Circular Saw Reviews
Our Top Pick is the Dewalt 575
Circular saws are one of the most common hand tools used by craftsmen, handymen, framers, woodworkers and homeowners. The basic premise is that these saws provide a versatile and affordable saw that is lightweight yet can be used to cut a variety of material. All saws make straight cuts and many include the ability to make beveled cuts. Prices range from around 50 dollars to a few hundred dollars, depending on the style, power and added features.
Circular saws were one of the first power tools to be invented with records tracking all the way back to 1777. They were first commonly used in the 19thcentury in saw mills. These hand held saws have a circular blade that can cut through wood, brick, plastic and metal. Different blades are made that can cut different types of material and can be inter-changed on the saw. While circular saws may be powered by a cord, a battery, or gas, we have focused on corded hand held circular saws.
We evaluated and considered 35 of the top circular saws in the market. After a thorough evaluation, the Dewalt 575 rose to the top of the competition due to its power and lightweight design. It has the strength to tackle heavy-duty cutting of wood, metal and bricks, yet it still weighs less than 9 pounds. It is priced competitively and provides the essential features needed in a top quality circular saw.
Who Should Buy This
If you own a home or do any repairs around your house you will need a circular saw in your arsenal. It is a basic tool that will cut wood, metal and even brick if you use the correct blade. The unit is inexpensive, hand held, and does not require a lot of storage space or expertise to use. A hand held circular saw is as essential to own as a drill. Everyone who plans on doing any type of work around the home needs one.
What Makes a Good Circular Saw?
Circular saws come in two distinct styles: the worm drive and the sidewinder (or top handle). The sidewinder is the most common because it is lightweight and inexpensive. Higher grade, commercial-quality saws are often worm drives. The worm drive has a blade that lines up directly with the motor. It is generally heavier than a sidewinder but offers a clean line of sight while cutting. The sidewinder has an in-line motor that sits on the left side of the blade. The motor then rests on the material during the cut, making is very easy to operate. The motor sits at a right angle to the blade and provides precision cuts without having to hold the weight in your hands.
Saws can range greatly in price depending on their quality and features they offer. Those at the lower-end tend to have less power and less reliable motors. This means that better quality saws are often worth the increased price if they will be used regularly.
A top-quality saw should have 15 amps in the motor. You also want to consider the RPMs as this will help determine the power that reaches the blade for the cut. Another important feature is the material used for the shoe and base. Aluminum and magnesium are considered to be the best because they are less likely to bend and warp even if they are dropped. When the shoe warps or bends it becomes difficult to make a straight cut. Steel is found in less expensive models but has a tendency to bend.
Some circular saws make both straight and beveled cuts. If there is a bevel feature it should make cuts to at least 45 degrees, as this is one of the most common angles used. Higher degrees may be required for roofing and other specialized cutting projects. If beveled angles are an option on the saw you’re looking at, it is also useful to have pre-set stops where the angle is set. This will speed the transition to different cuts.
Another factor is the blade depth. This will determine the size of wood you are able to cut. You want the adjustment to be easy so you will take the time to set the proper depth before each cut. Top grade units use levers for making adjustments because they are fast, easy and secure. Table saws provide larger blades for deeper cuts. Most circular saws have a 7 1/4 inch blade.
Brakes help the blade stop quickly. Higher-end models have electric brakes which will reverse the electrical flow as soon as the trigger is released. The reversed current stops the blade faster than a magnetic brake or no brake.
Scales that are easy to read, work lights and lasers are other features worth mentioning. Work lights are great for those who work inside or have difficulty seeing. A laser cannot be seen if you are working outside and the lines they make are often not accurate lines to follow, making them less valuable as a feature.
One of the most important considerations with a circular saw is the handle and grip. If the handle is not comfortable it will make the saw more difficult to use over long periods of time. The weight and balance of the unit will impact how comfortable you will feel when using the saw. Vibration is also a factor in both comfort and accuracy.
How We Tested
We began by initiating an extensive research of available products on the market and narrowed the list to the top circular saws based on features and value. After careful consideration, we reduced the list for further testing by studying the top brands and models. We evaluated how well the saws cut, features included, value for money, and what others who used the products were saying. Then we read home improvement blogs, tool websites and got opinions from specialists, craftsmen, tool companies, and home users to establish which ones should receive a further review. We then searched Amazon for the saws that contained the most sought after features at the best price.
|Style Saw||Corded Hand Circular Saw|
|Power of Motor||15 amps and up to 5,200 RPMs|
|Size of Blade||7 ¼ inches|
|Weight of Saw||8.8 pounds|
|Material of Blade||Included is an 18 tooth carbide tipped blade|
|Bevel Angle Range||0 – 57°|
|Positive Stops||2 (45° and 22.5°)|
|Dimensions||16.2 X 10 X 9|
|Length of cord||8 feet long|
|Depth of cut||2 9/16 inches|
After thorough testing the Dewalt DWE575 stood out as one of the lightest saws in its class without sacrificing power or quality. This circular saw only weighs 8.8 pounds and is a sidewinder. The design provides good visibility for the cut and includes a dust blower in the front which keeps the area clear of debris and sawdust so you have a clear view of the blade at all times during the cut. The base and shoe are made of cast aluminum that will not warp. The unit has crisp sharp edges that will not bend even if dropped and offers precision cuts.
The unit comes with a magnetic brake that will stop the blade in less than 2 seconds. The ergonomic handles are very balanced and comfortable for a firm and comfortable grip. The levers are made of metal and are easy to adjust. Adjustments can be made quickly for a beveled angle and depth of cut. A blade lock is also controlled by a lever, ensuring the blade will not move and reducing vibration. The blade is easy to change and the change tool is stored just below where the cord meets the casing.
Unique features include an anti-snag ball bearing which provides greater control from the lower guard. The electric cord comes with a Tough Cord system that provides 3 times the resistance from pull outs giving you confidence when you are working. The cord is also 8 foot long providing more room to work without requiring an extension cord.
Who Else Likes It
The guys at Wood Magazine praised the Dewalt 575 saying, “I appreciate what Dewalt’s engineers did with this saw: They made it light and easy to use… without turning the tool into a toy. The aluminum base…and 15 amp motor packs enough punch to plow through treated pine, OBS laminated joists, and even 8/4 oak…Nice!”
The guys at Handyman also loved the Dewalt 575 and highlighted the comfortable grip, light weight and that it was quieter than most other saws in its class. The saw includes, “an aluminum shoe, a special “tough” cord feature and nice bevel detents. We highly recommend this saw for its comfortable feel and smooth running motor.”
Amazon users gave it a 4.7 out of 5 from 74 users. One 5 star rating said, “First project using it was with a Diamond blade to cut 2 3/8″ concrete block for landscaping job. The saw worked better than any other of my previous circulars. Lightweight, powerful, very reasonable price for a great quality product.”
The Step Up
Makita 5007MGA has a 15 amp motor with 5800 RPMs of power. The unit is very well balanced and very durable. The shoe and base is made of magnesium, which is sturdy and can withstand the rugged treatment needed for most job sites. It also comes with an electric brake which stops the blade quickly.
Adjustments are made with a lever and the grip is very comfortable. The unit can cut up to 2 ½ inches of material at 90°. It has the ability to make beveled cuts up to 56° with 2 positive stops. There is also a built in light to better see the cut as it is being made.
Top Circular Saw Comparison
|9||Black & Decker||20||2|
Care Use and Maintenance
As with all power tools putting safety first will prevent accidents. Safety glasses are essential as sawdust will be in the air and can obstruct your vision. Other safety measures that should be taken include:
- Set the blade between 1/8th and 1/4th of an inch below the material being cut.
- Unplug the unit before adjusting the blade or changing settings.
- Use sawhorses to support the wood being cut.
- Never line your body with the blade.
Care of the saw is about keeping the blade clean. This will increase the life of the blade and keep the blade sharp longer and reducing stress on the motor. You should clean the blade frequently in a Simply Green solution or kerosene. Soak it overnight and then use a nylon or brass bristle brush to clean any tough spots. Never use wire brushes or corrosive material when cleaning the blade.
Once the blade is cleaned, rinse, and dried, spray with WD-40 before putting it back on the saw.
Some blades are coated, which reduces friction when in use and can extend the life of the blade. If you have coated blades do not use brass bristled brushes to clean the blade.
Wrapping It Up
Circular saws are versatile and useful for any projects that require cutting. Choosing a blade that is most suitable for the material will provide a cleaner cut and enable the blades to last longer. These hand tools are indispensable when it comes to projects you need to do around the house. Whether you are building or repairing, a circular saw is a must have.
- Dewalt Website http://www.dewalt.com/tools/saws-circular-saws-dwe575.aspx
- Circular Saw History http://www.asktooltalk.com/articles/toolhistory/divide.php
- Wood Magazine http://toolreviews.woodmagazine.com/power-tools/saws/circular-saws?id=2069&url=discussions/review
- Handyman Magazine http://www.familyhandyman.com/tools/circular-saws/circular-saw-review-what-are-the-best-circular-saws#15
- Maintaining Blade http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-clean-and-care-for-circular-saw-blades