Last updated on May 3, 2022 4:27 am by the writer.
Most woodworkers will agree that circular saws are revolutionary tools made to make life a breeze. A quality circular saw can easily cut and shape even the toughest and biggest pieces of wood.
It’s safe to say that circular saws are among the top tools that result in the creme-dela-creme of building and woodworking.
Available in two variants, corded and cordless, it can be rather difficult when it comes to choosing which exactly is the best for your particular needs.
Corded and cordless saws have their respective advantages and disadvantages. This guide quickly discusses the contrast between cordless vs corded circular saws in respect to helping you decide which one suits you better.
Let’s cut to the chase then.
When to use a cordless circular saw?
A corded circular saw is meant for more work-intensive tasks which often involve larger and thicker materials, such as ripping big pieces of timber and repetitive crosscuts in even wet wood.
Corded circular saws are better for working with larger volumes and longer projects; the additional power helps produce clean and consistent results, while the absence of batteries means that you have longer up-times.
Professionals with home-based workshops can vouch for the convenience and efficiency of their favorite corded circular saw.
When to use a cordless circular saw?
Cordless circular saws excel over corded saws for a number of reasons, mostly from the fact that they’re highly portable.
For work done from remote locations where a power outlet isn’t available, a cordless circular saw can come and save our day.
Most cordless models nowadays have near to the same capacities as their corded counterparts, making them just as viable if not a little bit more versatile.
The absence of cords grants you more reach and flexibility at the cost of a little added weight and shorter operation times anywhere on your Jobsite, remote location, or yard.
Differences between a corded & cordless circular saw
As corded and cordless power tools work much in the same way the small differences can often be overlooked with the basic functions being identical, however, the time and the task you are doing will dictate the time to use a corded or cordless saw over the other.
Below are some of the most apparent differences, and how to decide on what tool to use:
1. Power source
First corded circular saws need an outlet or power supply to function. Though power saws can run for significantly longer, the need for a power source greatly limits their reach and portability when in use.
Cordless circular saws on the other hand run on batteries, allowing them to easily run even in completely remote areas. Cordless tools can also be used when moving around a single Jobsite, without having to worry about a power lead getting in your way.
Cordless saws save a lot of time when builders would otherwise be running extension cables to power the saw, and creating a tripping hazard at the same time.
Just don’t expect to get the longest up-times with them when ripping timber.
2. Power measurement
Since their power sources are different, how their power is measured also differs.
The power of a corded circular saw is displayed in the measurement of amps. This is because the voltage used by all corded models is in the US.
Typical corded saws are around 10 – 15 amps. On the other hand, the power of cordless circular saws is usually displayed in volts. Most cordless models sport an 18 – 20V output.
3. Motor power
When gauging motor power, the higher the power rating, the stronger the saw. Since corded circular saws run on consistent power, their motors are more robust and capable, able to chuck out RPMs nearing 7000.
Cordless circular saws on the other hand run on only batteries and often need to tone the power down to prolong run times. Surprisingly, innovation has allowed even cordless motors to reach up to 5,200RPM.
4. Cutting performance
Cutting performance is measured by two criteria – cutting endurance and precision of cuts. Corded circular saws are built for more demanding applications, thus excelling with better cutting endurance and power.
While corded tools can still be maneuvered fairly easily, the cord sometimes limits their reach and flexibility.
Cordless circular saws are more balanced – and supplement decent cutting endurance with higher degrees of precision and handling.
5. Compatible blade sizes
This allows corded circular saws to tackle a wider range of tasks and perform deeper cuts.
In contrast, cordless models typically have smaller and lighter blades 32 teeth or lower. Cordless circular saws are better for making detailed cuts and fine adjustments.
Here’s how to replace correct-sized blades.
6. The portability and weight
Corded circular saws are meant to be used as semi-stationary tools. The fact that tools rely on a direct power source from the wall means that you can’t just move the tools anywhere.
What adds to the general weight of a corded circular saw is when you opt for a bigger unit when you need to use larger blades for deeper cutting depth.
Cordless circular saws are more portable since the tool runs on batteries. Sometimes cordless saws are actually heavier in weight-to-power comparison because the weight of the battery is noticed when using a cordless tool.
Despite being easier to bring around, some cordless models can reach a little over 12 pounds with fully charged batteries.
For a portable lower-powered cross-cutting saw a cordless saw is in fact lighter and easier to use than a large corded saw intended for only ripping thick timber.
7. The safety
Regardless of if you’re using a corded or cordless circular saw, always remember that these are powerful cutting tools and that precautions must always be taken throughout use.
Corded models are more powerful, therefore more hazardous in the event of an accident.
The cord can cause you or someone to trip if not properly monitored or even cause a fire should there be an electrical short or overload without an RCD at the power source.
Cordless models are safer, but can still cause harm due to the fact that the machine is still powerful a tool. With prolonged use, operators still need to treat the tool with care and not use or operate one if fatigued or untrained.
When should you upgrade to a table saw for ripping jobs?
Table saws are more expensive and require ample space to properly use. While circular saws are capable handheld tools, competition is pale in comparison to the wonders of table saws when doing ripping jobs.
Since ripping wood requires cutting huge volumes of wood with more resistance, a table saw greatly helps reduce the load and is still an effective tool even in the hands of a complete beginner.
Over circular saws, table saws are also the better option for precision work, which is important for manufacturing structural wood pieces to a specific dimension. Finally, table saws might be larger, but they are actually easier to maintain.
So as long as you have enough space a table saw is faster, easier, and more accurate for ripping timber vs. cross-cutting. And if space is bothering you, there are portable table saws that you can fold.
What’s the best saw for a beginner or DIY’er?
Beginners won’t really a need powerhouse circular saw if they’re still learning the ropes.
We recommended beginners to start with a cordless circular saw since this type is normally safer and overall easier to handle when starting out, and the tool is still useful as you gain more experience.
No cord means less chance of an accident as there is no cable that could be cut by accident.
Going cordless gives you more freedom to move around and work in a position that you’re comfortable with.
Going cordless also allows for more practice and saved time since the tools run on batteries and can be more frequently used without needing to set up and running out a power lead for every new cutting location or the need for setting up an RCD at multiple power sources.
For the cheapest option we recommend the Skil 20V 6-½ inch circular saw – it’s affordable and has all the necessary features that beginners should learn.
But for anyone serious about DIY or building you are better to start with Makita from the beginning and have a compatible battery with your next chosen cordless tool.
What’s type of saw should a new builder use?
Both actually. When somebody has already become a fully-fledged builder, chances are their toolbox contains an expansive and versatile skillset.
To complement their abilities, builders need an equally capable tool kit or, in this case, a saw that meets different demands like power and portability.
A corded saw comes is a staple for demanding and repetitive cuts, while a cordless saw allows a builder to effectively work at remote locations away from the sawhorses like on the roof.
Both expand a builder’s scope and reach to do a job faster.
Conclusion: Use both.
The debate of cordless circular saws vs corded circular saws is really a debate of power vs portability.
As you can see, corded and cordless circular saws are very similar, yet also very different from each other.
While both tools basically do the same cutting job, certain details pertaining to their use fit different working styles of some better than others.
If you’re just starting out in your DIY journey, then a cordless model is the better choice since it’s easier to handle and it will meet the demands of casual use.
Cordless models are more portable and are better suited for those who are constantly on the go. Corded models have more power for repetitive cutting in a single location or for ripping timber instead of using a table saw.
At the end of the day, what we can all be sure of is that everybody benefits from a handy power saw, and having 2 types of circular saws are surely no exception.
The savvy professional should have both, especially if each variant will fill a diffrent and specific role in their toolkit.
Sounds like this can be improved for the next reader.
Please share how this article can be improved?
My name is Aaron, welcome to Bangingtoolbox.com, and thank you for reading my article.
As a qualified builder, site supervisor, and DIY’er, my purpose at Bangingtoolbox is to help provide and help build the #1 building and DIY resource on the internet to help educate and train young men wanting to get ahead with some practical skills.
I’m here to show – How and why to start DIY as either a hobby or as a career. And to help qualified professionals with objective and unbiased building and equipment information.
Have a look around, and don’t hesitate to ask me any questions, you can find out more about me here.