Common tools for household or professional use include things like hammers, drills, screwdrivers, and the humble circular saw. If you’re like many of us, the circular saw may be your first foray into the world of serious cutting power tools.
If you’re ready to level up your home projects or professional work, a good circular saw is a must-have addition to your tool collection. Of course, you need a comprehensive circular saw buying guide to find the right one.
Corded Circular Saw Versus Cordless Circular Saw
Your first decision will determine the portability and power of your machine. Circular saws come in both corded and cordless versions, but before you decide to go free-range, you should know some pros and cons. Buyers should always start here.
Cordless circular saws do give you the freedom to complete jobs no matter where you are, but they often aren’t quite as powerful as their corded brethren. The cordless circulars saw versions also limit you in one very specific way, i.e., time to complete the job.
So yes, you have complete freedom of movement, but the trade-off is freedom of time. Batteries die, and there are only so many spare batteries you can carry before it gets ridiculous. If you do simple jobs that don’t require all-day work, a cordless saw could be a good idea.
Corded circular saws do limit you to the reach of your cord and extension cord, but these types offer more power and unlimited time to manage heavy duty projects. A cord may tie you to a certain location, but it gives you freedom of time to complete things.
Sidewinder Circular Saw Versus Worm Drive Circular Saw
Most people are familiar with the sidewinder construction of circular saws, but that isn’t your only option. Here’s what you need to know about the different types.
Sidewinder saw handles are set higher, and the blade is typically on the right side. They’re light and affordable options and much easier to find than worm drives. The motor spindle drives the saw blade directly, giving them more speed.
Sidewinder circular saws are best for home shops because they’re lighter and easier to handle. They’re also easier to find, giving you plenty of affordable options. You’ll also be able to find parts more easily as well.
Worm drive circular saws have the handle positioned over the blade, giving them a shorter appearance with greater length. The motor of worm drive saw is in line with the blade delivering greater torque for working with wet or difficult materials. The blade of worm drive saw is usually on the left side.
Worm drive saws are more powerful, but they’re also heavier, requiring a bigger gear system to convert the motor action into blade spin. Worm drive saws are best if you’re doing professional jobs or more significant framing work.
Blade Size and Type of Circular Saw
Blade types and sizes are responsible for the depth of cuts you’re capable of performing. Most household use goes for around 7 and 1/4 inches. Smaller options are available to use for making smaller cuts to things like paneling or other detail work.
Bigger saw blades will provide deeper cuts, giving you the opportunity to take on more professional jobs. However, they will add weight and heft to the tool, so be sure you have experience with circular saws already.
Blade types vary and provide different capability:
- Standard blades — These are the most common type and usually come included in your blade saw purchase. The more teeth the blade has, the smoother the cut. The fewer teeth the blade has, the faster the blade moves.
- Continuous rim blades — These diamond-type blades are smoother, cutting through materials like tile while avoiding cracking and shattering. Pay attention to whether the blade is designed for wet or dry cutting.
- Turbo rim blades — if you need to move beyond tile to something like brick or concrete, these types of blades are best. Pay attention to dry only blades or wet/dry compatible.
- Segmented blades — These provide an aggressive cut designed for the hardest materials, but your cuts will also be the roughest. These also have dry or wet/dry capabilities.
- Abrasive blades — These blades cut rough materials, including bricks and even some metals. These provide the roughest cuts but can really work through construction grade materials.
Balance And Ergonomics of Circular Saw
Holding the saw in your hand is one of the only ways to see if the weight and design fit well with your preferences. Most standard saws have similar feels, but if you can actually handle the tool, you may notice small differences.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does the tool fit well in your hand?
- Is it a good weight for you to complete jobs?
- Are you able to maneuver the tool well?
- Is the handle comfortable?
You’ll be able to make a good decision about whether your new tool will be comfortable to use.
Other Features to Consider
Some features aren’t requirements, but they might make your jobs a little easier. For example, a power brake could help stop the tool in emergencies, but a standard brake should suffice.
LED lights help illuminate your worksite even if you’re working in daylight. Sometimes it’s nice to have the full capabilities of a lit workspace. Likewise, a laser guideline make sure that you follow your marks more easily.
Spindle locks help make blade changes more manageable, especially if you frequently change the blade type. While not a necessity, consider how often you’ll want to change the blades when you make the decision.
You’ll also want to make good decisions about bevel capacity. Don’t choose a simple 90-degree capability; the more options you have for bevel capacity, the more your craft can grow.
If you do a variety of projects you need to understand which saw is perfect for which type of cutting need. To make it easy for you, we put together a head-to-head comparison on Table Saw, Miter Saw & Circular Saw.
Making the Best Choice For You Circular Saw
Once buyers have gone through all their choices, they’’ll be able to make a proper choice for a first or next circular saw. You’ll have something that provides you with the cutting power and precision you need to get your job done.
The decisions you make will decide the types of projects you can perform, but don’t let that intimidate you. You’ll be able to choose the right saw with just a few decisions and take on the projects you’ve always wanted to.
With a good Buying a Circular Saw guide, you’ll be able to choose the right one for your purposes and make sure that your toolkit is complete.