Big Saw Bests Big Timbers. Large skill saw
Skilsaw’s Super Sawsquatch massive 16-5/16 in. circular saw can cut thick beams with ease.
Skilsaw’s new beam saw is designed to cut big timbers fast and accurately, so I put it to work on an assortment of large cutting projects, including pressure-treated 6x6s, parallel-strand-lumber (PSL) columns, and a timber floor frame made from 6x10s. For a saw of its size (27 lb.), I found it to be well-balanced and the adjustments and controls to function as one would expect. The saw has a dust port that allows connection to a dust collector, but I didn’t use it.
The saw had more than adequate power to push through anything I cut. over, it seems well engineered, and the overall build quality is solid. A plastic base is a welcome place to set the heavy saw after completing a cut. The carbide-tipped blade cuts with minimal splintering and no sign of deflection, even in full-depth cuts. The one downside to the saw is the blade guard, which sometimes hangs up on the material. You can hold the guard open with your thumb (this works well thanks to the position of the side handle), but it leaves a rather large area of the blade exposed until the saw is completely buried in the cut. Still, this is a well-powered, solid performer, especially at its price.
Skilsaw Super Sawsquatch
Blade diameter – 16 5/16 in.
Depth of cut at 90° – 6 1/4 in.
Depth of cut at 45° – 4 5/16 in.
Ben Bogie, lead carpenter with Kolbert Building in Portland, Maine
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Choosing and Using a Circular Saw
A good circular saw should have enough raw power to slice through everything from wet lumber to dense hardwood without bogging down. “When the motor slows, the blade heats up and dulls quickly,” explains Tom Silva, This Old House general contractor. This not only produces a poor cut, it’s dangerous because the blade can climb out of the kerf and push the saw back toward the user.
However, evaluating power from the motor ratings can be misleading. Amps indicate only the amount of electricity a motor draws, not the power it sends to the blade. Horsepower accounts for torque (rotational force), but not necessarily under working conditions.
In the end, the most reliable appraisal may be price. A dependable sidewinder — the more compact design, in which the motor sits alongside the blade — starts at around 100. There are many saws on the market under this price, but they’re not as powerful, nor are they built for a lifetime’s use. Professional-grade sidewinders, which run quieter and cut through dense wood better, cost between 125 and 150. TOH master carpenter Norm Abram prefers this tool, noting that buyers should choose one based on balance and maneuverability. “I’d never buy a saw I didn’t have a chance to hold first,” he says.
On the other hand, a good worm-drive saw, Tom’s choice for framing because of its high torque output (its beefy spiral gear transfers power to the blade more efficiently), will set you back at least 200. Either way, a top-of-the-line saw, if treated with care, should still be cutting well when you’re ready to hand it down.
The motor is in line with the blade, delivering enough torque to carve up wet lumber or saw through concrete, which makes a worm drive ideal for framing or major renovation jobs. With the handle farther back, a user can better resist kickback and steer the 16-pound saw through long rips. As on most full-size worm-drive saws, the blade of this Skil HD77 sits to the motor’s left — in easy view for right-handed users.
The motor sits alongside the blade, making for a lighter (11 pounds or less) saw, which is more maneuverable over a long day than a worm drive. The helical gearing on higher-end sidewinders, such as this Milwaukee 6390-20, beefs up the torque, making these models worthy competition for worm drives.
Weight, balance, and handle size are all key features to consider when choosing a saw that fits you. For a slight-bodied person, a small pro model like this 7.7-pound Makita 5740NB may be more appropriate than a full-size sidewinder.
Battery-driven models have increased in size as their power packs have gained voltage, making them convenient tools out in the field or when the electricity’s not on. This Bosch 1660K sports a 6 ½-inch blade and a 24-volt battery — the largest in its class. However, cordless models still have limited run times and generate less torque than corded saws.
For finish work or paneling, Norm Abram prefers a small trim saw; blades range from 3½ to 412 inches. This Porter-Cable 314, with a 4½-inch blade, is the one worm drive on the market — all others are sidewinders.
Large, smooth-cornered lever locks and full-round knobs that can be tightened down with the whole hand, like this one on the DeWALT 364, make it faster and easier to change the depth of cut and bevel settings than small, hard-to-grasp levers and wing nuts.
“No matter what you do, you will drop your saw,” warns Tom Silva. Cast-metal shoes with raised reinforcing ribs on the top surface, as seen here on a Porter-Cable 347, won’t bend like flat aluminum shoes if the saw hits the ground. On the other hand, a cast metal shoe adds weight to a saw.
Norm’s Circular Saw Basics
Circular saws can be dangerous. Always wear safety glasses and follow the safety instructions printed in your saw’s owner’s manual
Set the blade so that its bottommost tooth is 1/8 to ¼ inch below the work piece. Always make sure the power source is unplugged before making any adjustments to the saw.
Support the material on a bench or two strong sawhorses, overhanging enough so that the cut piece will fall. Never prop up this off-cut, or the material will buckle and bind the blade, causing a dangerous kickback.
For an accurate cut, mark the side of the material that will become waste, then line up the blade to just leave the pencil line on the keep side. To make the cut, support the front of the saw shoe on the work piece, but keep the blade about an inch from the material. Then start the saw, letting it come up to full speed before pushing it steadily through the wood.
TIP: For 90-degree cross-cuts, use a speed square to guide the saw (below).
Place large sheets of plywood on 2x4s laid across sawhorses and positioned to support both sides of the cut. Clamp a strip of plywood or other straight material to the work piece at the right distance to guide the saw shoe while cutting the line. Walk alongside the plywood as you cut, holding the cord to make sure it doesn’t get snagged.
TIP: For narrow rips, keep the saw straight by holding the shoe with your free hand and bracing your forefinger on the wood’s edge. You can also use a pair of locking pliers (below) or a rip-fence accessory.
of Norm’s Tips
As a circular saw blade cuts up through wood, the fibers on top splinter off, a condition known as tear-out (usually worse on cross-cutting). If appearances are important, put the good side down when cutting. If you must cut the board face-up or if both sides will show, score the cut line with a utility knife before cutting.
TIP: When cutting a finished piece, such as a painted door, duct-tape the bottom of the saw shoe so it can’t scratch the finish.
A saw blade sinking through the face of a board can “walk” back across the surface, so make sure that no part of your body or the cord is in line with blade. Release the lever for the depth setting and drop the shoe below the blade. Then tighten the lever slightly to keep the blade from dropping, but don’t lock it all the way. Bring the saw up to full speed, lift the guard, and slowly push the body of the saw down to start the cut.
starting the cut in the middle of a board
TIP: Make sure to start back far enough so that you only push the saw forward; never drag a spinning saw back.
If a board is too wide for the saw shoe to hang over the edge during a rip cut, hold a narrow scrap of wood between thumb and forefinger, bracing your finger along the edge of the board, and butt the saw shoe against the edge of the wood scrap as you push both along the board.
When cutting more than one piece of plywood to the same size, stack them on top of each other (or side by side in the case of dimensional lumber), clamp them together firmly, and cut the lot in one pass to save time and ensure consistency.
Blade guards have a tendency to jam on steep bevel cuts, so carefully nudge the guard lever with one finger to ease it over the edge. Once the cut has been started, let the lever go. Never remove the guard or rig it so that it stays up permanently.
Circular Saw Depth of Cut. How Deep Can I Cut?
Circular saws are some of the most common types of saws found both on job sites and in woodworking shops. The relative ease of use, versatility, and portability make the circular saw a popular device. It’s also relatively inexpensive for the number of different cutting jobs it can perform.
How Deep Can a Circular Saw Cut?
One of the most common questions about a circular saw is how deep it can cut. The answer depends on the size of the blade being used. The bigger the blade diameter, the deeper it can cut. There may be exceptions depending on the saw itself, but in most cases, if you purchase a bigger blade, it can deliver a deeper cut for your needs.
This Circular Saw is TOO BIG. Plus TRANSPARENT Lumber! This is your Power Tool News! S3E50
What follows are the most common size of circular saw blades and their normal depth of cut at a 90-degree angle as well as a 45-degree angle.
|Saw Size||Max. Depth at 90°||Cut Depth at 45°|
|5 ½ inch Saw||1 ¾ inch||1 3/16 inches|
|6 ½ inch Saw||2 13/32″||1 11/16″|
|7 ¼ inch Saw||2 ½ inches||1 13/16 inch|
|8 ¼ inch Saw||2 7/8″||2 ¼″|
|10 ¼ inch Saw||3 11/16″ (3.6875 inches)||2 ¾″ (2.75 inches)|
In theory, a circular blade should be able to cut to a depth equal to the radius of the blade minus the flange nut or arbor diameter, whichever is larger. However, in the case of circular saws, you should also consider the thickness of the footplate or base shoe and the safe distance. Besides, too much protrusion of the blade will result in severe kickback and is not safe.
You also consider the angle of cut in the case of bevel cuts. Obviously, a 90-degree cut provides the maximum cut capacity while the 45-degree bevel will limit the thickness you cut through.
The same is true in case of a table saw, miter saw, and other similar power tools.
7 ¼″ Saw: How Deep Can a 7 ¼ Inch Circular Saw Cut?
This is arguably the most common size for circular saw blades. The 7 ¼″ is large enough to handle most jobs while being small enough to be portable and lightweight.
- Saw Size: 7 ¼.inch
- Brand: SKIL 5280-01
- Motor: 15 APMS
- Bevel Angle: 51 degree max
- Laser beam guide, Dust Blower
- Price: Click Here to See the Price
6 ½″ Saw: How Thick Can a 6 1/2 Circular Saw Cut?
Not far behind the 7 ¼″ circular blade is the 6 ½″ saw, at least in terms of popularity. While the blade itself is smaller, it also makes the circular saw lighter and somewhat easier to handle in comparison to larger blades.
8 ¼″ Circular Saw
This is the most popular of the larger types of circular saw blades. These are usually worm drive circular saws since they offer more of the power and torque. However, it is also heavier and less nimble compared to the 7 ¼″.
Skilsaw Super Sawsquatch! Worlds biggest circular saw!
5 ½″ Saw: How Deep Can a 5 1/2 Circular Saw Cut?
The smallest of the more common types of circular saw blades, the 5 ½″ is mostly used in woodworking shops and in homes because of its lightweight design. It can also be used on job sites as well, although not quite as versatile as the larger versions.
Can You Cut a 2 x 4 with a 5 ½″ Circular Saw?
Yes, but it will take more than one cut to do the job. That’s because there will still be ¼″ of the wood left after the first cut, so you will have to flip the board and cut again to go through the remaining material. All the other blades mentioned can go through the 2″ on a single cut.
8-inch and 9-inch Saws
These are not among the common sizes that you can find in your local tool store. However, they do exist and if you are buying online they are definitely an option. But before you buy any of the odd sizes check the availability of the blades.
How deep can an 8-inch circular saw cut? The 8 inch Skilsaw has a cut capacity of up to 2 ¾ inches deep at 90-degree.
The 9-inch saw can cut to a thickness of 3 ¼″ when cut straight and 2 1/8.inches at an angle of 45-degrees.
Circular Saw Depth Adjustment
Keep in mind that while circular saws are portable, they are also rather limited in terms of cuts compared to a jigsaw. A circular saw is designed to make straight cuts rather quickly, which includes both crosscuts and rip cuts. You can also make bevel cuts which is a great feature, although it may take a little practice to perfect.
As the name implies, the blade itself is in the shape of a circle with the teeth jutting outward. The top of the blade is covered with a blade guard to protect against dust and debris from flying away from the material. A shoe or footplate is set around halfway down the blade and will rest on the material itself. This allows for the cuts to be made.
Adjusting the Depth of the Cut
How to adjust circular saw depth? You can adjust the depth of the cut by moving the footplate or base shoe. Unlock the footplate lever which is usually located behind the blade guard. Then lower or raise the footplate to get the required blade depth and lock the base in position.
This allows you to work on different thicknesses of material without having to change the blades. However, the blade itself will determine the maximum thickness of the material which can be cut. There is also a bevel adjustment available on most circular saws for that type of work.
Best Circular Saws to use on 2x4s and 4x4s
Every blade that is listed in the article, save for the 5 ½″, will easily cut through a 2 x 4. You will need a second pass for the 5 ½″ circular saw to successfully cut a 2 x 4. However, a 4 x 4 is too thick for most of the blades mentioned to cut in a single pass. Plus, it cannot be cut by the 5 ½″ diameter saw blade at all since the maximum depth of the blade is less than 2″.
For cutting 2x4s, blades from 6 ½″ and up are recommended since you can cut the material in one pass. And the same size and above are recommended for cutting 4 x 4s, even if you need another pass to do the job.
For most woodworkers, the standard 7 ¼″ blade is good enough for most of the work you will face. It can cut 2 x 4s in one pass and 4 x 4s in two passes. Plus, it is versatile enough to be used in many different situations, making it the jack-of-all-trades circular saw for the type of work that it performs. If you are looking for something smaller, but not too small, then the 6 ½″ blade is probably right for your needs.
Worm Drive vs Sidewinder
The most common type of circular saw is the Sidewinder. This device has the motor on the same axis as the blade. The motor moves the blade thanks to a shaft that extends outward and makes a solid connection. The result is a powerful saw that is relatively easy to maintain and use.
The other type of circular saw is the worm drive which positions the motor at a right angle to the blade. This type of circular saw is designed for heavy-duty work as the gears used to drive the shaft which is connected to the blade add more torque. This type of circular saw tends to be longer and quieter compared to the Sidewinder and is generally used on construction or job sites.
The larger 8 ¼″ is generally reserved for the more expensive worm drive systems of circular saws. If you are doing a lot of heavy work on a job site or woodworking shop, then the larger circular saw blade makes perfect sense.
What Size Circular Saw to Cut 4×4?
The actual size of a 4″ x 4″ lumber is 3 ½″ x 3 ½-inches. If you want to cut through a 4×4 in a single pass, use a 10 ¼ inch circular saw. Although this saw is heavy, it can be very handy in situations such as cutting the top of fence posts that are already installed.
Largest Circular Saw
I am sure some of you are wondering what is the largest circular saw available in the market that offers the maximum depth of cut. Skilsaw and Makita make 16 5/16 inch circular saws that can go up to 6 ¼ inches deep. This means you can cut a 6×6 lumber in one cut which is some serious depth of cut!
The 7 Best Skilsaw Circular Saws in 2023
Skilsaw made circular saws portable when they invented the first portable ones. Before then, they were large, stationary and not very affordable for simple weekend warriors. Since then, many other Power Tool Companies such as DeWALT, Makita, Bosch, Milwaukee and Craftsman have also had their version of the same tool. Before them all, Skilsaw circular saws were the first.
Since it was founded in 1924, Skilsaw have been making different models of circular saws such as the Model 77 and the Model 87. Till date, they’re still in the business and theirs are some of the best in the market, recommended by professional craftsmen and builders in the construction industry.
Whether you want a saw for cutting sheet goods, framing lumber, thick beams for timber framing and even concrete, there’s a skilsaw circular saw for you.
There are two main types to choose from. Sidewinders which are smaller, more compact and lighter, ideal for overhead applications on the jobsite and for DIY projects at home.
The second type are Worm drive models which uses a worm gear to increase the torque for cutting thicker and harder materials, they’re more expensive and usually the model for professional crafts like cutting framing lumber and beams.
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Here in this article, I’ve listed some of the best models available today, whether you’re looking for a worm gear driven model or a sidewinder.
Skil TRUEHVL Cordless Worm Drive 7-1/4 Inch Circular Saw – Best Cordless Jobsite Saw
If you want a circular saw you can take with you anywhere without worrying about electricity to get it running, then this Skil TRUEHVL worm drive saw is one of the best options out there to go for.
It combines performance, durability and portability, making it one of the most suitable pick for jobsite conditions.
Talking about durability or build quality, the Skil TRUEHVL body is crafted from magnesium components, making it not only durable but also lightweight.
As for performance, the TRUEHVL is a worm drive saw equipped with a brushless motor with a no-load speed of 5800 rpm, which not only produces more torque for carrying out difficult cuts through hardwood, but also reduces battery consumption.
With it, you can carry out up to 425 cuts per every single charge of the battery.
The Skil TRUEHVL is cordless, which makes it very convenient to use in any situation both in the workshop and on the jobsite, without dragging any wires along with you.
An integrated dust extraction port ensures you can connect a shop vac if you want, and keep a clean work station.
The handle is well molded and rubberized for user comfort and easy handling.
For cordless tool, battery life is very important. That’s why the Skil TRUEHVL battery design makes it one of the best in the market. The battery cells are design to maximize hit dissipation, and each cell is wrapped with a cooling material that regulates the temperature of the battery, thus extending the overall battery life.
Charging the battery takes approximately 1 hour, and it takes up to 425 cuts before it needs to be recharged again.
The Skil TRUEHVL worm drive circular saw comes equipped with a 7-1/4 inch blade. It can make straight 90 degree cuts up to 2-3/8 in depth, and 45 degree bevel cuts at 1-15/16 inches in depth.
It’s heavier than most sidewinder circular saws, so if you’re coming from a sidewinder, you’ll find this significantly heavier. However, it gets the job done better, cuts smoother even through hardwood.
The price is also on the high side, costing over 500 bucks. This here is not a cheap Skilsaw circular saw. If you’re looking for something budget-friendly, this is not the one.
Skilsaw OUTLAW SPT78MMC-01 – Best For Metal Cutting
Apart from cutting wood and non-ferrous metals, some circular saws like this Skilsaw OUTLAW are also designed to cut steel.
The Skilsaw OUTLAW is an 8 inch worm drive saw specifically designed to go above the norm and cut hard materials like steel. I guess that’s why it’s called “OUTLAW”.
Designed to cut the strongest building materials, you can be sure that the Skilsaw OUTLAW was certainly built to last and withstand rough handling and jobsite conditions.
The all magnesium gear housing construction ensures it will not break, bend or get damaged even if it falls down. Although these tools are not meant to be abused, the sturdy construction ensures the OUTLAW is able to withstand any job thrown at it.
It comes equipped with a 42 teeth carbide-tipped blade, which is not the best quality but it gets the job done, even reducing the amount of sparks produced during cuts.
But if you really want to push this saw to the limit and see what it’s really capable of, remove the stock blade that came with it and install a metal cutting Diablo blade.
The Skilsaw metal cutting circular saw comes equipped with a dual-field 15 amp motor which produces more power for making cuts.
Combine that with the worm gearing, the torque produced at the spinning blade allows the user to cut materials with ease. Whether you’re cutting through tubings, metal plates or even angle iron, this will cut through any framing metal easily.
It’s equipped with a relatively large chip tray which holds most of the chips produced during the cut, so you can keep a clean work area, and be able to empty it out later for disposal.
For those carrying out metal framing projects, this is one of the best metal cutting circular saws to get.
This saw is in no way small. In fact, with an 8 inch blade, it’s bigger than most circular saws you might have come across. The 8 inch blade is capable of producing a maximum 90 degree cut depth of 2-3/4 inches.
The shoe plate that comes with it is made of stainless steel, which is quite flexible, and might bend if it falls hardly on the ground.
It’s very powerful, but I’ll only recommend it for cutting only framing metal. If you’re carrying out some fabrication projects that requires you to cut really thick metal plates, round bars, and thick steel beams, this might not be the ideal cutting tool for it.
If you want more performance out of it though, try upgrading the blade that came with it, and you’ll see much improvement in the cuts.
Skilsaw SPT70V-11 Super SAWSQUATCH Worm Drive (Largest Circular Saw) – Best For Cutting Beams – Timber Framing
We figured, if we’re going to review Skilsaw circular saws, why not start with the largest of them all? The Skilsaw SPT70V-11 Super SAWSQUATCH.
It’s a worm drive unit that comes equipped with a blade that is 16-5/16 inches in size, and boasts a 6-1/4 inch cut capacity. Read that again.
This is a beast, it’s the biggest meant for the toughest and largest jobs you can ever hope to tackle with a circular saw, such as cutting thick beams for timber framing projects.
It has almost all its components made of magnesium metal which makes it very lightweight compared to its huge size. The magnesium construction also makes it very strong and durable.
The Skilsaw SPT70V-11 comes equipped with a 15 AMP Dual-Field motor that keeps the it running cool and efficiently.
An inbuilt electric brake quickly stops the blade once you’re through cutting with it, which is a very good safety feature to have in a machine of this size.
The Skilsaw SPT70V-11 Super SAWSQUATCH is one with an unusual size. It’s meant for the biggest of boards, and the toughest of projects.
With a 6-1/4 inch cutting depth capacity, you can bring out some of your thickest lumber, even lay sheet goods on top of sheet goods, this blade will go through them all at time.
Skilsaw SPT70WM-01 10-1/4 SAWSQUATCH Worm Drive Circular Saw – Best For Framing
With the Skilsaw SPT70WM-01 SAWSQUATCH worm drive circular saw, you can cut 4x lumber easily in one pass.
It comes equipped with a 15 Amp dual field motor which powers the worm gearing allowing you to cut relentlessly whether you’re in the workshop or on the jobsite.
The 15 Amp motor not only powers the blade but also keeps it cooler as you cut with the saw, making the blade last longer as a result.
Cut any kind of lumber with it, including LVL, PSL, pine and glulam. It’s a true worm drive saw that produces all the torque you need to make the most difficult cuts on the jobsite with ease.
The all magnesium construction screams quality and durability. Meaning you’ll be cutting with it for a very long time without getting damage, plus it’s as lightweight as any machine of this size can ever be.
Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 7-1/4 Inch Circular Saw
Another Skilsaw circular saw you want to take a look at is the SPT77WML-01 worm drive model. It’s smaller compared to the ones we reviewed earlier but it’s a beast on its own.
It’s a saw designed with framers in mind. The all magnesium construction makes it very lightweight and durable, weighing just 11.6 lbs.
The SPT77WML-01 Skilsaw circular saw comes equipped with a 7-1/4 inch blade with a capacity to cut up to a depth of 2-3/8 inches.
A maximum bevel of 53 degrees with stops at 0 degrees and 45 degrees ensures you can make different types of cuts with it.
Like I said earlier, it’s a saw built with framers in mind. You’ll get years of service from this whether you work day-in-day-out on a busy jobsite.
Skilsaw SOUTHPAW SPT67M8-01 Left Blade Sidewinder
Enough said about Skilsaw worm drive circular saws, if you need a Skilsaw sidewinder model, then this SOUTHPAW SPT67M8-01 left blade or left hand circular saw will definitely meet your needs, especially if you’re a leftie.
It’s a left hand or left blade circular saw which means you have more visibility of the blade and cutline when you’re cutting with it.
The Southpaw SPT67M8-01 sidewinder comes equipped with a 7-1/4 inch blade and has a cutting depth of 2-7/16 inches when cutting at 90 degrees.
It has a 56 degree bevel capacity and features positive stops at 0 and 45 degrees respectively.
It’s a saw you can use to cut both hard and engineered wood for applications like decking, framing, ceiling and siding.
Like the previous saws in this list, this mode is also made of magnesium metal, which means it’s very lightweight. You can get a lot of cuts carried out without feeling the weight in your hands. It’s made by Skil, hence you can be sure of many years of service from this Southpaw SPT67M8-01 model.
Skil 5280-01 7-1/4 Inch Sidewinder With Single Beam Laser Guide
If you’re looking for a very affordable but quality Skilsaw circular saw, then you should definitely go for this one.
The SKil 5280-01 is a wallet-friendly circular saw best for DIY enthusiasts and weekend warriors to carry out their woodworking projects without investing too much on one tool.
Although the Skil 5280-01 is not very expensive, it does not lack in quality and user-friendly features. The saw comes equipped with a single beam laser guide to help you make straight and accurate cuts easily.
A dust blower helps keep the line of cut free from sawdust allowing you to see your cut line and improve your accuracy.
The Skil 5280-01 circular saw comes equipped with a 15 amp motor and a 7-1/4 inch sized carbide tipped blade for making cuts.
If you ever need to change the blade that came with it, the spindle lock allows you to lock the arbor in place, allowing you to swap blades without breaking a sweat.
With a bevel capacity of 51 degrees, you can make bevel cuts even at extreme angles with this model.
Circular saws are becoming more sophisticated and easier to use. Here are some of the best for DIYers and professional builders.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Choosing a Circular Saw
The first power tool — an electric drill — was invented in 1889. Less than 40 years later, the Skilsaw Company produced the first handheld circular saws. These offered obvious advantages over hand sawing. Now, no one who works with wood would be without one.
Today, multiple refinements of this essential tool make it indispensable. Pretty much every circular saw includes features like plastic housings, blade guards and adjustable bases. But designs vary. The saws with the most sophisticated and user-friendly features often cost more … but not always.
Features to consider when buying a circular saw
Although many circular saw features are standard, manufacturers continue to incorporate new ones into more sophisticated designs. Here are some of the standard and not-so-standard features to consider as you shop for the best circular saw for your purposes.
- Gear-driven or direct drive: The worm-drive circular saw was the first one invented. It develops more cutting torque than a sidewinder, i.e. a saw with a blade mounted next to the motor and connected directly to the drive shaft. Worm-drive saws are preferred for heavy construction, though the blade spins more slowly and makes rough cuts. Hypoid saws are a variation of the worm-drive model.
- Bevel capacity: The base or shoe tilts for making bevel cuts, but not all models tilt the same amount. The best circular saw bevels more than 45 degrees with positive stops at 22.5 and 45 degrees, saving time when making adjustments.
- Adjustment controls: Look for easy-to-operate adjustment levers for tilt angle and cutting depth. Turn screws take more time and can slip.
- Tool weight: Heavy saws are more tiring and awkward to use. Housing and base materials influence weight. The best circular saw has a magnesium or plastic body and an aluminum or magnesium shoe. Besides their weight, steel shoes can bend and rust.
- Ergonomics: The best circular saw for most uses should be lightweight and compact with easy-to-operate controls. Beware of saws that require you to keep the trigger stop depressed while simultaneously holding the trigger. It’s tiring and limits your freedom of movement.
- Desirable features: The best include positive bevel stops, onboard wrench storage for quick blade changing and an LED guide light. You’ll appreciate the LED when your shadow blocks the room light, making the cut line hard to see. Some saws offer a laser guide, but the usefulness of this feature is debatable.
Best Circular Saw Overall
The price tag qualifies it as splurge. But if you aren’t on a budget, the Makita 18V X2 LXT Circular Saw delivers corded power in a cordless model. It features a 7-1/4-in. blade, 2-5/8-in. cutting depth and a brushless worm-drive motor that delivers fast blade rotation (6,000 revolutions per minute) to eliminate chip-out problems.
It weighs only 10 pounds with two on-board batteries. It also features variable blade speed, a blade brake, dust blower and a 56-degree bevel with positive stops. Nice.