Circular Saw Reviews and Buyers Guide - Which Is the Best Circular Saw in 2020?
- 1 10 Circular Saws Reviewed – Here Are the Results
- 2 Circular Saw Buyers Guide
- 3 Common Questions
- 4 Conclusion
Circular saws are a staple in any toolboxes and picking the best circular saw model for your specific needs is an important decision. We have done the hard work of trying and reviewing dozens of models and have compiled the information in this article.
Our goal was to produce the only guide you need to make an informed buying decision. We have considered 34 circular saws for this comparison and chosen to include 10 of them. We picked the best ones for different applications and budgets. We have also included some warnings on models we don’t recommend purchasing.
No time to read through all the details? Here are our top picks for different budgets:
10 Circular Saws Reviewed – Here Are the Results
This cordless model from Makita is our pick for the best circular saw for the money. Built on their new generation LXT lithium-ion battery platform, this lightweight saw has exceptional run time for the power it delivers. The new batteries charge up to 3x faster and are interchangeable with a whole line of power tool models from Makita.
A lot of effort went into the usability of this saw and the ergonomics are making cutting with the XSS02Z a breeze. The lightweight construction, easy maneuverability and good amount of torque makes this circular saw a solid choice for DIY users as well as a versatile addition to any professional toolbox.
As a small con, the supplied blade could be higher quality and an electric brake would be a nice addition. This is not a deal breaker though as it would likely eat into the run time of the battery. Many users are saying that they have replaced their previous corded saws with this model as it is so convenient to use.
6 ½ inches
Dewalt has designed a simple yet hard working corded circular saw with the DWE575SB. The 7 ¼ blade size lets you handle any cutting jobs without the weight and bulkiness of many saws of this category. This model delivers one of the best torque we have seen from a tool this lightweight, allowing you to get a lot of cutting done without getting tired fast.
One of the most annoying part of working with a corded tool is accidental disconnections due to yanking it out of the power socket. To counter this, Dewalt has equipped this model with their ToughCord system which needs up to 3 times the pulling power for a disconnection.
The built-in electric brake is a nice feature helping the blade stop a lot faster after the release of the trigger. The dust blower keeps your line of sight clear for more precise work – some say it even works too well and can make a bit of a mess in the work area.
Some users noted that the shoe can develop some play after heavy use but consider that this is not one of the higher priced models. Most buyers are happy with this purchase and the performance it delivers. The high-quality carrying bag is another nice feature, making it easy to keep all your tools and accessories in one place.
7 ¼ inches
Skil 5280-01 – Best Budget
Skil has been making circular saws longer than other manufacturers and they have delivered a great value option with the 5280-01. It is a full-sized saw with lightweight construction and its powerful enough to handle most home DIY projects and even suitable for light commercial use.
The built-in saw dust blower and the single beam laser guide makes this tool easy to use even for beginners. The 6 feet cord length means you will likely need a power extension cable to use it outside a workshop. The easy spindle lock and the on-board wrench makes changing the blade a simple task.
Even though the Skil 5280-01 is our top budget pick, its worth noting that the more expensive models will be made from higher-grade materials and as such, will naturally have a longer expected lifetime. If you are looking for a heavy-duty tool for tougher working environments, you might want to consider investing in a higher-end model.
With that said, this Skil circular saw gets many positive feedback from users and it is widely considered a great buy for the price.
7 ¼ inches
Worx Worxsaw WX 429L
The Worx WX 429L is our top pick for a compact circular saw. Not everyone will need a full-size saw at home and with the weight of only 4.4 pounds, this handy tool is much easier to handle than even the lighter regular models. With the one-handed operation and blade-left design, this is a versatile tool for any hobby woodworker, DIYer or as a second circular saw for a professional tradesman.
With any compact saws, the tradeoff for easy handling is usually the shallower cutting depth and less torque. This is also the case with this Worx model but when you are working with plywood or other lighter woods it will still breeze through the cutting jobs.
The blade-left design means that for most users the blade will be visible during the cut which makes precision work easier. There is also an included parallel guide for additional help. With the right blade, it can also handle tiles, metal or plastics.
The supplied 24 tooth blade can handle most timber for home projects. The 3-year warranty means you can confidently invest into the WX 429L as a tool you can use for a long time.
4 ½ inches
Galax Pro GP76331
The GP76331 from Galax is a decent beginners circular saw when you have a low budget. It is a full-size tool with some nice features such as the dust blower and the easy blade change mechanism. You will need the second one, unless you only use it occasionally for light cuts such as PVC pipes or thin plywood, as the stock blade is very low quality.
The 5800 RPM advertised no-load speed is impressive, but the low powered 10 Amp motor will quickly lose its torque when confronted with thicker materials. The safety trigger and the plastic lower guard helps novice users with safe operation.
It is among the lowest priced full-size circular saws on the market and if you are aware of its limitations, it can be a worthwhile investment for DIY use.
7 ¼ inches
The CS10 is a mid-priced, 7 ¼ inches circular saw from the German manufacturer. At first try, it did come through with the promised power, the 15 Amp motor ripped through our test lumber with ease. So far so good. After a bit more use though we have started to notice the weight of the unit. At 10.2 pounds higher than most models in the category, despite the plastic components.
A bigger issue was the play between the saw and the blade, which has been noticed by other users as well, so it seems to be a design problem. It still handles rougher cuts well but if you need precision work this might not be the circular saw to invest in. It’s a shame as we have liked some of the higher-end Bosch models we have used in the past.
7 ¼ inches
Black + Decker BDCCS20C
This mid-sized circular saw from Black + Decker is not the usual configuration. It is a cordless saw but not a compact model, in fact it is quite bulky for this category. It does come with a large, ergonomic handle though, which makes this 5 ½ inches saw easy to use.
The supplied battery fits a whole line of other power tools from the manufacturer and can be a logical addition to the toolbox of a hobby user, especially if you own other tools from Black + Decker already.
Don’t expect too high performance from this circular saw, it is really designed to handle DIY projects and can handle most of those well such as building decks, fences, garage storage units etc. If you need an all-around saw for light use that also comes with a 2-year warranty, the BDCCS20C can be a good buy without breaking the bank.
5 ½ inches
This 7 ¼ inches circular saw from Porter-Cable landed at the runner up position as our budget pick just behind the Skil 5280. The 15 Amp motor provides good torque and the saw has a solid yet comfortable build. The sturdy steel shoe and the durable materials used for manufacturing makes this a good workhorse saw even in tougher environments.
The 9.5 pounds weight is the main reason for finishing behind the Skil on our list. It’s not the heaviest model out there but the almost 3 pounds difference adds up during longer cutting sessions.
All in all, this Porter-Cable saw is a powerful, rugged option for rough cuts suitable both for home use and for a building site. The awkward adjustment options make it less suitable for precision work.
7 ¼ inches
This full-size circular saw from Tacklife provides solid cutting power for a lower priced tool. It comes with an aluminum guard and an iron shoe and features a dust outlet and a laser guide. You will need the guide as the design of the saw is such that your line of sight is blocked from seeing the blade while cutting with it.
All this comes with a hefty 10.8 pounds weight which is OK for shorter jobs but will tire less experienced users fast. The safety switch keeps operation safe for novices.
It comes with 2 blades – one of them claims to be suitable for cutting metal – but don’t have high expectations, they will become dull after just a short use. We would only consider picking this model for hobby or DIY use as the quality of the build is just not up to professional standards.
7 ¼ inches
The Teccpo TACS01P is a sturdy looking, 7 ¼ inch full-size circular saw featuring an aluminum housing. Its 1500 W copper motor is claimed to be longer life than the standard saw motors. We can’t verify this, but it is backed by a 2-year warranty which is pretty good at this low price point.
The saw dust outlet that lets you attach a vacuum cleaner for a clean working environment. The saw is on the heavy side with 11 pounds of weight, take this into account if you are planning to do longer cutting sessions.
The 2 supplied blades are not very high quality but decent for this price. There seem to be a quality issue with the base, it does not stay at a 90-degree angle when pushed down. We would only consider this model if precision cutting is not required and you only have a limited budget to spend.
7 ¼ inches
Circular Saw Buyers Guide
If you are still not sure how to pick the best circular saw for your needs, you are in the right place. In this guide we have compiled all the information that helps you pick the perfect model.
We go through all the important aspects of circular saws and with this knowledge you can confidently scroll back to the reviews and choose a saw that will allow you to work effectively without overpaying for unnecessary gadgets.
Cordless or corded
One of the first big decisions you need to make is whether to invest in a corded or cordless circular saw. Each have their pros and cons, let’s look at them.
Cordless saws are really catching up with corded models when it comes to performance. The latest generations of batteries are far outperforming earlier versions and this trend will only improve. With that said, it’s still not quiet equal footing.
The main advantage of purchasing a cordless model is obviously portability. If you are working on projects where you need to move around a lot, this will make all the difference.
Most home users looking to add a versatile tool to their toolbox will be better off with a cordless saw. They provide more than enough performance for building fences, decks, treehouses or any DIY woodworking projects.
Many professionals who are not heavy users also prefer cordless. Moving around on a job site without having to drag extension cords around is a lot easier, not to mention that electrical outlets might be needed for other power tools as well.
The tradeoff is that cordless models tend to use smaller blades and there is usually a compromise when it comes to power and battery capacity. Although there are powerful cordless circular saws on the market, they will drain the battery faster, so you need to calculate with added charging time. Unless you invest in multiple batteries, of course.
Since extending battery life is an important consideration, cordless models are often lacking some functions that would drain the battery further. Some examples are saw dust blowers or electric brakes.
Corded circular saws are better suited for workshop use or when continuous, heavy-duty work is needed. Power consumption is not the primary concern here so many corded models come with extra features that will make cutting easier or more precise.
Corded is the way to go when you have a large volume of lumber to go through or working with more difficult materials such as hard wood or concrete. The majority of the larger, 7 ¼ inches circular saws will be corded models. These will have enough cutting depth to perform bevel cuts on thicker materials as well.
In the end, it comes down to the types of projects you intend to use the saw for and whether you value mobility or power more.
Blade-right or blade-left
This refers to which side of the saw you can see while operating it so you can see where the blade is going. Usually, blade-left saws are more suited for right-handed users and blade-right saws are preferred by left-handed folks. But it’s not that simple.
Since there is always a guide showing you where the blade is going, it’s not absolutely necessary to see it. There is also the issue of the weight of the motor. The user will either have to hold it in the air or it will be placed over the material, making it easier to stabilize the saw.
Another wrinkle in the story is the type of circular saw you intend to buy. The two main types of circular saws are worm drive saws and sidewinder (or direct drive) saws. These two categories are coming with a different amount of torque, RPM and power efficiency. The design and motor orientation also vary with each type and so does the balance and ease of operating.
Traditionally, most worm drive circular saws are blade-left design while many sidewinder corded models have a blade-right configuration. This, however, is changing as battery technology improves and cordless models are coming out with all kinds of orientation.
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Ideally, you should try using both before you decide which one to buy. If it’s not possible, go blade-right if you are left-handed and blade-left if you are right-handed for the highest chance of picking a saw you can use comfortably.
Blade type and size
The size of the saw blade will determine how deep you can cut with one pass of the saw. The standard full-size, corded circular saws are using 7 ¼ inches blades that can make a 2 ½ to 3 inches deep cut. This is enough to handle most lumber used in construction and can cut through multiple layers of plywood.
Most builders, contractors and woodworking pros will choose this size, but you need to assess whether your projects demand this size, or you are better off with a smaller, lighter tool.
Cordless full-size models are generally using 6 ½ or 5 ½ inches blades which provides slightly shallower cuts but still satisfy the needs of many users.
Professionals who prefer the extra portability often purchase these and they are popular DIY models too.
Compact circular saws are coming with blade sizes of 4 ½ or 3 3/8 inches. Suitable for finer, precision cuts and preferred by many carpenters and hobbyists they can be handy while working with plywood and other thin materials.
There is one more consideration when it comes to choosing a blade size. If you are planning to make bevel cuts, the larger blades will be much more suitable for the job. Compact sizes are best used for straight cuts unless you are working with very thin materials.
The type of the blade determines the materials you can cut with it. Circular saws are commonly used for woodworking and this is what the widest selection of blades are made for.
You can choose blades designed to cut plywood, veneer, hard woods and plastics. Blades best for framing and crosscuts. Blades with different number of teeth, providing different level of precision. There are also specialist blades for cutting metals, concrete, bricks, ceramic tiles and other masonry items.
What is the best circular saw to buy?
The best circular saw to buy is the one that helps you perform your work effectively without breaking the bank. This will naturally vary for every person but if you have read through out buying guide you have the knowledge you need to make a good buying decision.
Go back and read our reviews on some of the best circular saw models on the market right now. We have included the most important technical details, our personal insights as well as feedback from many other real users to give you the best overview of these saws.
What do you use a circular saw for?
A circular saw is commonly used for making straight cuts across boards – referred to as a crosscut – or alongside a board – called a rip cut. They are very common in the toolboxes of builders, house remodelers, woodworkers, carpenters, DIYers and even artists working with wood.
They are primarily woodworking tools but with the right blade can also cut metals, ceramic tiles, bricks and other building materials.
What is the difference between a Skil saw and a circular saw?
There is no difference between a Skil saw and a circular saw. Skil – or, spelled incorrectly, Skill – is a brand that manufactures circular saws. Since they were one of the pioneers to develop this saw type and they are using the product name SKILSAW, users started to refer to their circular saws as a Skil saw.
Today, there are many brands making circular saws so it’s less common to hear them called Skill saws.
What is the most common circular saw blade size?
The most common blade size for circular saws is 7 1/4 inches. This is the blade most full-size saws are equipped with. Other popular blade sizes include 6 ½ inches and 5 ½ inches for normal saws, 4 ½ inches for compact circular saws and 3 3/8 inches for mini circular saws.
Who makes the best circular saw blades?
The best circular saw blades are often made by big power tool brands but there are some specialist manufacturers too. Freud, Dewalt, Makita and Rockwell are consistently getting good feedback on their saw blades.
Can I use a circular saw as a table saw?
Yes, you can, if you are on the budget and willing to make some preparations. There are Youtube videos showing how to set it up. But you will not get the level of precision a table saw can provide so if that is a factor, it’s well worth investing into both tools.
What is a magnesium circular saw?
A magnesium circular saw is a regular saw that has some of its parts made of magnesium. Most likely it will be the shoe but can be some additional elements too. Magnesium is a lightweight metal with great durability and used in higher-end circular saw models to provide good performance with a lighter weight tool.
In the final verdict on circular saws, let’s go over our recommended models by categories.