LAST UPDATED: November 30, 2020

The Best Circular Saws (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Best Choice Craftsman CMES510 Craftsman CMES510
Best Value Porter-Cable PCE300 Porter-Cable PCE300
Premium Pick DeWalt DWE575SB DeWalt DWE575SB

Whether you are a DIYer or a professional contractor, purchasing the right circular saw is critical to getting the job done right and done fast. Hand saws have their uses, but they are a terrible choice for ripping boards quickly and cleanly. And they make plunge cuts an impossible pipe dream. A quality circular saw can make cutting everything from plywood planks to two-by-fours easy, clean, and fast. When it’s time to get a cut done and get it done right, there is only one tool for the job. With your perfect circular saw only a click away, it’s time to stop shopping and start working. Here are our favorites.

The Best Circular Saws

Looking for an amazing combination of circular saw performance and cost? Then the Craftsman 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw is the way to go. This plug-in circular saw is a full-size option that can handle any 7.25-inch blade and features a 2.5-inch cutting depth. This beautiful beast produces a solid 5500-RPM blade speed thanks to the electric 15-amp motor positioned in the sidewinder configuration. The bevel capacity maxes out at 55 degrees. The saw features bevel detents at 22.5 and 45 degrees, two common cutting angles. The magnesium shoe helps users make cuts with smooth, gliding movements, and the integrated rafter hook allows users to easily hang this saw virtually anywhere. The Craftsman saw also comes with an 18-tooth carbide-tipped blade and a three-year limited warranty.

The two biggest challenges this saw faces are its considerable heft (11.05 pounds) and its lack of a built-in dust blower.

Key Features
  • Plug-in circular saw
  • 7.25-inch blade
  • 2.5-inch cutting depth @ 90 degrees
  • 15-amp motor, 5500 RPM
  • 55-degree bevel capacity with detents at 22.5 and 45 degrees
  • Magnesium shoe
Specification
  • Brand Craftsman
  • Model CMES510
  • Weight 11.05 pounds
PROS

Wide bevel capacity with detents at common angles

Rafter hook

18T carbide-tipped blade included

Three-year limited warranty

CONS

No built-in dust blower

Heavy

Every so often, a bargain appears, and the Porter-Cable 7-1/4-inch Circullar Saw is an affordable option. This full-size circular saw employs a plug-in motor and a sidewinder design to provide users with impressive cutting performance. The Porter-Cable sidewinder produces a saw blade speed of 5500 RPM thanks to its 15-amp electric motor. This saw will accept any 7.25-inch circular blade and features a cutting depth of 2.5 inches at a 90-degree cutting angle. Need to cut other angles? This saw has a bevel capacity of up to 45 degrees, allowing users to create a wide variety of cuts. The Porter-Cable PCE300 ships with a three-year-warranty and is also quite affordable.

As might be expected, this unit lacks a dust blower, and while some of its components feel cheap, it is still well loved.

Key Features
  • Plug-in circular saw
  • 7.25-inch blade
  • 2.5-inch cutting depth @ 90 degrees
  • 15-amp motor, 5500 RPM
  • 45-degree bevel capacity
Specification
  • Brand Porter-Cable
  • Model PCE300
  • Weight 9.50 pounds
PROS

Inexpensive

18T carbide-tipped blade included

Three-year limited warranty

CONS

No built-in dust blower

Some cheap components

Not surprisingly, the DeWalt 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw delivers in virtually every area one might expect. This sidewinder circ saw was designed for use with 7.25-inch circular saw blades, and it features an impressive cutting depth at 90 degrees of 2 and 9/16 inches. Its 15-amp motor produces a respectable 5200 RPM, and its ToughCord cord protection system minimizes the chances of accidentally yanking the cord from the motor. This saw boasts a wide bevel capacity of 57 degrees with detents at 22.5 and 45 degrees. It uses a ball bearing design to increase longevity, an electric blade brake for quick transitions, and an integrated dust blower for convenience. The DeWalt saw is also very lightweight at only 8.8 pounds!

The only reason this circular saw does not win the top all-around pick is its price; this machine is expensive.

Specification
  • Brand DeWalt
  • Model DWE575SB
  • Weight 8.80 pounds
PROS

Lightweight

Wide bevel capacity with detents at common angles

Ball-bearing design

Electric blade brake

Built-in dust blower

ToughCord system prevents cord pull-outs

Carbide-tipped blade included

CONS

Expensive

Makita is a known name in the power tool industry, and the Makita 5007F Circular Saw won’t disappoint users who are accustomed to Makita quality and performance. This circular saw features a sidewinder design that houses a 15-amp motor capable of generating blade speeds up to a mind-blowing 5800 RPM. It accommodates 7.25-inch blades able to reach a cutting depth of 2 3/8 inches, beating out most competitors, and can rotate 45 degrees for bevel cuts. The AC-DC power switch allows users to operate off of multiple power sources via the power plug, and the ball bearing design increases the saw’s life. Built into the saw are two LED lights and a dust blower for visibility. The Makita 5007F also ships with a 24-tooth carbide-tipped blade.

Unfortunately, this saw lives up to Makita’s reputation of quality, performance, and lofty prices. It also weighs 11.1 pounds, reducing its handiness.

Key Features
  • Plug-in circular saw
  • 7.25-inch blade
  • 2 3/8-inch cutting depth @ 90 degrees
  • 15-amp motor, 5800 RPM
  • 45-degree bevel capacity
  • Aluminum shoe
Specification
  • Brand Makita
  • Model 5007F
  • Weight 11.10 pounds
PROS

AC/DC power switch

Ball-bearing design

Two built-in LED lights

Built-in dust blower

24T carbide-tipped blade included

CONS

Expensive

Heavy

Looking for an opportunity to improve those circular saw cutting skills? Then pick up the Skil 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw along with some lumber and get to work. This full-size plug-in circular saw accommodates 7.25-inch blades for any application and has a maximum cutting depth of 2 3/8 inches at a 90-degree angle. The 15-amp motor sits to the side of the blade in a sidewinder configuration and generates a solid 5300-RPM blade speed. At only 6.95 pounds, it is incredibly lightweight, and with a 51-degree bevel capacity (and a detent at 45 degrees), this handy little saw can tackle virtually any cut at any angle necessary. The built-in laser guide and dust blower make straight cuts simple, and Skil 5280-01 also includes a 24-tooth blade.

This saw does have a couple of shortcomings in the form of a short electrical cord and some components with somewhat lower quality.

Key Features
  • Plug-in circular saw
  • 7.25-inch blade
  • 2 3/8-inch cutting depth @ 90 degrees
  • 15-amp motor, 5300 RPM
  • 51-degree bevel capacity with detent at 45 degrees
Specification
  • Brand Skil
  • Model 5280-01
  • Weight 6.95 pounds
PROS

Inexpensive

Very lightweight

Built-in laser guide

Built-in dust blower

24T carbide-tipped blade included

CONS

Short cord

Some cheap components

The Bosch CS10 is a boss among circular saws and easily earns a spot on this list of winners. This sidewinder circular saw was designed and built with the power user in mind. This boss runs with 7.25-inch blades to tackle a variety of jobs, and it features a cutting depth of 2 and 7/16 inches at a 90-degree angle. The sidesaddle motor runs on 15 amps of power and generates a blade speed of 5600 RPM. This saw has a bevel capacity of 56 degrees, and it includes two angle detents at 22.5 and 45 degrees. The Bosch CS10 also features a magnesium shoe for smooth operation, a rafter hook for temporary storage, a built-in dust blower, and a 24-tooth carbide-tipped blade.

As one might expect, the boss can be expensive, and the Bosch CS10 is no exception. Still, quality and performance are worth the extra cost.

Key Features
  • Plug-in circular saw
  • 7.25-inch blade
  • 2 7/16-inch cutting depth @ 90 degrees
  • 15-amp motor, 5600 RPM
  • 56-degree bevel capacity with detents at 22.5 and 45 degrees
  • Magnesium shoe
Specification
  • Brand Bosch
  • Model CS10
  • Weight 10.20 pounds
PROS

Built-in dust blower

Rafter hook

24T carbide-tipped blade included

CONS

Expensive

A full-size saw can be a bit much for some jobs, but thankfully, the Tacklife TCS115A provides a more manageable size tool for more intricate work. This plug-in saw easily handles both 4.5-inch and 4.75-inch blades, and it has a 90-degree cutting depth of one and 11/16 inches. The worm drive saw design allows for optional one-handed operation, and the 5.8-amp motor generates blade speeds up to 3500 RPM with a complimenting 45-degree bevel capacity. The aluminum shoe combines strength with minimal weight. The left-hand blade placement, built-in laser guide, and seven-inch physical cutting guide increase visibility and cutting accuracy. The Tacklife TCS115A features a vacuum port for easy cleanup, a trigger safety switch, and six blades for maximum flexibility.

Due to its overall size and design, this saw has limited power and cutting depth while also weighing in at a hefty 8.27 pounds.

Key Features
  • Plug-in circular saw
  • 4.5- and 4.75-inch blades
  • 1 11/16-inch cutting depth @ 90 degrees
  • 5.8-amp motor, 3500 RPM
  • 45-degree bevel capacity
  • Left-side blade placement
  • Aluminum shoe
Specification
  • Brand Tacklife
  • Model TCS115A
  • Weight 8.27 pounds
PROS

Optional one-handed operation

Safety switch

Built-in laser guide and seven-inch cutting guide included

Vacuum port for shop vac integration

Six blades included: 4.5-inch 24T TCT blade (2x), 4.75-inch 60T HSS blades (2x), and 4.5-inch grit diamond blade

CONS

Limited power and cutting depth

Weight

Get to work fast on all your latest projects with the Worx WX429L. This plug-in circular saw is ideal for smaller projects and intricate cuts. It features a 4.5-inch blade capacity and a cutting depth capacity of 1 and 11/16 inches at a 90-degree angle. The 4-amp motor generates 3500-RPM blade speeds, and the worm drive design places the motor in the handle for easy one-handed operation. The placement of the blade on the left side of the unit allows for maximum visibility, and the 45-degree bevel capacity makes intricate cuts a breeze. The trigger employs a safety switch to eliminate chances of accidental activation, and the vacuum port integrates with shop vacs for cleaning on the go. The lightweight Worx WX429L ships with a carbide-tipped blade.

This saw is designed only for single-handed use, a potential detriment. It also is not ideal for large projects.

Key Features
  • Plug-in circular saw
  • 4.5-inch blade
  • 1 11/16-inch cutting depth @ 90 degrees
  • 4.0-amp motor, 3500 RPM
  • 45-degree bevel capacity
  • Left-side blade placement
Specification
  • Brand Worx
  • Model WX429L
  • Weight 4.40 pounds
PROS

Inexpensive

Lightweight

Safety switch

Vacuum port for shop vac integration

Carbide-tipped blade included

CONS

One-handed operation only

Limited power and cutting depth

The Rockwell RK3441K stands out among small circular saws. This plug-in circ saw uses a worm drive design, positioning the electric motor in the handle. This design allows for easy one-handed use, and the placement of the blade on the unit’s left side makes for excellent visibility during cuts. The 5-amp motor spins circular blades at 3500 RPM, and with a 4.5-inch blade capacity, it is ideal for intricate cuts. The 45-degree bevel makes angled cuts easy, and at 90 degrees, this saw boasts a 1 11/16-inch cutting depth. This lightweight circular saw includes a safety switch, a vacuum port, and a physical cutting guide. The Rockwell RK3441K also includes a 24-tooth carbide-tipped blade and a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.

This saw only allows for single-handed use and is rather expensive. Still, be sure to purchase a new one, as older runs used bad bolts to secure the blade.

Key Features
  • Plug-in circular saw
  • 4.5-inch blade
  • 1 11/16-inch cutting depth @ 90 degrees
  • 5-amp motor, 3500 RPM
  • 45-degree bevel capacity
  • Left-side blade placement
Specification
  • Brand Rockwell
  • Model RK3441K
  • Weight 5.00 pounds
PROS

Lightweight

Safety switch

Vacuum port for shop vac integration

Physical guide included

24T carbide-tipped blade included

Three-year manufacturer’s warranty

CONS

Expensive

One-handed operation only

Limited power and cutting depth

An old run had bad blade bolts

Sometimes, a rechargeable, battery-powered circular saw, such as the Black & Decker BDCCS20B, is just what the doctor ordered. This handy saw ships with a 5.5-inch, 12-tooth blade and employs a rechargeable 20-volt battery. For added convenience, this saw is compatible with any battery in the Black & Decker 20v Max battery system. The sidewinder design places the electric motor in line with the blade for maximum power, but unlike most such designs, the blade is located on the left side of the unit for optimum visibility. To achieve maximum flexibility for detailed cuts, this saw features a 45-degree bevel capacity with detents at both ends of the spectrum for quick, accurate adjustments. The compact, lightweight Black & Decker BDCCS20B comes with a two-year limited warranty and a 12-tooth blade.

Last but not least, this saw’s major drawback is the lack of a battery and charger.

Key Features
  • 20-volt battery-powered circular saw
  • 5.5-inch blade
  • Works with the Black & Decker 20v Max battery system
  • 45-degree bevel capacity with detents at 45 and 90 degrees
  • Left-side blade placement
Specification
  • Brand Black & Decker
  • Model BDCCS20B
  • Weight 6.00 pounds
PROS

Lightweight

Uses interchangeable, rechargeable batteries

Compact design

12T blade included

Two-year limited warranty

CONS

Battery sold separately

Best Circular Saws Buying Guide & FAQ

In the world of portable power saws, circular saws (also known as circ saws) rule their kingdoms with absolute authority. These beasts deliver smooth cuts with speed and precision, making cuts that one could only accomplish with a fixed-position saw. Need to rip a board? Want to make a beveled edge? How about making a plunge cut? A circular can complete all of these jobs but has the flexibility to do so in virtually any location and environment.

Construction sites and workshops are a circular saw’s natural habitat, but not all saws belong in the same environment. Some are designed for large, heavy-duty projects while others are smaller, perfect for fine-tuned jobs. With so many features to consider, we took some time to help you get to the meat of things in a hurry.

Why Do You Need a Circular Saw?

A circular saw is a powerful tool, capable of many things no other saw can accomplish. Thanks to a simple design and electric motor, these saws can cleanly rip boards, make difficult plunge cuts, and execute precise beveled cuts all without breaking a sweat. This level of versatility and speed give the circular saw impressive cutting prowess, something a reciprocating saw could never even dream of achieving.

Not only can a circ saw create both straight and angled cuts without blinking, it does so in impressive fashion. Even in a perfect world, power saws like the reciprocating saw cannot make aesthetically satisfying cuts, but even in the real world, a circular saw will create smooth, precise cuts with incredible efficiency, thanks to rigid materials and superior engineering.

Some might argue that a circular saw is unnecessary when one has a fixed-blade saw, such as a table saw. Maybe in a pristine carpenter’s shop, that might be true, but in the world of construction and DIY jobs, working men and women will find themselves making countless cuts in difficult locations and at awkward angles with a circular saw simply because no other saw can do the job. If it is necessary to select only one power saw, make it a circular saw.

  • Make both straight and angled cuts.
  • Create smooth, precise cuts with maximum efficiency.
  • Make cuts in places a fixed-blade saw could never dream of reaching.
Cutting Wood With Circular Saw
Man Cutting Wood with his Circular Saw

Types of Circular Saws

Circular saw types are defined based on their drivetrain setup and orientation. Like a car or truck, circ saws rely on their own versions of a motor, transmission, and driveshaft to maximize blade performance. Each type, sidewinder, and worm drive delivers both power and torque to the blade in a different way, each with its pros and cons.

Sidewinder

Sidewinder circular saws are by far the most common variant in most of the United States. This design features a side-mounted motor that is directly in line with the driveshaft. The blade is usually mounted on the right side of the unit, turning the motor into a barrier between the blade and the user. These saws are large and bulky compared to worm drive saws, but they are usually well-suited for use on larger jobs.

On the plus side, sidewinder circ saws deliver high RPM ratings, usually between 5000 and 6000 RPM. The blade’s position on the right side of the saw provides an extra layer of protection for right-handed users

On the negative side, the sidewinder design decreases cutting line visibility due to the motor’s placement. Also, despite higher RPMs (think horsepower), these units deliver less torque per RPM.

Worm Drive

Worm drive circular saws are commonly available with small blades, often in the 4.5-inch range, and they use a rear-mounted motor, usually located in the handle. To drive the blade, this design uses a series of gears to transmit power to the blade. Due to their often smaller blade size, worm drive circ saws are best for smaller projects.

One advantage of using worm drive saws is their increased torque levels, resulting in more efficient power use than their sidewinder counterparts. While the drive system puts out lower RPM levels than a sidewinder, the resulting torque per RPM is a definite advantage.

On the flip side, worm-drive circ saws usually top out around 4500 RPM with many settling in near 3500 RPM. This makes their torque efficiency particularly valuable when competing against a sidewinder saw. Worm drives also tend to be heavier than the equivalent sidewinder.

Working With Circular Saw
Cutting with Circular Saw

The Most Important Features of Circular Saws

Circular saws are minor engineering miracles that, while relatively simple, rely on a large number of features to make them powerful, efficient, and safe. In addition to power and motor considerations, buyers should spend time understanding features such as cutting depth, safety switches, braking systems, and more. After all, what good is a circular saw that only produces 1000 RPM without a load?

Blade Considerations

The most common circular saw blades measure 7.25 inches in diameter. These blades can complete large jobs rather quickly. The other common blade size is 4.5 inches and is best for smaller jobs.

Cutting depth, another key consideration, measures the distance a blade can travel below the shoe (the contact surface between the saw and the material being cut) rather than the thickness of material a blade can cut. Users should allow roughly a 1/4-inch difference between the shoe and the material being cut so the blade can cut properly. For example, a saw with a 7.25-inch blade will have around a 2.5-inch cutting depth, allowing users to effectively cut materials around 2.25 inches thick.

Buyers should also consider the saw’s bevel angle which gives users the ability to consistently cut at various angles. Larger saws often feature detents to easily identify commonly-used angles.

Power Considerations

Circular saws usually run on electrical power, yet this gives rise to a handful of factors buyers must consider before whipping out their wallets. The most obvious consideration is a circ saw’s power source. Electric saws are usually powered via an electrical cord, so cord length is an important factor in this category. On the flip side, some saws run on rechargeable batteries instead. Finding one that uses a versatile power pack can be a major advantage.

Most large, plug-in circ saws, particularly sidewinder designs, will feature a 7.25-inch blade which usually requires 15 amps of power to run properly, while smaller 4.5-inch units will use between four and six amps. Battery-powered saws will tend to focus on battery voltage, usually around 20 volts, rather than amps. The combination of blade size with amp/volt ratings will directly affect the unit’s power (RPM) and torque outputs.

Safety Features

Sharps blades spinning at 3000 to 6000 RPM can be rather dangerous without the proper precautions. As such, shoppers should look for certain safety features when considering a particular circular saw. In addition to a fixed blade guard and a moveable lower blade guard, many circular saws include trigger safeties and braking systems.

A trigger safety is most commonly found on smaller circular saws that can be operated one-handed. Users must deactivate the safety, usually by depressing a button or moving a lever to initiate the blade’s movement. Once the blade is in motion, the trigger will keep the safety deactivated until the trigger is fully released.

All blades use a braking system to keep the blade from spinning for a seeming eternity once the trigger is released. Most braking systems operate using mechanical friction, but electric brakes can stop spinning blades in about two or three seconds.

Best Circular Saws FAQ:

Knowing your circular saws can be a bit of a challenge, and even after a bit of research, some questions may still arise. Whether it be determining amperage, cutting depth, or corded vs. cordless, taking the time to ask a few questions can go a long way in saving a buyer’s wallet and sanity.

Q. How many amps do I need for a circular saw?

A. Amp requirements vary by blade size. Most full-size saws require 15 amps, while smaller saws usually require between 4 and 6 amps of power.

Q. How deep can you cut with a circular saw?

A. Full-size saws have a cutting depth of around 2.5 inches for 2.25-inch cuts. Smaller saws usually have a cutting depth between 1.5 and 2 inches.

Q. Should I buy a corded or cordless circular saw?

A. Most users will be better suited to sticking with a corded circular saw. Cordless saws are niche products best used for awkward cuts in hard-to-reach locations.

Our Top Pick

The Craftsman CMES510 is an excellent choice for individuals who want a great all-around circular saw. It generates a solid 5500 RPM blade speed and boasts an impressive 55-degree bevel capacity and detents at two common angle settings. The magnesium shoe decreases both weight and friction, and the three-year warranty helps sweeten the deal. For most users, the Craftsman is an excellent balance of price, build, and performance.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to circular saws, the Craftsman CMES510 is the all-around champ, but when pennies matter, the Porter-Cable PCE300 is another great option. Both come with a three-year warranty, so when push comes to shove, no one can go wrong with either option.

Sources:

  1. Circular Saw – Wikipedia