From cross-cutting 2x4s to ripping plywood, circular saws use high-powered blades to make a variety of cuts. Although circular saws are often thought of as woodworking tools, many models can be outfitted with specialized blades to cut masonry, metal, and laminate flooring.
To help you find a circular saw for your DIY projects, the This Old House Reviews team researched the best circular saws on Amazon. Here are our top recommendations.
Makita 5007 Magnesium Circular Saw
This circular saw is built with magnesium components that create the tool’s lightweight and durable frame. Along with its thoughtful construction, the tool features a powerful motor that spins its blade at up to 5,800 revolutions per minute (RPM). This circular saw can also adjust its beveling shoe to make cuts between 0 and 56 degrees.
DEWALT 20-Volt Circular Saw
Powered by a 20-volt battery, this cordless circular saw from DEWALT is a convenient and portable power tool. The tool has a brushless motor that adjusts its power output based on the requirements of each task, and it uses a 7 ¼-inch blade that can make cuts up to 2 ½ inches deep.
SKILSAW SPT77WML-01 15-Amp Worm-Drive Circular Saw
This unique circular saw has a worm-drive design that increases the distance between the tool’s handle and blade, extending your reach and helping you make longer cuts. The saw also comes with cut-ready depth adjustments for quickly preparing the saw for cutting ¼-, ½-, and ¾-inch-thick plywood. Additionally, the saw features an anti-snag lower guard that helps prevent its blade from binding to thinner materials.
CRAFTSMAN 15-Amp Circular Saw
This affordable circular saw from CRAFTSMAN is built with durable metal guards and a magnesium shoe to create a long-lasting and lightweight tool. To complement its durable build, the saw includes a carbide-tipped blade that delivers speeds up to 5,500 RPMs. The product also comes with a tool-free beveling shoe that adjusts between 0 and 55 degrees.
Milwaukee 2830-20 Circular Saw
This Milwaukee circular saw has a rear-facing handle and is powered by Milwaukee’s long-lasting M18™ Redlithium™ battery, which provides up to 570 cuts per charge. Along with its high efficiency, the tool includes an LED light that increases visibility in dimly lit areas. Additionally, the circular saw has a convenient rafter hook that makes storage simple.
SKILSAW 5280-01 Circular Saw With Laser Guide
This user-friendly and affordable circular saw offers a variety of features to help you complete your woodworking job. It has an integrated dust blower that keeps dust out of your cut line, a laser beam to help guide your cut, and a guarded trigger that helps prevent accidental startups. The circular saw also comes with a 24-tooth carbide blade and a carrying bag.
Makita SH02R1 12-Volt Max CXT Cordless Circular Saw Kit
This kit comes with a compact circular saw that’s useful for cutting thin plywood, particleboard, and other materials. Along with its lightweight circular saw, the kit includes a lithium-ion battery, a compatible battery charger, and a durable carrying case. The kit is also backed by a three-year limited warranty that covers the tool, battery, and charger.
SKILSAW 15-Amp SAWSQUATCH Worm-Drive Circular Saw
Built with a durable magnesium frame, this long-lasting circular saw is built for heavy-duty woodworking projects. Using its 10 ¼-inch blade and powerful 15-amp motor, the saw delivers precise cuts to engineered wood, laminated lumber, and a variety of other materials. Additionally, the saw is packaged alongside a powerful 40-tooth blade.
Ryobi One P505 18-Volt Circular Saw
This affordable circular saw prioritizes comfort with its rubber-molded grip and additional side handle. This power tool is battery-powered and uses Ryobi’s line of ONE+ batteries, which are compatible with a range of the company’s tools. Additionally, the saw features an adjustable beveling shoe and a transparent blade guard that increases visibility while you work.
Before purchasing a circular saw, consider its blade compatibility and safety features, among other factors.
Battery-Powered vs. Corded
Circular saws come in either corded or battery-powered models. Corded circular saws like the Makita 5007 Magnesium Circular Saw use electricity to power their blades and make accurate cuts. While corded models typically generate higher speeds than their battery-powered counterparts, their reliance on extension cords makes them less portable.
Battery-powered circular saws are known for their lightweight design and mobility. While many battery-operated models lack the cutting power seen in their corded counterparts, some models like the DEWALT 20-Volt Circular Saw have efficient brushless motors that adapt to individual workloads to extend the life of their batteries.
Blade Size and Type
A circular saw’s blade size is calculated by measuring its diameter in inches. Most circular saws like the SKILSAW 5280-01 Circular Saw With Laser Guide use 7 ¼-inch blades, though some models like the compact Makita SH02R1 12-Volt Max CXT Cordless Circular Saw Kit use smaller blades. The blade size of a circular saw influences its cutting depth, meaning larger blades can cut through thicker materials.
Along with a blade’s size, the blade type also influences a circular saw’s performance. For example, most of the circular saws in this review come with wood-cutting blades that have a low number of teeth per inch (TPI). However, if you want to cut metal or other fragile materials, you can purchase blades with a higher TPI that deliver a more polished finish.
Some circular saws adjust to make cuts at various angles, which are referred to as beveled cuts. Most circular saws with bevel adjustments can tilt between 0 and 55 degrees. Some models even come with indented marks, known as positive stops, that let users lock into popular bevel cuts for easy adjustments. For example, the CRAFTSMAN 15-Amp Circular Saw has positive stops at 22.5 and 45 degrees.
A circular saw’s speed refers to how fast it can spin its blade and cut through material. Most circular saws have speeds between 5,200 and 5,500 revolutions per minute, though some models like the Makita 5007 Magnesium Circular Saw offer speeds up to 5,800 RPM. While a saw’s available RPMs are a good indication of how fast a cut can be made, they don’t impact how thick of a material the saw can cut.
Most circular saws come with safety features that help you operate the tool. One of the most common safety features is a brake stop, which halts the rotation of the blade once the trigger is released, preventing damage to the workpiece or power cord and injury to the operator. Another common safety feature is a guarded trigger, which requires you to hold down a safety button before activating the trigger.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are circular saws used for?
A circular saw is an essential DIY tool that uses a moving blade to make straight, accurate cuts. While circular saws are traditionally used to cut 2x4s, plywood, and other lumber, they can be outfitted with different blades to cut masonry, metal, and other materials.
What’s the difference between a circular saw and a miter saw?
While both a circular saw and a miter saw use a sharp, rotating blade to cut lumber and other materials, their difference in design impacts how they’re used. For example, circular saws are handheld tools that are used to make quick cuts, which makes them ideal for cutting 2x4s or plywood. Miter saws are stationary tools that make precise, angled cuts using a movable arm, which is useful for cutting decorative pieces like crown molding or baseboards.
Why does my circular saw get stuck?
If your blade is binding to its cutting material, the problem could be your cutting angle or blade. Check to make sure your blade is straight, sharp, and secure before using your circular saw.
Are circular saws dangerous?
While a circular saw can cause injury, there are a few measures you can take to ensure you safely use the tool:
- Wear eye and ear protection.
- Wear a dust mask if you’re cutting material that produces a significant amount of dust and debris.
- Don’t wear loose clothing or any other accessories that could get caught in the tool’s blade.
- When operating the circular saw, use two hands when possible for maximum control.
- Wait for the blade to stop before setting the circular saw down.
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