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There are 2 different designs of circular saws, available a sidewinder, and a worm-drive.
Sidewinders are more commonly used and come also in a variety of blade sizes and power between 10 and 15 Amps. While sidewinders are lighter and easier to use for general timber cutting and framing jobs.
Worm-drive saws come at the standard of 15 amps while also having more torque than the same sized sidewinder due to the gearing, this makes them ideal for ripping timber.
I recommend your primary saw to be light and easy to use, therefore I think its best to stick with a standard sidewinder saw from Makita.
A lighter 7.25 inch saw is the best size for general cutting jobs being smaller and lighter, but an 8.25 is better for cutting pile, poles, and big timber beams.
I also recommend getting a smaller Dewalt, or Makita cordless circular saw, they are more portable and easier to use to make quick cuts for your simple jobs. Or could be used as a “one-and-only” for DIY’ers.
Best builders 8.25-inch circular saw
Best lightweight circular saws [7.25-inch]
#1 Best Makita circular saw
Makita 5007MGA 10.6 lbs, 7.25-inch 15-amp
#3 Most lightweight circular saw
Dewalt DWE575SB electric brake 7.25-inch 15-amp 8.8lbs
#5 Best Bosch small circular saw
Bosch CS10 10.2lbs 7.25-inch 15 amp
#6 Best Bosch power saw tool
Bosch CS5 120-volt 7.25-inch 15-amps 10 lbs
#7 Best Milwaukee crosscut saw
Milwaukee 6390-21 7.25-inch 15-amp 10.4 lbs
#8 Best Skilsaw power saw
Skilsaw SPT67M8-01 sidewinder 7.25-inch 15-amp 12.15lbs
#9 Best Skil electric saw
Skil 5480-01 11.8 lbs 7.25-inch 13-amp
#10 Best DIY circular saw
Craftsman CMES510 11.05 lbs 15-amp 7.25-inch
Best worm drive circular saw
#3 Best Hitachi worm drive saw
Hitachi C7WDM 7.25-inch 15-amp worm drive
#4 Best Bosch worm drive saw
Bosch CSW41 7.25-inch 15-amp worm drive
Circular saws are power tools that can be used to cut a wide variety of materials, from wood and plastic to masonry, and even metal. Circular saws, however, are mostly used for cutting ply-wood, flooring and framing timber.
Handheld circular saws come in corded and cordless varieties. Models that are attached to chassis are typically powered by electricity, but you can also find gasoline-driven or hydraulic-powered models.
Circular saws can cut different materials depending on the blade you use. Blades designed for cutting wood can make crosscuts across the grain or rip cuts along the grain. Every decent circular saw has adjustable base plates that you can tilt at an angle to cut bevels.
Lighter saws are generally easier and safer to use. You only really need a bigger saw if you have to rip timber frequently. For most DIY users and even some professionals, a compact circular saw should be enough to get most jobs done, more easily.
Makita makes some of the best circular saws on the market, with many models suitable for DIY and pro use. The company makes the lightest 7 ½” saw available, which should handle most DIY and professional applications.
Makita also makes an 8 ½” saw that is almost as light as their 7 ½” model at close to the same price. And if you are looking for a worm drive (more on this later), Makita makes some of the best models around as well.
DIYers can use circular saws for a variety of cutting tasks. Most models marketed for DIY users are the sliding or “pull-through” types, which provide sufficient power in an easy to handle unit.
You could also purchase a hinged-blade saw that allows you to make wider cuts than you would be able to do with a standard design.
For builders, a circular saw is the most commonly used tool, particularly for cutting wood. Smaller models are usually sufficient for cutting relatively thin pieces of wood.
For ripping large amounts of timber, it may be necessary to get a more powerful saw with a bigger cutting blade. Although I get away with only using a small circular saw, paired with a table saw for ripping jobs.
Circular saws can even be used to cut tiles and masonry, provided they have sufficient power and are fitted with the right kind of blade. For even more versatility, builders can use combination blades that are capable of making rip cuts and crosscuts.
There are also metal cutting circular saws with blades that can cut through aluminum and other thin metals, using a fine-tooth blade design.
Historical accounts vary as to who exactly invented the circular saw. The earliest known use of the tool dates to the late 18th century when rip saws were used to make lumber out of logs. Before then, logs were made with a hand-operated pit saw or powered saws that cut in an up-and-down motion.
Some accounts trace the earliest circular saw to Southampton, England, where Samuel Miller applied for a patent for a saw windmill in 1777.
A circular saw was also produced by a certain “Gervinus” in Germany in 1780. Circular saws were also used in the Portsmouth Dockyard in England in the 1790s.
Here’s a bit of trivia: circular saws were also commonly known as “buzz saws”, due to the sound that the blade made when cutting through wood.
The sound was noticeably different from that produced by the up-and-down saws that were more common in those days. Think about that the next time you fire up your circular saw!
But the most common name is a circular saw and Skilsaw and both are used interchangeably sometimes.
Best circular saws for builders?
The Makita5007MGA has the best balance between lightweight and power to rip timber.
It isn’t the top lightweight saw and isn’t the best saw for ripping as the 5008MGA has a deeper blade depth. It is, however, the best balance if you want the best of both worlds with only one tool, and for that reason, it is the most popular choice for many carpenters.
I personally prefer having both a small lightweight saw for most cuts and a bigger saw for ripping.
But this the 7.25 Inch blade paired with a cordless small circular saw is an excellent choice as well.
What size power saw is best?
Always choose a circular saw in a size that is suitable for your needs. If you regularly have to rip through thick slabs of timber, get bigger and heavier saw by all means.
But if you don’t plan on ripping timber that often, you will find that many smaller saws are more than adequate for DIY and professional use cross-cut, with a small amount of ripping.
Smaller saws are lighter, easier to use, and are safer because they have less power it is easier to control “kickback”. Even if it does jamb and kick back on occasion, they are easier to control because of their lighter weight and smaller motor.
They are also less likely to cause strain and hand fatigue, so you could use them for longer periods.
I recommend getting a 10-11AMP circular saw for most DIY applications. They provide sufficient power for most cutting jobs but are easy to handle for tradies and even for beginners.
Difference between a worm drive & sidewinder saw
Circular saws come in two designs: sidewinder and worm drive saws. Sidewinder saws are the most commonly used and seen.
Their blades are positioned right next to the motor, which turns the blade directly. Sidewinder saws generally have higher RPM than worm drive saws.
Worm drive saws have the blade set in front of the motor, with the blade operated by a threaded worm drive running along the shaft. This design produces more torque, making them better for cutting hard and dense materials than standard circular saws.
I like sidewinders better as they are more lightweight, worm drives are good for faster cuts and ripping timber, but I prefer to use a table saw for ripping timber while using the sidewinder as a lighter more portable saw.
This is Justin Fink’s advise thinks from fine-woodworking:
What is the best worm drive circular saw?
Makita makes some of the best worm drive saws on the market. Their models are lighter and cheaper than other brands, alongside that is an excellent performance with the“Makita”.
Their higher torque also makes them more efficient for cutting hard pieces of wood, and they are usually a bit more accurate than standard circular saws.
The best circular saw for beginners
If you are just starting out with circular saws, it’s a good idea to go with a smaller model that packs enough power to remain useful as your needs grow.
Having a corded circular saw is always a good choice since you don’t have to worry about running down the battery. But for many jobs, a cordless saw is sufficient, safer, and easier to use.
As I mentioned previously, a corded small 10-11AMP circular saw provides a good balance between power, performance, and easy handling.
It is also light enough to use for longer periods without strain, and you can regain control much more easily when the saw kicks back if you come across a knot in the wood you are cutting.
Corded vs. Cordless saws
The choice between corded and cordless circular saws often comes down to convenience. On the one hand, corded models allow you to keep working without having to worry about a battery running out of juice.
But you also have to consider whether or not being tied to a power outlet is worth this advantage.
With cordless models, you do have to keep an eye on your battery level and make sure that you always have a spare battery pack or two with you when working in remote locations.
Some chargers can charge up your battery within 15 minutes so you could go on working, but keep in mind that chargers and spare batteries will also add to the cost.
Power doesn’t usually factor into the equation, as many cordless saws from Makita and DeWalt have the power that performs fast sharp cuts.
Keep your blades sharp and your batteries charged, and your cordless saw should be able to handle most jobs that a corded model can, with the convenience of not having to run a lead. For a builder having both corded and, cordless crosscuts saw is standard.
When you need to have a big circular saw
Although I generally recommend that DIY’ers get a smaller circular saw, sometimes you need to have a bigger tool to handle bigger jobs. If you have to do a lot of ripping timber along the grain, for instance, you really want to have the power of a bigger saw at your disposal.
Cutting against the grain doesn’t really require a lot of grunt, but if you are going to be doing a lot of ripping along the grain, you will appreciate the added power that a good heavy-duty model provides.
For ripping jobs where accuracy is critical you would be better off with a fixed circular saw that attaches to your work surface instead of a handheld model. However, you could use a hand-held skill saw using a straight-edge and clamps to use as a guide.
In some cases your much better of doing your ripping timber work with a faster and more accurate tool like a portable table saw.
Considerations before you buy
Whether you got for a handheld or a fixed-rail model, a corded or a cordless, your circular saw should be durable enough to handle a wide variety of jobs without breaking down.
When you have to work with hard and dense woods a lot, a more durable model will really come in handy.
Some of the best circular saws on the market are made by Makita, DeWalt, Bosch, Hitachi, and Skilsaw. It’s always better to buy a professional model from a reliable manufacturer instead of a DIY model from a lesser-known brand.
Branded saws may cost more at the outset, but you will get a lot more value for your money, and it should last a lifetime with care
Don’t settle for the cheapest circular saw you can find, also considering you can get a pro brand for a cheap price anyway if you get a smaller saw.
Saving pennies now will only end in tears when you have to replace or get replacement parts down the line. Get the best model you can afford in your price range, and your circular saw will reward you with years of reliable service.
Go for a magnesium base plate if possible. Magnesium base plates are a lot stronger than stainless steel and are less likely to get warped or broken.
Also, look for a circular saw with an adjustable plate that allows you to cut at an angle if you plan on making bevel cuts.
Brushless motors are more efficient than standard motors, so go for these models if you have a choice. With standard brush-equipped motors, there is often a lot of friction when the brushes rub against the mechanism.
This could prevent them from reaching maximum efficiency.
Tips for using a circular saw
It is a must to have a residual current device (RCD) when operating a circular saw or any other power tool. These devices help protect you from electric shocks if you accidentally cut the power cable or if there is a short in your saw.
You could get an RCD for your fuse box, which provides protection for all connected power sockets. At the very least, you should also have an RCD for the outlet where you will plug in your circular saw.
Of course, it is always better to practice safe working habits. Try to keep the cable away from the blade as much as possible. Or better yet, go for a cordless model if you don’t need to have a lot of power on tap.
Wear safety goggles and a dust mask when using your circular saw when cutting man-made materials. Many builders don’t bother wearing protective eyewear when cutting framing, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Make sure to keep your clothing away from the blade as well.
Before you begin cutting, check to see that your workpiece is supported and fixed securely. Also, make sure that excess wood you cut off will fall away from the saw freely. Have good quality wood clamps on-hand so they are there when you need them.
Finally, don’t try to force the blade back into line if you make a mistake. It’s safer to turn the motor off, allow the blade to stop spinning completely, and start over again where you marked off the cut line.
Most importantly never go backward with your saw, only forwards as doing so can cause the saw to kickback unexpectedly .
Irwin and Bessy both make great wood clamps for this definitely have a pair of quick grip clamps to act as extra hand or two.
Comparing the top electric saws
|Makita 5008MGA||Makita 5477NB||5007MGA||Makita HS7600|
|Weight:||11.4 lbs||14.3 lbs||10.6 lbs||8.6 lbs|
|Blade Size:||8 ¼”||7 ¼”||7 ¼”||7 ¼”|
Makita is the clear winner in this roundup, with three of its models winning the “best of” spots in three different categories. The Makita HS7600 is a solid all-arounder that delivers excellent performance in almost any application.
The 10.5 amp motor cranks out sufficient power for most jobs, and it is especially well-suited for framing work.
The Makita 5008MGA is no slouch either. An 8 ¼” model that weighs in at a modest 11.4 pounds, it has a 15-amp motor that can cut through even hard and heavy timber slabs with ease. If sheer power is what you are looking for in a circular saw, the 5008MGA is your guy.
Finally, check out the Makita 5477NB for another fine Makita model that delivers superior bang-for-the-buck. With its powerful 15-amp motor and innovative hypoid gear design, the 5477NB is a lot more efficient than any other worm-drive circular saw in its class.