They are indispensable tools for both homeowners and contractors. They are used on projects ranging from framing a house to building a fence or crafting a piece of furniture.
However, if you are reading this you probably already know that finding the best circular saw can be overwhelming.
There are so many different brands and models to select from that it can be hard to choose the best device to fit your needs.
The interactive table below will help you sort through options, features, and specifications so that you can find the electric saw for your needs.
When you are finished with the table, take a look at some of reviews on this page and others throughout our site for even more helpful information.
The Ultimate Guide to Circular Saws
|+||DEWALT Bare-Tool DC390B 6-1/2-Inch 18-Volt||Side-
|6.3||90 Deg.: 2.25″
45 Deg.: 1.625″
|+||DEWALT DWS535 7 1/4-Inch Worm Drive||Worm Drive||13.8||$$$$||4.8|
|+||DEWALT DWE575SB 7-1/4-Inch with Electric Brake||Side-
|8.8||90 Deg.: 2.55″
45 Deg.: 1.9″
|+||DEWALT DWE575SB 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight Circular Saw with Electric Brake||Side-
|8.8||90 Deg.: 2.563″||$$||4.8|
|+||PORTER-CABLE PC13CSL 7-1/4-Inch with Laser-Guide||Side-
|+||Makita 5477NB 15 Amp 7-1/4-Inch Hypoid Saw||Worm Drive||14.3||90 Deg.: 2.375″
45 Deg.: 1.75″
|+||Makita 5007MGA Magnesium 7-1/4-Inch with Electric Brake||Side-
|10.6||90 Deg.: 2.50″||$$||4.7|
|+||Makita Bare-Tool BSS610Z 18-Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 6-1/2-Inch||Side-
|7.1||90 Deg.: 2.25″
45 Deg.: 1.563″
|+||Makita Bare-Tool BSS611Z 18-Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 6-1/2-Inch||Side-
|6.9||90 Deg.: 2.25″
45 Deg.: 1.563″
|+||Hitachi C7ST 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch||Side-
|15.1||90 Deg.: 2.4375″
45 Deg.: 1.875″
Things to Consider When Choosing a Circular Saw
There are many things to consider when shopping for the best model, but we have laid out several of the most important below.
Cord or Cordless
Cordless circular saws are handy for tasks like ripping or cross-cutting plywood or boards for occasional small projects.
They are also very convenient when working in a location where there is no access to an electrical outlet or if your project has you moving around a lot.
But if you plan to tackle a major weekend project like building a deck or framing a shed you should probably choose a corded saw to save yourself the frustration of constantly swapping batteries.
Besides, on larger projects you will likely be working in a relatively stationary place near a source of power, so running an extension cord to the job site is not that big of a deal.
If you do choose to buy a cordless saw, select a brand and battery type/voltage that matches cordless tools you already own. That way, the batteries will be interchangeable.
This may not be an issue if your saw gets used only occasionally. But if you do frequent home improvement projects your arm will thank you for choosing a lightweight saw.
Many lightweight saws use aluminum or magnesium to cut pounds. The best models will use a cast shoe, rather than one formed from a single sheet of material.
The cast shoes have integral ribs that will prevent damage to the saw due to an accidental drop.
Sidewinder or Worm Drive
They are classified as either “sidewinder” or “worm drive” depending on the layout of the electric motor that powers the blade.
The motor on a sidewinder saw is positioned so that the motor’s axis of rotation is parallel to the axis of the blade.
On a worm drive saw, the motor is perpendicular to the blade’s axis of rotation. Power is transferred from the motor to the blade through a worm or “hypoid” gear set.
That’s why worm drive saws are also commonly referred to as hypoid saws. While worm drive saws are generally more powerful and durable, they are also significantly heavier, more expensive, and may be difficult for a beginner to control.
If you are a homeowner or DIY’er planning to buy your first saw, you will probably be most satisfied with a sidewinder. It will have all of the power and durability you need for occasional use, even on larger scale home improvement projects.
A higher blade speed (RPM or revolutions per minute) will enable you to cut through soft materials more quickly.
However, when it comes to blade speed, more is not necessarily better. All circular saws with 15 amp motors running on 110 volts will make roughly the same amount of power.
For a given amount of power, blade speed can only be increased at the expense of torque. This is the same precious torque that you need to power through tougher materials.
More is generally better, but at the very least choose a saw with a bevel capacity greater than 45 degrees. Why? In a perfect world, every corner would be square and every miter would be cut at exactly 45 degrees. Unfortunately that is almost never the case.
In order to “tune” your miter joint to fit a corner that is slightly greater than 90 degrees you will need to make the angle of your miter cut greater than 45 degrees.
All of the best models out there have a cut depth sufficient to cut through a 2×4 at a 45 degree angle. However, if you think you may ever need to bevel or miter a piece of 4×4 lumber, choose a saw with a cut depth greater than 1.75” at 45 degrees.
This will allow you to fully cut through the post in two cuts without having to finish with a hand saw.
Left or Right Blade
For years, most saw manufacturers produced sidewinder saws with the blade on the right side only. This gave an advantage to left-handed wood workers who could maneuver the saw with a clear line of sight to the blade.
Righties had to look over the top of the motor or around their right arm while cutting to be able to see the blade and the cut line they were trying to follow.
Then along came left-bladed saws, giving right-handed woodsmiths an equal opportunity to make the nice straight cuts their lefty counterparts had the privilege of making for so many years. Most all worm drive saws place the blade on the left.
Electric brakes provide added safety and convenience by stopping the blade quickly after the switch is released. Imagine you have made a blind cut in a sheet of plywood.
If your saw has an electric brake the blade stops spinning within seconds of releasing the switch and you can remove the saw from the cut quite quickly without risking a dangerous kickback.
If your saw doesn’t have an electric brake, you have to wait patiently for the blade to “wind down” on its own.
Hastily removing the saw from the cut while the blade is spinning can result in binding of the spinning blade against the side of the cut, propelling the saw backward violently.
In addition to preventing kick back, an electric brake also adds safety by minimizing the risk of fingers getting caught in the spinning blade. It can also help to save the power cord of your saw or an extension cord from unintentional cuts.
Top 5 Circular Saw Models
We looked at the 5 Top-Rated circular saws on Amazon and broke them down for you in detail below. Feel free to read through the reviews here and elsewhere throughout our site to learn more about the best models that are available.
DEWALT Bare-Tool DC390B 6-1/2-Inch 18-Volt Cordless
Professional grade power is the name of the game with this 6-1/2 inch cordless circular saw from DeWalt. Ripping and cross-cutting jobs are handled with ease thanks to the 18-volt power which delivers convenience without giving up power.
A 1.625” cutting depth at 45 degrees ensures that you can cut through 2x dimension lumber in one pass, and the bevel capacity is easily increased to as much as 50 degrees without the aid of additional tools.
An upper guard and shoe made from cast magnesium provide strength without making the saw overly heavy. This saw does not include a battery, so purchase the compatible DC9096 18-volt XRP battery pack separately if you do not own one already.
DEWALT DWS535 7 1/4-Inch Worm Drive
The DeWalt DWS535 is a saw that is as tough as any job you might tackle.
The worm drive configuration provides extra torque and control whether you are ripping through wet lumber, trimming rafters, or sawing multiple sheets of plywood at once.
The cast shoe with integral ribs protects the saw from damage due to drops, kicks, and the like. DeWalt chose to make many of the saw components from magnesium for light weight without sacrificing strength.
A 2-7/16 inch cut depth at 90 degrees is enough to cut through up to 3 sheets of 3/4 inch plywood at once and the bevel capacity is an impressive 53 degrees so you can handle even the most sophisticated cuts.
DEWALT DWE575SB 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight with Electric Brake
The DeWalt DWE575SB is a compact device that delivers a big punch. The 15-amp motor of this 7.25 inch saw provides the power needed for a range of applications, from DIY weekend-warrior projects to professional home building.
The compact size and mere 8.8 pounds of weight make it one of the most lightweight models in its class.
Even though it is light, the saw is still extremely durable, featuring the proprietary ToughCord system that has a higher resistance to power cord pullout when compared with other leading circular saws.
An electric brake is also included on the DWE575SB – a feature that increases safety as well as convenience for the user.
DEWALT DWE575 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight
The DeWalt DWE575 has many of the same features as the DWE575SB above, but lacks the electric brake included in that saw.
It is an ideal saw for many projects, from wall framing to deck building and furniture making. The 2-9/16 inch depth of cut is sufficient for many tasks, including ripping multiple sheets of plywood and bevel cutting 2x dimensional lumber.
A well-balanced design and ergonomic handles make it easy to make straight cuts with precision and its light weight ensures that you will be less fatigued after a day of building.
The saw also includes a blade wrench with integrated storage on the saw so that blade changes can be made quickly without having to search for the wrench.
PORTER-CABLE PC13CSL 7-1/4-Inch with Laser-Guide
Porter Cable’s PC13CSL is the perfect saw for a DIY’er on a budget. This 7.25 inch circular saw is highly favored by many homeowners for its precision and price.
A built-in laser shines an accurate, arrow-straight beam across the material you are cutting to help you hold the line even on long cuts. Bevel adjustments can be made up to 45 degrees.
The 13 amp motor provides enough power for most medium duty use, but falls short of the more powerful 15 amp motors found on more expensive models. The saw comes equipped with a 24-tooth carbide tipped blade.
What saw will you choose?
Ultimately, you have to choose the best model that will meet your needs. Do you need a saw that is powerful enough to cut through wet lumber?
Or are you most concerned with finding the best deal? Maybe having a saw that is lightweight is most important. Regardless of how you prioritize features of circular saws, we hope that this guide can help you make the choice that best suits you.