Buying Guide: Circular Saws
A circular saw is an essential piece of kit for making quick and accurate straight cuts in wood, steel, masonry and ceramic. Circular saws can also be set-up to make reliable and consistent bevel cuts, a task that would normally be time-consuming and tricky when done by hand.
In both DIY and professional settings, having a good circular saw in your arsenal can allow you to make light work of almost any project, saving you both time and frustration.
A high-quality circular will last you many years and you’ll wonder how you ever managed without one, so it’s worth spending a bit of time choosing the right one, by the end of this post you should have all the information you need to decide which circular saw is the best fit for you.
Scroll to the bottom to see our top picks.
Circular saw basics
Circular saws are the go-to tool for making speedy, accurate straight cuts through wood, steel, masonry, and ceramic when paired with the right blade. The cutting action is performed by a toothed or abrasive blade, driven in a rotational axis by a motor. A Cordless circular saw is powered via lithium-ion batteries, and as you might have summarised: a corded circular saw draws its power from the mains.
What features to consider
No-load speed refers to how quickly the blade rotates when not cutting material, and is usually measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). No-load speed is a reasonably reliable indicator of cutting power, therefore it’s generally accepted that a higher RPM implies more cutting power. It is however worth noting that blade diameter will be a factor in how quickly a blade spins. To avoid boring you with a lengthy physics lesson, just know that smaller blades will spin faster, and larger blades will spin more slowly. For serious cutting tasks opt for a higher no-load speed. This DeWalt circular saw spins at an impressive 5800rpm, and will handle most cutting tasks you decide to throw at it.
A higher voltage circular saw will usually be more powerful, and have more torque which will allow you to cut tougher materials with ease. Higher voltage saws generally weigh more since they will use bigger motors to make use of the higher voltage provided by the power source, so if weight is a consideration, and you don’t need the extra power, opt for a lower voltage circular saw.
Cutting capacity refers to how deep a saw can cut. As a rule of thumb, a larger blade will inherently have a greater cutting capacity or depth. If you work with a lot of thicker material or need to make multiple cuts at once, consider a opting for a saw with a greater cutting capacity such as this Makita circular saw. If you primarily work with thinner materials, then cutting capacity is less of an important factor to consider.
Cordless vs corded
The type of application you’ll be primarily using your circular saw for will determine what power source you opt for. Corded circular saws main advantage are the constant supply of power, which in practical terms, means that a corded circular saw is a good choice if you are working on a project that requires frequent power-intensive cuts in thick, hard material, and you have access to a mains outlet. On the other hand, a cordless circular saw trades a constant power source for portability, allowing you to work anywhere the task requires, obviously an invaluable advantage for tradesmen and contractors. The lack of a power cord also eliminates a potential on-site tripping hazard.
Types of circular saw
Sidewinder and worm drive circular saws
The most commonly seen type of circular saw, and what probably comes to mind when most people think of a circular saw. “Sidewinder” refers to saws where the motor is mounted directly adjacent to the blade, and drives the blade directly, whereas the motor in a “worm drive” sits behind the blade and drives it via a gear, providing more torque in the process. These types of saw are portable, require minimal maintenance, and are great for cutting wood.
A mitre saw is basically a circular saw attached to a swinging radial arm, that allows the operator to bring the cutting edge down onto a piece of material. They are safer to use due their fixed nature, and also allow for less experienced users to get consistent results. The trade-off being that they are usually more expensive than their hand-held counterparts.
A table saw consists of a cutting disk that’s fixed to a table. instead of moving the tool across the material to make a cut, like in the case of the previous two circular saw types, the material is instead moved towards and across the blade. Table saws allow for a consistent high degree of precision, but are also less portable, and require more space to store.
Disk cutters have strong blades, and lots of power, allowing them to easily cut through concrete, brick, paving slabs and stone. They’re best suited for projects where you need to cut very hard material, such as in landscaping or civil engineering settings.
Our top picks
DeWalt DCS570N 18V XR 184mm Brushless Circular Saw
The Dewalt DCS570N is made for professional use with the same power and the same benefits as DWE575 but without the cable. The DCS570 also adds an over-mould handle for improved grip and ergonomics. Featuring XR technology, this circular saw can be used in trades where you’d use a corded circular saw, such as Roofers, Concrete Form Workers, Furniture Makers, Kitchen Fitters, Shop Fitters, Plumbers, Joiners, Carpenters, Landscapers and Boat Builders.
Makita LS0815FLN 216mm Slide Compound Mitre Saw 1400W 240V
This Makita circular saw is compact and efficient with its 1400w motor and a maximum cut of 65mm the LS0815FL is a lightweight design and the carry handle make this tool easy to transport, while a durable 48-tooth TCT blade with laser guide and trench cutting facility ensure accurate cuts. Secure your LS0815FL firmly with a clamp and extension arms and minimise mess with a dust bag and dust extraction facility. A soft-start motor extends the life of this tool, and the manufacturer’s warranty can be extended to three years for extra peace of mind.
DeWalt DWE7485-LX 210mm Compact Table Saw 1850W 110V
This DeWalt circular saw is an excellent addition any tool kit, being perfect for a wider range of cutting applications, from cutting flooring to size, building fitted units, sizing timber for joinery, cutting plinths and more. The high power motor provides extended durability, efficiency and the power to cut all construction timbers. The Duel rack and pinion fence system provides increased accuracy whilst insuring no perpendicular movement occurs to the position of the fence in use. The two position fence offers increased capacity with max 610 rip capacity and allows for cutting of a wide range of materials/sizes.
Hyundai HYDC5830 58cc 300mm 12” Petrol Disc Cutter
The HYDC5830 is a petrol-powered 2-stroke disc cutter from Hyundai fitted with a diamond disc for powerful and precise cutting of a number of different materials. This disc cutter features a powerful 58cc 2-stroke petrol engine which has a high power to weight ratio compared to traditional 4 stroke engines. This gives you more power, without the strain. The HYDC5830 concrete saw’s large blade diameter of 300mm / 12” allows you to effortlessly cut through stone, brick, tiles, concrete (including reinforced), paving, and a range of other materials.
In summary, there is an endless selection of circular saws for you to choose from, but the most important factor to consider is the application in which you will be using your new saw. If you’re a professional joiner who uses their saw on a daily basis in many different locations, then it’s worth spending a bit more on an high quality portable cordless sidewinder or worm drive circular saw that allows you to use higher capacity batteries that’ll get you through a long day on the job, conversely, if you’re a hobbyist woodworker who’s dabbling with some beginner projects in your garden shed, then you don’t need to break the bank, and can also consider a corded circular saw since you’ll be working in the same location the majority of the time.