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In woodworking, experience can make all the difference, but no amount of experience gives you an excuse to not have the best circular saw you can afford. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional woodworker, it’s common sense to get the best tool for the job.
And it’s not all about the end result either. Working with the best circular saw is safer than working with an average saw that could rip through a material when you don’t want it to or give you a nasty kickback on a seemingly simple task.
The SKIL 5280-01 is one of the most recognizable circular saws on the market. It’s equipped with a powerful motor and various safety and guidance features, and it’s a light and easy-to-use power tool, even for amateurs and hobbyists.
This circular saw comes with a 7.25” carbide-tipped blade that is ideal for precision cuts. It’s also a blade that has good sharpness retention and increased strength.
The 5280-01 is equipped with a 14A motor that produces a decent amount of torque and around 5,300 RPM at no load. In terms of bevel capacity, you can do angle adjustments for up to 51 degrees. This should enable you to perform a wide range of cuts.
In terms of weight, the 5280-01 only weighs 6.95 lbs.; it shouldn’t be a tiring power tool. The cord is 6 ft. long, which should give you some decent range of motion.
One of the best features about this saw is its built-in dust blower, which has impressive power and will aid in maintaining line visibility. The guard has an anti-snag design which will enable you to make narrow cut-offs.
The overall performance of the SKIL 5280-01 circular saw is worth every penny. What’s even better is that the saw comes with a single beam laser guide. This, combined with the automatic work area cleaning that comes from the dust blower, will make following cutting lines a breeze.
The included blade only has 24 teeth. Because of this, it won’t be ideal to cut through thin materials like sheet metal or plexiglass. Of course, if you’re a serious woodworker, you’ll be investing in several blades for different purposes, if you don’t already have them lying around.
The Tacklife TCS115A compact circular is loaded with features and accessories and packs quite a bit of power under the hood.
The 5.8A motor is capable of spinning the blade at 3,500 RPM with ease. When using the right blade attachment, this should be enough to work on thin wood, tile, plastic, and PVC pipes.
Along with this capable motor, you will also get six different saw blades. Two 24-tooth blades are available and ideal for cutting regular wood. There are also two 60-tooth blades which can make short work of thin plastics, PVC pipes, and soft metal sheets.
If you want to cut tile, you can do that too as there are also two grit diamond blades included. All in all, you’re getting enough blades to last you a long time. The TCS115A is also equipped with a laser guide, an aluminum alloy guard, a curved dust port, and a unique ergonomic metal handle.
The best thing about this saw, perhaps even better than the six additional blades, is the one-hand operation. Because this is a small saw with lower RPM, it’s easy to keep it steady with just your dominant hand. This makes it smooth to use on quick straight and beveled cuts.
This is a rather small saw. Although it has plenty of power for a wide range of applications, it may not be strong enough for every project. It also has a maximum bevel capacity of 45 degrees, which is not amazing these days compared to the industry standard.
A compact circular saw can be the best circular saw for someone who lacks upper body strength or who needs to work with a single hand. If you’re interested in something smaller for less-complex projects, then the Worx Worxsaw WX29L might be the saw for you.
The WX29L comes with a 4.5” thin blade. It has a powerful motor capable of 3,500RPM at no load. It’s a less noisy model than most compact circular saws, and it also weighs about half that of a typical 7.25” saw.
With this saw, you should be able to cut through 2” lumber and even get through a 2x4 in a single pass. The motor has enough torque to let you cut through tile and metal too, although you will need different blades for that.
The blade that comes with the WX29L is a standard 4.5” 24-tooth carbide-tipped blade. It’s not the best for cutting sheet metal or plastic as it will likely rip through and give you an uneven result.
Following the cut line should be easy, seeing as the saw is equipped with a parallel guide and a vacuum adapter. If you want to make beveled cuts, you should know that the WX429L only accommodates up to a 45-degree bevel angle. However, at that angle, you may not be able to cut through a 2x4 with this compact blade.
The Worxsaw is a cool little tool to have in your home workshop. It’s comfortable to maneuver, not as noisy as you would expect, and quite powerful for its size. It also features a reliable motor.
The WX429L features a left-sided blade, which may not appeal to everyone. Whether or not this type of blade setup is a good thing is still a highly debatable subject among woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts.
The TECCPO TACS22P circular saw doesn’t come with a big name or too many attachments. However, it comes with a powerful motor, good cutting depth, and a reliable performance. It’s strong, and light for a 7.25” circular saw.
One of the first noticeable features is the rubberized grip handle. It allows you to hold the saw steady and reduces fatigue. The TACS22P is also 6.57 lbs. light, which further helps with maneuverability and ease of use.
The 10A motor is capable of spinning the 7.25” blade at 5,800RPM. Of course, this is its maximum no-load speed. The torque provided by the motor ensures that you can use both rip and crosscut blades with the TACS22P and get clean cuts on a wide range of projects and materials.
You might want to consider adding more blades to your arsenal. The included blade is a standard 24-tooth blade which won’t be great for thin sheet metal or plastics. It is good at cutting through wood, though.
One of the best things about this model is how well-balanced it is. Because it features a heavy iron base and auxiliary handles, it gains more stability without the need for superior strength or experience on the user’s part.
This saw is lacking in just one area, and that’s maintaining good visibility. The saw isn’t equipped with either a dust port, blower, or laser sight. Of course, this doesn’t take away from its overall performance in a well-equipped workshop.
The Milwaukee M18 is an energy-efficient 6.5” circular saw. It has been designed mainly as a wood-cutting tool, but given its surprisingly high torque for a cordless saw, it should fare well against sheet metal and plastics too — provided you’re using the appropriate blades.
With the M18, you can adjust the bevel up to 45 degrees. You can also adjust the cut depth of the blade for up to 1.5”, which is a lot for a smaller circular saw.
This cordless unit works with 6.5” blades, which means that it’s ideal for smaller projects. But it can still be used to slice through 2x4s.
Operating the M18 should be easy enough. It only spins at 3,500RPM, which means that it is easier to control and hold steady. Apart from that, the saw also comes with a soft grip handle, which reduces fatigue.
The durability is also impressive and courtesy of the magnesium guards. It’s also worth pointing out that the saw works on a single 18V Li-Ion battery, which is compatible with other Milwaukee M-series cordless tools.
The M18’s electronic brake system is one of the most responsive in this price and size range. This alone makes it likely to be somebody’s best circular saw, or at least among cordless circular saws.
One of the downsides is that the M18 doesn’t come with a battery. However, this shouldn’t affect its value too much as many cordless circular saws are sold without batteries. As mentioned, it’s compatible with other Milwaukee 18V batteries, if you have a workbench full of Milwaukee M-series cordless tools.
There are three main types of circular saws. From the three, a few variations have emerged that may carry slightly different designations. The way these designations are assigned for the three types of circular saws has a lot to do with the motor placement.
Sidewinders are probably the most recognizable circular saws. The drive system is based on a belt and pulley. For the average consumer, a sidewinder could very well be the best circular saw in terms of value.
Another characteristic is the sealed motor system, although it isn’t present in all models. This is great when it comes to maintenance because there’s no need to add oil.
A cool thing about sidewinder circular saws is that they tend to be lighter, which makes them easy to use, and, they tend to operate at high speeds.
The drive system for this type of circular saw is based on two sets of gears: a worm gear and part of the shaft. The build is generally narrower than that of other saws, and the motor is in the back of the saw.
The gear-driven mechanism means regular maintenance will be required. If you decide on this type of saw, it’s worth paying extra for an oil gauge.
When it comes to speed, a worm drive circular saw won’t have the high RPM ratings of sidewinders. However, it will have higher torque, which is why purists may consider it the best circular saw.
Hypnoid circular saws provide high torque and are low-maintenance. This design aims to take the best features of sidewinders and worm drive circular saws. As such, the motor is in the back in a sealed system.
Furthermore, the gears on hypnoid circular saws are beveled. This promotes a more energy-efficient transfer with less noise.
The current is less indicative of performance in circular saws than you might think. Sure, you can calculate the power from the current. Since P = IV, a 12A motor plugged into a 120V outlet will consume 1,440W of power.
But the design also comes into play.
For example, a 10A hypnoid circular saw may feel more powerful than a 12A sidewinder because of the more efficient energy transfer.
Of course, horsepower (HP) is just another unit for power (like the Watt, which an SI unit).
Not all manufacturers list HP, which you can calculate from the current or Watt rating. You can use the above-demonstrated calculation (P = IV) and an online converter to convert to horsepower.
As a guideline, most circular saws have between 1 and 1.5HP. It’s considered enough to have 1HP if the blade is smaller.
The arbor of a circular saw is the shaft on which you mount the blade. It is the component that transfers and converts the electrical power from the motor into mechanical power for work. Although arbors come in various sizes, the most common size is 5/8”, which is used in most 7.25” to 10” circular saws.
Knowing the arbor size will let you know what type of blades you can use. Combine that with the cut depth and bevel capacity to figure out what type of materials you’ll be able to work on.
Other arbor sizes include 0.25” for 3” blades and 0.5” for 6” blades. It’s also important to know this if you’re looking at replacement blades made in countries that use the metric system.
The blade diameter is one of the most important aspects of a circular saw. Depending on how big the blade is, you can tackle materials of various thickness and density. Typically, you will find that the most popular corded sidewinders come with 7.25” blades.
Although cordless circular saws tend to have smaller blades, many manufacturers have started to make larger cordless circular saws too. That’s not to say that the limited torque and runtime shouldn’t be considered too when comparing cordless vs. corded circular saws.
How do you compare two circular saws of the same design and power? Pricing and brand reliability quickly come to mind. But oftentimes it’s the little things that make one model more appealing than the other.
A dust port can add great value to a circular saw, or any cutting power tool for that matter. The dust port is often a small tube coming off the back or side of the circular saw. It can be attached to a vacuum hose, and you’d turn on your shop vacuum to remove the debris and dust safely and keep the work surface clean.
Alternatively, a built-in dust blower feature might also work. It will make a mess in the workshop, but the work surface will be clear of debris, and you should be able to maintain a clear line of sight.
Having LED lights on a circular saw, mounted somewhere in the front, is sometimes necessary. The light will illuminate the cutting path and can really come in handy in workshops or worksites with poor lighting conditions.
Laser guides have the purpose of helping you maintain a straight cutting line, especially when working on longer cuts. Some circular saws come with calibrated laser sights, but not all. But it’s sometimes worth it to get a laser-guided saw instead of trying to mix and match aftermarket accessories.
You’re going to want to make angled cuts at some point. Therefore, it may be extra important on some projects to have a bevel capacity that goes into the mid-50 degrees range. Do note that at higher bevel angles, the cutting depth will be significantly reduced.
Most professionals use circular saws to cut through 2x or thinner materials. With that in mind, the cut depth is very important. To get clean cuts, you should make sure that the lowest tooth would pass through the material by a minimum of 1/8”. A 1/4" clearance is preferred.
This is less important for 7.25” circular saws, but it can be very important with smaller circular saws. It’s even more important if you’re talking beveled cuts. Many pros will pay a premium for circular saws with easy cut depth and bevel adjustments.
A circular saw can be used for a variety of cuts, but there are a few things to keep in mind in regard to getting consistent, clean cuts. First of all, always light the work surface and use a dust blower or a vacuum attachment.
When you’re cutting with a circular saw, you want to follow the blade and not the guides. This means that a clear line of sight is essential. If you’re cutting angles, or doing beveled cuts, you should make sure that the workpiece is firmly clamped down. That’s because you have to keep both hands on the saw and work the blade guard too.
Another important thing to remember is how to properly position the material. Always put it on the work surface with the good side or presentation side facing down. This ensures that the teeth of the blade push against the core without ripping it.
Circular saw blades can be sharpened at home or at a service center. Regardless of which option you prefer, this is something you have to do to ensure the quality of your work remains the same.
You can use either a hand file or an automatic sharpener to sharpen most circular saw blades in your workshop. Sharpen one tooth at a time. Be extra careful with automatic sharpeners as they are likely to overheat and give lesser results in the long run.
One thing to consider is using a professional service when it comes to carbide-tipped blades. These require diamond wheel sharpeners which aren’t cheap or easy to use if you don’t have the necessary experience.
It’s always best to consult the instruction manual before attempting to change the blade on your circular saw. There might be slight design differences between models that require specific steps to follow.
That being said, always power off or remove the battery from your saw before attempting to remove the installed blade. After that, either use the easy-release blade system or lock the blade in place and then remove the bolt holding it down.
The easiest way to cut a straight line with a circular saw is to first draw a guideline using a ruler or a square and a pencil. After that, you can either use a guide or the laser attachment to follow the line.
Placing your index finger firmly against the shoe should help you keep the saw steady. This will make it easier to follow the line. Always guide the saw along the board or sheet with your fingers to keep it moving straight.
There are two important aspects to cutting 2x4s with a circular saw. First and foremost, you have to set the cut depth properly. You don’t want a cut that’s too deep because it could result in kickback. Adjust the blade depth to be .25” under the 2x4.
The next important step is to support the wood properly. Avoid supporting both ends of the wood as this can cause the saw to stray off course at the end of the cut. This happens because 2x4s can bend downwards.
Only support the wood on one end and not the end which you want to cut off. The cutoff should be able to fall freely.
It’s hard to look at the Skill 5280-20 7.25” circular saw and not see it as a strong contender for the best circular saw title. This power tool has almost everything you need in a home workshop or at a job site. It has a powerful motor that can deliver a great deal of torque, and it’s reliable and loaded with features.
That’s not to say that the other products reviewed in this article are less impressive. The compact Tacklife TSC115A is a particularly interesting alternative as it comes with all the blades you’ll need to handle a wide range of materials.
It ultimately comes down to your preferences and what you value most in a circular saw.