While a circular saw is primarily seen as a construction tool, it has many uses in home improvement and woodworking. A circular saw gets used for almost everything – home building, making kitchen cabinets, putting up fences, and so on. Such versatility makes it one of the first purchases a woodworker will make.
Is a cordless circular saw worth it?
Cordless circular saws are even better because you can bring the tool directly to the workpiece – no matter where it is. Imagine you are working on a roof, building a deck, or out by your fence and you don’t want to or simply cannot drag a cord. They have two main advantages:
- there is no need to untangle your extension cord, plus there is no power cord getting in the way of the cut.
- you can own a smaller saw, which means more control over the tool and less user fatigue on arms and wrists.
Since many people will prefer to choose a circular saw belonging to the same battery system they already own, today I chose to compare only bare tools. Without further ado, let’s get to it:
(Bare Tool) Cordless Circular Saw Comparison Table
|Make & Model||Blade Details||Motor, RPM||Weight w/ Battery||Cut Capacity (90°, 45°)||Extras|
|Bosch 1671B||6-1/2 in (165 mm), Left side,
|36 V (2x 18 V), 4000 RPM||9.8 lbs (4.44 kg)||2-1/8 in (54 mm), 1-5/8 in (41 mm), Max. Bevel 50°||battery gauge|
|Bosch CCS180B||6-1/2 in (165 mm), Left side,
|18 V, 3900 RPM||8.5 lbs (3.85 kg)||2 in (51 mm), 1-9/16 in (40 mm), Max. Bevel 50°||battery gauge|
|DeWalt DC390B||6-1/2 in (165 mm), Left side||18 V, 3700 RPM||7 lbs (3.17 kg)||2-1/4 in (57 mm), 1-5/8 in (41 mm), Max. Bevel 50°||--|
|DeWalt DCS391B||6-1/2 in (165 mm), Left side||20 V, 5150 RPM||8.5 lbs (3.85 kg)||2-1/4 in (57 mm), 1-5/8 in (41 mm), Max. Bevel 50°||--|
|DeWalt DCS575B||7-1/4 in (184 mm), Right side,
|Brushless, 20 V, 5800 RPM||10.25 lbs (4.64 kg)||2-1/4 in (57 mm), 1-5/8 in (41 mm), Max. Bevel 57°||battery gauge, work light|
|Hitachi C18DSLP4||6-1/2 in (165 mm), Left side,
|18 V, 3400 RPM||7.1 lbs (3.22 kg)||2-1/4 in (57 mm), N/A, Max. Bevel 50°||battery gauge, work light|
|Makita XSH01Z||7-1/4 in (184 mm), Right side,
|36 V (2x 18 V), 4800 RPM||10.1 lbs (4.58 kg)||2-5/8 in (67 mm), 1-7/8 in (48 mm), Max. Bevel 50°||battery gauge|
|Makita XSH03Z||6-1/2 in (165 mm), Left side,
|Brushless, 18 V, 5000 RPM||7.3 lbs (3.31 kg)||2-1/4 in (57 mm), 1-5/8 in (41 mm), Max. Bevel 50°||battery gauge, work light|
|Makita XSR01 (XSR01PT)||7-1/4 in (184 mm), Left side,
|Brushless, 36 V (2x 18 V), 5100 RPM||12.5 lbs (5.66 kg)||2-9/16 in (65 mm), 1-3/4 in (44 mm), Max. Bevel 53°||battery gauge, work light|
|Makita XSS01Z||6-1/2 in (165 mm), Left side,
|Brushless, 18 V, 3700 RPM||7.6 lbs (3.44 kg)||2-1/4 in (57 mm), 1-9/16 in (40 mm), Max. Bevel 50°||battery gauge, work light|
|Milwaukee 2530-20||5-3/8 in (137 mm), Left side||Brushless, 12 V, 3600 RPM||6.5 lbs (2.95 kg)||1-5/8 in (41 mm), 1-1/8 in (29 mm), Max. Bevel 50°||battery gauge, work light|
|Milwaukee 2630-20||6-1/2 in (165 mm), Left side||18 V, 3500 RPM||9 lbs (4.08 kg)||2-1/8 in (54 mm), 1-5/8 in (41 mm), Max. Bevel 50°||battery gauge, work light|
|Milwaukee 2730-20||6-1/2 in (165 mm), Left side||Brushless, 18 V, 5000 RPM||8.5 lbs (3.85 kg)||2-3/16 in (56 mm), 1-5/8 in (41 mm), Max. Bevel 50°||battery gauge, work light|
|Milwaukee 2731-20||7-1/4 in (184 mm), Right side,
|Brushless, 18 V, 5000 RPM||9.5 lbs (4.31 kg)||2-1/2 in (64 mm), 1-7/8 in (48 mm), Max. Bevel 50°||battery gauge, work light|
|Porter-Cable PCC660B||6-1/2 in (165 mm), Left side||20 V, 4000 RPM||7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)||2-1/8 in (54 mm), N/A, Max. Bevel 50°||--|
|Ridgid R8652||7-1/4 in (184 mm), Right side||18 V, 3700 RPM||11.5 lbs (5.21 kg)||2-7/16 in (62 mm), 1-13/16 in (46 mm), Max. Bevel 56°||battery gauge, work light|
|Ridgid R8653||7-1/4 in (184 mm), Right side||Brushless, 18 V, 3800 RPM||10 lbs (4.53 kg)||2-7/16 in (62 mm), 1-13/16 in (46 mm), Max. Bevel 56°||battery gauge, work light|
|Ryobi P507||6-1/2 in (165 mm), Left side||18 V, 4700 RPM||6.5 lbs (2.95 kg)||2-1/16 in (52 mm), 1-7/16 in (37 mm), Max. Bevel 56°||battery gauge|
|Ryobi P508||7-1/4 in (184 mm), Left side||Brushless, 18 V, 3700 RPM||6.6 lbs (2.99 kg)||2-7/16 in (62 mm), 1-13/16 in (46 mm), Max. Bevel 56°||battery gauge|
How To Read This Table
Here are the main features you should consider when choosing a cordless circular saw.
Blade replacements for 7-1⁄4 inch saws are much easier to find. 6-1⁄2 inch blades have less options, and other measurements are even harder to find.
On the other hand, smaller saws are lighter, smaller, and give a better sense of control and comfort. They can make a lot of sense if you will make most of your cuts with sheet goods. You should opt for a bigger saw if you work with thicker construction lumber such as two-bys.
Power And Weight
In cordless tools more power usually means more weight due to the motor and the extra capacity battery.
Motor and battery technology has been constantly improving dramatically over the past decade. Brushless motors are more efficient because they have no carbon brushes to create friction and they are worthwhile in circular saws.
And note: the difference between Brushed and Brushless motors goes beyond marketing: brushless tools get better run-time and increased power, while also being lighter and lasting longer.
As for batteries, current lithium-ion technology is lightweight, making current cordless tools more compact and nimble. Lower capacity batteries make the tool lighter and easier to use, and higher capacity batteries give you more run time with less pauses for changing or recharging batteries. In other words, your final choice here depends on what type of use you plan on making.
Weight With Battery
The lighter the saw is, the more you feel like it is an extension of your hands. This is important for making a controlled and accurate cut.
The extra weight and power usually demand more experienced hands to handle the saw in operation, so take that into consideration when choosing a model for you.
RPMs And Noise
Higher RPMs help you cut through harder materials, and also tend to be noisier.
While you should always wear Personal Protection Equipment when operating power tools, noise numbers are also an important figure to consider when buying your new tool.
Depth Of Cut
While most circular saws use blades with the same dimensions, in practice their cut capacity varies slightly among brands.
Also consider that cut capacity is smaller at 45° when comparing with a straight 90° cut.
And a final note: most manufacturers recommend setting the cut depth at 1⁄4 inch deeper than the material, so take that into consideration when choosing your saw.
In practice, you need at least 1-3⁄4 inches in depth if you plan to cut two-by material. While most saws offer that and more for 90° cuts, pay attention to the depth of cut at 45°.
Bevel Capacity And Positive Stops
The vast majority of your cuts will be straight at 90°.
Most saws will bevel to at least 45°, and some higher-end models will bevel even further.
As for positive stops, most models have positive stops for 45° cuts, and some will also offer a 22.5° stop as well.
Left Or Right Blade
Traditionally most circular saws have blades on the right side.
That design allows the majority of users (right-handed) to perform smaller crosscuts and have the tool riding the board, while the off-cut falls to the right of the blade. On the other hand, this design makes life complicated when ripping wider panels.
Some manufacturers started designing blades on the left because they claim this design offers a better line of sight for operating your circular saw.
More traditional woodworkers simply prefer to go around to the other side of the panel and continue the cut by pulling the saw on longer cuts, instead of reaching further all the way from the same side.
In my opinion, it is purely a matter of preference, but you might think differently.
This feature reduces your downtime waiting for the blade to stop before you restart your next cut, which increases your productivity.
Would you like to climb up the stairs and find out at the roof that your battery is low on charge?
Good cordless tool systems should allow you to check for charge at the battery itself, this way you can always have fully charged batteries and increase your productivity.
This is a featured favored by older– I mean, more experienced woodworkers and tradesmen. More light favors the tired eyes.
Lights also help to follow the cutting line in low-lit working conditions.
How do I cut plywood with a circular saw without splintering?
With your circular saw in hand, you have two options:
- either a new plywood-cutting blade with 140 to 150 teeth,
- or a 40-tooth carbide-tipped crosscutting blade.
You’ll also need a good, sharp utility knife and a 4-ft. level to use for a “fence,” that is, a saw guide.
Tip: If you don’t have a 4-ft. level, you can cut a 5-in. wide piece from the end of a 4x8 sheet of plywood and use the “factory edge” as a guide.
Before starting, rest the plywood on a ﬂat surface supported by scrap rigid foam strips or 2x4s running perpendicular to the direction of the cut. They support the plywood during and after the cut. If the plywood isn’t well supported, it will fall away near the end of the cut, binding the saw blade and/or tearing off the veneer.
Mark both ends of the cut you plan to make and clamp the fence exactly on these two marks. Scoring with a utility knife keeps the veneer from being torn up by the exiting saw blade. Before cutting (good face down, remember), I determine the distance from the inside face of the blade to the edge of the saw base. Measure a practice cut to be sure this distance is correct.
Clamp your saw guide that exact distance away from and parallel to the scored line. Do a good job when clamping both edges of the straightedge during scoring and cutting. You don’t want the guide to slip in the middle of either process.
Be sure to start your saw before touching the edge of the plywood with the blade or it may tear up the veneer at the start-up.
Tip: Sometimes the saw base will leave metal marks on your work. Test your saw by making a practice cut on a piece of wood similar to your project piece. If it marks the wood, apply masking tape to the bottom of your saw base. Wrap the ends of the tape over the edges of the table to prevent it from peeling during the cut.