A Detailed Discussion on the Circular Saw Buying Guide

minutes remaining  Updated On January 9, 2021

Whether you are a professional, DIY worker or homeowner, you will inevitably find the circular saw's handiness in different woodworking jobs. Its wide variety and versatility have made the circular saw one of the most sought after power tools of all.

Since the circular saw has high demand, you will see literally thousands of options for it to buy. And the selection problem will only intensify thanks to the overwhelming variations of the circular saw. Hence, many beginners and even some expert professionals find it tough to pick the right circular saw that best fits their budget, necessity and project requirements.

But, fret not.

Our discussion on the circular saw buying guide will ease out the purchasing procedure remarkably.  You will get to know the circular saw styles, blade material, size, adjustability, comfort and other factors that need considering while choosing the circular saw.

Tips on the Circular Saw Buying Guide

A circular saw can make rip cuts, crosscuts and even bevel cuts at 0° to 45°. What's more, the circular saw is an excellent option for overhead applications too. But for all these, you will have to purchase the right circular saw at first.

If you are confused about how to choose the right circular saw in a snap, keep reading the following guidelines. It is a complete buying detail on the power tool developed by our expert woodworkers. Also, we have talked with the DIY workers to figure out the necessities of all.

Style (Sidewinder vs. worm drive)

You will mainly see two styles of the circular saw in the market. These are the sidewinder and worm drive saws. Interestingly, the geographical location plays a key part in selecting the circular saw style. For instance, people from the East loves the sidewinder saws the most. On the contrary, the worm drive saw is the uncrowned king in the US's West and Midwest regions.

Apart from the preference variations, there're vital differences in both the power tools' work procedure and cutting capacity. You need to be aware of them while selecting the circular saw to meet the project requirements.

Sidewinder circular saw:

A sidewinder saw uses a spur-gear motor. It is aligned with the blade. Since the motor and the blade alignment is in the same direction, the motor rotates fast. Consequently, the blade works faster than you might imagine.  It has an average 6000RPM speed.

Also, a sidewinder saw handles the blade on the left side of the motor. On the contrary, the right side accommodates the solid section instead of the cutoff of the board. It increases cutting stability, but the tradeoff is cutting visibility.

The sidewinder circular saw blade orientation makes sure the power tool is lightweight and easy to maneuver into places. You can use the sidewinder saw for working on the softer woods. It is best for the crosscuts.

Pros

  • High RPM supports fast cuts
  • Lightweight yet stable design
  • A shorter profile helps to cut in tight space
  • Ideal for the repetitive cross cuts
  • Quick and comfortable maneuverability

Cons

  • Reduced cutline for visibility
  • The cutting procedure isn't easy

Worm drive circular saw:

You will find the motor in the rear position in a worm drive saw. The motor transfers the power to the blade with the 90° alignment of the required gear. The blade is typically found on the right side of the equipment, and the cutting material is positioned left-sided. It leaves the weighty section of the power tool on the right side.

Since most people are right-handed, this blade's orientation helps in enhanced visibility of the cutting material. Consequently, you will get smoother cuts in quick succession. You can use the worm drive saw in a handheld position to maximize the enhanced cutline's advantage.

The tradeoff of such blade and cutting material orientation is the decreased speed of the motor. So, the cuts will be slower, but it leaves a smooth impression too. The worm drive saw is ideal for working on hardwoods. It suits long rip cuts in construction sites.

Pros

  • Increased torque for smooth cuts
  • The narrow profile helps alignment easy
  • Best suits cut on the hardwood.
  • Undeniable superiority for the long rip cuts
  • Enhanced cutline visibility for cutting smoothness

Cons

  • The worm drive saws are heavier
  • It limits the portability in the workspace

Blade visibility (Left-hand vs right-hand circular saw)

When you perform any cut with the circular saw, you must see the blade and the cutting material correctly. The blade's visibility will help you direct the blade of the circular saw appropriately to the cut mark. It is essential to ensure perfect and smooth cuts.

Also, the lack of blade visibility increases the chances of accidents and minor injuries of the worker. With the importance of the cutline and blade's visibility being said, we come to the primary debate of choosing the circular saw.

The debate of left-hand circular saw versus right-hand circular saw is thus exceptionally relevant to you. But for all the money, you must understand the differences and advantages of the left and right-hand circular saw.

As the name suggests, a right-hand circular saw accommodates the blade on the motor's right side. It happened when you held the main handle with the right hand and the auxiliary handle with the left hand. If you are a right-handed person, you will love the right-handed blades because it won't cause any cross overs of your hands.

On the contrary, the blade will be positioned on the left side of the motor of the left-handed circular saw when you hold the main handle of the saw with your right hand. When you have the auxiliary handle, one of your arms will crossover; it lessens the cutting comfort.

But ironically, a left-handed circular saw offers maximum visibility as you operate with the circular saw.  When you work with the left-hand circular saws, it gives you better visibility of the cutline and helps in the cutting smoothness.

As the standard rule, a righty should use a right-handed circular saw, and a left should use a left-handed circular saw. It is mainly because, with your dominant hand, and you can steadily hold the leading handle position easily and firmly.

When a righty uses the right-handed circular saw, it doesn't need any crossover of the arms. It increases cutting stability and comfort.

Similarly, lefties should operate with the left-handed circular saw. However, the use of the circular saw with your dominant hand and blade position on the same orientation is the reduced cutline. You will have to move your head to see the inscription perfectly slightly.

Although matching the hand type circular saw decreases visibility, you will definitely love the stability and safety it brings in the overall cutting work. So, we leave the ball in your court.

Blade Size

The blade size of the circular saw varies depending on the type of power saw you are using. For instance, 4-1/2" t0 7-1/2" blades are suitable for the handheld circular saws. Tile saws use a medium-sized blade from 7" to 10". The large table saws and compound miter saws are two other variations of the circular saw.

These power tools use blade sized between 12" to 14".  If you want to cut larger wood or tile or metals, choose the saw's blade size accordingly.

Blade Material

Most circular saw blades are made of carbide tipped with metal formation. Tile saws equipped with a diamond blade. The compound miter saw is similar to that of a handheld circular saw using the same carbide-tipped blade.

You will see aluminum oxide or silicon carbide made blades with abrasive and circular metal saws. The blade material determines which type of material you can use the power tool. So, please pay attention to the blade material, so it fits your necessity.  An inappropriate blade will soon wear out and require replacement.

Blade Adjustability

It actually refers to the depth adjustment of the circular saw blade into the cutting material. You must find a saw that allows quick adjustment of the cutting depth. Ideally, the circular saws lever needs to be bigger for easy depth and bevel adjustment.

Small levers will make the blade adjustment challenging. Also, the bevel ad depth adjustment readings must be clearly visible for a quick adjustment without pressurizing your eyes.

Onboard Blade Wrench

The onboard blade wrench may seem unfamiliar to many, especially to beginner circular saw users. It refers to the metal blade wrench that most manufacturers provide within the circular saw package.

You can use it to fasten or loosen the circular saw bolts attached with the blade. It is essential to change the edge. Check the label of the power tool to ensure that the package includes one blade wrench. Otherwise, you will have to invest in it separately.

Blade Guards

The blade guards on the circular saw have two purposes. Firstly, it protects your fingers from accidental cuts. Secondly, it safeguards the cutting material from falling off the board. The blade guard alignment should not be tricky on the circular saw.

The blade guard must also be stable and won't move when you cut metal or wood with the circular saw.

Amperage and Speed

The amperage and speed of the circular saw are attributed to its motor power. And truthfully speaking, without the proper muscle, the circular saw can't even be called a power tool at all. So, you will have to ensure that the circular saw motor generates sufficient cutting speed and amperage.

The speed of the saw is measured with RPM (rotation per minute) of the blade. Check that it is at least 4500RPM or above on the circular saw. Anything below this parameter won't help you in the cutting sessions.

Also, the AMP or amperage range should be 12Amp to 15Amp at least. If the circular saw amperage range is below this mark, the cuts will be uneven. Also, higher RPM means smoother cuts too, which is a crucial circular saw rebuying consideration.

The circular saw's speed and amperage should be such that it will quickly glide through the cutting material. 

Corded Vs Cordless Circular Saw

Circular saws have gone through extreme development. Hence, this category's corded and cordless power tools are equally adept at different cutting jobs. The corded circular saws are more powerful and generate higher speed and amperage too.

The tradeoff is the reaching capacity. When you get the corded saw, make sure the power cord is long enough to cover the maximum spaces. Also, these saws are mostly heavyweight and limits portability.

The cordless or battery-powered circular saws, on the contrary, suit DIYers and homeowners mostly. It has a limited capacity but is easy to transport and use. Also, the cordless circular saws are reasonably priced, which suits beginners' budget easily.

Ease of Use

The easiness of using the circular saw comes from many factors and can't be defined quickly. You should focus on the overall aspects to find the easiness. For instance, check the bevel and depth adjustment, blade change features and balance of the circular saw. These will help you determine the toughness or easiness to use the power saw.

Shoe Material

The shoe of the circular saw refers to its baseplate. The circular saw's baseplate or shoe is important because it protects the saw from damages during the work. Also, the circular saw will fall from your hand today or tomorrow despite your care and safety.

Sometimes the drop will happen from a considerable height that can eventually damage the saw, and you will have to buy a new one. In this regard, the shoe material becomes crucial because it will determine the circular saw's overall stability.

It has a rectangular shape, and the cutting material also sits on it so you can guide the material along the saw blade. Ideally, the shoe of the circular saw is made of magnesium, steel or aluminum.

The cast aluminum or bare aluminum is strong yet lightweight. So, it won't bend quickly and helps in easy carrying. The stamped aluminum is less hardy and might bend if the circular saw drops from a considerable height.

The stainless steel made shoe is the hardiest of all, but it is heavyweight too. Hence, it limits portability. You will love the stability of the stainless steel show for sure.

Guide System

The circular saw guide system refers to the guide through which you can push the cutting material. Try to get a tool with the laser cutting guide for maximum accuracy. The laser guide will help in the visibility of the circular saw too.

Work Lights

As you might guess, the work lights refer to the LED lights provided with the circular saw. However, not all manufacturers arrange the saw with the work lights. Check to ensure that you get the circular saw with the work lights.

It will enhance the visibility of the cutting material. You can also work in dim light or dark conditions easily with the work lights on the power tool.

Weight and Durability

As a circular saw is mostly a handheld tool, weight plays a crucial role in its overall convenience and working comfort.  A weighty saw means you will feel the pressure and work fatigue soon. Hence, it is suggested that you feel the saw with your hands if possible to figure out the weight.

You will also have to consider between worm drive and sidewinder circular saw for the weight factor. Worm drives are heavier than the sidewinder circular saws.  So, decide the one you want for cutting jobs.

Cutting Precision

All you want from the circular saw is that accurate cuts every time. Hence, check that the power tool is delivering square and straight cuts always.

The precision of the circular saw comes mainly from the blade quality. Even if you own a cheap saw, get a high-quality and précised blade to maximize the cutting accuracy. A cheap saw with a quality blade is better than an expensive saw with a low-grade blade.

Dust Collection

Whether you cut metal, tile or wood with the circular saw, it is bound to create sawdust. The sawdust can quickly transform the entire workspace into a messy one and reduce visibility. Some manufacturers offer premium dust portholes that you can use to attach with the vacuum to clean the dirty dust.

Hence, it is suggested that you get a power saw with a quality porthole for dust collection.

Conclusion

A circular saw is a considerable investment both for professionals and homeowners. Therefore, you would want your investment to be worth every penny. Our circular saw buying guide will hugely facilitate you in this case.

We have included only those factors of the circular saw for your considerations that directly affect the circular saw's overall performance. Some least important but necessary considerations might consist of the pricing, handle ergonomics and cutting types.

Hence, when you go to purchase the circular saw, make sure you consider the maximum factors since it is incredibly challenging to meet all the requirements. Just make sure it fits your budget and needs mostly.