Rockwell RK3440K Versacut Ultra-Compact Circular Saw
Makita SP6000J1 6-1/2-Inch Plunge Circular Saw
Genesis GCS545C Compact Circular Saw
You can’t really call yourself much of a tradesman or handyman if there isn’t a circular saw somewhere in your shop, truck or tool box. Along with the power drill and the hammer it’s one of the essential tools for getting things done. Whether building a deck, fence or home addition, making furniture, cutting sheetrock, laying down a hardwood floor or framing a house the circular saw is the beating heart of the project. Below are the 12 best circular saws for 2018.
The Best Circular Saws
Makita SP6000J1 6-1/2-Inch Plunge Circular Saw
The Makita SP6000J1 partners a 12 amp motor with lightweight magnesium components to create a circular saw that puts more power per pound at your service than just about any other. But that’s hardly the biggest selling point. What really separates the SP6000J1 from the competition is that it provides you portable table saw precision wherever you need it. The precision cutting system provides splinter free cuts even in normally hard to cut materials. It does this by way of the built in depth stop that produces a 1/16 inch preliminary cut. The end result? A precise, clean splinter free slice that lets you get the most from the material. There’s electronic speed control, a bevel capability of 1-48° and outstanding cutting capacity of 2 3/16” at 90° and 1 9/16 at 45°. With the Makita SP6000J1 in your arsenal your table saw is going to get pretty lonely. Make sure you also choose one of the portable work benches from our list to make your work and life easier.
Robust 12 AMP motor.
Variable speed control of 2,000 – 5,200 RPM.
Positive stops on the bevel at 22.5° and 45°.
55” rail guide.
Weight: 16.5 pounds
- Weight16.5 pounds
You can forget jagged edges on plywood cut with the SP6000J1.
The powerful motor makes short work of even large pieces.
Electronic speed control helps produce that nice smooth finished product.
Pieces narrower than the guide track can be a problem.
SKILSAW SPT77WML-01 Lightweight Circular Saw
The Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 Circular Saw looks as tough as it is. This is an outstanding lightweight circular saw that enables you to bring your A game to every job. With 15 amps behind you you’ll rip through the largest pieces like a hot knife through butter. For angled cuts there are 0° and 45° positive stops on the footplate so you’ll always obtain the cut you need, not just a close approximation. Adjusting for different level cuts is fast and easy and the worm drive engine is fitted with leading edge magnesium parts to keep the weight down and reduce arm fatigue. The saw as a whole is beautifully balanced and feels more like an extension of your arm than a power tool. It’s a joy to work with regardless of the task because it doesn’t fight back when the going gets tough and it doesn’t shy away from the engineered woods that are becoming commonplace on so many projects today. Make sure to also check our guide to top electric chainsaws on the market for more amazing products like this.
Dual field 15 amp motor.
No-load rpm of 5,300.
Cut Ready depth system.
Ergonomically designed handle.
Weight: 11.6 pounds
- Weight11.5 pounds
Unquestionable build quality.
Adjusting to different cuts is fast, easy and dependable.
The magnesium components do a good job reducing weight.
At 11.6 pounds it may still be a bit heavy for some.
DEWALT DWE575SB Lightweight Circular Saw
Say the words “circular saw” to most people and chances are they’re going to conjure an image that looks an awful lot like the Dewalt DWE575SB. This is a classic circular saw with tried and true DNA that’s both light and powerful. Although some would classify this as a “small” circular saw labels don’t matter as much as performance. And in this case the DWE575SB delivers big power saw capability and power. You’ll cut 22.5° or 45° bevels, enjoy the newly expanded depth cut of 2 9/16 inches, slice through your task at 5,100 rpm and still have some arm strength left at the end of the day. Though the saw is manufactured in China Dewalt have kept a close eye on the build quality and there’s no discernible drop off from any previous generations. It’s just a hungry, durable, capable standard circular saw that’s going to answer when you call on it. And if you are looking to upgrade your tools, make sure you check our best camping saws review for more great items like this.
1,950 MWO, 5,100 rpm.
15 amp motor brings the power.
57° beveling capacity with presets at 22.5° or 45°
Electronic braking system.
Weight: 8.8 pounds.
- Weight8.8 pounds
High grade aluminum base plate provides safe, accurate cuts.
The line of sight aids are easy to keep track of.
The 15 amp motor isn’t going to shy away from tough jobs.
Dust control can be an issue.
Rockwell RK3440K Versacut Ultra-Compact Circular Saw
Sometimes you need to hunker down with a full sized circular saw and sometimes that full sized saw is just overkill. The Rockwell RK3440K Versacut is an ultra-portable circular saw capable of cutting wood, plastic, ceramic tile, aluminum, slate and more with speed and precision. It weighs less than 4 pounds and sports a streamlined profile that stays out of your way. The RK3440K has a highly effective dust extraction system that enables you to keep tabs on progress and the hardy 4 amp motor will handle all but the most extreme tasks. The thoughtfully designed handle, light weight and balance of this tool makes reaching for it a no-brainer. It’s the kind of tool that makes your job easier and you can never have enough of those. The RK3440K also boasts a new laser guide up front that is going to spoil you going forward and make you ask why your larger, heavier, more expensive saws don’t have it. If you work with wood, you may also like out top axes for wood review.
Designed to handle a wide variety of materials.
Streamlined profile with ergonomic grip.
Built in laser shows you the way forward.
Outstanding dust extraction capabilities.
Weight: 3.4 pounds
- Weight3.4 pounds
Makes knocking out smaller tasks faster and less labor intensive.
The 4 amp motor is more powerful than you think.
The 120 inch cord is the gift that keeps on giving.
Often find yourself applying more pressure than you need to.
PORTER-CABLE PCE310 Heavy Duty Circular Saw
The Porter-Cable PCE310 is the type of circular saw you want to have in the truck when you arrive at the jobsite. It provides 15 amps of power at 5,500 rpm and that’s enough to make short work of your toughest tasks. And because it tips the scales at a modest 9 pounds it has a stunning power to weight ratio that separates it from most of the pack. It provides 2 1/2 inch cuts at 90° and 1 7/8 inch at 45°. There’s a 55° max bevel and presets at 22.5° and 45°. The 7 1/4 inch carbide tipped blade is hungry and effective and provides nice clean cuts rather than just smashing its way through the material. The magnesium shoe is here for the long haul and the entire tool is perfectly balanced and forgiving. Toss in the fact that it’s ultra-affordable and comes with a 3 year warranty and it’s difficult to make a case against adding one to your arsenal.
Top speed of 5,500 rpm.
Powerful 15 amp motor.
Adapt on the fly with spindle lock and depth adjustments.
3 bevel settings of 55°, 45° and 22.5°.
Weight: 9 pounds
- Weight9 pounds
The lower guard is effective and unobtrusive.
At 5,500 rpm there isn’t much it can’t handle.
At 9 pounds your arm isn’t going to fall off at the end of the day.
No rip guide.
DEWALT DCS575B Flexvolt Circular Saw
The DCS575SB from Dewalt is one of their Flexvolt line of power tools that use the innovative Flexvolt battery that switches from 60 to 120 volts depending on the Dewalt tool you pop it into. This battery operated circular saw will cut up to 350 2x4s on a single charge of that Flexvolt battery. The 15 amp motor is powerful enough to handle just about any task that’s in front of you and at only 8.1 pounds the DCS575SB doesn’t punish your forearms if you cut all 350 of those 2x4s. The 7 1/4 inch carbide tipped blade is going to slice through even the toughest material and there’s an electric stop on the blade that ensures you won’t accidentally get caught up in the spin-out. They’ve even included a nifty LED light to help you better see where you’re going with your cut. A nice, simple, useful touch. If you are a passionate DIYer, make sure you check out our screwdriver sets guide as well.
Uses the Dewalt Flexvolt battery system.
Powerful 15 amp motor.
2 1/4 inch depth at 90°.
Weight: 8.1 pounds.
- Weight10.1 pounds
Its cordless design means you can take it anywhere.
The LED light is really helpful in low light situations.
The 15 amp motor doesn’t hesitate no matter the material.
Doesn’t always produce the smoothest cut.
Makita 5007MG Circular Saw
For power and precision it’s hard to beat the Makita 5007MG. With a 15 amp motor delivering a no-load 5,800 rpm it’s quite capable of handling anything you’re likely to encounter on the jobsite. It’s a little heavier than some of the other circular saws on this list but its combination of flawless balance and effortless cutting power goes a long way toward mitigating any ill effects. The handle doesn’t seem like anything terribly special when you look at it but once you grab hold and make a few cuts you realize the engineers at Makita got it right. The magnesium components at work here help keep the weight down and there’s an LED light out front to show the way in those dimly lit rooms that are all too common on jobsites. The electric brake brings the 7 1/4 inch blade to a quick and effective stop the second you release the trigger and it’s available at a very attractive price.
15 amp motor fears no wood.
LED lights for improved visibility.
2 1/2 inch cuts at 90°.
No-load 5,800 rpm.
Weight: 10 pounds
- Weight10.6 pounds
We appreciate the LED lights in all sorts of ways.
The ergonomics of the saw are first rate.
Comes with a limited 1 year manufacturer’s warranty.
No grounding plug
Genesis GCS545C Compact Circular Saw
If you find yourself on a job and are suddenly faced with the need to produce a few quality cuts it’s nice to be able to reach into the tool box and pull out this beauty. The Genesis GCS545C is a real find. It’s a portable circular saw with a 5.8 amp motor that will handle all but the biggest cuts and hardest material. With a triple reduction gearbox, a built in dust port and a 4 1/2 inch carbide tipped blade you won’t have to second guess yourself when you approach the cut. The GCS545C displays excellent balance, has a handle that’s molded to your physiology and produces cuts as precise as anything you’d expect from a top of the line full size circular saw. At just 6 pounds you won’t dread picking it up even toward the end of a very long day. And maybe best of all you can get it for less than the price of a pair of jeans.
High performance 5.8 amp motor.
Lightweight and versatile.
Vacuum adapter helps keep things clean.
Full 2-year no-hassle warranty.
Weight: 6 pounds.
- Weight6 pounds
It’s deceptively powerful for such a small tool.
It produces very high quality cuts just about every time.
The dust port and vacuum do a great job keeping things clean.
Small enough to lose track of on the job.
SKIL 5180-01 Circular Saw
The 5180-01 is another high quality classic profile circular saw from SKIL. There’s no magic at work here, just good engineering, outstanding build quality and useful features. The 5180-01 provides a single beam laser guide that makes keeping your line a snap even in less than ideal conditions. No more “good enough”. With the 5180-01 it’s spot on every time. This is one of the lightest full size circular saws out there which makes it even easier to get the most from the 14 amp motor and 5,300 rpms. The 7 1/4 inch carbide tip blade is better than most stock blades you’ll see and swapping out blades is easy as pie. The dust blower keeps the cutting area free of obstructions and there’s a handy safety button that prevents accidental start up. If you are into DIYs, you need to own this product.
14 amp motor.
Built in laser guide.
Safety button averts accidental startups.
Depth cut 2 3/8 inches.
Weight: 7.2 pounds
- Weight7.2 pounds
The laser guide is a great addition and keeps things true.
Changing blades is incredibly fast and easy.
The light weight of the saw saves your arms for other things.
No carrying case.
Milwaukee 6390-21 Circular Saw
The 6390-21 from Milwaukee is a standard circular saw with a twist. Or should we say a tilt. This powerful, durable electric saw employs a system that allows you to tilt the handle to any one of several different angles and lock it in for maximum comfort. The Milwaukee engineers finally recognized what no one else has been willing to: that people are different heights and so their optimal angle of attack is going to be different. But the 6390-21 has more than one card up its sleeve. Its 15 amps of power and 5,800 rpm slide through the toughest material with easy and without turning it into a maze of splinters. Blade changing is fast and simple with the one-touch spindle lock. Like a lot of products today the 6390-21 from Milwaukee is built in China. But unlike a lot of other products today the company did not lose touch with quality control when they made the move.
No-nonsense 15 amp motor.
Tilts into 4 different attack angles.
Comes with a durable, attractive carrying case.
Winds down rapidly.
Weight: 10.4 pounds
- Weight17.8 pounds
Plenty of power for whatever is next up.
The tilting feature is long overdue for folks of non-average height.
Can’t beat the sturdy convenient carrying case.
No laser guide or front end light.
Bosch CS10 Circular Saw
The Bosch CS10 is a powerful, beautifully engineered circular saw that slips through the hardest, nastiest material in the blink of an eye. It has a built in blower that keeps the cut line free of obstructions, a 7 1/4 inch carbide tipped blade and 56° bevel capacity with detents at 22.5° and 45°. This is an aggressive tool that’s not going to waver even when faced with the hardest material. It’s relatively light at just over 10 pounds and that, combined with the durable composite footplate, lets you cut with confidence and precision time and time again. 15 amps is pretty standard for most of the high-end circular saws these days but for some reason the 15 amps wielded here seem to provide just a bit more oomph. Maybe it’s because every aspect of the tool is built to such exacting tolerances.
15 amp motor, 5,600 rpm.
Durable composite footplate.
Worm drive gear train.
Built in blower to keep the cut clear.
Weight: 10.3 pounds.
- Weight15.26 pounds
A great looking, beautifully engineered tool.
Bevel adjustment is quick and easy.
The high tech worm drive motor really devours material.
Carry bag is nothing to write home about.
SKILSAW SPT67WL-01 Sidewinder Circular Saw
The SKILSAW SPT67WL-01 Circular Saw is one of the lightest full sized circular saws out there and also happens to be one of the best built. With its dual-field motor, lightweight housing and 56 degree beveling capacity you’re able to cut whatever you need to cut however you need to cut it. That dual-field motor is 15 amps of worm drive enabled power. To make sure you have a clear view of what you’re cutting with all that energy there’s a built in dust blower. While the 5,300 rpm is not the fastest on the lot the lack of speed is compensated for with torque to beat the band. About the only thing missing is the positive bevel stop at 22.5 degrees. Throw in the affordable price point and the 180 day satisfaction guarantee and you’ve got a value and performance winner.
Built-in dust blower.
Powerful 15 amp heat-dissipating motor.
Standard 10 foot power cord.
No load speed 5,300 rpm.
Weight: 8.6 pounds.
- Weight11.75 pounds
An outstanding overall value.
Easily handles the hardest materials.
The light weight lets you work harder, longer.
No laser sighting.
Circular Saw Buyer’s Guide
How We Chose Our Selection of Circular Saws:
- Quality - There are a lot of circular saws on the market today. Sadly many of them hardly qualify to have the title “circular saw” attached to them. They are barely functional knockoffs meant to draw in the unsuspecting and the bargain hunter. The other side of that coin however is that there are still quite a few companies that manufacture genuinely outstanding power tools and it is those companies that wound up the focus of the above list. We don’t reject the stuff from the discount bin out of hand, because occasionally there is a diamond to be found on that beach. However, for the most part, the crème tend to rise to the top; and that phenomenon is particularly true when it comes to power tools.
- Brand - As we just alluded to there are few areas where the divide between quality and shoddy is as pronounced as it is with power tools. Perhaps that’s because there is so much on the line. After all, a poorly built circular saw could cost you a finger or more. So when a power saw does not impress with its build quality right off the bat it’s typically not worth wasting your time on. This isn’t music where you can forgive shoddy musicianship because the melody is so catchy. If the power tool is poorly built someone could get seriously hurt. As such most of the items on our list are going to reflect brands with a proven track record of producing high quality, safe and durable equipment.
- Reviews - As always we like to make up our own minds when it comes to power tools, or any other product for that matter. Nonetheless we do spend some time seeing what other people have to say, simply to see if there is a trend, or if someone else points out something we might have overlooked. But while we’re always interested in the opinion of others we rely mostly on our own experience with the product.
Features To Look For In a Circular Saw:
- Blade size – Circular saw blades come in a couple of different sizes depending on the model. A portable circular saw like the Genesis use a 4 1/2 inch blade while most full size circular saws use a 7 1/4 inch blade. Fact is though that what you get from your blade will in large part depend on the power of the motor. A 7 1/4 inch blade run by a 1hp motor will do an okay job on most material but may get bogged down on the hard stuff. Whereas the same blade at the end of a 2+hp drive train is going to make quick work of whatever it encounters.
- Blade adjustability – Every standard circular saw provides you the ability to adjust the depth of the cut. Some go as deep as 2 3/4 inches, while most hover around the 2 1/2 inch max depth. The user experience is driven in large part by how easy it is to adjust the cut depth or to switch from a straight 90 degree cut to a 22.5° or 45°bevel. It’s hard to test this aspect of a saw’s performance when you buy online. But if you know someone who has the type of power saw you’re interested in ask if you can try it out.
- Blade material – Blades intended for cutting wood are almost all tungsten carbide tipped affairs. That’s true regardless of the size of the blade. Some, but not many, blades are made of high speed steel. High speed steel is typically reserved for blades that are likely to encounter high temperatures during the performance of their duties.
- Power – A circular saw should be able to cut through any fairly hard piece of wood without grinding to a halt or noticeably slowing down. For the most part if you want that type of assured performance from your circular saw you’ll want to opt for a 15 amp motor.
- Weight – A heavy saw won’t require as much of a push to get through harder materials but over the course of the day the extra weight is going to wear on you. The difference between cutting all day with an 8 pound saw is nothing at all like spending the day cutting with a 12 or 14 pound saw. The heavier power saw won’t be an issue for some folks in top condition but for the rest of us mortals it can be like walking over hot coals with bare feet.
- Ease of use – This is a tricky one because, like we said, a heavier electric saw will typically slice right through the toughest material while you’ll need to put something behind the lighter saw. On the other hand there’s more to ‘ease of use’ than just pushing. On a circular saw the blade needs to be easy to change, the power cord has to stay out of the way, the machine needs to be properly balanced (sometimes heavy batteries can throw off the balance and lead to a very long day) and a laser light or LED out front is going to make sighting a lot easier.
- Battery/Power cord – Advances in battery technology over the past decade or so have led to the development of some outstanding battery operated power tools. With circular saws though most of the best battery action is happening in the portable circular saw They’re wonderfully portable and convenient and do a bang up job. The full size circular saw however eats through batteries like they’re going out of style. Because of that you’ll likely want a corded circular saw and the longer the cord the better.
- Durability - When trying to determine the durability of a circular saw there’s one component in particular that will, in many cases, provide an indication of how the saw as a whole is built and whether it’s built to last. That is the base plate of the power saw. Base plates tend to break more than any other single component so if the manufacturer ignored this and used stainless steel or aluminum for the baseplate it shows a certain indifference to the concept of durability. If, on the other hand, the baseplate is made of ultra-durable, fiber-reinforced plastic there’s a good chance the rest of the saw is also built to last. It’s not a foolproof test, but it can be a useful indicator.
- Features – Besides things like the power of the motor, weight and the power source another thing to look at is extras or features. Laser sights are a great thing to have as they make holding your line that much easier. LED lights up front are similarly convenient. A blower or vacuum to clear the cut area of sawdust is another important extra feature as is auto braking of the blade. If you have a battery powered unit having a low battery indicator is also handy.
Q: What is a circular saw?
A: A circular saw is a power tool that utilizes a metal blade spinning at thousands of rpms to cut different types of material (most often wood). Circular saws are used to make straight line cuts although those straight cuts may be at 90 degrees or they may be beveled at different angles.
Q: What do you use a circular saw for?
A: A circular saw is, as we said, used to make straight line cuts primarily in wood but also in plastic, masonry and certain types of metal. The different blades available for the circular saw are designed for different types of cutting and different materials. Circular saws are almost exclusively powered by electricity today and that power may be sourced from an outlet or a battery.
Q: How to use a circular saw?
A: The basics of circular saw use are as follows:
- Place the wood to be cut on a stable work surface.
- With a crosscut you are going to cut across the grain and with a rip cut you cut with the grain.
- With large pieces of plywood it’s sometimes helpful to clamp a 1x4 to the sheet to act as a guide for the blade. Else you can draw a line on the wood or use a speed square to establish the line.
- Set the depth of the cut.
- Make sure you place the wood to be cut good side down.
- Start the power saw before you introduce it to the material to be cut.
- Push the rotating blade through to the end of the cut without stopping if possible.
- Let any loose pieces fall to the floor.
Remember to always wear protective goggles and to plan your cuts carefully. Make sure the indicator lines or device are in the right place and don’t let the electric saw waver from the guideline.
Q: Is there a difference between left-handed and right-handed circular saws?
A: All standard circular saws are technically universal. What differentiates the right-handed saw from the left-handed saw is the position of the blade relative to the handle. A left-handed saw then will have the blade on the left hand side of the handle when looking from back to front and a right-handed blade will have the handle on the right hand side of the blade, again, looking from back to front. Which one you get will depend solely on your comfort level with the different setups.
Q: Can you sharpen circular saw blades?
A: Only low grade steel toothed blades can be sharpened by hand. Doing so is a simple but fairly time consuming process performed with a file. Most circular saw blades however are carbide tipped and that means you’ll need to take them to a pro to have them properly sharpened. Carbide blades use the side of the teeth as much as the tips for cutting. So if you try to sharpen them by hand and wind up rounding off the sides you’re going to need to buy a new blade.
Should you inadvertently damage your carbide tipped blades while attempting to sharpen them don’t toss them out or offer them to the recycler. Instead, keep them on hand for whenever you have some down and dirty projects that don’t call for precision cuts. For instance demolition work where you just need to cut things into smaller bits for disposal or for when you are repurposing wood and you’re not sure if it has any nails in it from previous use. There’s no sense risking a brand new perfectly sharp blade in such instances.
When it comes to working with circular saws it doesn’t matter how much experience you have. All it takes is one slip, one glance at something else while cutting or one unseen hazard to ruin your day and perhaps send you to a hospital. Always abide by the following common sense tips in order to insure you emerge from the cutting process in one happy healthy piece.
- Always wear proper eye protection when using a circular saw. Circular saws tend to throw up large amounts of sawdust and send wood splinters flying off in all directions. Without proper eye protection you could suffer a life altering injury. No buts with this one.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing, having long hair hanging down toward the saw or wearing jewelry that might get ensnared in the rotating blade. It only takes a fraction of a second for a loose shirt, necklace or loose hair to become ensnared and yank you toward the rotating blade.
- Don’t stand directly behind the power saw while operating it. You could get struck by items kicked back by the saw. Instead, stand to one side or the other.
- Make sure you always use a sharp blade as they cut easier.
- Always make sure the electric saw is unplugged or the battery removed when changing blades.
- Always peruse the surface to be cut for staples, screws and nails.
- Never operate the saw with just one hand. Always use the proper 2-handed form.
- If you purchase a new saw always make sure to read the new owner’s manual thoroughly since manufacturers are constantly making changes to their products and the way they operate.
- Don’t alter the power saw in any way. For instance, some folks tie or wedge the lower blade guard open. We urge you not to do this, or to alter your device in any way.
- Always make sure the blade has come to a complete stop before setting it down or releasing either of your hands. Doing so could send the electric saw flying off to possibly do yourself or someone else grave bodily harm. Many circular saws today have an electrical braking system for the blade that engages as soon as the trigger is released. Getting one of these will vastly improve safety around the device.
Safety needs to always be your paramount concern when operating a circular saw. If you are new to this type of device it’s essential that you build proper safety habits right from the get-go. This will ensure you can get the most from your equipment for years to come.