A Guide To Buying A Circular Saw That Will Last You A Lifetime. Biggest skill saw

A Guide To Buying A Circular Saw That Will Last You A Lifetime

As a woodworker, cutting and drilling will be the two ways you shape boards into projects that you can use or sell. In today’s woodshop, power tools reign supreme, and the circular saw is one of the most versatile cutting tools you can have.

Beginners and even those with some experience can feel overwhelmed by the selection of circular saws out there. The circular saw buying guide that follows will help you identify choose the best circular saw for your needs.

Circular Saw Buying Guide

As a 27-year old woodworker who began my woodworking journey 5 years ago, I can empathize with others trying to build their power tool collection. The circular saw is one of my go-to items in the shop, and I am writing this guide based on my experiences. Use the information that follows to help you in selecting the best circular saw for your woodworking hobby.

Where To Begin? Sidewinder vs Worm Drive

Someone new to power tools may not understand what the terms sidewinder or worm drive means. In short, these terms refer to the position of the electric motor to the saw blade.

Worm Drive circular saws

The worm drive design has been in use for nearly a century, thanks to manufacturers like Skilsaw. On worm drive circular saws, the electric motor sits behind the circular saw blade. It uses a spiral gear (“worm gear” where it gets the name) positioned at 90-degrees to rotate the saw blade.

Best Cordless Circular Saw Reviews 2023

Cordless has come a long way since the early days of lithium-ion power. Where circular saws were initially struggling for adequate performance (and even a 7 1/4-inch blade), they now exceed the performance of 15-amp corded models. We decided to test the waters and pulled our expert team together to discover who makes the best cordless circular saw from an elite top tier of advanced models.

We’re primarily focused on sidewinder-style models in this article. If rear-handle or worm-drive designs are more your style, check out our Best Cordless Rear-Handle Circular Saw recommendations.

Considering corded and cordless? Check out our Best Circular Saw main page!

Best Cordless Circular Saw Overall

Metabo HPT MultiVolt Circular Saw C3607DA

When the analyzed the final results, Metabo HPT’s MultiVolt circular saw edged out the Milwaukee M18 Fuel as the best cordless circular overall. It earned perfect scores in our cutting performance and accuracy sections and high scores in most of the others. It was also the strongest sidewinder we tested and is the only option in the group that can use an AC adapter for unlimited runtime. Sweetening the deal, Metabo HPT has a lifetime warranty on the tool.

Best Cordless Rear-Handle Circular Saw

Flex 24V Cordless Rear Handle Circular Saw FX2141R

After testing Flex’s rear-handle saw against the top competitors, we were left with no doubt it’s the best cordless rear-handle circular saw currently available. Its design is solid and its features are thoughtful. What sets it apart is that it’s stronger and faster than any other model we tested, and it has the advantage of Stacked Lithium pouch-style batteries. Plus, there’s a lifetime warranty if you register your purchase by 12/31/2023.

Price: 249.00 bare, 399.00 kit with a 10.0Ah Stacked Lithium battery and a charger

Best Compact Cordless Circular Saw

Flex 24V 6 1/2-Inch Inline Circular Saw FX2131A-1C

Flex’s cordless incline circular saw is our pick as the best cordless compact circular saw in the high-performance class. At 7.1 pounds bare, it’s only 9.1 pounds once you add a 5.0Ah battery. Not only is it the lightest, but the belt drive design allows this 6 1/2-inch saw to cut with the same capacity as other 7 1/4-inch saws. Plus, its cutting power is excellent.

Flex offers a lifetime warranty on this saw if you register your purchase by 12/31/2023.

Price: 249.00 with a 5.0Ah battery and a charger

Best Cordless Mini Circular Saw

Milwaukee M12 Fuel 5 3/8-Inch Circular Saw 2530

When it comes to the best cordless mini circular saw, there are a couple of ways to go. One is a resurging trend of inline 4 1/2-inch models from brands such as DeWALT and Skil. We still prefer the ergonomics and control of a traditional design and Milwaukee’s M12 Fuel 5 3/8-inch circular saw is our top pick.

Its brushless motor makes the most of the 12V battery supply and it’s capable of cutting 2x material in one pass. Its small size also makes for a lighter tool, weighing a little more than 6 pounds including a 4.0Ah battery.

Price: 159.00 bare, 249.00 kit with a 4.0Ah battery and charger

Best Cordless Circular Saw for Metal Cutting

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 8-Inch Metal Cutting Circular Saw 2982

There’s a lot of temptation to simply swap blades and make a standard circular saw cut metal. However, there are cordless circular saws out there specifically designed with the torque and features to cut metal well. Our favorite is Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel 8-inch metal cutting circular saw. Successfully making the transition from its outstanding corded model to cordless, it has the muscle to cut a 1-inch thick steel plate! Add in chip collection with an M18 High Output battery for the power source and there’s no better cordless option in our opinion.

Price: 429.00 bare, 549.00 with an 8.0Ah High Output battery and charger

Best Cordless Circular Saw for the Money

Skil PWRCore 20 XP 7 1/4-Inch Circular Saw CR5440B-10

Keeping the price down without having disappointing performance or build is at the heart of finding the best cordless circular saw value. Both Ryobi and Skil excel in this category and Skil’s PWRCore 20 XP 7 1/4-inch circular saw gives you the best bang for your buck.

It has a brushless motor with excellent mid-tier cutting performance to go along with a host of Pro-style features. The shoe is even compatible with Skil’s guide track. Solidifying its win for value, the kit is well under 200.

Price: 169.00 kit with a 4.0Ah battery and charger (launches March 2023)

Best Cordless Circular Saw Blade

Crescent NailSlicer Framing Blade

There are a lot of quality blades on the market right now and you can get a quality framing blade for 10 – 15 or a demo blade for 15 – 20. Of course, there are also discounts for bulk purchases. Of the blades we use, the Crescent Nail Slicer is our top choice. It’s a durable blade capable of surviving multiple nail strikes without forcing you into a more expensive demo blade. In a torture test, we even managed to cut through #5 rebar multiple times.

Best Cordless Circular Saw: Options from Brands We Trust

Best Bosch Cordless Circular Saw: 18V ProFactor Strong Arm GKS18V-25CN

Bosch made a big step forward in its cordless circular saw performance with the launch of the ProFactor models a couple of years ago. The latest generation keeps that high level of performance and quality build while making a couple of changes. Most noticeably, it makes the change to a blade-left orientation (my personal preference) and adds an LED cutline indicator. It also shaves more than 1/2 a pound off the weight. Plus, this model is Connected Ready and there’s an option for a track-ready shoe.

Price: 229.00 bare, 389.00 with an 8.0Ah battery and charger

Best DeWALT Cordless Circular Saw: 20V Max FlexVolt Advantage DCS573

DeWALT’s FlexVolt line is the way to go for the brand’s best cordless performance. However, it’s the FlexVolt Advantage circular saw we recommend for most people. With a 20V Max battery, you get very good performance and it kicks up to a whole new level when you use a FlexVolt battery. You get the benefit of being able to use either battery with a very real advantage when you use FlexVolt packs. While FlexVolt is still the king of the Yellow castle, we love the versatility FlexVolt Advantage offers.

Best Flex Cordless Circular Saw: 24V Brushless 7 1/4-Inch FX-2141

Even though we’ve already talked about a couple of Flex circular saws, there’s still the 7 1/4-inch sidewinder style to discuss. Both the performance and build of the saw are solid. Looking at the competition, it absolutely belongs in the top tier alongside DeWALT, Makita, Milwaukee, and others.

Being in the conversation with the best is one thing, but Flex ups the ante with a very compelling value proposition. For 299.00, you get the saw, an 8.0Ah battery, and a charger, plus a lifetime warranty if you register by 12/31/2023.

Price: 199.00 bare, 299.00 with an 8.0Ah battery and charger, or 399.00 with a 10.0Ah Stacked Lithium battery and charger

Best Greenworks Cordless Circular Saw: 24V Brushless 7 1/4-Inch 1501202AZ

Running a 24V battery that’s also compatible with 24V and 48V lawn care equipment, Greenworks’ circular saw sports a brushless motor to drive its full-size 7 1/4-inch blade. One of the nice things is the weight—the bare tool is just 7.39 pounds and either the compact 2.0Ah or 4.0Ah battery keeps the entire package under 10.0 pounds. On its own, it’s an excellent choice for DIYers. The deal is even sweeter for folks using Greenworks’ 24V/48V outdoor power equipment.

Best Hart Cordless Circular Saw: 20V Brushless 7 1/4-Inch HPCS25

If you’re a DIYer looking to step up your cutting game to the brushless level, Hart’s HPCS25 is a compelling option. You get the higher performance, runtime, and service life a brushless motor offers, and this is also one of the lightest full-size saws you can get your hands on. Bare, it weighs 6.56 pounds and when you add a 4.0Ah battery, it’s still under 8.0 pounds! It’s a great choice to have around for your projects and to learn with if you’re a beginner.

Best Hilti Cordless Circular Saw: Nuron 22V SC 30WR-22

When Hilti developed the Nuron cordless power tool system, we knew we were in for higher performance, but we had no idea how much higher its cordless circular saw would fly. Thanks to a new brushless motor, the Hilti SC 30WR-22 now runs twice as long on a charge and cuts some three times faster than its previous cordless models. Plus, it’s still doing it on a single 22V battery!

Price: Starts at 329.00 (10.00 monthly for fleet customers)

Best Kobalt Cordless Circular Saw: 24V XTR XKCS 124B-03

Kobalt decided to kick down some doors with the launch of its advanced XTR line of 24V cordless tools. It shows a huge improvement in cutting performance for the circular saw in the line. Cutting at 5500 RPM with its brushless motor and powered by an Ultimate Output battery, it’s a very nice upgrade for Kobalt fans who have been using the 6 1/2-inch saw that’s been out for a while.

Best Makita Cordless Circular Saw: 40V max XGT GSH01

Makita’s circular saw game runs deep. That’s even more so with the 40V XGT line of cordless tools. For most folks, the GSH01 7 1/4-inch model is the way to go. Others might want to go with the GSH02, which is essentially the same saw with a guide rail-compatible shoe. But for those of you with high-capacity needs, it’s the GSH04 that takes the cake.

It’s a 10 1/4-inch sidewinder-style saw with a monster 3 13/16-inch cutting capacity—enough to cut 4x lumber in one pass. This is also an AWS-ready model, so you can add a chip to get automatic tool activation when you use an AWS vac or take advantage of the AWS wireless adapter for corded vacs. Just in case that’s not enough, this is another model that has a guide rail-compatible shoe.

Best Metabo Cordless Circular Saw: 18V KS 18 LTX 66 BL

There’s a lot to love about Metabo’s 6 1/2-inch KS 18 LTX 66 BL circular saw. It starts with low weight—just 7.7 pounds bare and 9.9 with a battery. Then it adds a track-compatible shoe. With Metabo or other FS-style tracks, you get outstanding accuracy for cross, rip, and miter cuts without the need for a larger saw. Plus, Metabo tools and batteries are cross-compatible with more than two dozen other brands in the Cordless Alliance System (CAS)! There’s even more, so be sure to check out our article by clicking the headline above.

Metabo also has an excellent cordless metal-cutting circular saw worth considering!

Best Milwaukee Cordless Circular Saw: M18 Fuel 2732

Milwaukee’s 2732 was our overall best cordless circular saw in 2021 for good reason. It set a new standard for performance with its combination of a brushless motor and M18 High Output batteries. Built around that, the design team simply didn’t swing and miss at any element of the design. While the saw has slipped into a very close second overall, it’s still one of the top-performing and best-designed cordless circular saws available.

Price: 249.00 bare, 449.00 with a 12.0Ah High Output battery and charger

Best Ridgid Cordless Circular Saw: 18V Brushless R8657

Ridgid’s post-Octane brushless line continues to roll out, this time with a circular saw that has 35% more cutting speed and matches the power of a 15-amp corded saw. While the performance gain is the big deal, it also does a nice job of hitting the high points of Pro-level features, such as an electronic brake, vacuum port, and a 2 9/16-inch cutting depth. To get the best performance, be sure to pair this circular saw with a Ridgid Max output battery. As usual, the saw comes with a lifetime service agreement when you register your purchase.

Best Ryobi Cordless Circular Saw: 18V One HP Brushless 7 1/4-Inch PBLCS300

The PBLCS300 isn’t Ryobi’s first brushless circular saw, but the HP Brushless upgrade and High Performance battery certainly make it the best to date. In addition to its stronger, faster cutting performance, it’s more durable than some value-focused options thanks to a die-cast upper guard. For a 7 1/4-inch saw, it’s one of the lighter options, weighing just 7.0 pounds bare and 8.6 pounds with a 4.0Ah High Performance battery. It’s also a very compelling value with a kit price under 200.

Price: 139.00 bare, 199.00 with a 4.0Ah High Performance battery and charger

Best Cordless Circular Saw Buying Guide – What We Look For

Cutting Power

It wasn’t that long ago we had to feather cordless circular saws compared to the way we cut with corded models. Today’s battery-powered options are much better and many brands easily outperform 15-amp corded saws with their flagship brushless models.

If cutting power is your number one priority, expect to pay for a more expensive saw. However, if you don’t mind taking your time, there are some excellent high-value cordless options that can help you get the job done for less.


Tracking isn’t about having an arbor that’s off—that would be a defect and you should return the saw if that’s the problem. Sometimes the handle design can encourage you to push to one side or the other, especially with saws that have the front and rear handles close together. Most of the time, you can adjust to the handle design pretty quickly.

Guard Action

The lip of a circular saw guard can catch in some cases. Even when it’s smooth on a typical cut, thin, miter, bevel, or compound cuts can expose issues. Make a series of test cuts on scrap material to see if your guard catches on a particular type of cut so you know when to manually lift it without dragging away from your cutline.

Dust and Chip Removal

Many of the best cordless circular saws have vacuum ports and those do a better job of clearing chips and dust away than those without. However, the majority of our team never connects a vac for normal cutting. We prefer a vacuum adapter that’s either removable or pivots to direct the chips where we want them.

guide, buying, circular, last, lifetime

In general, most circular saws do a good job of clearing dust and chips. As RPMs drop because of a lower top-end speed or bogging down, the clearing suffers. Look for models with at least 4500 RPM (5000 is even better) and a brushless motor to maintain effective clearing.

Handle Ergonomics

Handle comfort is largely an individual choice with the size of your hand driving a lot of what feels best. While rear handles are rarely an issue, our crew is drawn towards front handle designs that aren’t too thin, too close to the rear handle, or angled in a direction that becomes uncomfortable. See if you can put your hands on the saw in the store before you take it home. If your hate the grip in the store, it’s unlikely to get better once you’re cutting.


Because you nearly always cut on top of your material, the weight comes into play primarily when you’re carrying your circular saw from one place to another. However, heavy saws can contribute to “stickier” cutting if the shoe isn’t low-friction enough. There’s no reason to carry more weight than you have to, though, and it’s possible to get a Pro-level saw under 10 pounds with the battery.

Price and Value

We’re big on value and love figuring out what the best saw for our budget is. Start with what you know you’re willing to spend and build your priorities from there. Here are things we consider as part of our value calculation:

  • Performance
  • Design and features
  • Depth of compatible tools on the same battery system
  • Service after the sale and warranty

Sidewinder or Rear-Handle?

The spread between sidewinder and rear-handle cordless circular saw styles is largely regional. The West Coast tends to prefer rear-handle while the East Coast generally goes sidewinder.

Most cordless rear-handle saws aren’t true worm drives. The exceptions are Skilsaw’s 48V cordless worm drives. The rest use a direct drive gearing system and go with a rear-handle design to accommodate the preference for that style.

Like their corded counterparts, cordless rear-handle saws are heavier than the more compact sidewinder style.

Both styles use brushless motors and a direct drive (aside from Skilsaw’s worm drive), so there isn’t necessarily the same higher torque in the rear-handle style as there is with corded models.

When it comes to these high-end cordless circular saws, it’s more a matter of preference.


There’s some confusion between 18V and 20V cordless circular saws. Many folks believe that 20V is more powerful, but they’re actually the same voltage.

brands are using 6-cell sets instead of the 5-cell sets we see on 18V/20V max tools. Those actually run at a higher voltage. Marked 24V Max or 22V, they run at 21.6V nominal. With 20% more cells, they really do have the potential to produce more power or runtime.

36V/40V Max batteries are one way to get more power. Makita and Skil both have 2-battery systems that take 18V/20V max batteries and combine them in series on the tool to reach a higher voltage. Makita also has a 40V max XGT line and Metabo HPT has a 36V MultiVolt system.

guide, buying, circular, last, lifetime

Skilsaw has a couple of options for its 48V TrueHVL system while DeWALT’s FlexVolt system runs a 60V max (54V) platform.

However, the advent of advanced batteries using 21700 lithium-ion cells and more recently pouch cell batteries makes it possible to deliver more power to lower voltage systems without the need for bulkier high-voltage battery packs.

Blade Left or Blade Right?

Very few Pros and DIYers we come across don’t care what side the blade is on. Nearly everyone has a preference and won’t buy a saw with a blade that sits on the “wrong” side. Your best bet is to try both and see which one is easier for you to track your cutline.

As a right-handed user, I prefer a blade-left design. Then again, PTR’s Editor-in-Chief, Clint DeBoer, is also a righty and prefers blade-right. Read more about the considerations here.

Features To Look For

  • Brushless motor: offers better performance, runtime, and longer life
  • Electronic brake: stops the blade quickly as a safety feature
  • Rafter hook: great for hanging on a variety of objects instead of setting the saw on the ground
  • Trigger safety design: some people prefer a push-in style, others a push-down
  • Dust port: offers a connection to a vacuum for better cleanup
  • Rail compatibility: gives the saw the ability to attach to a track for highly accurate cuts
  • LED light: adds light to the visible blade area to help you see your cutline
  • Cutline blower: uses exhaust airflow to push sawdust away from your cutline
  • Magnesium components: reduces the weight without sacrificing strength

Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews

Ever check out a “review” site and you can’t tell if they actually tested the tools or if they’re just “recommending” the Amazon top sellers?

That’s not us. We only recommend what we’d actually use, even if we don’t earn a commission from it. It’s all about giving you a legitimate recommendation and our honest opinion of each product.

We’ve been in business since 2008 covering tools, writing reviews, and reporting on industry news in the construction, automotive, and lawn care industries. Our Pro reviewers work in the trades and have the skills and experience to know whether tools can perform well in the field.

Each year, we bring in and review more than 250 individual products. Our team will put our hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.

We consult with innovators in the technology and design of tools to gain a broader grasp of where these products fit and how they work.

We work with more than two dozen professional contractors around the United States who review products for us on real job sites and consult with us on testing methods, categories, and weighting.

Circular Saw Depth of Cut. How Deep Can I Cut?

Circular saws are some of the most common types of saws found both on job sites and in woodworking shops. The relative ease of use, versatility, and portability make the circular saw a popular device. It’s also relatively inexpensive for the number of different cutting jobs it can perform.

How Deep Can a Circular Saw Cut?

One of the most common questions about a circular saw is how deep it can cut. The answer depends on the size of the blade being used. The bigger the blade diameter, the deeper it can cut. There may be exceptions depending on the saw itself, but in most cases, if you purchase a bigger blade, it can deliver a deeper cut for your needs.

What follows are the most common size of circular saw blades and their normal depth of cut at a 90-degree angle as well as a 45-degree angle.

Saw Size Max. Depth at 90° Cut Depth at 45°
5 ½ inch Saw 1 ¾ inch 1 3/16 inches
6 ½ inch Saw 2 13/32″ 1 11/16″
7 ¼ inch Saw 2 ½ inches 1 13/16 inch
8 ¼ inch Saw 2 7/8″ 2 ¼″
10 ¼ inch Saw 3 11/16″ (3.6875 inches) 2 ¾″ (2.75 inches)

In theory, a circular blade should be able to cut to a depth equal to the radius of the blade minus the flange nut or arbor diameter, whichever is larger. However, in the case of circular saws, you should also consider the thickness of the footplate or base shoe and the safe distance. Besides, too much protrusion of the blade will result in severe kickback and is not safe.

You also consider the angle of cut in the case of bevel cuts. Obviously, a 90-degree cut provides the maximum cut capacity while the 45-degree bevel will limit the thickness you cut through.

The same is true in case of a table saw, miter saw, and other similar power tools.

7 ¼″ Saw: How Deep Can a 7 ¼ Inch Circular Saw Cut?

This is arguably the most common size for circular saw blades. The 7 ¼″ is large enough to handle most jobs while being small enough to be portable and lightweight.

  • Saw Size: 7 ¼.inch
  • Brand: SKIL 5280-01
  • Motor: 15 APMS
  • Bevel Angle: 51 degree max
  • Laser beam guide, Dust Blower
  • Price: Click Here to See the Price

6 ½″ Saw: How Thick Can a 6 1/2 Circular Saw Cut?

Not far behind the 7 ¼″ circular blade is the 6 ½″ saw, at least in terms of popularity. While the blade itself is smaller, it also makes the circular saw lighter and somewhat easier to handle in comparison to larger blades.

8 ¼″ Circular Saw

This is the most popular of the larger types of circular saw blades. These are usually worm drive circular saws since they offer more of the power and torque. However, it is also heavier and less nimble compared to the 7 ¼″.

5 ½″ Saw: How Deep Can a 5 1/2 Circular Saw Cut?

The smallest of the more common types of circular saw blades, the 5 ½″ is mostly used in woodworking shops and in homes because of its lightweight design. It can also be used on job sites as well, although not quite as versatile as the larger versions.

Can You Cut a 2 x 4 with a 5 ½″ Circular Saw?

Yes, but it will take more than one cut to do the job. That’s because there will still be ¼″ of the wood left after the first cut, so you will have to flip the board and cut again to go through the remaining material. All the other blades mentioned can go through the 2″ on a single cut.

8-inch and 9-inch Saws

These are not among the common sizes that you can find in your local tool store. However, they do exist and if you are buying online they are definitely an option. But before you buy any of the odd sizes check the availability of the blades.

How deep can an 8-inch circular saw cut? The 8 inch Skilsaw has a cut capacity of up to 2 ¾ inches deep at 90-degree.

The 9-inch saw can cut to a thickness of 3 ¼″ when cut straight and 2 1/8.inches at an angle of 45-degrees.

Circular Saw Depth Adjustment

Keep in mind that while circular saws are portable, they are also rather limited in terms of cuts compared to a jigsaw. A circular saw is designed to make straight cuts rather quickly, which includes both crosscuts and rip cuts. You can also make bevel cuts which is a great feature, although it may take a little practice to perfect.

As the name implies, the blade itself is in the shape of a circle with the teeth jutting outward. The top of the blade is covered with a blade guard to protect against dust and debris from flying away from the material. A shoe or footplate is set around halfway down the blade and will rest on the material itself. This allows for the cuts to be made.

Adjusting the Depth of the Cut

How to adjust circular saw depth? You can adjust the depth of the cut by moving the footplate or base shoe. Unlock the footplate lever which is usually located behind the blade guard. Then lower or raise the footplate to get the required blade depth and lock the base in position.

This allows you to work on different thicknesses of material without having to change the blades. However, the blade itself will determine the maximum thickness of the material which can be cut. There is also a bevel adjustment available on most circular saws for that type of work.

Best Circular Saws to use on 2x4s and 4x4s

Every blade that is listed in the article, save for the 5 ½″, will easily cut through a 2 x 4. You will need a second pass for the 5 ½″ circular saw to successfully cut a 2 x 4. However, a 4 x 4 is too thick for most of the blades mentioned to cut in a single pass. Plus, it cannot be cut by the 5 ½″ diameter saw blade at all since the maximum depth of the blade is less than 2″.

For cutting 2x4s, blades from 6 ½″ and up are recommended since you can cut the material in one pass. And the same size and above are recommended for cutting 4 x 4s, even if you need another pass to do the job.

For most woodworkers, the standard 7 ¼″ blade is good enough for most of the work you will face. It can cut 2 x 4s in one pass and 4 x 4s in two passes. Plus, it is versatile enough to be used in many different situations, making it the jack-of-all-trades circular saw for the type of work that it performs. If you are looking for something smaller, but not too small, then the 6 ½″ blade is probably right for your needs.

Worm Drive vs Sidewinder

The most common type of circular saw is the Sidewinder. This device has the motor on the same axis as the blade. The motor moves the blade thanks to a shaft that extends outward and makes a solid connection. The result is a powerful saw that is relatively easy to maintain and use.

The other type of circular saw is the worm drive which positions the motor at a right angle to the blade. This type of circular saw is designed for heavy-duty work as the gears used to drive the shaft which is connected to the blade add more torque. This type of circular saw tends to be longer and quieter compared to the Sidewinder and is generally used on construction or job sites.

The larger 8 ¼″ is generally reserved for the more expensive worm drive systems of circular saws. If you are doing a lot of heavy work on a job site or woodworking shop, then the larger circular saw blade makes perfect sense.

What Size Circular Saw to Cut 4×4?

The actual size of a 4″ x 4″ lumber is 3 ½″ x 3 ½-inches. If you want to cut through a 4×4 in a single pass, use a 10 ¼ inch circular saw. Although this saw is heavy, it can be very handy in situations such as cutting the top of fence posts that are already installed.

Largest Circular Saw

I am sure some of you are wondering what is the largest circular saw available in the market that offers the maximum depth of cut. Skilsaw and Makita make 16 5/16 inch circular saws that can go up to 6 ¼ inches deep. This means you can cut a 6×6 lumber in one cut which is some serious depth of cut!

Circular saws are becoming more sophisticated and easier to use. Here are some of the best for DIYers and professional builders.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

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Choosing a Circular Saw

The first power tool — an electric drill — was invented in 1889. Less than 40 years later, the Skilsaw Company produced the first handheld circular saws. These offered obvious advantages over hand sawing. Now, no one who works with wood would be without one.

Today, multiple refinements of this essential tool make it indispensable. Pretty much every circular saw includes features like plastic housings, blade guards and adjustable bases. But designs vary. The saws with the most sophisticated and user-friendly features often cost more … but not always.

Features to consider when buying a circular saw

Although many circular saw features are standard, manufacturers continue to incorporate new ones into more sophisticated designs. Here are some of the standard and not-so-standard features to consider as you shop for the best circular saw for your purposes.

  • Gear-driven or direct drive: The worm-drive circular saw was the first one invented. It develops more cutting torque than a sidewinder, i.e. a saw with a blade mounted next to the motor and connected directly to the drive shaft. Worm-drive saws are preferred for heavy construction, though the blade spins more slowly and makes rough cuts. Hypoid saws are a variation of the worm-drive model.
  • Bevel capacity: The base or shoe tilts for making bevel cuts, but not all models tilt the same amount. The best circular saw bevels more than 45 degrees with positive stops at 22.5 and 45 degrees, saving time when making adjustments.
  • Adjustment controls: Look for easy-to-operate adjustment levers for tilt angle and cutting depth. Turn screws take more time and can slip.
  • Tool weight: Heavy saws are more tiring and awkward to use. Housing and base materials influence weight. The best circular saw has a magnesium or plastic body and an aluminum or magnesium shoe. Besides their weight, steel shoes can bend and rust.
  • Ergonomics: The best circular saw for most uses should be lightweight and compact with easy-to-operate controls. Beware of saws that require you to keep the trigger stop depressed while simultaneously holding the trigger. It’s tiring and limits your freedom of movement.
  • Desirable features: The best include positive bevel stops, onboard wrench storage for quick blade changing and an LED guide light. You’ll appreciate the LED when your shadow blocks the room light, making the cut line hard to see. Some saws offer a laser guide, but the usefulness of this feature is debatable.

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Best Circular Saw Overall

The price tag qualifies it as splurge. But if you aren’t on a budget, the Makita 18V X2 LXT Circular Saw delivers corded power in a cordless model. It features a 7-1/4-in. blade, 2-5/8-in. cutting depth and a brushless worm-drive motor that delivers fast blade rotation (6,000 revolutions per minute) to eliminate chip-out problems.

It weighs only 10 pounds with two on-board batteries. It also features variable blade speed, a blade brake, dust blower and a 56-degree bevel with positive stops. Nice.

Get the speed and accuracy your projects require with a reliable circular saw that truly makes the cut.

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The words “versatile” and “tool” are combined so often these days that it’s hard to tell if it’s the truth or just a marketing ploy. But a quick tour of a professional construction site will undoubtedly prove that a circular saw—a handheld electric saw that uses a round spinning blade to cut materials—is the real deal when it comes to versatility. A good home workshop also warrants a reliable, powerful saw for various tasks, from breaking down a sheet of plywood to making quick, repetitive cuts on a stack of framing lumber.

Almost every power tool company sells one or more circular saw models. With an abundance of brands, power options, and features, choosing one can be challenging. We decided to test today’s most popular options and determine which ones were up to the task of making powerful, consistent cuts.

We tested the saws on various wood types, including timbers, particle-strand lumber (PSL), plywood, and dimensional lumber. We didn’t go easy on them because these tools should be capable of delivering reliable results even when pushed to their limits. The following lineup of the best circular saws features the ones that excelled in our tests. Find out the pros, cons, and maybe a few surprises we discovered when testing these top tools.

  • BEST OVERALL:Makita 36V (18V X2) Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw Kit
  • RUNNER-UP:DeWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw
  • BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Greenworks 24V Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw
  • BEST SMALL:Makita 18V LXT Cordless 5⅜-In. Circular Trim Saw
  • BEST FOR FRAMING:Skil PWR CORE 20 XP Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw
  • BEST LASER GUIDE:Skil 15-Amp 7¼-In. Corded Circular Saw
  • BEST FOR TIMBERS:Skil 10¼-In. Magnesium Worm Drive Skilsaw
  • BEST KIT:Bosch PROFACTOR 18V Strong Arm 7¼-In. Circular Saw
  • BEST FOR PROS:DeWALT DWS535B 7¼-In. Worm Drive Circular Saw

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Circular Saw

Motor alignment, run speed, amperages, and blade types are all essential aspects of a circular saw, so here’s a quick primer to get started.

Corded vs. Battery-Powered

As with any type of saw, corded circular saws tie the user to the power source (i.e., an electric socket), whereas battery-operated models can go anywhere. On professional jobsites, cordless circular saws were once shunned in favor of corded models—but with the recent improvements in lithium-ion batteries, this is changing. When battery-powered circular saws hit the market, they were far inferior to a good corded option in both power and speed. They also went through battery life quickly, and some would heat up or jam as soon as the blade met with any resistance from the material being cut.

However, today’s battery-operated cordless circular saws have much more power and far longer battery life. Much of this improvement is due to the adoption of brushless motors (the latest, most efficient, maintenance-free technology) and higher-quality lithium-ion batteries.

Sidewinder vs. Worm Drive

Despite what it might sound like, this comparison is not a professional wrestling bout! Sidewinder and worm drive refer to motor alignment and position on a circular saw. A sidewinder model’s motor is installed in line with the blade, enabling it to run at high speeds in a compact footprint.

A worm-drive circular saw has a motor in the rear of the saw and uses a set of worm gears (so-called because of their spiraling worm shape) by the blade. Worm-drive saws, which are usually longer, larger, and heavier than sidewinders, tend to reduce speed but increase torque (force). They also require oil to lubricate the gears, so users should check their oil level daily.

Bottom line: For speed, size, and ease of maintenance, a sidewinder model is the way to go; for power and torque, worm-drive saws reign supreme.

Amperage and Speed

Amperage refers to the amount of electrical power a motor can withstand without its inner components failing. In the past, electric motors were weaker and not as capable, so amperage (amp) was an important specification to tout. Nearly all modern corded circular saws feature 15-amp motors.

A saw’s speed, however, can be a consideration, since the faster the blade spins, the quicker it can cut through a material. But speeds tend to be relative because a 15-amp motor can spin a 7¼-inch blade faster than a 10¼-inch blade. Generally speaking, when it comes to 7¼-inch saws, speeds between 4,000 and 5,500 revolutions per minute (rpm) are common and should be adequate for fast, accurate results. Worm drives may offer slightly lower speeds but come with more torque (spinning force), so while they may cut more slowly, they won’t overheat or bog down during big cutting jobs.

Keep in mind that blade speed has very little to do with the density of material a saw can cut. This is largely dependent on the blade type and quality.

Blade Size and Type

One noticeable difference among circular saw models is the size of their blades. Each uses a specific-size blade. The average pro or DIYer can get most framing and construction jobs done with a 7¼-inch model. Compact saws might feature blades in the 5⅜-inch range, while large saw blades can be 10¼ inches or more.

Popular blade types include all-purpose, framing, finish, and plywood blades. The tooth count (the number of teeth around a blade) determines which projects a blade works best for. The lower the tooth count, the rougher the cut will be, making these blades suitable for framing or demolition. Higher-count blades should be used for cabinetmaking, plywood, and finish work.

Pro Tip: Circular saws cut on the “upswing,” meaning the cutting half of the blade (the part under the shoe) spins toward the front of the saw. This will inevitably cause tiny slivers of wood to “tear out” of the wood—particularly when cutting plywood—creating noticeably rough edges that detract from the quality of work. To minimize tear out, lay a piece of painter’s tape over the cutline to hold these fibers in place. It’s also possible to cut wood face down to eliminate tear-out concerns on the face of the wood.

Shoe Material

The base plate that rides on the workpiece is known as a shoe, which will generally be made of one of three materials:

  • Steel, though once popular, is less popular today because, despite being inexpensive and sturdy, it’s also very heavy.
  • Aluminum is far lighter than steel but more expensive and not as tough.
  • Magnesium, which is about 30 percent of the weight-per-volume of aluminum, is the high-tech metal of choice for circular saw shoes. Magnesium is stronger than aluminum (and even steel in some applications) and easier to manufacture but considerably more expensive.

Ease of Adjustment

Certain materials, such as plywood and other sheet goods, require a shallow blade depth, while others (framing applications, 4×4 posts, etc.) demand the full depth a saw can muster. So for true versatility, a circular saw should allow the user to make quick and accurate depth adjustments.

Almost all models feature levers or knobs to adjust the blade angle, known as the “bevel.” Knobs tend to be more accurate at dialing in the perfect angle, although they’re a bit of a hassle to loosen and tighten when wearing work gloves.

The most important consideration when it comes to blade angle adjustment is an easily accessible level or knob. Some manufacturers put these knobs in an inconvenient place—for instance, the rear of the saw between the handle and blade guard—but an angle-adjustment knob in front of the motor where it’s easy to access is the most thoughtful design.


Manufacturers build safety features into their machines to combat the dangers inherent to circular saws. One helpful safety feature is an electric brake, which stops circular saw blades almost immediately after the user releases the trigger. Older models would allow the blade to come to a stop on its own, which could result in a spinning blade coming into contact with something unintended.

Built-in LED lights and spring-loaded blade guards also offer significant safety measures. The work lights illuminate the workpiece, allowing the user to see the cutline and any debris or impending mistakes they should avoid. The retractable guards cover the blade as soon as the blade is removed from the workpiece, helping to minimize dangers.

Safety is also the responsibility of the user, so be sure to wear eye and ear protection when using a circular saw.

Additional Features

Some of the best circular saws offer additional features that make the job easier and faster. For instance, some models have dust-collection ports and detachable collection bags to help minimize the amount of sawdust on the cutline. Others might come with extra batteries, depending on the kit.

Another helpful feature that manufacturers offer with their saws is a built-in rafter hook. These hooks swivel out of the saw, allowing the user to hang them from a rafter, ladder, sawhorse, or another sturdy ledge. Builders have been attaching hooks to their saws for years, and manufacturers are now catching on.

Our Top Picks

When choosing the best circular saw, there is a lot to know. Luckily, shopping for one doesn’t have to be so confusing. Our hands-on testing process put these tools to work, making straight and angled cuts on various types of material. Unfortunately, not all the saws we tested met our high standards. You can find the ones that didn’t measure up detailed under “Also Tested.” The following models all excelled to earn a spot on this list of the best circular saws, and one is sure to be suitable for a particular user’s project.

Makita 36V (18V X2) Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw Kit

For several reasons, the 36-volt cordless Makita circular saw takes top honors in our lineup of the best circular saws. One of the first things we noticed was that the flat base, or “shoe,” was made from magnesium, and so was the retractable blade guard—we were impressed. In our experience, magnesium is not only lightweight, it’s also more durable than steel or aluminum.

We charged both 18-volt lithium-ion batteries to full capacity and got started. We put the Makita to the test by making straight and bevel cuts of various depths on plywood and dimensional lumber. It powered through smoothly with no torque loss, even after the battery indicators showed less than half a charge. We made repeated cuts over an hour, and the Makita’s motor and housing never heated up.

The saw comes with a quick-change angle adjustment, which is handy and straightforward. The Makita cuts at any angle up to 56 degrees and has positive stops, meaning the angle adjustment clicks into a locked position at standard cutting angles of 22½, 45, and 56 degrees. It cuts to a maximum 2⅝-inch depth, and adjusting the depth was a breeze. The easy adjustments make this saw well suited for quick-moving projects when the user needs to change angles or depth quickly and doesn’t want to stop and use a wrench (the old-fashioned way) to make the adjustments.

This top-performing circular saw also comes with a sawdust discharge nozzle. Typically, these nozzles help direct the flow of sawdust in outdoor settings, but they’re also made to connect to standard wet/dry vacuum hoses. We noticed quite a bit of sawdust escaping from around the blade guard rather than discharging out of the nozzle, so we felt it didn’t make much difference.

  • High-quality magnesium foot plate and blade guard add to durability
  • Quick lever adjustments for the blade depth and angle make adjustments fast and simple
  • 2 bright guide lights illuminate the material right at the point the saw meets the blade

Get the Makita 36V circular saw at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.

DeWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw

DeWALT is a leader in the power tool market, and this 20-volt cordless circular saw is a perfect example of why. This saw excelled in our testing, proving to be well designed and ergonomic—a great combination. We made repeated straight and angled cuts of various depths over an hour and the saw didn’t lose power or heat up. It had just as much power on its last cut of the test as its first.

This circular saw from DeWALT has a bevel capacity of up to 57 degrees, with positive stops at 45 and 22½ degrees, making it handy to cut standard angles without needing to examine the angle measurements carefully before locking in. At 2 9/16 inches, it also offers a deeper cutting depth than most of its competitors.

The base is aluminum, which makes the tool relatively lightweight (9 pounds). We would have preferred a magnesium base for durability purposes, but we don’t consider the lack to be a deal breaker. We found both the blade-angle-adjustment lever and the depth-adjustment lever saved time when we made adjustments.

This DeWALT also boasts a rafter hook, which adds to its versatility. Given this is a slightly compact saw, the rafter hook makes it a top option for framing a roof structure with dimensional lumber—users can hang it on a rafter while performing another task and then grab it when they’re ready to cut again. We like this DeWALT saw for pros, but we also think dedicated DIYers will use it a lot.

  • Relatively compact and ergonomic design makes it suitable for carrying on the jobsite
  • Rafter hook allows user to hang the tool securely when working at heights rather than set it down where it could fall
  • Blade depth and angle are easy to change with quick-adjust levers

Get the DeWALT 20V circular saw at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.

Greenworks 24V Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw

Not everyone needs all of the features of a top-of-the-line cordless saw or the heavy-duty capability of a timber-framing model. For DIY projects that include an occasional small framing job or breaking down plywood sheets—especially when saving money is a priority—the affordable Greenworks 7¼-Inch Circular Saw might be the right choice.

We’ve tested plenty of tools from many manufacturers, but this is the first Greenworks power tool we tried, and we were pleasantly surprised. Despite its affordable price, this circular saw made repeated straight and bevel cuts in plywood and dimensional lumber over an hour of solid testing, without heating up on us or losing power. It tops out at 4,500 rpm, which is slightly less speed than some of the other saws we tested, but it was sufficient for cutting the types of wood most DIYers will need to cut.

The CR24L00K features quick adjustments for both angle cutting (up to 45 degrees) and cutting depth (up to 2½ inches), and we found it simple to adjust both. The base shoe is made from stamped metal, which is to be expected at this price point, but we were disappointed that the blade guard is plastic—it really should be metal. The blade guard didn’t break during our tests, but it’s a weak point in the tool’s design.

  • An affordable circular saw that is suitable for making most DIY and around-the-house cuts
  • Comes with a battery charger and a lithium-ion battery; ready to cut right out of the box
  • Nice ergonomics; feels comfortable in hand during use
  • Offers slightly less speed than some other models
  • Blade guard is made from plastic rather than metal, which puts it at greater risk of breaking

Get the Greenworks circular saw at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Greenworks.

Makita 18V LXT Cordless 5⅜-In. Circular Trim Saw

For part-time DIYers or smaller-framed users, Makita’s 18V LXT cordless 5⅜-inch circular saw’s small size and minimal weight make it an attractive, portable option. This saw weighs just 6 pounds, allowing DIYers of any size and skill level to wield it.

Despite its minimal size and small blade, this cordless circular saw has a depth of cut of up to 2 inches, offering more than enough capacity for cutting dimensional lumber. Its 3,600-rpm top speed ought to make it capable of handling most projects, though the speed is less than some competitive models. The base bevels up to 50 degrees to allow users to make angled cuts.

Although small, we found that this Makita packs quite a punch. We tested it by cutting plywood and dimensional lumber, making straight cuts and angles, and it powered right through. The dual support knob is a little on the small side, but we were able to use it to keep the saw stable while cutting. We think most pros will use this compact saw as a one-handed saw, however, and not depend on the dual support. This saw is well suited for light cutting and overhead cutting, where it isn’t easy to wield a heavier circular saw.

  • Lightweight at under 7 pounds; suitable for overhead cutting when necessary
  • Although compact, still offers a 2-inch depth of cut, which increases versatility
  • Size plus cordless operation makes this a worthy portable option
  • Dual hand support is on the small side and not well suited to large hands
  • A “tool only” purchase—the battery and charger must be bought separately

Get the Makita 18V circular saw at Amazon or The Home Depot.

Skil PWR CORE 20 XP Brushless 7¼-In. Circular Saw

Those who want a pro-level circular saw for DIY jobs should consider this Skil model. At first glance, we thought the Skil PWR CORE was a worm-drive saw because of its length and heft. It’s a sidewinder, however, with the motor located next to the blade—not behind it. When inspecting the saw, we discovered that the additional length was the positioning of the double-battery case, which sits to the rear of the motor.

By grasping the rear handle and the dual stabilizer bar at the front, we could easily control the saw when cutting dense wood and larger pieces of dimensional lumber. The two 20-volt batteries (5 amp hours or Ah), which are included, provided more than enough power to make repetitive straight and angled cuts on plywood and dimensional lumber. Since it’s billed as a heavy-duty model, we also tested it on laminated veneer lumber (LVL), which is very dense and more difficult to cut than dimensional lumber. The saw cut through the LVL without bogging down.

We like the deeper-than-average cutting depth of 2 9/16 inches and the up to 53-degree-angle cutting capacity. What we didn’t like was having to press a second lever to adjust the blade angle beyond 53 degrees. The Skil saw has a lock stop at 45 degrees, and we had to push a separate latch to adjust the angle farther, which felt uncomfortable and seemed unnecessary. We also would have preferred a magnesium base shoe to the aluminum one, but we did like the elongated shoe style that helps stabilize the saw on deep cuts.

Overall, we found this saw to be well designed, ergonomic, and suitable for heavy-duty DIY use. This is the Skil model that we feel bridges the gap between a standard consumer and a pro tool.

  • Elongated design of the saw adds control and stability during cuts
  • Two 20-volt batteries, included with purchase, provide twice as much power
  • While still a 7¼-inch circular saw, it can be adjusted to a depth of 2 9/16 inches, which is deeper than most 7¼-inch saws

Get the Skil PWR CORE circular saw at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Acme Tools.

Skil 15-Amp 7¼-In. Corded Circular Saw

Getting the hang of a circular saw can be challenging, but a circular saw with laser guidance can make jobs much easier. This Skil circular saw features a single-beam laser that allows the user to maintain consistent passes on cutlines, taking some of the learning curve out of straight cuts.

In our experience, some laser guides are dim, or they don’t extend more than a few inches, but the laser on the Skil saw is a notable exception. Even outdoors on a mostly sunny day, the laser was visible on the material for more than 2 feet.

This saw cuts angles up to 51 degrees and comes with a positive stop at 45 degrees, which is the angle used most often when cutting miters. Adjusting both angle and depth is simple via levers, and the tool comes with a maximum cutting depth of 2.4357 inches.

Besides the laser beam, this corded circular saw also boasts a 5,300-rpm top speed from its 15-amp motor, offering plenty of power and capability. The saw did get pretty warm to the touch after about 45 minutes of use, which told us that we were pushing it further than it was designed to go. While we deem it a good choice for making straight and angled cuts on plywood and dimensional lumber, it’s not for heavy-duty sawing. It has several plastic components, which likely helps keep the price down, so we consider it to be best for novice DIYers who work on small projects and need the addition of a bright laser guide when cutting.

  • Corded saw will never run out of power as long as an outlet is nearby
  • Laser guide is bright and strong; we could see it when cutting outdoors on a sunny day
  • Boasts impressive speed (5,300 rpm) for a saw at this price point
  • Several components, including the retractable blade guard, are plastic
  • Being corded saves on cost but restricts the portability of the saw

Get the Skil 15-Amp circular saw at Amazon or Lowe’s.

Skil 10¼-In. Magnesium Worm Drive Skilsaw

Here comes a real big boy! Believe it or not, Skil’s Magnesium Worm Drive Skilsaw isn’t its largest offering—it’s a midsize model at 10¼ inches. This worm-drive saw can cut framing materials and sheet goods and handle thick timbers associated with post-and-beam and timber framing.

Like most of today’s worm-drive saws, this model is corded because it’s simply too big and has too much torque to run on most lithium-ion batteries. We plugged it into a 12-gauge exterior extension cord and started testing. We made various straight and angled cuts on dimensional lumber and an LVL. We didn’t bother cutting plywood because this saw is meant for bigger things. Instead, we used it to bevel the edge of a large 8-foot-long 12-inch by 12-inch Hem-Fir beam, and it performed flawlessly. The saw has an enviable cutting depth of 3 11/16 inches, and it cuts angles up to 51 degrees. Both the blade angle and depth are easy to adjust via levers. We made repeated cuts in an hour’s time, and the saw didn’t warm up at all.

The saw’s top speed is 4,700 rpm, which is slower than some saws we tested. But its real benefit lies in its high torque that keeps the blade spinning through thick and dense materials. Weighing in at 16.5 pounds, this is a monster of a saw, and it may be a bit much for some DIYers. Still, for those who need to cut sizable dimensional lumber or timbers, it’s a slam dunk.

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  • Plenty of cut capacity for lumber and thick timbers thanks to worm-driving gearing that provides maximum torque
  • Comes with a magnesium base shoe for long-lasting durability and cutting stability
  • Ability to make deeper cuts—up to almost 4 inches

Get the Skil Worm Drive circular saw at Amazon, Acme Tools, or CPO.

Bosch PROFACTOR 18V Strong Arm 7¼-In. Circular Saw

We’ve purchased “tool-only” power tools in the past, only to find we had to pay as much or more for a rechargeable battery and charger. The Bosch PROFACTOR circular saw gets around that issue by including all three in this circular saw kit. It also comes with a heavy-duty canvas bag for keeping all the components together.

We charged the battery and started testing. The Bosch boasts easy-to-change blade angle and depth adjustments—it cuts angles up to 50 degrees and features a 2½-inch maximum cutting depth. Though the base shoe and blade guard are aluminum, it’s a well-built saw that, at 12 pounds, weighs slightly more than some of the similar 7¼-inch models we tested.

We made multiple straight and angled cuts through dimensional lumber and plywood without a hitch. The Bosch saw didn’t overheat—even with near-constant use over an hour.

Interestingly, the blade on this model is on the left, whereas the blades on most 7¼-inch circular saws are on the right. However, while this took a little getting used to, we didn’t feel it was a downside—the saw can be used easily by a right-handed or left-handed user.

  • Includes a battery, charger, and bag to store all components
  • Good ergonomics; nonslip grip helps the user keep a firm grasp
  • Adjusting the blade angle and the cutting depth are easy with quick-change levers

Get the Bosch circular saw at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Acme Tools.

DeWALT DWS535B 7¼-In. Worm Drive Circular Saw

DeWALT is well known for producing high-quality power tools, and the DWS535B is no exception. We really liked the fact that DeWALT put a magnesium base shoe on this model and used lightweight aluminum for the blade guard. It isn’t as heavy as many worm drives, weighing in at just under 9 pounds, and we found its elongated base-shoe design offered a stabilizing effect when cutting denser materials.

We made both angled and straight cuts on plywood, dimensional lumber, and LVLs. The DWS535B powered through all of them without heating up or bogging down. This is a corded model, which is typically the case in worm drives, so we connected it to a 12-gauge exterior extension cord for testing. It features 4,800 rpm, which is less than some models, but it makes up for the slower speed with higher torque power.

The saw comes with an easy-adjust blade angle that cuts bevels up to 53 degrees and offers positive stops at 22½ and 45 degrees, which are standard angles in the construction industry. It features a 2.438-inch maximum cutting depth that’s also easy to adjust via a lever lock. We would have liked a deeper cut capacity, but this is still a top-performing 7¼-inch circular saw.

  • For a worm drive saw, model is pleasantly light at less than 9 pounds
  • Design is ergonomic and easy to control using 2 hands
  • Features high-quality materials, including a magnesium base shoe and aluminum blade guard

Get the DeWALT Worm Drive circular saw at Amazon or Lowe’s.


In addition to the other saws in this lineup, we also tested the BlackDecker 20-Volt Compact Circular Saw. We had high hopes for this little 5½-inch saw, but it didn’t quite live up to our standards. After we charged the battery, we started cutting plywood. The BlackDecker saw struggled to get through the sheet, so we reduced the thickness of the cut to ½ inch and tried again. No luck. The little saw just couldn’t muster up enough power to cut through.

We’ve tested other BlackDecker power tools with great results, so we don’t know if we just got a lemon this time or whether the battery was too weak. It came with a 20-volt 1.5Ah lithium-ion battery that, while not the most powerful on the market, should have been sufficient for making a ½-inch-deep cut in plywood. We tried recharging the battery, and then we took another shot at cutting—still no go. We had to eliminate this saw from our tests at that point, but we look forward to testing a new and improved version in the future.

Read our full review : BlackDecker 20-Volt Compact Circular Saw

Our Verdict

Any of the circular saws in our lineup are well suited for various wood-cutting tasks. Still, the Makita 36V circular saw takes top honors for its double-battery capacity, high speed, and quality construction. In the Runner-Up spot, the DeWALT 20V circular saw is a strong competitor thanks to its brushless motor; compact, ergonomic design; and high rpm.

How We Tested the Best Circular Saws

Putting together a list of the circular saws was more fun than work. After all, if there’s one tool we’re not short on experience with, it’s circular saws. We drew upon our past experience with these tools to help us decide which models to test.

First, we thought about all the must-have features we can’t live without and compiled a large pool of tools (more than 25!). Then, we narrowed them down by the brands we know and trust, as not all manufacturers offer the same quality.

Our hands-on testing involved using each saw to cut materials repeatedly for an hour with each circular saw. We made both angled and straight cuts during each saw’s test period and noted how well the tool performed the tasks. We only cut the materials suggested for the saws; for example, we did not attempt to cut LVLs, which are very dense and difficult to cut with compact circular saws that are not made to withstand that type of cutting. Likewise, we didn’t bother cutting plywood with the oversize worm-drive saw, which is explicitly designed to cut denser, thicker materials such as timbers.

We closely monitored each circular saw throughout the test period to determine whether it heated up (a sign the motor isn’t keeping up with the cutting). We also noted how easy/challenging it was to adjust each tool’s blade angle and cutting depth. Most of today’s manufacturers are now putting quick-change lever adjustments on their saws, but some still require a wrench to make these adjustments.

During each test, the saws were awarded points using a rubric. The better they performed, the higher the points they earned. After testing, we added and averaged the scores to determine each saw’s best use.


Even with all that advice on the best circular saws, some additional questions might be spinning through your head. The following section aims to address those queries. Be sure to check for an answer to your question below.

Q. What is a circular saw used for?

The most common use for a circular saw is cutting framing lumber to length. However, it can trim deck boards, cut plywood sheets into cabinet panels, and more.

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Q. What kind of cuts can a circular saw make?

Circular saws can make straight cuts, cuts with beveled angles, and even a series of thin, shallow cuts known as dadoes or rabbets.

Q. What should I look for when buying a circular saw?

There is a combination of things to look for when buying a circular saw. If you already own a series of batteries, find one that matches your stash. Also, look for one with enough speed to get the job done that also fits your budget.

Q. What is the best circular saw for home use?

There are two saws worth recommending for home use. Both the Makita 36V circular saw and the DeWALT 20V circular saw are among the best circular saws for a variety of projects, including those DIYers are most likely to tackle.

Q. How do you keep a circular saw straight?

The best way to keep a circular saw straight is to clamp a straight edge to the workpiece and run the base against it. Another method is to place a small clamp on the front of the base to act as a guide. Saws with laser guides are also handy for making straight cuts.

Q. Why am I getting kickback on my circular saw?

  • Don’t start the saw with the blade against the workpiece. Allow the blade to get up to speed before pushing it through the workpiece.
  • Semi-cut workpieces tend to droop, and this droop can cause sideways friction on the blade, pinching it in place. Support the workpiece until the cut is complete.
  • Hitting a knot in the wood can cause kickback because knots are harder than the rest of the wood. Look for knots when measuring the wood and try to avoid cutting through them.
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