Nothing in your inventory of power tools works as hard as your circular saw. This material-chewing beast is the equivalent of the machine gunner in an infantry platoon; laying waste to those heavy-duty general purpose cutting tasks. There are a few saws on the market that log as many on the job hours as your circular saw. This saw is the perfect tool for cutting straight or beveled cuts in anything from .25-inch plywood, to 2 x 6 oak planks.
Circular saws are used by nearly every person in the construction industry; from carpenters and tile layers, to roofing contractors and brick layers. In this guide, we will discuss how a circular saw works, what advantages it offers over other tools, and review the top seven circular saws currently available on the market.
How a Circular Saw Works
A circular saws works just as its name implies. A round blade spins in a counterclockwise direction as it cuts through material. Some manufacturers will vary their designs to some extent but overall, most circular saws look and function in a similar manner. Their thick blades make these saws ideal for cutting dense material.
A base plate on the bottom of the saw rests on the material that you are cutting and the counterclockwise motion of the blade helps the user to keep the saw securely on the work surface. Many are available with other options such as laser guides and dust blowers. The dust blowers remove sawdust from the work piece so the user can see their cutting lines at all times.
The most common design for circular saws is called a “sidewinder” design. In this design, the blade is attached directly to the side of the saws’ motor which supplies the cutting power. The other design is called a “worm drive”. With a worm drive, the motor is positioned at a right angle to the blade. Gears are used to increase the torque that is delivered to the blade so they can cut through tougher material than sidewinder models. Worm drive circular saws are usually the quieter of the two.
Different Types of Circular Saw Blades
Blades for a circular saw are available in different configurations. Some blades are made cutting through wood or fibrous materials while others are designed to cut through stone or even metal. The common sizes usually range from 5.5- inches to 7.25-inches. One of the main variations that you will find with circular saw blades are the teeth:
- Flat-Top – Blades with flat-top teeth are used on both hard and soft woods.
- Alternate Top Bevel – Each tooth alternates between a left bevel and a right bevel. Provides a smoother cut in veneered and natural woods.
- Combination – Just as their name implies, good for crosscutting and ripping.
- Triple Chip Grind – Great for cutting plastics, MDF, and laminates, the TCG alternates between a flat tooth and trapeze tooth. Also good for metal cutting.
- High Alternate Top Bevel – Used for cutting materials that are surfaced with melamine. Melamine is a covering that is predisposed to to chipping.
Advantages to Using a Circular Saw
Unlike many of the other saws you have in your shop, a circular saw cannot cut curved patterns or intricate shapes. It can however chew through some of the toughest materials commonly used and even cut bevels. Even though there are saws you may have that can cut finely detailed designs, none of them will chew through the materials you are working with like a circular saw.
Considerations Before Buying
As you start shopping for your circular saw, there are a few things you need to consider as you look.
Design – As we have already mentioned, circular saws come in two main designs, sidewinder and worm. Your budget and needs will be the determining factor on which to choose.
Size – The size of the saw you get will depend upon what you are planning on using it for. The most common size, 5.5-inches to 7.25-inches, will be enough for most tasks however.
Blade Type – The best bet here is to buy one of each type of blade. However, if you only use one particular type of material, you can limit excess spending by only getting the blade you need. Just ensure the blade you pick will fit your saw.
Price – As with anything you plan on buying, price is a factor that comes into play. Circular saws range in price from $50 to $400. More costly models usually are easier to use and are equipped with features that make using them more rewarding.
The Top Seven Circular Saws for Sale
Here is our list that is composed of the top seven rated circular saws currently available on the market. Each offers their own unique features so it’s important to check which best fits your needs before committing to a purchase.
1. SKIL 5480-01
SKIL Power Tools has been making affordable, high quality power tools for decades and that heritage is reflected in the 5480-01 SKILSAW. This model is lighter and more compact than previous models but the 13-amp motor provides more power and uses a 7.25-inch blade. Included features are two-point line of sight for ensuring accurate cuts and wider foot for providing optimal stability.
Another benefit of the 5480-01 is that the ball-bearing construction found in the motor helps to increase the life span of this saw. For safety, this model features a safety lock trigger to help avoid accidental starts as well as a patented Anti-Snag lower guard.
2. SKIL 5680-01
With their commitment to quality, SKIL Power Tools will also take our number two spot. Boasting many of the same features as the 5480-01, the 5680-01 provides safe, dependable performance with an added feature, a laser.
The single laser beam projects a cutting line that offers the user a way to ensure that cuts are precise every time. This model also has a unique safety feature, Power-On LED. This light let the user know that the saw is plugged in.
3. DEWALT DWS535
The first worm drive saw to make our list is DEWALTS’ DWS535. With its magnesium construction and 4,800 RPM motor, this saw is not only powerful, it is also lightweight. The Toughcord protection system will reduce cord jerking and the 53 degree bevel capacity provides versatility. The DWS535 is also equipped with a top-accessible spindle lock to make for fast and easy blade changes.
The extra wide saw hook accepts up to 2.5-inch wide material and the dual rip ports enable the DWS535 to use DEWALTS 12-inch Dual Port Rip Guides. With 90 degree cuts at 2-7/16-inch deep and 1-7/8-inch at 45 degrees, the DWS535 can handle nearly any cutting job.
4. Makita 5477NB
No list of power tools would be complete without a Makita product and here it is. The 5477NB Hypoid Saw is a worm drive circular saw that offers plenty of punch. The 15 amp motor sends 4,500 RPMs of power to the 7.25-inch blade. With a 90 degree cutting depth of 2-3/8-inches and 1.75-inches at 45 degrees, this saw offers plenty of versatility.
The 5477NB can also cut bevels up to 51.5 degrees and has positive stops at 45 and 51.5 degrees, making it easy for fast beveled cuts. Additionally, the oversized, ergonomically designed handle is equipped with a rubberized grip that affords the user optimal control of the saw and the cut.
5. Rockwell RK3440K
The name Rockwell is synonymous with quality in the power tool industry. Their commitment to their customers has been proven over and over again and that tradition continues with the RK3440K. Small and yet powerful, this mini circular saw only ways four pounds.
While its small blade size of only 3-3/8-inches may limit its ability to cut larger stock, its lightweight makes it great for one handed use and cutting tasks such as cut-outs and tile. Another great feature of the RK3440K is that it is equipped with a laser guide that helps the user ensure an accurate cut every time.
6. Bosch CS5
Offering both quality and value, the Bosch CS5 offers users an industrial grade circular saw at an affordable price. This 7.25-inch circular saw is powered by a 15 amp motor that delivers plenty of cutting power to the blade.
The left-blade design allows for a clear line of sight to the cutting line and the anti-snagging lower guard means you will not have to advance the guard when making beveled cuts. This also means you will not have to worry about kick-back as a result of guard advancement.
7. Makita 5007MGA
Once again the name Makita graces our list. The Makita 5007MGA offers the same features as the 5477NB but provides over 1,000 more RPMs, which is a total of 5,800 material-ripping RPMs in the palm of your hands. Constructed of many magnesium components, this saw weighs a mere 10.1 pounds. That means you will optimal control of the saw as you make your cuts.
Additional features include easy-to-read ruler markings on the base plate and positive stops for fast and easy changes from 0 degrees to 45 degrees. The heat treated gears are precision cut for maximum power and the coil wire in the motor is looped and welded to ensure a long life span. And one of the more uncommon features, a twin LED lighting system to help keep your cutting lines where you can see them.
There are many different manufacturers and models to choose from on the market. If you are a first time user, or have minimal use for a circular saw, you may want to consider keeping it simple when you decide on which saw to get.
While we only covered seven different models of circular saws in this user guide, there are many to choose from as we have stated. However, these seven are some of the top selling and are geared towards the saw user that needs a saw that will perform when needed. Ensure you check into all of the different models and the features they come with to determine which best meets your specific needs.
Simple to use, versatile, and portable, a circular saw is the muscle of your power tools. Whether you’re building a storage shed, or the home of your dreams, a circular saw can help to turn heavy duty cutting tasks into a simple chore. And with the different types of blades available, the circular saw can be used in nearly any trade and with nearly any type of material. Offering dependability and versatility, a quality circular saw will instantly make any shop better.