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Whether you’re a DIY hobbyist, weekend warrior woodworker or a professional contractor, it’s common sense to get the right tool for the job at hand. Owning a circular saw can greatly increase your productivity as they are designed to cut tough and thick materials extremely quickly.
But does that mean any circular saw will suffice for you and are all circular saws built the same? Absolutely not. Before you even decide on what brand or price point is right for you, there are some basic yet essential considerations you'd likely want to ponder.
SKILSAW SPT77W-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Aluminum Worm Drive Circular Saw
CRAFTSMAN CMCS500M1 V20 6-1/2-Inch Cordless Circular Saw
DEWALT DCS577X1 FLEXVOLT 60V MAX 7-1/4” Worm Style Saw
Makita XSH04ZB 18V LXT Brushless Cordless 6-1/2” Circular Saw
The SKILSAW SPT77W-01 is one of the most recognizable circular saws on the market. It’s equipped with a powerful motor and worm drive gearbox, plus various safety and guidance features.
The SKILSAW SPT77W-01 is an immensely reliable circular saw that delivers the kind of unwavering trust that very few power tools, let alone circular saws can. The SPT77W-01 longevity is now almost a thing of legend as these saws honestly do last a lifetime.
This SKILSAW SPT77W-01 is a full-sized circular saw that comes with a 7-1/4” carbide-tipped blade that is supremely forged for precision cutting. Many manufacturers fit somewhat average saw blades to their newly assembled saws that generally require upgrading, but not SKILSAW. The 7-1/4” carbide-tipped blade that comes equipped to the SPT77W-01 is about as good as it gets. It's a heavy-duty blade the has excellent sharpness retention.
The SPT77W-01 is equipped with a 15 amp Dual-Field Motor™ that generates an amazing amount of torque and around 5,300 RPM at no load. This robust 15 amp motor was engineered with Dual-Field Motor™ technology to keep the internal windings of the motor cool while under load. This advancement provides greater heat-transfer and primarily increases the lifespan of the motor.
Now to the bevel of capacity and cutting depth. The SKILSAW SPT77W-01 can be effectively adjusted to a maximum cutting capacity depth of 2-3/8" at 90°. The SPT77W-01 has a max bevel capacity of 53° utilizing positive stops at 0° and 45°. The SKILSAW SPT77W-01 also includes additional indents for 0° and 45° bevels on the magnesium footplate at the front and back for added accuracy. This should enable you to perform a wide range of precise cuts very efficiently.
In terms of weight, the SPT77W-01 weighs 14.2 lbs. While this isn't the lightest saw we've reviewed, it does boast outstanding ergonomics. The saw feels brilliantly balanced and joy to use even if you’re an absolute beginner. The power cord is 8 ft. long, which will give you some decent range of motion.
The SPT77W-01 is fitted with an anti-snag blade guard design which will enable you to make narrow cut-offs. Removing the 7-1/4” carbide-tipped blade is simply done by activating the spindle lock and utilizing the built-in wrench the inserts nicely into the lightweight magnesium shoe. This corded circular saws performance is honestly unmatched and while it's not packed with high-tech features, it's built to last and rip through just about anything.
In regards to overall performance, the SPT77W-01 is worth every damn penny. Power tools like the SPT77W-01 come around every once so often and while it might be debatable whether the SKILSAW SPT77W-01 actually claims the outright title of best circular saws of 2020, it is most definitely the best corded saw you'll find purely based on performance.
There are a few things you're not getting with the SPT77W-01 that you might appreciate or even grown accustomed to when operating circular saws. Little things like laser guide sight and an integrated dust blower are not included with the SPT77W-01, which you really couldn't expect at this price point, but would be a nice addition.
The CRAFTSMAN CMCS500M1 makes an appearance on our list for a number of underlying reasons. Most saws typically shine specifically in one area and have a defining characteristic that sets them apart from their competition. But with the CMCS500M1 there are a multitude of little features and benefits that stack up to make this red and black rocket a fantastic buy.
CRAFTSMAN has been around for over 90-years and amassed by decent following largely due to the fact they've been manufacturing and assembling their power tool range in the USA. With a vast number of production plants across the United States, you'll be happy to know that when you do buy their products, you'll be keeping American's employed.
One of the most surprising things about the CMCS500M1 is its overall durability. When you first snap the 20V MAX 4.0AH Lithium-Ion battery in and begin to wield this compact saw around, you'll be literally shocked how lightweight and yet well-made the saw feels. Sure, 7.3 lbs isn't like playfully swinging a feathered pillow at your unsuspecting wife's face for shits and giggles, but none-the-less, it's still pretty damn light for a 20V 6-1/2" cordless circular saw.
Fitted with a High-performance motor that pumps out 4,200 RPM to assist with aggressively butchering large sections of lumber, you sense little resistance when depressing the receptive trigger on the CMCS500M1. By simply using the right blade attachment, you can expect to chop through relatively dense hardwood, tile, plastic, PVC pipework, and light metalwork with an additional blade.
Along with this capable motor attached to the CMCS500M1, you will also get a 24 tooth carbide-tipped blade which is ideal for cutting regular wood and framing works. If you're conducting fine woodworking or are planning on utilizing this saw for cuts that require more finesse like; cutting baseboard molding or picture frames, you will need to purchase additional alternate blades.
The CRAFTSMAN CMCS500M1 has a bevel adjustment of 0° - 50° and a cutting depth of 2.1" at 90° but with no positive stops. Blade changes are basic and the CMCS500M1 has an on-board wrench and spindle lock that can be effectively utilized to swap out blades quickly.
As for the construction and design qualities, the CMCS500M1 has a comfortable over-molded handle that possesses decent ergonomics to maximize support and help reduce fatigue. The CRAFTSMAN CMCS500M1 is build-quality is very good for a low-cost circular saw, but has been fabricated incorporating both some plastic and metal materials.
CRAFTSMAN CMCS500M1 V20 6-1/2-Inch Cordless Circular Saw will be perfect for homeowners looking for a dependable saw that can make majority, if not all, the necessary cuts around the house. You'll be able to successfully attempt bevel cuts and maintain an effective cut line with what is the best overall budget saw on the market.
The power-to-weight ratio of the CRAFTSMAN CMCS500M1 is rather jaw-dropping. For a budget-friendly power tool that produces 4,200 RPM and comes with everything you need to get-to sawing right out of the box, you can't be anything but amazed.
Although the CRAFTSMAN CMCS500M1 is solidly built, it does have a basic metal shoe and has a plastic blade guard. While this helps reduce the weight of the saw and should be fine for DIY usage, this saw wouldn't be recommended for heavy-duty construction works.
If this was a competition based on looks alone, the DEWALT DCS577X1 would boldly storm the podium and pop the fanciest bottle of champagne while fist-pumping nothing but air. While the design and styling of the DCS577X1 are certainly something worth admiring, so is what's been assembled internally with this superb-looking cordless circular saw.
DEWALT has generated a lot of buzz with their FLEXVOLT lineup, and rightfully so. The DCS577X1 is one of the few cordless saws available that not only measures up against the top corded circular saws, but it actually outperforms them too.
The most impressive attribute of the DEWALT DCS577X1 is the sheer power this compact brute produces and the ease in which it effectively rips longboards of timber. The brushless motor that is powered by DEWALT's FLEXVOLT technology provides a 60-volt power supply offering far greater runtime, efficient heat transfer all while generating 2400 watts. That's kind of power you'd typically expect from corded worm drive saws. Enough said.
The electronic controls and additional features included with the DEWALT DCS577X1 are definitely worth regurgitating. DEWALT has gone about cramming as many high-tech properties as possible into the DCS577X1. With everything from DEWALT's Tool Connect Tag-Ready™ system, electric blade brake, integrated dust blower, large multi-position rafter hook, onboard blade wrench, and of course, the FLEXVOLT 60V 9.0Ah battery that feeds this beast.
When putting the DEWALT DCS577X1 to the test with a full-depth rip cut, the DCS577X1 really comes to life like its been repeatedly poked with a cattle prod. Even when being set upon a pressure-treated 4×4 piece of lumber, the DCS577X1 showed no signs of slowing down or exhibited any battery fatigue. It is designed to operate with a 7-1/4″ blade and you’ll need to remove the diamond knockout. The DCS577X1 will be able to cut through 2-7/16" at 90° in a single pass, which is no small feat and not surprising given that it punches out 5,800 RPM.
The DEWALT DCS577X1 may not technically be a worm drive circular saw, but it certainly performs like one. With a premium 7-1/4″ Diablo Framing blade attached to this untamed barbarian of a saw, you would dare presume it weighs just 10.8 lbs, that is until you pick this unassuming compact circular saw up. Now while the DCS577X1 isn't exactly lightweight when compared with other sidewinder models, it's balanced beautifully considering the enormous power it harnesses.
Lastly, is the ergonomics and general build quality. The DCS577X1 may not look like its constructed entirely out of all-magnesium, but it is most definitely is. DEWALT has coated the magnesium of the shoe plate, blade guard and other components with a cool matte black finish.
The ergonomic easy-grip handle has an over-mold that makes the DCS577X1 easy to hold with one hand and effectively preserve your cut line. Although the support handle doesn't possess the same over-mold, it is extremely wide and has a nice curve shape. The DEWALT DCS577X1 FLEXVOLT 60V MAX 7-1/4” Worm Style Saw is the kind of power tool we could chatter on about for hours on end. It's a serious tool that although commands a higher than average price tag, it really does provide unmatched performance and fantastic value for money.
The attention to detail and build quality of the DEWALT DCS577X1 is simply absolutely phenomenal. This monstrous-looking cordless circular saw unleashes hell once you pull the trigger and rips through dense lumber with zero resistance. The DEWALT DCS577X1 not only cuts through anything you put in front of it, but it also does so precisely with a near-perfect line of sight.
Honestly, there isn't much of anything to dislike about the DEWALT DCS577X1. Although if we had to pick one thing we disliked it would be the price. That said, you are paying a premium for quality and that's exactly what DEWALT have delivered with the DCS577X1.
Makita has taken compact power tools to another level with its Sub-Compact range. Tools like Makita XSH04ZB are few and far between as you would not expect such a lightweight and compact saw to be so robust.
The commotion surrounding Makita's Sub-Compact XSH04ZB circular saw revolves around its brilliant blend of both performance and size. Makita's Sub-Compact lineup is designed to employ the same characteristics of 12V power tools, but with 18V performance.
At just over 10″ long and tipping the scales at a slender 6.4 lbs with a 2.0 Ah battery connected, this is without a doubt the most condensed 18V cordless circular saw you'll come across. And while it is considered a lightweight in the world of circular saws, it assuredly does not misfire when it comes to performance.
The XSH04ZB boasts a cutting capacity of 2-1/4″ with its relentless brushless motor spinning the 6-1/2″ blade at a cracking 5,000 RPM. Even though Makita managed to drastically reduce the weight and size of the XSH04ZB they're are still able to get 175 cuts on a single 5.0 Ah battery. While you'd imagine there would have to be a compromise in regards to the power-to-weight ratio with the XSH04ZB, Makita's engineering department seemed to have pulled off some sort wizardry to nullify such rhetoric.
One feature worth highlighting with the Makita XSH04ZB is the rubberized grip handle which will augment maneuverability and reduce fatigue. The saw is fitted with a magnesium blade cover and an aluminum shoe plate that has been nicely detailed with the appropriate indents.
The torque provided by the brushless motor ensures that you can use both rip and crosscut blades with the XSH04ZB and get clean cuts on a wide range of projects and materials. The saw runs super smooth as it comes fitted with a premium 24 tooth ultra thin kerf carbide tipped saw blade. Adjusting and making bevel cuts with the XSH04ZB is uncomplicated and with a bevel capacity 0°- 50° you can surely tackle a variety of angled cuts accurately.
The Makita XSH04ZB utilizes Extreme Protection Technology™ to help protect the saw from potential wear and tear by being engineered operate in harsh conditions. You can expect the XSH04ZB to effectively repel dust and eliminate possible water damage.
Makita has employed an abundance of high-tech and essential features like; Automatic Speed Change™ which magically adjust both speed and torque, dual led lights for extra illumination, a responsive electric brake system for added safety, and a built-in dust blower to help enhance your cut line. This staunch sub-compact cordless circular saw squawks valiantly for a tool that weighs 6.4 lbs with a battery connected. And rightfully so, its the best overall compact circular we've stumbled upon.
The term compact or lightweight gets thrown around the power tool industry like a frisbee in a bustling parkland on a bright and sunny day. But with the Makita XSH04ZB 18V Cordless Circular Saw, such attributes would actually be considered an understatement in comparison to other saws on the market. This thing is seriously compact.
The one flaw worth highlighting with the Makita XSH04ZB is that it doesn't come with a rafter hook. So if you've gotten conditioned to operating a circular saw utilizing a rafter hook, this could become a nuisance.
Milwaukee is one of the best known and respected power tool brands that have long been manufacturing high-end cordless circular saws like the Milwaukee M18 2730-20 for many years.
The Milwaukee M18 2730-20 is an energy-efficient 6.5” cordless circular saw and delivers impeccable accuracy. It has been designed mainly as a wood-cutting saw, 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 2730-20, you can snap any M18 battery into the tool and get to it. Whether you want to use a 2.0Ah or 5.0Ah M18 battery, the Milwaukee M18 2730-20 will eagerly take either and devour whatever lumber you decide to feed it.
Milwaukee engineered the M18 2730-20 with weight reduction in mind and fitted a brushless motor that spins at roughly 3,500 RPM, which resulted in a saw that is super easy to control and exceedingly accurate. Milwaukee M18 2730-20 is the fastest saw in its class, generating up to 30% more cutting speed, twice the runtime, and exceptionally longer tool life than other competitive saws.
Operating the M18 should be easy enough and only requires a very limited learning curve. The M18 2730-20 features soft-grip handle and rubber support handle that allows the saw to be maneuvered effectively. Adjacent to the support handle you find the highly desirable rafter hook that is an enormous benefit when working at heights or even operating off of a ladder.
The bevel adjustment is very smooth and glides up and down the 0° - 50° scale. You can also adjust the cut depth of the blade for up to 1.5”, which is a decent amount for a smaller cordless type circular saw. This cordless unit works with 6.5” blades, which means that it’s ideal for relatively smaller projects, although it can still be used to slice through 2x4s with no trouble at all.
Changing out blades with the Milwaukee M18 2730-20 is done quickly and painlessly by activating the spindle lock and making use of the on-tool wrench. 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.
Milwaukee's REDLINK PLUS Intelligence technology boosts performance and protects the brushless motor from overload and or heat damage. The saw also features an integrated LED light that could become useful if you're operating in the early morning hours or burning the midnight oil on a love project. All-in-all, this handy little cordless circular saw is light enough at 8.1 lbs to wield with one hand and tough enough to withstand some heavy-duty jobs.
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 DEWALT DCS577X1 FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Worm Style Saw and be blown away by its impressive design qualities and stellar performance. This incredibly powerful cordless circular saw has defied all logic in terms of what was previously possible with battery-powered saws and simply leaves most corded circular saws for dead.
The overall design and feel of this compact circular saw is something to marvel at alone. The fact that DEWALT has included everything from an integrated dust blower, a responsive electronic brake system, and high-quality magnesium shoe, really make this a no-brainer for the DEWALT DCS577X1 to take pole position for the best circular saws titleholder of 2020.
All of the reviewed corded and cordless circular saws in this article are impressive engineered pieces of machinery. While this might be considered a conundrum for those simply seeking the single best saw on the market, both application and brand loyalty will probably contribute significantly when selecting the right tool. That's why the final decision-making process when choosing a circular saw ultimately comes down to your preferences and what you personally value the most in a circular saw.
Hopefully, we helped you try and decided which way to go with choosing one of the best circular saws available today for your future endeavors tomorrow. We wish you the best of luck and much success to you will all your succeeding DIY projects and professional ventures.