker is known in the power tool industry for making exclusively consumer grade products.
Founded in 1886, the Robert Bosch GmbH, is a German limited liability company that manufactures a number of products from automotive parts to power tools to industrial equipment.
In regards to power tools, Bosch is a respected name and is generally seen as one of the top 3 brands of power tool. With the relatively recent slip of DeWalt in the professional power tool market, Bosch stands poised to become recognized by more than just professionals who already know of its quality.
Known for reliability of use and durability over time, Bosch merely needs to apply more effort into ergonomics and a user-focused approach to their power tools so that weekend warriors will feel more comfortable using them.
DeWalt was started in 1924 in Towson, Maryland by Raymond E. DeWalt, inventor of the radial arm saw. However, by 1949, DeWalt was sold to the American Machine & Foundry Co. where it began to earn its keep as a professional power tool powerhouse.
Unfortunately, after sold to Black & Decker in 1960 and used to push that company’s “professional grade” power tools, DeWalt has seen its reputation slip a bit as Black & Decker continuously seeks to cut costs and increase profit margins on the DeWalt brand products by using second tier materials and designs for various components. This has seen DeWalt fall out of the top 3 power tool brands.
Hitachi is a brand the has always focused on power tools, one of the few brands whose origin begins as such. However, it is also one of the more recent brands, founded in 1948 by Hitachi Koki in Tokyo, Japan. Since its founding, Hitachi has expanded into many fields including construction machinery, automotive systems, and electronics.
More recent Hitachi power tools should be seen as mid-tier products. It is marketed as top of the line, but contemporary performance does not match that billing. Once one of the heavy-hitters for professional grade power tools, it should properly be understood as a top-tier, consumer grade product.
Depending on who you ask, Makita is either the best professional power tool manufacturer or the second best, with Milwaukee occupying the other spot. Founded by Makita Kabushiki-gaisha in 1915, Makita initially sold a wide range of products more specialized in various types of electronic components and repairing equipment.
Taking that technology and applying it to power tools in the late-60s, Makita has won over many western professionals with tools that consistently produce more power and torque for their respective mechanisms than almost any other brand. To this day, Makita still prides itself on innovating its motors which often outlast its competitors as well as outperform them.
In America, Milwaukee is likely to be considered the best power tool manufacturer today. While there may be a bit of “hometown bias,” Milwaukee is undeniably one of the best power tool brands available and trades the first or second position with Makita depending on the tool in question.
Started in 1924 by A. F. Siebert, the Milwaukee Tool Corporation is technically a subsidiary of Techtronic Industries and serves as the professional grade market for power tools with Ryobi as the consumer grade. However, Milwaukee has not seen the same decline in quality that Porter Cable and, more recently, DeWalt have.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Once seen as the pinnacle of power tool quality in the West, Porter Cable has watched its reputation take a nosedive in the 60s after the company was sold to Rockwell International and saw the quality of their products plummet. However, Porter Cable has recently started to make a comeback, though often skirts the line between professional and consumer grade tools.
Porter Cable is one of the oldest power tool companies founded in America. Started in Syracuse, New York in 1906, they made the shift to power tools in 1914. Unfortunately, the Porter Cable name was actually phased out between 19060 and 1981 as Rockwell International sought to compete with Black & Decker in the consumer power tool market.
While it might not be as well known as many of the other brands on this list, Ridgid is a capable brand in the power tool market, though it suffers from being a bit of “tweener.” In terms of durability and reliability, Ridgid is often every bit as good as the top performing brands. However, Ridgid often falls behind in terms of new developments and is slow to offer new power tools into the market.
Originally a hand tool manufacturer, Ridgid started in 1923 and made a name for itself as the originator of the pipe wrench. It was not until 1966 when Ridgid became a subsidiary of Emerson Electric that its focus shifted from plumbing tools exclusively to power tools more broadly.
Ryobi is one of the few power tool companies in our list which does not have honor of an auspicious origin story with an enterprising entrepreneur. Founded in 1943, Ryobi began as a die cast product manufacturer, It was not until the late 60s that Ryobi began to produce power tools. Today, Ryobi makes a wide range of products including printing hardware, lawn care equipment, as well as power tools.
Strictly a consumer grade product, Ryobi fills the DIY niche and bolsters its ranks with the Milwaukee brand of power tools to fulfill entry in the professional grade markets.
One of the faster risers in the power tool market, SkilSaw is the professional grade power tool for the Skil Power Tools company, a subsidiary of Chevron Ltd. However, due to the Skil brand initially being used to sell consumer grade power tools, the development of a solid, professional grade reputation is slow coming.
SkilSaw has its origins with a French inventor, Edmond Michel, who immigrated to New Orleans. After developing the first electric hand saw for use on sugarcane plantations, Michel eventually left the company to his partner Joseph Sullivan. However, in the early 90s, Skil became a consumer grade brand to Bosch, something it has only recently changed.
Best Circular Saw Features
- Spindle Locks
- Power Source
- Shoe or Foot Plate
- Sight Lines
- Blade Capacity
- Electric Brakes
- Bevel Capacity
- Bevel Stops
- Laser Guides
- Depth of Cut
- Blade Replacement
If you are purchasing a corded circular saw, this is the spec that will generally tell you how powerful the saw is. Of course, the amps are only part of the equation as how the saw’s motor makes use of the amps will have the final say in how powerful the cutting action truly performs.
If you are looking for a professional grade circular saw, 15 amps is the ideal number with anything below 12 often not powerful enough to stand up to the heavy duty materials and all day use a professional job may demand. Unless it is a compact circular saw, stay away from anything under 4.5-5 amps.
While they are becoming more common, spindle locks are absent on a surprising number of circular saws. However, the reason is simple: not all circular saws require a spindle lock. Essentially, a spindle lock prevents the blade from spinning when you manually tighten the nut after changing the blade. This is not an automatic function and requires you to manually engage the lock before it functions.
Depending on the design of the circular saw, you may not need a spindle lock at all. However, if the saw’s design is an older model, you may need to fasten the blade before tightening the nut.
There are only 2 types of power sources for circular saws, but it will have a surprisingly important effect on the quality of the cutting mechanism. Circular saws are either powered by a cord that draws power from an electrical outlet, or they are powered by a battery pack mounted directly on the saw.
In terms of sheer maximum power, corded saws provide the most robust cutting mechanism available. Of course, this requires you have access to either an electrical outlet or a portable generator.
While not quite as powerful at the top tier, cordless circular saws can quite often provide an adequate cutting mechanism for most jobs. However, denser materials will give cordless circular saws trouble, and you should always have numerous backup batteries charged for full-day use.
While it may seem like merely part of the tool’s frame, a circular saw’s shoe or foot plate is arguably the most important secondary feature on the tool. A high quality shoe will make using the circular saw a breeze, while a low quality shoe can make using the saw difficult--if not impossible for some higher precision work.
While steel is acceptable, you will generally want to look for shoes that are made from either magnesium or aluminum. These shoes will provide the stability you need to ensure that your cut lines remain straight without adding unnecessary weight.
Keep in mind, a shoe with a raised lip will also prevent the saw from catching on uneven surfaces.
This is a feature that is vital for weekend warriors but still provides plenty of convenience for even grizzled, old vets. A sight line can have different forms, but the most common is a notch embedded directly into the shoe.
Higher quality sight lines will provide a straight line from the notch that follows all the way back to the end of the shoe right before the blade. Depending on the capabilities of your circular saw, you may also have a second sight line.
This sight line will be located just inside the blade’s position when cutting at a 90 degree angle. This notch is intended for use when cutting at a bevel and will generally be marked for a 45 degree angle.
This feature will ultimately dictate how deep your saw can cut. However, the size of the blade does not necessarily determine the maximum depth of cut. The design of the saw will also affect the maximum cut depth.
While you are more than welcome to purchase a different circular saw for each primary standard blade size, it is far more convenient--not to mention cost efficient--if your saw can accommodate a wide range of saw blade sizes.
Of course, what a circular saw provides in versatility, it often compensates for with precision, so you will need to make absolutely sure that a circular saw with a different sized blade is used for rough cuts only.
Electric brakes are arguably one of the most important safety features a circular saw can have. That is why it is so surprising to see electric brakes absent on such a wide number of products.
An electric brake simply stops the spinning of the blade the second you release the saw’s trigger.
However, electric brakes are often offered on different models of the same product as an additional features. Moreover, most professionals are skilled enough with their tools that the additional cost of the electric brake may not seem worth the investment. However, electrical brakes are also important for precision to ensure the cut does not extend even a hair too far.
Much like blade capacity, a bevel capacity is the maximum bevel at which the saw can cut. However, unlike the blade capacity, a bevel capacity refers to the angle at which the saw can cut and has nothing to do with the depth of the cut.
Bevels are often vital for joints and other points of connection, however they are actually intended to be used more for decoration than anything else. If you want to join 2 pieces of material together, you are better served with a miter cut.
Bevel capacities over 50 degrees are preferred while anything under 45 degrees is practically worthless as a feature unless applied to an incredibly specific tool.
While the bevel capacity may refer to the maximum degree of bevel cut afforded, a competent professional can technically make a bevel cut at any of the degrees between the circular saw’s range. However, there are many bevel cuts that are far more common than others.
More specifically, the 45 degree bevel cut is the most common and can be seen used in wide range of situations. However, a 22.5 degree bevel cut is also somewhat common.
The more bevel stops a circular saw has, the more precise you can generally be in regards to your bevel cuts without requiring a level of competency. Still, even professionals appreciate the ease and convenience of multiple bevel stops.
This feature should strictly be seen in the “bells and whistles” category. It is not a primary quality and is not even a secondary quality to professionals. However, weekend warriors will often find laser guides incredibly convenient when they are first starting out. Still, once a user has achieved a certain degree of proficiency, they often stop seeing the laser guide at all, their mind and sight instead focused on the line of their cut.
One area where laser sight can remain relevant regardless the skill of the user is in poorly lit work spaces. Here, with spot lights or LEDs mounted directly onto the saw, laser guides can assist keeping the line which may be difficult to see.
While blade capacity refers to the maximum depth of cut, a circular saw will often have the ability to adjust the maximum cut depth to be shorter. This is a feature that is vital for plunge cuts where you are not starting the cut at one of the ends of the material but instead must “plunge” the blade into an interior portion to start the cut.
The more settings for blade depth, the more precise and range of plunge cuts you can make. Depth of cut will also often refer to the maximum cut depth of bevel cuts which are generally more shallow than straight cuts due to the blade’s angular position.
Most circular saws use a similar design for replacing a dull blade, though there can be subtle differences which affect the process. For instance, newer or compact circular saws may use different types of wrenches to loosen the bolt, though an Allen wrench is the most common.
Another to keep in mind is whether your circular saw is a sidewinder or a worm drive as worm drive saws will generally use a diamond shaped opening in the saw blade. A spindle lock, as mentioned earlier, will also allow you to change out the blade quicker without having to stop it against a piece of wood or clamp.
Best Circular Saw Types
Corded Circular Saws
This is generally what you think of when you think of circular saws. These saws plug into an electric outlet or a portable generator. They are also the most powerful circular saws available, though there are numerous grades of corded circular saw.
Unless the job calls for a particular circumstance, this is the circular saw that a professional will choose to use. These saws will also come in all of the other categories except the cordless, 18 volt, and 20 volt categories. Corded circular saws are perfect for pretty much every job with a few exceptions. In fact, a quality circular saw in competent hands can remove the need for 3 or 4 other saws from your tool belt.
Cordless Circular Saws
Cordless circular saws have been getting a lot of good press recently, because the technology required to provide consistent power has improved in recent years. That being said, cordless circular saws will always underperform corded in the same class along power comparisons. Still, some of the more powerful cordless saws manufactured by professional grade companies outperform corded saws in the consumer class more or less without question.
Regardless, professionals will often only opt to use a cordless saw if the work environment calls for it due to an absence of an electrical outlet or portable generator. Moreover, cordless saws often run into the issue of weight due to the necessary battery pack.
Compact Circular Saws
Compact circular saw are not exactly new, but have often been overlooked in favor of more specialized power tools. However, recent advances have allowed circular saws to obtain a compact profile without sacrificing too much in the way of power. In fact, some professional grade compact saws are more powerful than consumer grade cordless saws.
A compact circular saw require only a single hand to use and often features a blade 5” in diameter or less. While they can be incredibly convenient for projects with thinner materials or difficult to reach situations, they are not a substitute for the standard circular saw.
Worm Drive Circular Saws
The most common orientation for a circular saw is the “sidewinder.” This is where the motor sits to either the right or the left of the blade. However, worm drives are the original circular saw design and provide a few advantages.
Worm drive saws have the motor in the rear of the saw. This makes the saw longer and a bit less wieldy. Moreover, worm drives are usually heavier than sidewinders. This makes controlling a worm drive modestly more difficult.
However, worm drive saws allow you to follow a cutline more easily and tear through stacks of lumber with fewer issues. Plunge cuts are also notably easier with worm drives, in part due to the additional weight and design.
Lightweight Circular Saws
Lightweight circular saw once belonged exclusively in the consumer grade market. They were often constructed with a fair amount of plastic components and featured smaller motors that failed to produce an adequate cutting power for professional uses.
However, as technology advances and miniaturization develops to a point where you are no longer sacrificing durability or power for lighter materials with the use of aluminum and magnesium in more models, lightweight circular saws are a common feature regardless the user’s proficiency. Generally, a lightweight circular saw will weigh under 11 pounds, with under 10 pounds being ideal. Of course, if a saw sits right on the line, a superior performance may forgive a few extra ounces.
Circular Saws for Home Use
This is generally a bit of a euphemism. “Home Use” can be seen as synonymous with do-it-yourself. Ultimately, what this translates to is a consumer grade product that is not truly suitable for professional use. In fairness, the types of projects most people do at home--whether a professional or not--rarely require the kind of power that a professional work site requires.
Home use circular saws will often be noted for having numerous features which may provide some added degree of convenience but are ultimately to assist those less proficient with power tools. Moreover, home use saws are often lighter, less powerful, and easier to control than professional grade saws.
Circular Saws for Woodworking
While circular saws often find their home with bigger jobs that require more power, they still have their uses in precision jobs. Woodworking generally requires the most precision out of any kind of job, and even many professionals may not be adequately skilled to truly serve in this function.
Still, with many woodworking projects requiring the use of either dense materials or long cuts that may require varying angles, circular saws can serve well here too. Of course, a professional woodworker will likely use half a dozen tools to accomplish more precisely what a circular saw would do in the same setting. Regardless, when using a circular saw for woodcutting, the ability to cut precisely is paramount.
Budget Circular Saws
There is no way around it: quality power tools do not truly have a “budget” arena. That is not to say there are no “budget” power tools. Simply, if you are in the market for a budget power tool, whether a circular saw or something else, you need to understand what you are paying for.
Budget saws are a step below home use saws and are often not able to handle the bigger jobs one may do at home, like building a deck. In fact, while home use saws can still be fairly capable within their realm, budget saws have a relatively short lifespan and a prone to failure. Moreover, the components of budget saws are rarely made from the most durable materials.
18V Circular Saws
A debate rages within the professional community in regards to 18V circular saws vs 20V circular saws, though the complexion of that debate may not be what you think. In field tests, both types of circular saws perform the same. In fact, the difference between 18V and 20V has more to do with which feature the manufacturer highlights.
18V circular saws are basing this designation on the nominal amount of voltage generated by the battery. On the other hand, 20V circular saws are advertising the maximum voltage generated by the battery. If you use a voltmeter, both types will read 20. However, the normal voltage while in use is 18V.
20V Circular Saws
This category is actually a bit of a misnomer. In actual performance tests, the 20V category produces just as many volts as the 18V category: 20 volts. However, that does not mean that the two classes of cordless circular saw are the same, simply the voltage designation is misleading at best and potentially deceptive marketing at worst.
However, another factor that influences the decision to market a product as 18V or 20V is the region in which it is being sold. Different regions have different safety standards for consumer protection, thus an 18V tool in one region can be marketed as a 20V tool in another.
Circular Saw Reviews
Best Corded Circular Saw
If you only buy a single circular saw, make it the Makita 5007. While the 5007 actually comes in two models, the MG and the MGA, the MG is slightly cheaper without losing any of the qualities that makes the 5007 the best circular saw for the most uses--whether you are looking for a professional or consumer saw.
With a 15 amp motor that produces 5,800 rpms without a load, this is easily one of, if not, the most powerful circular saws on the market. The additional torque of the Makita will ensure that even the densest materials will cut like butter. Moreover, the Makita is also an incredibly durable circular saw, able to stand up to a full day’s work over a period of months without hesitation.
The Makita also features a 90 degree blade capacity of 2 ½” which is nearly the best in class. Though there is a saw or two out there that offer 1/16” of an inch larger blade capacity, they do not provide as much power.
Moreover, the bevel depth capacity of the Makita is an impressive 1 ¾” inches which also ranks near the top. Speaking of bevel, the Makita features a 56 degree bevel capacity with bevel stops at the 45 degree and 22.5 degree mark.
What We Liked
- The power of the Makita 5007 is unmatched in its class
- Impressive bevel capabilities both in regards to cut depth and stops
- Numerous convenient features like an ergonomic design and dual sight lines
What We Didn't Like
- Fairly expensive when compared to other saws in the same class
- With this kind of power, you need to maintain a constant, firm grip
- This is a left-handed sidewinder in a right-handed market
Best Cordless Circular Saw
Few lists of the best saws would be complete if Milwaukee failed to make an appearance. Often viewed as one the top manufacturer of numerous power tools, circular saws included, Milwaukee brings that quality to bear in the cordless category--a category often maligned for producing inferior circular saws compared to corded versions.
Not given into the fluff of marketing, the Milwaukee bills itself as an 18V circular saw. With a blade capacity of 2 ⅛”, the Milwaukee is suitable for a wide variety of applications either at home or on a professional worksite. At 3,500 rpms without a load, this saw may not suit through the denser materials as easily, but it will perform superb for most professional application and all but the most taxing home uses.
Another pleasant surprise was the ease of use. With a battery pack, the saw comes in at a light 9 pounds. Combined with the soft, rubber grip handle and ergonomic design, this saw is a joy to use all day. However, Milwaukee spreads the quality all over this product as the shoe is made from aircraft grade aluminum and the housing a sturdy, yet light, magnesium. The only real downside is that the battery drains somewhat quickly.
What We Liked
- A weight of 9 pounds with the battery is surprisingly light
- An electric brake ensures a high level of safety
- Both the shoe and the guards are made from aluminum and magnesium respectively
What We Didn't Like
- A maximum bevel capacity of 45 degrees is a bit short
- Not ideal for all jobs, though great for cordless use
- While fairly powerful, especially for a cordless saw, the battery drains quickly
Best Compact Circular Saw
The compact circular saw market is still seen as a developing market that has not yet matured enough for every brand to provide a wide range of compact circular saw types. As such, many of the more renowned brands produce compact circular saws that are cordless. While this may make intuitive sense, it definitely leaves a bit to be desired on the power range.
However, Rockwell has seen a need and filled a niche with their versacut that features a 4.0 amp motor. While this is not the most powerful compact circular saw you can buy, its quality shines through in some of the other features that are more specified for what this class of saw is designed to do.
First, the Versacut features a surprising blade capacity of 1 1/16” of an inch which is among the top in the corded compact saw class. However, what truly sets the Versacut apart from its competitors is its unmatched ability to provide an excellent plunge cut. In the compact circular saw market, this alone may set it apart from its competitors regardless any other qualities.
With an embedded dust extractor and an ergonomic design, the Versacut is also capable of performing far longer cuts than is normally expected from the compact class.
What We Liked
- While compacts are often limited, this can plunge cut surprisingly well
- One of the more powerful mini circular saws, capable of cutting dense material
- A 1 1/16" blade capacity is nearly the best in class
What We Didn't Like
- The guide is a bit flimsy compared to the rest of the tool
- The foot plate is spring loaded and will require some effort
- There is no bevel, requiring you to make all bevel cuts by hand
Best Worm Drive Circular Saw
Though DeWalt may have declined a bit in prominence, it got its name cutting its teeth, so to speak, in the worm drive circular saw category. As such, even changes in management cannot tarnish the superior design the DeWalt brand brings to bear on this product. However, DeWalt is not merely content to rest on its laurels and provides something few other worm drives can: a lightweight design.
Relatively speaking, the 13.8 pound DeWalt is one of the lightest worm drive saws on the market. Making use of a magnesium construction, the DeWalt is able to trim the fat normally associated with worm drive while simultaneously maintaining an incredibly durable product.
With a 15 amp motor that generates 4,800 rpms without a load, the DeWalt may not push the most power in the circular saw market, but it produces more than enough for most jobs. Moreover, the rear-seated motor of the worm design allows the DeWalt to generate more torque per amp that allows to be plenty powerful even for professional framing jobs.
Additionally, the DeWalt features a 2 ½” blade capacity and an incredible 1 ⅞” bevel cut depth. The bevel capacity provides 53 degrees with bevel stops at the 45 and 22.5 degree positions. Moreover, the DeWalt also features dual sight lines for accurate cuts.
What We Liked
- DeWalt tops even Makita with 4,800 RPMs without load
- The load capacity of 2 1/2" is superb
- At 13.8 pounds, this is an amazingly light worm drive
What We Didn't Like
- Changing the blade can be a bit tougher than other worm drives
- The bevel stop may require tightening from time to time
- Needs to be oiled more frequently than other saws
Best Lightweight Circular Saw
No need to second guess yourself, because you are definitely seeing double. Appearing for the second time on our list and in a second category is the Makita 5007MG. However, this time, its appearance may stretch the boundaries just a bit.
While the Makita is a tad over 10 pounds, the upper weight limit you would generally place on a “lightweight” circular saw, the quality of the Makita is such that we will let that minor discrepancy slide. Of course, if a pound or two truly is that vital, we would still recommend you get the Makita and learn to deal with it.
Still, the Makita does its best to trim down some of the weight by using feather light magnesium on the blade guard and the shoe which still provides a durable product. Additionally, the Makita features an ergonomically designed handle with an oversized over handle to make accounting for the additional weight an after thought.
Additionally, the Makita also includes a number of features that weekend warriors and professionals alike are sure to appreciate. A set of twin LED lights mounted onto the frame provide excellent visibility when the working light source is dim while an embedded ducting design blows away excess dust and shavings as you make longer cuts.
What We Liked
- As usual, the power of the Makita shines like a beacon
- A magnesium shoe and guard provide excellent durability while decreasing weight
- Dual LEDs, rubber grip handles, and rubber coated adjustment knobs and levers make it easier to use
What We Didn't Like
- At just over 10 pounds, this really pushes the limit of a "lightweight" circular saw
- The power, while immense, makes this saw a bit difficult to control
- The price tag may be justified by the quality, but it's still a bit steep
Best Circular Saw for Home Use
Even though Hitachi may have fallen out of favor among the professional grade power tools, it easily finds a home in the home use category. For a category that is designated as a consumer grade product, Hitachi provides a near professional grade level of quality.
In fact, if you look simply at the specs, you may be led to believe that the Hitachi deserves to be ranked above the Makita in both the best corded overall and lightweight categories. With a 15 amp motor, the Hitachi produces a blistering 6,000 rpms. Moreover, the Hitachi comes in at an eye-popping 9.5 pounds. Both of these qualities are superior to the Makita on paper.
However, the Hitachi’s motor is designed differently than the Makita’s so even though it spins quicker without a load, the overall torque is lower and affects its ability to cut as well when tackling denser materials. Moreover, while the shoe is made from steel and aluminum metals, it is also exceedingly thin which makes it prone to bending and deforming even under normal strain.
Still, with a blade capacity of 2 ½” at 90 degrees and a bevel cut depth of 1 ⅞” at 45 degrees, the Hitachi checks numerous boxes in the professional grade category. It simply is just not as durable.
What We Liked
- The 15 amp, 6,000 RPM motor is incredibly powerful for a consumer grade
- Professional maximum cut depths allow even large jobs to be tackled at home
- A dust chute and dual sight lines are great additions for consumers at this class
What We Didn't Like
- A bevel capacity of 45 degrees is a bit short
- The shoe is fairly flimsy and cannot handle even a few drops
- The guard is plastic and the motor makes a loud whine after extended use
Best Circular Saw for Woodworking
Right about now, you're probably wondering to yourself if we're pulling your leg. “Surely, the Makita 5007 cannot be the best saw for 3 separate categories,” you must think. Think again. If we haven't made it clear before, let us make it perfectly clear right now: the Makita 5007 is the best circular saw on the market for most purposes and most consumers, period.
However, if you look closely, you'll notice that this saw is just so ever slightly different than the other Makita 5007. In fact, if you look at the name, you will a difference of only a single letter: the letter “A.” It might not jump out at you just from a glance, but that letter makes all the difference.
Unlike the Makita 5007MG, the 5007MGA uses an electric brake. Thus, when you take your finger off of the trigger, the blade stops spinning almost immediately. Aside from the safety benefits an electric brake provides, it also allows the Makita to perform with much finer precision. Whereas the 5007MG may bite a millimeter more than you intended, the 5007MGA will cut to your line and no further. Considering the modest difference in price, it is an investment well worth the cost to avid woodworkers.
What We Liked
- The electric brake prevents over cutting
- The ergonomic design allows you to take your time with precise cuts without fatigue
- The dual LEDs and sight lines provide a solid guide in most situations
What We Didn't Like
- Because of its power, control can be a finicky
- Its weight may be a bit of an issue for more delicate work
- A dust vac would be better than ingrained ducting
Best Budget Circular Saw
If you are just starting out as a professional, spending hundreds of dollars on all the tools you need can rack up quite a bill. Likewise, the occasional weekend warrior may not use their power tools often enough to justify hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of power tools. In this case, the budget option may be right for you.
Keep in mind, what you get in cost you give up in quality, but depending on your needs, that may not matter all too much. Enter the Black & Decker. This circular features a 12 amp motor which scrapes the floor of professional quality and is unsuited for many jobs. However, the rpms of 5,000 without a load is surprising. Still, the motor does not generate enough torque to maintain that power.
Moreover, a bevel capacity of 45 degrees is also the bottom of acceptable for professional grade. Though, with a blade capacity of 2 ⅜”, you may not be able to make every cut, but you can make most of them. Also, an almost 2” bevel cut depth is surprising regardless the class of circular saw. Of course, with a bevel capacity of 45 degrees you should not expect a bevel stop at 22.5 degrees and do not find one either.
What We Liked
- Even in the budget category this cost is light on your wallet
- The bevel depth of cut is impressive regardless the category
- Assuming the material isn't dense or thick, the power is surprising for the price
What We Didn't Like
- Changing the blade is a real pain
- Long term durability is a real concern with consistent and extended use
- Not enough torque to prevent burning the wood with thicker materials
Best 18V Circular Saw
It may come as a surprise to some readers to wit this long to see a Bosch grace our list, but with the sheer quality of the Makita, Bosch had to wait its turn and find its category. However, within the 18V circular saw category, there are few who can compete.
While the voltage gives you an idea of the power, Bosch actually underperforms a bit by only producing 3,900 rpms. While this is lower than the Milwaukee, it is actually fairly average for the 18V category and even superior to both Makita and Milwaukee’s cordless circular saws. At this point, you may be asking yourself while the Bosch is not in our number 2 position over the Milwaukee.
Ultimately, Milwaukee edges the Bosch out due to a number of features beyond the slight power difference. First, the Bosch is an absolute load weighing in at 15 pounds with the battery. That is simply gargantuan at this stage of power tool development. Also, the saw does not have a duct or vac attachment to clear the dust and will kick it into your face.
Still, its blade capacity of 2 ⅜” is decent while its maximum bevel cut depth of 1 ⅞” is fairly impressive. Unfortunately, the blade guard is made from plastic, not the aluminum used for the shoe as advertised.
What We Liked
- Produces more power than most 18V circular saws
- Has a fairly impressive bevel capacity of 50 degress
- The blade capacity and bevel cut depth are both above average
What We Didn't Like
- Customer service is a nightmare and shipping isn't stable
- The blade guard is made of plastic
- No dust clearing duct
Best 20V Circular Saw
Only DeWalt and Porter Cable really make it a point to push the 20V category, something which can confuse consumers into thinking they are buying a more powerful cordless circular saw. Potentially misleading advertising practices aside, the DeWalt still performs fairly well.
Much like the Bosch, this saw features a bevel capacity of 50 degrees with a 45 degree bevel stop. However, the DeWalt’s blade capacity is somewhat lower at 2 ¼” as is the bevel maximum depth cut of 1 ⅝”. However, one area where the DeWalt smokes pretty much every other cordless circular saw is with 5,250 rpms. That puts the DeWalt’s power in line with any corded circular saw.
Unfortunately, all of that power takes a lot of energy, and the DeWalt runs through batteries even quicker than the Milwaukee. In fact, battery drain is such an issue that you would do well to bring along more than a single extra as the DeWalt is liable to drain your second battery before the first is back up and running. To make matters worse, the batteries for this saw are themselves expensive, often around the same cost as another mid tier cordless circular saw itself.
What We Liked
- At 5,250 RPMs, this can compete with lower end professional corded saws
- A 50 degree bevel capacity is solid on a cordless
- The magnesium shoe is strong and provides dual sight lines
What We Didn't Like
- The worst battery life of any cordless circular saw on our list
- The blade capacity is touch more shallow than one would prefer
- Will stile struggle when cutting denser materials
Each category of circular demands a slightly different set of requirements. While cutting power is ultimately one of the most important factors, different categories will feature secondary needs more prominently than others.
A compact saw, for example, is not expected to provide a large blade capacity or plunge cuts. Those factors alone set the Versacut apart from their competition.
Similarly, home use and budget circular saws are not expected to handle the kind of projects or workloads that a professional grade saw will encounter. As such, the Hitachi and Black & Decker perform admirably given their categories.
Of course, cordless saws are their own beast and require a careful weighing of all features to identify if you even need one, let alone which one you need.
However, one circular saw stand above pretty much all others. The Makita 5007MG or MGA is a top performer in so many categories that it is simply impossible to ignore how well made this tool is.
In an effort to blow the competition out of the water, Makita went the extra mile and ensured that the 5007 was not only well made but well-designed too. Ergonomic grips, rubber coating, LED lights, dual sight lines, 2 bevel stops, and a relatively light weight makes this saw above and beyond the best value you can find.
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