What Is A Circular Saw?

If you tend to cut a lot of wood, for instance, then you should get a circular saw.

The circular saw is a high-powered saw that consists of a flat circular blade which is spun in high speed to cut wood, metal, masonry or plastic, depending on the type of the blade chosen. Although circular saws are typically run by electricity, some models can also be powered by a petrol engine or a hydraulic motor.

The circular saw has a handle that protects the user from touching the blade while it’s spinning. It also features bevel, height and depth adjustments. The arbor nut secures the blade in place. Aside from hand-held units, other models are also mounted to a machine.

Compared to other cutting tools (such as the jigsaw), the circular saw gives a straight, “square” cut due to the machine’s more rigid blade. The large serrated edges of the blade make cutting materials even faster.

Circular saws are available in a variety of sizes, but the most popular model is the one which has a blade measuring 7.5 inches in diameter. These types of circular saws are ideal for smaller projects such as cutting plywood or two-by-four’s. Other circular saws with blades measuring 12 inches in diameter (and up) are suitable for cutting timber to make posts and beams. The blades can be adjusted to make angled (bevel) cuts up to 45 degrees. Motors typically draw eight to 15 amps of power.

Circular saws typically come in two types:

1. Sidewinder or in-line circular saw

The sidewinder is the most common type of circular saw, especially on the eastern part of the US. Its popularity is due to the fact that it’s lightweight and portable. The sidewinder circular saw features a motor which is mounted alongside the spinning blade, which causes the blade to create more speed (up to 6000 RPM).

Sidewinders also come in cordless models. Another advantage of using the sidewinder is that you don’t have to add oil in it in order to keep it running smoothly. But because the motor and blade are mounted alongside each other, you may have some difficulty to see and follow what you’re cutting while you’re using the machine. You may have to lean over the saw to get a better look at the progress of your work, and this can become tedious after using it for long periods.

2. Worm drive saw

Unlike the sidewinder, the worm drive saw has a motor mounted at the back of the blade. This gives the machine a narrower, slightly longer body. The worm drive saw generates a lesser blade speed because of such gear configuration, but it otherwise gives off a lot more torque. It also makes it easier for the user to see what he’s cutting, making the worm drive saw ideal for working on wider surfaces. However, it does need to be occasionally filled with oil to lubricate the gears and to reduce the machine’s ear-splitting noise.

The following are the types of blades:

1. Wood cutting blades – There are two types of wood-cutting blades: construction blades and plywood blades. A construction blade produces finer cuts as it typically has at least 40 teeth. Plywood blades, on the other hand, have teeth with deep gullets.

2. Masonry cutting blades – These blades are designed to cut masonry surfaces like brick, concrete and hard stone.

3. Metal cutting blades – They are typically toothless blades and are specially designed to help dispel the heat that has been produced while cutting metal.

4. Plastic pipe cutting blades  – They are ideal for cutting plastic, soft materials, and non-ferrous metals.

For wood cutting and other similar projects, the blades are normally tungsten carbide tipped or TCT, but users may also be able to get their hands on high speed steel (HSS). The base of the saw can be modified for “depth of cut” and can tilt 45-to-50 degrees in association with the blade. Users can minimize kickbacks by fine tuning the depth of cut. Various blade dimensions are present for each saw, with a range spanning from 5.5-inch to 24-inch (14 centimeters to 61 centimeters.

Another important aspect of a circular saw is the saw guard. This is located at the front and the top of this power tool to keep it safe from potential damage and protect users. It also keeps the waste material from flying around. There’s a floating component at the blade’s bottom and a fixed one present at its top. The former automatically retracts when the user performs a cut but goes back into its position after the cut is done. It also includes a handle that people can use for lifting covers when making a beveled or plunge cut.

Handles of the circular saw also matters. Those saws that feature two handles provide users with better control than models that don’t. They’re present on the rear and are often found near the heavy component aka. motor. Vendors also go to a great length to ensure their designs offer maximum durability and comfort. For convenient plug-ins, you may also find the saw’s power switch inside the rear handle.

Best Circular Saw to Buy

Where to Buy
Rockwell RK3440K Versacut
Milwaukee 6390-21
Dewalt DWE575SB

Rockwell RK3440K Versacut

RK3440K Versacut is one of the most ergonomic and mobile circular saws out there. With a light design and study features, it’s compact enough to be operated with a single hand. Its 4-inch blade is also decent enough to cut 2 or more-inches thick wood. The 3,500 rpm (no-load) allows the circular saw to go through a variety of materials including flooring, sheet metal, wood, and more. The weight is only four pounds, and the RK344K Versacut also posts a pivoting metal guard to accommodate plunge cuts of all sizes.

What makes it stand out?

The circular saw has an integrated laser (120-inches cord) that lets users align just the right cut. Another standout feature is the slim grip handle that enhances comfort and control.


Project professionals typically expect a circular saw to function differently compared to what DIY enthusiasts and weekend warriors use them for. They want the saw to stand up against the abuses of the job site. For those needed the best in cutting power, the 7 14/inch Skilsaw SPT77WML-0 is the perfect option to consider. Its blade comes with 0-45 degree locks that can tilt 53 degrees or less and cut wood pieces of 2/38-inches with ease. Another thing that differentiates the power tool its main competitors is the magnesium based make. By using a premium build over cheap plastics and metals, the manufacturer ensures it is able to withstand abuse of all kinds.

What makes it stand out?

The circular saw features a “Cut-Ready” adjustment level for 2x, 3/4/, 1/2, or ¼ ply adjustments. The lowers guard (anti-snag) secure the blade when it’s idle, ensuring it doesn’t snag when it’s being used to cut thick materials.

Milwaukee 6390-21

This is the easiest to operate and the most powerful of them all. The circular saw comes with a patented handle that features an ergonomic grip to help users quickly adjust, as well as get comfortable as soon as they put their hands on it. The motor spins at an RPM speed of 5,800 courtesy of the 7 ¼-inch blade. This quick rotation ensures work on a range of materials and allows the saw to make quick cuts. However, there’s no laser guide present like in the previous to models for straight cutting. Bevel cuts are also out of the question because of the missing bevel stops. With that said, it’s tilting and locking mechanism more than makes up for its minor shortcomings.

What makes it stand out?

The Milwaukee 6390-21 has a one-touch spindle lock that makes the task of changing blades a breeze.

Dewalt DWE575SB

While most circular saws are designed to be more accurate and make standard cuts, a laser guided model goes a step further, giving you a clear reference guidance on projects that demand straight or long cuts. This model offers one of the most comprehensive laser guides around. Also, it has a durable stamped “aluminum” she that offers a smooth base, ensuring the saw is able to make straight cuts over several yards and feet, even while being used on long plywood pieces. Because it relies on cord power to energize itself, it has a patent protected system that makes the whole thing three times more effective than a typical cord. This also protects against cord pullout accidents if the user reaches the cord’s length.

What makes it stand out?

The circular saw features a dust blower that keeps the laser guide line and the users’ sight line free and clear during long cut projects.


As with buying any other power tool, investing in a good quality model will help generate better results. But you’ll need to marry this up against other factors such as how often are you going to use the circular saw. That, of course, depends on the professional you hire or your expertise in finishing project. The greater your skills the better the ROI, provided you’re using a reputable brand.