Best Circular Saws 2019 – Buying Guide & Reviews

a circular saw

Circular saws are an important tool for many woodworkers and a worthy addition to any workshop. They are used to cut wood, masonry, plastic, or metal. However, there are many different models available on the market. Almost every major tool company makes its own circular saw. Cutting through all the options and finding the best circular saw of 2019 for you is understandably difficult. Before buying one you have to decide whether you want hand-held or machine mounted.

Our reviews on many different circular saws will help you to decide the best one for you. We carefully considered each saw’s performance, value, and overall durability. With our guide on hand, you’ll easily be able to find the saw you need for your job.

List of our Favorite Products

Model
Price
Weight
Ratings
Top Pick

Makita XSS02Z
Makita XSS02Z


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8 lbs


5.0/5

DEWALT DWE575SB
DEWALT DWE575SB


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9 lbs


4.8/5
Best for the Money

SKIL 5280-01
SKIL 5280-01


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9 lbs


4.6/5

Rockwell RK3441K
Rockwell RK3441K


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5 lbs


4.2/5

WEN 36055
WEN 36055


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11 lbs


4.0/5

5 Best Circular Saws – Reviews 2019


1. Makita XSS02Z Circular Saw – Top Pick

The Makita XSS02Z is the great cordless circular saw we reviewed. After using this, you will forget to use your corded model. It is small enough to handle the saw with one hand if needed.

We loved how quickly it cut through a large variety of different woods. The motor is plenty powerful for most users; it delivers a solid 700 RPM. With that said, because this model is battery-powered, this saw is not as powerful as some corded models. Still, we found that it is plenty powerful for our needs. The lack of torque is more than made up for by the sheer portability and convenience of this saw. We loved that we didn’t have to mess with a cord or stress over working near an outlet. If you’re on the go a lot, this circular saw is a great option.

Along with the high power, this circular saw was also quite accurate. It cut straight and didn’t have a tendency to shift as we were cutting. The base was very smooth and seemed quite durable. We had no problem with any parts of the saw breaking or wearing down during our tests. The whole saw is very well made with high-quality materials and craftsmanship. We have no doubt it’ll last through many hours of use.

The 18V battery also didn’t last as long as we would have liked. We definitely recommend getting another battery or two if you plan on using this saw for more than just a few cuts. The battery also doesn’t charge very quickly with the company’s charger, so you have to wait quite a while in between cuts. Plus, this saw also doesn’t come with the battery, so you have to purchase that on top of the saw itself. You’ll also have to purchase a charger. Since batteries are expensive and this saw isn’t exactly cheap, this can lead to more money out of your pocket than you were expecting.

If you already have Makita 18v Battery and charger you don’t need to buy one.

Pros

  • Powerful Cuts
  • Ergonomic Handle
  • Cordless
  • Light and strong
  • 2-¼” cutting capacity

Cons

  • No battery/charger included

2. DEWALT DWE575SB Skill Saw – The Runner-Up

One of the best thing about DEWALT DWE575SB is that it is the lightest circular saw available. Despite its small size though, it has no problem delivering raw power when it needs to. It produces over 5.100 revolutions per minute, which is far more than you could ever need. It also has an electric brake that helps stop the saw as soon as the trigger is released. We really liked this safety feature and found that it helped us make more accurate cuts as well. This is a powerful little saw that is a great option for any DIYer or professional.

There is a dust blower on the front of this saw that we particularly liked. It worked better than we expected and really helped improve the visibility of our cutting lines. While most circular saws do have a dust blower, this one worked better than nearly any other one we reviewed.

We also liked the tough cord this saw features. We have no doubt that this cord will stand up to most wear-and-tear. It is very durable and well made. The saw itself also seems quite durable despite its small size. We don’t have any doubt that this saw will last for years to come. Plus, this saw is also incredibly comfortable to use. It is made with the user in mind. The handle is comfortable and ergonomically designed.

The only real problem we had with this saw was the wobbly blade. It isn’t as accurate as our top pick, which is the main reason we had to kick it down into the number two spot. The blade just doesn’t stay put and tends to move while we’re cutting. While this is fine for some projects, it can make this circular saw impossible to use when you need those small, accurate cuts.

Pros

  • Very light weight
  • Speed brake works well
  • Smooth cuts
  • Dust blower at front

Cons

  • Blade wobble or run-out

3. SKIL 5280-01 – Best Circular Saw for the Money

SKIL is known for making inexpensive yet high-quality products, so we were excited to open this saw up and give it a go. It performed quite well for most of our tests, especially considering the low price tag. This saw comes with a laser guide that was surprisingly very accurate and visible. It also has a dust blower that kept the cutting line clear of debris. The laser combined with the dust blower allowed us to easily see where we were cutting. The saw also cut straight and had plenty of power behind it. With a 14-amp motor, this saw is quite powerful. It cuts fast at just over 5,000 RPMs, which was a feature we really appreciated.

Of course, because this circular saw is cheaper, it underperforms in some areas. Firstly, it isn’t as durable as we would like. It is made of lower-quality materials than many of the other saws and some pieces are prone to breaking. This saw is not going to last as long as our top two choices, but it is still a good option if you just need it for occasional use. The blade comes with this saw is not very high-quality. You’re better off buying a blade from a different brand, even though this will cost you a little bit more money out of pocket. Even when you do use a new blade, it tends to jam quite a bit. It can not make it through very thick materials and we had significant difficulties when we tried to cut anything thicker than a couple of inches. It would seize up and refuse to cut through anymore.

While this saw might be a good choice for those who need to occasionally do a repair project or two, but it is not made for heavy-duty work or professionals.

Pros

  • Cuts straight
  • Lightweight
  • Laser line guide
  • Dust blower keeps cut line visible

Cons

  • No electric brake
  • Steel base plate

4. Rockwell RK3441K Circular Saw – Top compact model choice

The Rockwell RK3441K is our top choice for a compact model. It is extremely small and designed to be held by only one hand. It weighs half as much as most conventional compact circular saws. Its unique design was one of the main reasons we decided to review it.

It does a good job at cutting through most materials and the one-handed design can be very useful in some situations. The compact design makes it easy to manoeuvre and transport. It weighs only about 5 pounds, so you really should have no difficulties taking it wherever you want to go. The grip on the handle is quite comfortable and sturdy. It made it comfortable for us to use it for an extended time. We liked its left side blade design which increased the visibility and makes it easier for us to cut so it’s safer, more accurate, user-friendly.

It is not made out of the best materials. While being lightweight does make it easy to use the saw with one hand, it also means that pieces are more likely to break off. In particular, the bolt that holds the blade in place seems particularly flimsy and prone to breaking. This is a safety hazard and can lead to injury if the bolt breaks while you’re using the saw.

The saw is also designed to be handled in a strange way. Most circular saws have handles that are closer to the blade itself, which allows you better control. That is not the case with this saw, however, so we did have some control issues while we were using it.

This is a unique compact circular saw and feels a very specific niche. It isn’t for everyone, but it can he a great option if you just want a small, compact cutting machine.

We also have a “Top 5 Compact circular saws” page, where we show you our top picks and a buyer’s guide. Feel free to check it out.

Pros

  • Small enough to operate it with one hand
  • High cut-line visibility
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Cutting depth is up to (1 1/2″)
  • Power

5. WEN 36055 Circular Saw

While this saw is one of the more expensive ones on the list, it is also one of the lowest performing. It is made to be an alternative to “bulkier” table saws and produce clean cuts through the use of a track. However, we found setting up this track saw and using it each time very time-consuming. Plus, we didn’t find that the saw produced more accurate cuts than saws without the track. The guide railing alignment wasn’t even correct and required some adjusting on our part. It is difficult to get the tracks to line up evenly and the saw only comes with one rail connector, which makes the whole system unstable. In other words, the track basically just adds another step to the setup process with only minimal gains at best.

While we really don’t think the track on this saw is necessary for the least, it did provide some nice, clean cuts. It is very accurate when you can get the tracks aligned properly. But, as we said, many of the other circular saws we reviewed were accurate as well, so the track system seems quite unnecessary.

The stabilizer on this saw did work quite well in our opinion. We aren’t huge fans of track circular saws anyway but were quite surprised by the way this saw hugged the track. We didn’t have any trouble with it bumping off or wiggling while we were cutting. This feature is probably one of the few saving graces of this saw.

Overall, this saw landed itself at the bottom of our list for good reason. If you want a circular saw, get one without the added track attached to it. If you want to replace a table saw, this one might be a good choice. Still, most circular saws can do everything this one can without the added bulkiness and set up of the track.

Pros

  • Self-retracting riving knife

Cons

  • Plastic guards
  • Made with cheap glue
  • Underpowered

Buyer’s Guide


Corded vs. Cordless

Circular saws have to be powered by electricity in order to work. They can get this electricity from two sources: a plug or battery. Both of these sources have their pros and cons. Corded Circular saws are generally higher powered. You don’t have to worry about charging it and can trust that it’ll have power when you need it to. You don’t have to deal with corded saws dying on the job, while this is often a difficulty for those that run off of batteries. You also don’t have to worry about purchasing a battery or two.

Cordless models have the obvious con of having to lug a battery around. Often, one battery will not sustain a saw through the whole job, so it is often necessary to buy a couple of extras. This can lead to a lot more money out of your pocket that you were originally intending on spending. However, having a cordless saw also means that you don’t have to deal with a cord. You can use the saw anywhere you want to, without an outlet in sight. Because cordless circular saws use batteries, though, they are often not as powerful as corded saws.

Ultimately, out of cordless vs. corded circular saws, neither type of saw is better than the other. It is more of a matter of what you need for your specific situation. Choose a cordless model when you need portability but select a corded one when you need power.

levelling woods

Blade Left vs. Blade Right

There were traditionally two different kinds of circular saws. While these used to be very distinct categories, now the lines are blurred substantially. Today, we just have saws with left blade orientation and right blade orientation. Despite what you might think, these saws are not made for left-handed people or right-handed people. What your dominant hand is doesn’t really matter. Instead, the different orientations are designed with specific purposes in mind.

Choosing a saw that has the blade on the opposite side as your dominant hand will make it easier to stabilize the saw while you’re cutting. You will also have greater visibility during one-handed operation. However, your visibility can be obscured during two-handed operation, as your left arm can get in the way.

Choosing a saw with the blade on the same side as your dominant hand also have a few pros and cons. When using this sort of saw, you will have to look past your shoulder and arm to see where you’re cutting. Some saws with this orientation also have difficulty staying stable. While most saws typically don’t have much of a problem, others are more poorly designed and can have significant difficulties.

Despite these difficulties though, these types of saws really don’t have a huge difference between them. Use whatever one you’re comfortable with blade-right or blade-left circular saw. If you haven’t used one before, whatever style you choose will likely fit you fine.

Blade Size

Circular saws come with many different blade sizes. Blade Size of 5 ½ and 7 ¼ are the most common, but there are other variants as well. They are often carbide-tipped. Each saw will likely only be able to take a single blade size. What size blade you choose should mostly have to do with what size blade your saw can accept. The size of the blade has an effect on the depth you can cut. After all, the longer the blade extends out of the bottom, the deeper the saw can cut.

The number of teeth a saw has is somewhat affected by the size of the blade, but only slightly. You can typically find saw blades with the number of teeth you need in various different sizes, so don’t let that affect which saw size you decide to get.

person using a circular saw

Frequently Asked Questions


Can I use a bigger blade on my circular saw?

No. You can not use a bigger blade on your circular saw than what it’s designed for. It simply won’t fit. Very rarely, you will find a saw that can fit more than one blade size. However, these saws are very far and few between and usually suffer in other areas; there is a reason they did not make it to our top rated list.

How do you line up a circular saw?

You should always measure twice before making any sort of cut. When you are ready, line up the blade with your tracing like and let your fingers ride on the edge of the board to help you guide it. Saws with laser guides can make it even easier to make straight lines, as they allow you to tell if it turns off course.

What can you use a circular saw for?

With the correct design and blade, a circular saw can be used for rooting, metal, masonry, and cutting lumber. Mostly, circular saws are used to cut in a straight line. However, once you become more skilled at using these saws, you can use it to cut curves as well. These saws are very versatile and great for all the smaller cutting jobs you have around your house.

Conclusion


Circular saws are a very popular tool, so there are countless available models on the market today. The best circular saw we tested is the Makita XSS02Z. This saw is powerful enough for all of our tests and cut quite accurately. For a more budget-friendly option, however, we recommend the SKIL 5280-01. This saw might not be as powerful as other options, but it is plenty for most users. Plus, it’ll save you quite a bit of money.

Hopefully, our reviews will help you to find the right pick.

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