Skilsaw Carpentry Chainsaw Review: Sawsquatch Expands Its Reach. Skil beam saw
Skilsaw Carpentry Chainsaw Review: Sawsquatch Expands Its Reach
Sawsquatch is at it again, this time bringing its worm drive design to the new Skilsaw Carpentry Chainsaw. Realistically, this isn’t a very crowded space with Prazi and Festool (UK only) filtering into the main conversation.
A couple of large diameter circular saws, like the Super Sawsquatch, also fit the beam cutting bill, but with nowhere near the cutting capacity that this Sawsquatch has.
- Deep 14-1/4″ cutting capacity (8-3/4″ at 45º)
- Adjustable angle of attack to ease into cuts
- Tool-free chain tensioning
- Full house chain leaves a better finish
- Only specifically designed tool in its class available in the US
Skilsaw Carpentry Chainsaw – The Basics
If this is an unfamiliar class for you, carpentry chainsaws set themselves apart by adding a footplate to a beefed-up (and highly modified) electric chainsaw. This gives you the ability to slide the saw across a beam or other large stock similar to the way you would a circular saw. If you’re ambitious, you can even start from the tree of your choice and mill it down to the exact lumber you want.
The Skilsaw Carpentry Chainsaw replaces a standard chainsaw handle with a worm drive design, giving it the appearance of a 90º chainsaw/circular saw mix. You still get a self-oiling chain, but there’s a chain barrier that acts as a stabilizer (and guard) on the backside with a nose cap protecting the bar end. Even though it prevents plunge cutting, the overall safety and straighter cutting is a bigger win.
The saw is well-built, with metal parts everywhere we hoped to find them. The major body components are magnesium, keeping the weight down to 18 pounds (minus the bar and chain) without sacrificing strength.
Unsurprisingly, Skilsaw uses their 15-amp Dual Field worm drive motor to power the new saw. Dual Field technology is Skilsaw’s design that promotes better cooling, helping the motor avoid overheating and thus extending its life.
The Skilsaw Carpentry Chainsaw features a 16″ bar and full house chain with a 14-1/4″ cutting depth. Clearly, that goes way beyond even the Super Sawsquatch’s ability and even other dedicated carpentry chainsaws.
The nice thing is that the full house chain leaves a finer finish than the rough cut of a standard chain. Every link has its own cutter instead of every other one, so it’s a similar concept to adding additional teeth to a circular saw blade. It’s not sandpaper smooth, but it’ll put you well ahead of repurposing your STIHL.
Any chainsaw creates a lot of sawdust and chips, making efficient dust collection a challenge. Skilsaw helps keep things manageable with a dust port on the top. In practice, we used it mainly as a directional chip ejector since all of our work was outside.
When you’re making cuts in material that you need the best finish on, flip the anti-splinter guard against the bar. It sits on the edge of your cut and keeps the splintering to a minimum.
Even though you have standard worm drive handles, Skilsaw also includes an auxiliary handle. It stores in an upright position on the right side of the saw when you’re not using it or installs on the left when you want it.
The Skilsaw Carpentry Chainsaw comes with a base that lets you set it at an angle for storage and transportation. Clips on either side lock it down with the handle nearly centered at the top. It’s interesting that they chose to go with this design over a full blow-molded case.
The only concern I have is transporting the saw in the back of a truck in its upright position. It’s pretty stable, but still has some risk of tipping over. You may want to keep a bungee cord handy to strap it against the side of your truck bed.
Using the Skilsaw Carpentry Chainsaw
Before making your first cut, realize you have a couple of options. When making a cut that doesn’t require the full depth, you can adjust the angle of attack back a few degrees and make your entry easier. I highly recommend using it when you can.
You can also bevel up to 60º, which is really handy if you’re making angled cuts into 6×6 or 8×8 that even the Super Sawsquatch can’t get close to on one pass.
Getting to Work
On our horse farm, there’s no end to the amount of cutting jobs we have. We’re cutting fence posts, fence boards, and even raw lumber from felled trees on occasion for various projects.
For the fence posts, I usually use my 10-1/4″ Sawsquatch to cut them with one pass. But one thing I really wanted to try was gang cutting fence boards to size. We stacked them 10 high and clamped them down to a set of sawhorses. Sure enough, one pass got me 10 boards ready to go.
I also decided to shape up a cedar to start drying out for a table I plan to build with it later. Here, the saw’s chainsaw heritage really showed up as it confidently cut through the bark, outer rings, and heartwood.
What really impressed me, though, was the quality of the finish. Even with a full house chain, I didn’t expect it to cut as cleanly as it did. There’s still work to do, of course, but I would never have guessed a chainsaw made the cut if I wasn’t there to see it myself.
There’s a long list of applications you could use a saw like this for, and I’d love to see what you think if you leave a comment for us. One of the things I realized is that it’s an easier saw to use for jobs that you might use the Super Sawsquatch on. It’s lighter and easier to maneuver, though you end up with a rougher cut than the circular saw blade leaves.
Expect the Skilsaw Carpentry Chainsaw to retail for around 699. There are several retailers accepting preorders now with estimated shipping dates in early December.
Skilsaw doesn’t have much competition in this category. Its closest is the Prazi attachment to convert a standard circular saw into a 12″ depth of cut saw (~150). There’s also an 18″ model, but it’s for foam and softwoods. There are definitely some trade-offs there considering you’re putting an attachment on a saw that was never designed to run a chainsaw chain, but it’s an option.
On a smaller scale, Festool has a 7.9″ Sword Saw that you won’t find it for sale in the US.
The Bottom Line
When you’re working with thick material or gang cutting smaller boards, the Skilsaw Carpentry Chainsaw leaves the rest of your options in the dust. It has the power to make tough cuts with a design that more cutting capacity than pretty much any other handheld saw available.
I like the latest Sawsquatch for large timber framing and gang cuts on material like fence boards, deck boards, and engineered joists. That’s just a few that I use regularly and there are plenty of others out there. Just keep in mind that its full house chain cut finish is going to be a bit rougher than large diameter circular saws, even though it’s better than a standard chainsaw.
Skilsaw Carpentry Chainsaw Specifications
- Model: Skilsaw SPT55-11
- Motor: 15-amp worm drive
- Bar Length: 16 inches
- No-Load Speed: 6300 RPM
- Max Cutting Depth at 90 Degrees: 14-1/4 inches
- Max Cutting Depth at 45 Degrees: 8-3/4″ inches
- Included Chain: 56-tooth full house chain
- Dry Weight: 18 pounds without bar, chain, stand, oil, or cord
- Price: 679.00
- Warranty: 1 year with 6-month no questions asked return guarantee
Skilsaw SPT70V-11 SUPER SAWSQUATCH 16-5/16″ Worm Drive Circular Saw
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Skil Skilsaw 16-5/16 In. Magnesium Worm Drive Saw is the Fastest Way to Cut
This 16-5/16 IN. Worm Drive Skilsaw is the new boss. The biggest worm drive saw on Earth tears through whatever you throw at it. This beast of a saw boasts a 6-1/4 IN. cutting capacity to power through 6x in one easy cut. The magnesium, die-cast foot plate guarantees true, square cuts every time. With lightweight, durable magnesium construction, brass worm drive gearing, and our 15 AMP Dual-Field motor, everything about this saw is built to be relentless. The included 16-5/16 IN. SKIL blade makes perfect cuts right out of the box.
Skilsaw Offers Maximum Control
With a large capacity worm drive and electric brake, this Skilsaw gives you total control over each cut on the job.
Skil Worm Drive Saw Perfectly Cuts
This Skil 16-5 in Magnesium Worm Drive Saw uses a touch magnesium die-cast and 16-5/6 in Skilsaw blade to make perfect cuts right out of the box.
The Skil SPT70V-11 is the Most Efficient
The Skilsaw SPT70V-11 cuts more efficiently than competitors. Via the patented Dual-Field technology this cordless worm drive saw cuts with more power while keeping the engine from overheating for more productivity.
Skilsaw SPT70V-11 Features:
Rated 5 out of 5 by Michael2023 from Everything you hoped for Great power quality. Grown men look at this saw like women look at newborn babies. My blade was not square out of the box needed adjusting so don’t start cutting without checking first. I’d buy this saw again!
Rated 5 out of 5 by Billyballz1 from Worth the money ! Saw is an absolute animal. very smooth with no regrets on buying!
Rated 5 out of 5 by PhilipE from Joining with Sasquatch As a professional builder, I recognize any tool that saves time and offers a dependable result has value to the customer. When a laborer has to handle a unit multiple times, a process takes longer than when a unit is handled only a couple of times. If you are able to understand the cost associated with having one or two team members save an extra five to six minutes on a unit such as a decorative post or beam and multiply it over dozens of units, then it’s hard not to justify the low cost of this saw. If you are a pro and handle 6X material semi-regularly, this saw is worth keeping in the tool shed. There is another teal-colored beam saw available, it is a good tool too. This one is better. At least for right-handed people like this guy. This saw allows one to cut large lumber and shape it with precision. The pictures I’m including are 6×6 posts fitted together with pretty tight joinery. The time saved on a project like this is significant with a beam saw.
Rated 4 out of 5 by Emil from Great saw, wobbly blade Great saw, easy to see the line that is being cut, easy to maneuver and hold. Blade has a lot of wobble to it though.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Ssmith from Great addition Makes cutting Timbers so much easier. Worth its weight in gold.
Rated 5 out of 5 by EdOver50 from It’s a beast Great power and love that I can mode the handle where I need it. Blade on the left really suits my cutting and like how the blade indents are clear for strait and beveled cuts
- Skilsaw SPT70V-11 SUPER SAWSQUATCH 16-5/16″ Worm Drive Circular Saw Reviews. page 2
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Get the speed and accuracy your projects require with a reliable circular saw that truly makes the cut.
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The words “versatile” and “tool” are combined so often these days that it’s hard to tell if it’s the truth or just a marketing ploy. But a quick tour of a professional construction site will undoubtedly prove that a circular saw—a handheld electric saw that uses a round spinning blade to cut materials—is the real deal when it comes to versatility. A good home workshop also warrants a reliable, powerful saw for various tasks, from breaking down a sheet of plywood to making quick, repetitive cuts on a stack of framing lumber.
Almost every power tool company sells one or more circular saw models. With an abundance of brands, power options, and features, choosing one can be challenging. We decided to test today’s most popular options and determine which ones were up to the task of making powerful, consistent cuts.
We tested the saws on various wood types, including timbers, particle-strand lumber (PSL), plywood, and dimensional lumber. We didn’t go easy on them because these tools should be capable of delivering reliable results even when pushed to their limits. The following lineup of the best circular saws features the ones that excelled in our tests. Find out the pros, cons, and maybe a few surprises we discovered when testing these top tools.
- BEST OVERALL:Makita 36V (18V X2) Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw Kit
- RUNNER-UP:DeWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Greenworks 24V Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw
- BEST SMALL:Makita 18V LXT Cordless 5⅜-In. Circular Trim Saw
- BEST FOR FRAMING:Skil PWR CORE 20 XP Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw
- BEST LASER GUIDE:Skil 15-Amp 7¼-In. Corded Circular Saw
- BEST FOR TIMBERS:Skil 10¼-In. Magnesium Worm Drive Skilsaw
- BEST KIT:Bosch PROFACTOR 18V Strong Arm 7¼-In. Circular Saw
- BEST FOR PROS:DeWALT DWS535B 7¼-In. Worm Drive Circular Saw
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Circular Saw
Motor alignment, run speed, amperages, and blade types are all essential aspects of a circular saw, so here’s a quick primer to get started.
Corded vs. Battery-Powered
As with any type of saw, corded circular saws tie the user to the power source (i.e., an electric socket), whereas battery-operated models can go anywhere. On professional jobsites, cordless circular saws were once shunned in favor of corded models—but with the recent improvements in lithium-ion batteries, this is changing. When battery-powered circular saws hit the market, they were far inferior to a good corded option in both power and speed. They also went through battery life quickly, and some would heat up or jam as soon as the blade met with any resistance from the material being cut.
However, today’s battery-operated cordless circular saws have much more power and far longer battery life. Much of this improvement is due to the adoption of brushless motors (the latest, most efficient, maintenance-free technology) and higher-quality lithium-ion batteries.
Sidewinder vs. Worm Drive
Despite what it might sound like, this comparison is not a professional wrestling bout! Sidewinder and worm drive refer to motor alignment and position on a circular saw. A sidewinder model’s motor is installed in line with the blade, enabling it to run at high speeds in a compact footprint.
SKIL 16″ Worm Drive 16″ Carpentry Chainsaw Review
A worm-drive circular saw has a motor in the rear of the saw and uses a set of worm gears (so-called because of their spiraling worm shape) by the blade. Worm-drive saws, which are usually longer, larger, and heavier than sidewinders, tend to reduce speed but increase torque (force). They also require oil to lubricate the gears, so users should check their oil level daily.
Bottom line: For speed, size, and ease of maintenance, a sidewinder model is the way to go; for power and torque, worm-drive saws reign supreme.
Amperage and Speed
Amperage refers to the amount of electrical power a motor can withstand without its inner components failing. In the past, electric motors were weaker and not as capable, so amperage (amp) was an important specification to tout. Nearly all modern corded circular saws feature 15-amp motors.
A saw’s speed, however, can be a consideration, since the faster the blade spins, the quicker it can cut through a material. But speeds tend to be relative because a 15-amp motor can spin a 7¼-inch blade faster than a 10¼-inch blade. Generally speaking, when it comes to 7¼-inch saws, speeds between 4,000 and 5,500 revolutions per minute (rpm) are common and should be adequate for fast, accurate results. Worm drives may offer slightly lower speeds but come with more torque (spinning force), so while they may cut more slowly, they won’t overheat or bog down during big cutting jobs.
Keep in mind that blade speed has very little to do with the density of material a saw can cut. This is largely dependent on the blade type and quality.
Blade Size and Type
One noticeable difference among circular saw models is the size of their blades. Each uses a specific-size blade. The average pro or DIYer can get most framing and construction jobs done with a 7¼-inch model. Compact saws might feature blades in the 5⅜-inch range, while large saw blades can be 10¼ inches or more.
Popular blade types include all-purpose, framing, finish, and plywood blades. The tooth count (the number of teeth around a blade) determines which projects a blade works best for. The lower the tooth count, the rougher the cut will be, making these blades suitable for framing or demolition. Higher-count blades should be used for cabinetmaking, plywood, and finish work.
Pro Tip: Circular saws cut on the “upswing,” meaning the cutting half of the blade (the part under the shoe) spins toward the front of the saw. This will inevitably cause tiny slivers of wood to “tear out” of the wood—particularly when cutting plywood—creating noticeably rough edges that detract from the quality of work. To minimize tear out, lay a piece of painter’s tape over the cutline to hold these fibers in place. It’s also possible to cut wood face down to eliminate tear-out concerns on the face of the wood.
The base plate that rides on the workpiece is known as a shoe, which will generally be made of one of three materials:
- Steel, though once popular, is less popular today because, despite being inexpensive and sturdy, it’s also very heavy.
- Aluminum is far lighter than steel but more expensive and not as tough.
- Magnesium, which is about 30 percent of the weight-per-volume of aluminum, is the high-tech metal of choice for circular saw shoes. Magnesium is stronger than aluminum (and even steel in some applications) and easier to manufacture but considerably more expensive.
Ease of Adjustment
Certain materials, such as plywood and other sheet goods, require a shallow blade depth, while others (framing applications, 4×4 posts, etc.) demand the full depth a saw can muster. So for true versatility, a circular saw should allow the user to make quick and accurate depth adjustments.
Almost all models feature levers or knobs to adjust the blade angle, known as the “bevel.” Knobs tend to be more accurate at dialing in the perfect angle, although they’re a bit of a hassle to loosen and tighten when wearing work gloves.
The most important consideration when it comes to blade angle adjustment is an easily accessible level or knob. Some manufacturers put these knobs in an inconvenient place—for instance, the rear of the saw between the handle and blade guard—but an angle-adjustment knob in front of the motor where it’s easy to access is the most thoughtful design.
Manufacturers build safety features into their machines to combat the dangers inherent to circular saws. One helpful safety feature is an electric brake, which stops circular saw blades almost immediately after the user releases the trigger. Older models would allow the blade to come to a stop on its own, which could result in a spinning blade coming into contact with something unintended.
Built-in LED lights and spring-loaded blade guards also offer significant safety measures. The work lights illuminate the workpiece, allowing the user to see the cutline and any debris or impending mistakes they should avoid. The retractable guards cover the blade as soon as the blade is removed from the workpiece, helping to minimize dangers.
Safety is also the responsibility of the user, so be sure to wear eye and ear protection when using a circular saw.
Some of the best circular saws offer additional features that make the job easier and faster. For instance, some models have dust-collection ports and detachable collection bags to help minimize the amount of sawdust on the cutline. Others might come with extra batteries, depending on the kit.
Another helpful feature that manufacturers offer with their saws is a built-in rafter hook. These hooks swivel out of the saw, allowing the user to hang them from a rafter, ladder, sawhorse, or another sturdy ledge. Builders have been attaching hooks to their saws for years, and manufacturers are now catching on.
Our Top Picks
When choosing the best circular saw, there is a lot to know. Luckily, shopping for one doesn’t have to be so confusing. Our hands-on testing process put these tools to work, making straight and angled cuts on various types of material. Unfortunately, not all the saws we tested met our high standards. You can find the ones that didn’t measure up detailed under “Also Tested.” The following models all excelled to earn a spot on this list of the best circular saws, and one is sure to be suitable for a particular user’s project.
Makita 36V (18V X2) Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw Kit
For several reasons, the 36-volt cordless Makita circular saw takes top honors in our lineup of the best circular saws. One of the first things we noticed was that the flat base, or “shoe,” was made from magnesium, and so was the retractable blade guard—we were impressed. In our experience, magnesium is not only lightweight, it’s also more durable than steel or aluminum.
We charged both 18-volt lithium-ion batteries to full capacity and got started. We put the Makita to the test by making straight and bevel cuts of various depths on plywood and dimensional lumber. It powered through smoothly with no torque loss, even after the battery indicators showed less than half a charge. We made repeated cuts over an hour, and the Makita’s motor and housing never heated up.
The saw comes with a quick-change angle adjustment, which is handy and straightforward. The Makita cuts at any angle up to 56 degrees and has positive stops, meaning the angle adjustment clicks into a locked position at standard cutting angles of 22½, 45, and 56 degrees. It cuts to a maximum 2⅝-inch depth, and adjusting the depth was a breeze. The easy adjustments make this saw well suited for quick-moving projects when the user needs to change angles or depth quickly and doesn’t want to stop and use a wrench (the old-fashioned way) to make the adjustments.
This top-performing circular saw also comes with a sawdust discharge nozzle. Typically, these nozzles help direct the flow of sawdust in outdoor settings, but they’re also made to connect to standard wet/dry vacuum hoses. We noticed quite a bit of sawdust escaping from around the blade guard rather than discharging out of the nozzle, so we felt it didn’t make much difference.
- High-quality magnesium foot plate and blade guard add to durability
- Quick lever adjustments for the blade depth and angle make adjustments fast and simple
- 2 bright guide lights illuminate the material right at the point the saw meets the blade
Get the Makita 36V circular saw at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
DeWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw
DeWALT is a leader in the power tool market, and this 20-volt cordless circular saw is a perfect example of why. This saw excelled in our testing, proving to be well designed and ergonomic—a great combination. We made repeated straight and angled cuts of various depths over an hour and the saw didn’t lose power or heat up. It had just as much power on its last cut of the test as its first.
This circular saw from DeWALT has a bevel capacity of up to 57 degrees, with positive stops at 45 and 22½ degrees, making it handy to cut standard angles without needing to examine the angle measurements carefully before locking in. At 2 9/16 inches, it also offers a deeper cutting depth than most of its competitors.
The base is aluminum, which makes the tool relatively lightweight (9 pounds). We would have preferred a magnesium base for durability purposes, but we don’t consider the lack to be a deal breaker. We found both the blade-angle-adjustment lever and the depth-adjustment lever saved time when we made adjustments.
This DeWALT also boasts a rafter hook, which adds to its versatility. Given this is a slightly compact saw, the rafter hook makes it a top option for framing a roof structure with dimensional lumber—users can hang it on a rafter while performing another task and then grab it when they’re ready to cut again. We like this DeWALT saw for pros, but we also think dedicated DIYers will use it a lot.
- Relatively compact and ergonomic design makes it suitable for carrying on the jobsite
- Rafter hook allows user to hang the tool securely when working at heights rather than set it down where it could fall
- Blade depth and angle are easy to change with quick-adjust levers
Get the DeWALT 20V circular saw at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
Greenworks 24V Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw
Not everyone needs all of the features of a top-of-the-line cordless saw or the heavy-duty capability of a timber-framing model. For DIY projects that include an occasional small framing job or breaking down plywood sheets—especially when saving money is a priority—the affordable Greenworks 7¼-Inch Circular Saw might be the right choice.
Skilsaw SPT70V-11 Super Sawsquatch 16-5/16″ Worm Drive Saw Review
We’ve tested plenty of tools from many manufacturers, but this is the first Greenworks power tool we tried, and we were pleasantly surprised. Despite its affordable price, this circular saw made repeated straight and bevel cuts in plywood and dimensional lumber over an hour of solid testing, without heating up on us or losing power. It tops out at 4,500 rpm, which is slightly less speed than some of the other saws we tested, but it was sufficient for cutting the types of wood most DIYers will need to cut.
The CR24L00K features quick adjustments for both angle cutting (up to 45 degrees) and cutting depth (up to 2½ inches), and we found it simple to adjust both. The base shoe is made from stamped metal, which is to be expected at this price point, but we were disappointed that the blade guard is plastic—it really should be metal. The blade guard didn’t break during our tests, but it’s a weak point in the tool’s design.
- An affordable circular saw that is suitable for making most DIY and around-the-house cuts
- Comes with a battery charger and a lithium-ion battery; ready to cut right out of the box
- Nice ergonomics; feels comfortable in hand during use
- Offers slightly less speed than some other models
- Blade guard is made from plastic rather than metal, which puts it at greater risk of breaking
Get the Greenworks circular saw at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Greenworks.
Makita 18V LXT Cordless 5⅜-In. Circular Trim Saw
For part-time DIYers or smaller-framed users, Makita’s 18V LXT cordless 5⅜-inch circular saw’s small size and minimal weight make it an attractive, portable option. This saw weighs just 6 pounds, allowing DIYers of any size and skill level to wield it.
Despite its minimal size and small blade, this cordless circular saw has a depth of cut of up to 2 inches, offering more than enough capacity for cutting dimensional lumber. Its 3,600-rpm top speed ought to make it capable of handling most projects, though the speed is less than some competitive models. The base bevels up to 50 degrees to allow users to make angled cuts.
Although small, we found that this Makita packs quite a punch. We tested it by cutting plywood and dimensional lumber, making straight cuts and angles, and it powered right through. The dual support knob is a little on the small side, but we were able to use it to keep the saw stable while cutting. We think most pros will use this compact saw as a one-handed saw, however, and not depend on the dual support. This saw is well suited for light cutting and overhead cutting, where it isn’t easy to wield a heavier circular saw.
- Lightweight at under 7 pounds; suitable for overhead cutting when necessary
- Although compact, still offers a 2-inch depth of cut, which increases versatility
- Size plus cordless operation makes this a worthy portable option
- Dual hand support is on the small side and not well suited to large hands
- A “tool only” purchase—the battery and charger must be bought separately
Get the Makita 18V circular saw at Amazon or The Home Depot.
Skil PWR CORE 20 XP Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw
Those who want a pro-level circular saw for DIY jobs should consider this Skil model. At first glance, we thought the Skil PWR CORE was a worm-drive saw because of its length and heft. It’s a sidewinder, however, with the motor located next to the blade—not behind it. When inspecting the saw, we discovered that the additional length was the positioning of the double-battery case, which sits to the rear of the motor.
By grasping the rear handle and the dual stabilizer bar at the front, we could easily control the saw when cutting dense wood and larger pieces of dimensional lumber. The two 20-volt batteries (5 amp hours or Ah), which are included, provided more than enough power to make repetitive straight and angled cuts on plywood and dimensional lumber. Since it’s billed as a heavy-duty model, we also tested it on laminated veneer lumber (LVL), which is very dense and more difficult to cut than dimensional lumber. The saw cut through the LVL without bogging down.
We like the deeper-than-average cutting depth of 2 9/16 inches and the up to 53-degree-angle cutting capacity. What we didn’t like was having to press a second lever to adjust the blade angle beyond 53 degrees. The Skil saw has a lock stop at 45 degrees, and we had to push a separate latch to adjust the angle farther, which felt uncomfortable and seemed unnecessary. We also would have preferred a magnesium base shoe to the aluminum one, but we did like the elongated shoe style that helps stabilize the saw on deep cuts.
Overall, we found this saw to be well designed, ergonomic, and suitable for heavy-duty DIY use. This is the Skil model that we feel bridges the gap between a standard consumer and a pro tool.
- Elongated design of the saw adds control and stability during cuts
- Two 20-volt batteries, included with purchase, provide twice as much power
- While still a 7¼-inch circular saw, it can be adjusted to a depth of 2 9/16 inches, which is deeper than most 7¼-inch saws
Get the Skil PWR CORE circular saw at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Acme Tools.
Skil 15-Amp 7¼-In. Corded Circular Saw
Getting the hang of a circular saw can be challenging, but a circular saw with laser guidance can make jobs much easier. This Skil circular saw features a single-beam laser that allows the user to maintain consistent passes on cutlines, taking some of the learning curve out of straight cuts.
In our experience, some laser guides are dim, or they don’t extend more than a few inches, but the laser on the Skil saw is a notable exception. Even outdoors on a mostly sunny day, the laser was visible on the material for more than 2 feet.
This saw cuts angles up to 51 degrees and comes with a positive stop at 45 degrees, which is the angle used most often when cutting miters. Adjusting both angle and depth is simple via levers, and the tool comes with a maximum cutting depth of 2.4357 inches.
Besides the laser beam, this corded circular saw also boasts a 5,300-rpm top speed from its 15-amp motor, offering plenty of power and capability. The saw did get pretty warm to the touch after about 45 minutes of use, which told us that we were pushing it further than it was designed to go. While we deem it a good choice for making straight and angled cuts on plywood and dimensional lumber, it’s not for heavy-duty sawing. It has several plastic components, which likely helps keep the price down, so we consider it to be best for novice DIYers who work on small projects and need the addition of a bright laser guide when cutting.
- Corded saw will never run out of power as long as an outlet is nearby
- Laser guide is bright and strong; we could see it when cutting outdoors on a sunny day
- Boasts impressive speed (5,300 rpm) for a saw at this price point
- Several components, including the retractable blade guard, are plastic
- Being corded saves on cost but restricts the portability of the saw
Get the Skil 15-Amp circular saw at Amazon or Lowe’s.
Skil 10¼-In. Magnesium Worm Drive Skilsaw
Here comes a real big boy! Believe it or not, Skil’s Magnesium Worm Drive Skilsaw isn’t its largest offering—it’s a midsize model at 10¼ inches. This worm-drive saw can cut framing materials and sheet goods and handle thick timbers associated with post-and-beam and timber framing.
Like most of today’s worm-drive saws, this model is corded because it’s simply too big and has too much torque to run on most lithium-ion batteries. We plugged it into a 12-gauge exterior extension cord and started testing. We made various straight and angled cuts on dimensional lumber and an LVL. We didn’t bother cutting plywood because this saw is meant for bigger things. Instead, we used it to bevel the edge of a large 8-foot-long 12-inch by 12-inch Hem-Fir beam, and it performed flawlessly. The saw has an enviable cutting depth of 3 11/16 inches, and it cuts angles up to 51 degrees. Both the blade angle and depth are easy to adjust via levers. We made repeated cuts in an hour’s time, and the saw didn’t warm up at all.
The saw’s top speed is 4,700 rpm, which is slower than some saws we tested. But its real benefit lies in its high torque that keeps the blade spinning through thick and dense materials. Weighing in at 16.5 pounds, this is a monster of a saw, and it may be a bit much for some DIYers. Still, for those who need to cut sizable dimensional lumber or timbers, it’s a slam dunk.
- Plenty of cut capacity for lumber and thick timbers thanks to worm-driving gearing that provides maximum torque
- Comes with a magnesium base shoe for long-lasting durability and cutting stability
- Ability to make deeper cuts—up to almost 4 inches
Get the Skil Worm Drive circular saw at Amazon, Acme Tools, or CPO.
Bosch PROFACTOR 18V Strong Arm 7¼-In. Circular Saw
We’ve purchased “tool-only” power tools in the past, only to find we had to pay as much or more for a rechargeable battery and charger. The Bosch PROFACTOR circular saw gets around that issue by including all three in this circular saw kit. It also comes with a heavy-duty canvas bag for keeping all the components together.
We charged the battery and started testing. The Bosch boasts easy-to-change blade angle and depth adjustments—it cuts angles up to 50 degrees and features a 2½-inch maximum cutting depth. Though the base shoe and blade guard are aluminum, it’s a well-built saw that, at 12 pounds, weighs slightly more than some of the similar 7¼-inch models we tested.
We made multiple straight and angled cuts through dimensional lumber and plywood without a hitch. The Bosch saw didn’t overheat—even with near-constant use over an hour.
Interestingly, the blade on this model is on the left, whereas the blades on most 7¼-inch circular saws are on the right. However, while this took a little getting used to, we didn’t feel it was a downside—the saw can be used easily by a right-handed or left-handed user.
- Includes a battery, charger, and bag to store all components
- Good ergonomics; nonslip grip helps the user keep a firm grasp
- Adjusting the blade angle and the cutting depth are easy with quick-change levers
Get the Bosch circular saw at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Acme Tools.
DeWALT DWS535B 7¼-In. Worm Drive Circular Saw
DeWALT is well known for producing high-quality power tools, and the DWS535B is no exception. We really liked the fact that DeWALT put a magnesium base shoe on this model and used lightweight aluminum for the blade guard. It isn’t as heavy as many worm drives, weighing in at just under 9 pounds, and we found its elongated base-shoe design offered a stabilizing effect when cutting denser materials.
We made both angled and straight cuts on plywood, dimensional lumber, and LVLs. The DWS535B powered through all of them without heating up or bogging down. This is a corded model, which is typically the case in worm drives, so we connected it to a 12-gauge exterior extension cord for testing. It features 4,800 rpm, which is less than some models, but it makes up for the slower speed with higher torque power.
The saw comes with an easy-adjust blade angle that cuts bevels up to 53 degrees and offers positive stops at 22½ and 45 degrees, which are standard angles in the construction industry. It features a 2.438-inch maximum cutting depth that’s also easy to adjust via a lever lock. We would have liked a deeper cut capacity, but this is still a top-performing 7¼-inch circular saw.
- For a worm drive saw, model is pleasantly light at less than 9 pounds
- Design is ergonomic and easy to control using 2 hands
- Features high-quality materials, including a magnesium base shoe and aluminum blade guard
Get the DeWALT Worm Drive circular saw at Amazon or Lowe’s.
In addition to the other saws in this lineup, we also tested the BlackDecker 20-Volt Compact Circular Saw. We had high hopes for this little 5½-inch saw, but it didn’t quite live up to our standards. After we charged the battery, we started cutting plywood. The BlackDecker saw struggled to get through the sheet, so we reduced the thickness of the cut to ½ inch and tried again. No luck. The little saw just couldn’t muster up enough power to cut through.
We’ve tested other BlackDecker power tools with great results, so we don’t know if we just got a lemon this time or whether the battery was too weak. It came with a 20-volt 1.5Ah lithium-ion battery that, while not the most powerful on the market, should have been sufficient for making a ½-inch-deep cut in plywood. We tried recharging the battery, and then we took another shot at cutting—still no go. We had to eliminate this saw from our tests at that point, but we look forward to testing a new and improved version in the future.
Read our full review : BlackDecker 20-Volt Compact Circular Saw
Any of the circular saws in our lineup are well suited for various wood-cutting tasks. Still, the Makita 36V circular saw takes top honors for its double-battery capacity, high speed, and quality construction. In the Runner-Up spot, the DeWALT 20V circular saw is a strong competitor thanks to its brushless motor; compact, ergonomic design; and high rpm.
How We Tested the Best Circular Saws
Putting together a list of the circular saws was more fun than work. After all, if there’s one tool we’re not short on experience with, it’s circular saws. We drew upon our past experience with these tools to help us decide which models to test.
First, we thought about all the must-have features we can’t live without and compiled a large pool of tools (more than 25!). Then, we narrowed them down by the brands we know and trust, as not all manufacturers offer the same quality.
Our hands-on testing involved using each saw to cut materials repeatedly for an hour with each circular saw. We made both angled and straight cuts during each saw’s test period and noted how well the tool performed the tasks. We only cut the materials suggested for the saws; for example, we did not attempt to cut LVLs, which are very dense and difficult to cut with compact circular saws that are not made to withstand that type of cutting. Likewise, we didn’t bother cutting plywood with the oversize worm-drive saw, which is explicitly designed to cut denser, thicker materials such as timbers.
We closely monitored each circular saw throughout the test period to determine whether it heated up (a sign the motor isn’t keeping up with the cutting). We also noted how easy/challenging it was to adjust each tool’s blade angle and cutting depth. Most of today’s manufacturers are now putting quick-change lever adjustments on their saws, but some still require a wrench to make these adjustments.
During each test, the saws were awarded points using a rubric. The better they performed, the higher the points they earned. After testing, we added and averaged the scores to determine each saw’s best use.
Even with all that advice on the best circular saws, some additional questions might be spinning through your head. The following section aims to address those queries. Be sure to check for an answer to your question below.
Q. What is a circular saw used for?
The most common use for a circular saw is cutting framing lumber to length. However, it can trim deck boards, cut plywood sheets into cabinet panels, and more.
Q. What kind of cuts can a circular saw make?
Circular saws can make straight cuts, cuts with beveled angles, and even a series of thin, shallow cuts known as dadoes or rabbets.
Q. What should I look for when buying a circular saw?
There is a combination of things to look for when buying a circular saw. If you already own a series of batteries, find one that matches your stash. Also, look for one with enough speed to get the job done that also fits your budget.
Q. What is the best circular saw for home use?
There are two saws worth recommending for home use. Both the Makita 36V circular saw and the DeWALT 20V circular saw are among the best circular saws for a variety of projects, including those DIYers are most likely to tackle.
Q. How do you keep a circular saw straight?
The best way to keep a circular saw straight is to clamp a straight edge to the workpiece and run the base against it. Another method is to place a small clamp on the front of the base to act as a guide. Saws with laser guides are also handy for making straight cuts.
Q. Why am I getting kickback on my circular saw?
- Don’t start the saw with the blade against the workpiece. Allow the blade to get up to speed before pushing it through the workpiece.
- Semi-cut workpieces tend to droop, and this droop can cause sideways friction on the blade, pinching it in place. Support the workpiece until the cut is complete.
- Hitting a knot in the wood can cause kickback because knots are harder than the rest of the wood. Look for knots when measuring the wood and try to avoid cutting through them.
What Is The Best 10 1/4 inch Circular Saw
If I could only have one saw in my tool box for timber framing, it would be the best 10 ¼ inch Circular Saw. They can can typically cut 8x timbers in 2 cuts and 4x material in a single pass, which allows you to cut 90 percent of the timbers that will come through a typical shop. If you are cutting a lot of 6x material then getting a 16″ saw may be something to consider, but I would still have one of these saws in my quiver.
With all of these saws, what we’re talking about is a commercial-grade tool. We can expect them to perform well, and they are meant to handle the hard work of cutting a timber frame. No matter which one you choose, you will have a solid partner for years to come.
Power: Don’t confuse a tool’s AMPs with its power. A saw’s power comes from horsepower and torque. In other words, the ability to handle dense or wet material without binding up.
Style: There are two basic styles of circular saws — Sidewinders and Worms. Sidewinders have motors directly to the right of the blade and are designed to generate higher RPM. Worms have the motors set back and generally produce lower RPM but higher torque. Worms also have a clearer sight-line by design and are my pick in this line-up with the Big Foot pictured below.
Big Foot SBFX BF 15 Amp 10-1/4-Inch Worm Drive Circular Saw
The motto of this Big Foot is: “Made by a framer for framers.” That says it all. The Big Foot is a serious worm saw created to perfectly cut timbers and things such as 4x posts and gang cutting 2×4’s. It has a 3 ¾-inch depth at 90 degrees, has tremendous sight lines for precision use, and the front handle also adjusts to suit righties or lefties. That makes it a one-shot cutting tool that eliminates the need to use finishing tools.
The worm design gives it major torque strength to handle wet material and long rip cuts. When working with timber, Big Foot hardly takes notice of knots or impediments. The one negative to be thoughtful of is that the shoe can be a tad narrow. There are no significant bells and whistles such as lights and dust blowers. The Big Foot has the no frills look of a tool that is all about getting down to business. It’s clearly a top pick dream in terms of speed, power, and ability. A DIY homeowner may take a liking to it as well. At about 20 pounds, Big Foot is an awe-inspiring two-handed, get-it-done saw.
I have always enjoyed my Big Foot Saw. It is on the upper end as far as cost and it has a narrow base, but it has always been a joy to use.
Makita 5104 14 Amp 10-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
This large cutting capacity sidewinder can reach depths of 3 ¾ inches at 90 degrees, which allows users to easily cut into some timbers. At 45 degrees, the Makita 5104 has a cutting capacity of 2 ¾ inches. This 18-plus pound, heavy duty saw sports 3,800 RPM and delivers enough power to handle being in the professional framer’s quiver. The ball and needle bearing manufacturing is designed to reduce friction and stress. The two handles follow the standard, straight line that you expect from most sidewinders.
It only uses 14 AMPs but has a reputation for large capacity cutting. Safety features include an electric brake, a locking button and a substantial ejection point to discard dust. Its shaft-locking feature stops the blade from moving when removed from material.
This Makita can be handled by beginners and veteran timber framers alike. This sidewinder gets high marks from online user reviews. It is a high-quality product utilizing strong components that are meant to last. The true value of this tool may be its blend of power and durability.
Milwaukee 6470-21 15 Amp 10-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
The Milwaukee 6470 model produces a high 5,200 RPM at 15 AMPs with a top-end horsepower of 3.1. It reaches a nice 3 13/16 inches cutting capacity at 90 degrees. That comes in slightly deeper than some other tools in its class. At 45 degrees, this big capacity saw also manages 2 3/4 inches and is relatively light weight for a 10 1/4-inch sidewinder at just under 18 pounds.
This Milwaukee enjoys some of the perks such as an electric brake, aluminum shoe and 12-foot double-insulated power cord. Both commercial workers and DIY folks like the safety that the electric brake provides. It stops the blade within seconds of taking your finger off the trigger.
Beyond safety and frills, this tool shows excellent power when cutting through timbers and is a job site darling because of its relative light weight. At under 18 pounds, you may not spend an hour doing overhead work, but a few cuts can be manageable. Users find the saw’s ability to push through tough or wet material notable. Also, its large shoe and wide front handle work together for excellent stability.
Overall, this Milwaukee gets high marks for its power and Smart design. It’s a tool that both professional framers and DIY homeowners can productively utilize.
Skilsaw SPT70WM-22 Skilsaw 10-1/4” Circular Saw
Nicknamed “Sasquatch,” this worm gets up to 4,600 RPM and has a cutting capacity of 3 11/16 inches at 90 degrees and 2 3/4 inches at 45 degrees. These numbers are a tad lower than Big Foot, also a worm drive, and the Milwaukee 6470 sidewinder. The depth pushes the practical limits of its usefulness in terms of two-cutting an 8x timber.
This lightweight worm can tackle 4x cleanly and is easy to move around at only 16.5 pounds. It employs a magnesium-housed, 15 AMP, dual field motor designed to be long lasting and durable. The motor keeps an eye toward cooling ability, which can reduce the chances of the tool getting hot from continued use. The overall design tends to be well-balanced and sleek. It enjoys excellent worm-design sight lines but has a standard right-handed front handle. It also has a relatively slim shoe.
The product and nickname appear to be making a run at Big Foot. The difference between Sasquatch and Big Foot may be that this Skilsaw model angles toward the DIY crowd more than pro framers with its lightweight and slightly lower cutting capacity. Also, watch out for the short cord length. at 8′ it will give you some problems from time to time. I would buy a long cord and replace it right off the bat.
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27 thoughts on “What Is The Best 10 1/4 inch Circular Saw”
I am glad to see Skil saw back in the 10 1/4 saw market.I do have the super sawsquatch and am very impressed.I doubt my Makita and Ryobi 16s will see the light of day again.As for the Milwaukee 10 1/4 I have had several and found they do not hold up very well under heavy use.Same for the Makitas although I have the older steel case models.I would stick with the worm drive the best saw design ever made.
I agree the worm drill is more durable in the long run than a direct drive, we have a review coming out soon on both models of the Sawsquatch saws.
As a master commercial carpenter 35 years ,im the carpenter that’s caled upon when no one els has the Balls to take on big jobs ,,with experience in timber framing and concrete forming. we have used worm drive skill saws. ,in every type of enviorement. rain ,mud snow sub Zero and extream temps. mostly 71/4. This is a hi quality tool ,that is reliable and gets the job done. These worm drive saws. were used on projects I ran. Freedom Tower foundation. World Trade Center Memorial Pools. billion dollar projects. I do not work for Skill but this is the saw of my choice. I stake my reputation on these saws. thanks Skill
Hey Brice, Excellent review of 10-1/4 inch circular saws. Like other professional carpenters, Skil has owned my heart as well. I completely agree with what Paul said here. And I would love to try their new products at any time.
To say that Skil is for the DIY crowd is like saying that my grandma drives a Peterbilt. Skil is the original and still the best when it comes to worm drive saws of any sort. If it was good enough for Larry Huan then it’s good enough for me. Richard Shea Cold Spring NY
I bought the Big Foot saw recently because I was convinced by this article. Before now I had done most of my cutting with a company owned Makita 5104 and loved it but was convinced by this article that the Big Foot was a better saw. So far I have been very disappointed. It is obvious to me that this is just a kit put on a Skil spt77 motor, not a ground up designed 10 1/4 saw like the 5104. For example, the motor casing is wider than the table on this saw, so when doing rip cuts with a guide any taller than 3/8″ the motor will bind on the guide and you will burn your wood or bind your blade. Further, there is no saw dust port on the blade casing. The dust blows out on the pistol grip side of the saw and directly into the motor housing. If you cut resinous wood like I do, this will adhere to the magneto over time and cause overheating and motor failure. Overall it is a poor design. There is no noticeable real-world difference in RPMs or torque despite the numbers used in this review. The Makita feels like a precision cutting tool while the Big Foot feels more like chainsaw. over, this article downplays the ‘frill’ features of the 5104 such as the dust exhaust port, electric brake, LED light, additional carrying handle etc. These are GREAT features that I miss now that I have a Big Foot. Especially the dust exhaust port. That is huge for blade visibility and dust management. AND the Big Foot is more expensive than the Makita! Don’t waste your money