Circular saws are powerful machines that make cutting material easy. Although there are many saws out there, I’ve listed what you should look for in a circular saw to help you choose the right one.
What to look for in a circular saw
1. Know what you’re cutting
You may be surprised to find that not all cuts are treated equally when it comes to circular saws.
Wood – Works best on wood, with blades designed for ripping or cross-cutting. Ripping is cutting along the length of a board, while cross-cutting is cutting across the grain of the wood. Sawdust buildup is minimal.
Masonry – Perfect for cutting brick and other masonry materials. The blades are designed to cut through a brick’s vertical face and will most likely jam if they hit the horizontal mortar between bricks.
Metal – Cutting metal is tough, but with the right blade, it becomes easy. There are many different types of blades for specific uses with cutting metal. The most common blades for metal use are skip tooth and standard tooth blades.
Skip tooth – Cuts in a zig-zag pattern, preventing clogging and jamming. Skip tooth blades are so named because the bottom half of each cutting tooth is ground away
Standard tooth – Standard teeth have no missing pieces, allowing them to cut more aggressively. You’ll want to use standard teeth when you’re quickly cutting through thick metal. These blades are also much longer than skip tooth blades.
It’s important to use the right blade for whatever material you’re cutting; otherwise, it will wear out quickly and could damage the saw itself. The type of blade for your project should be listed in the owner’s manual for your saw.
2. Blade size and type
The larger the blade, the wider the cut. The trade-off is that you’ll need to take bigger passes with your saw to complete your cut. If you’re ripping, you’ll want a wide blade to help prevent binding when it comes into contact with the back of the wood.
Standard blades are 7 1/4 inches in diameter. DeWalt, Makita and Bosch all make circular saws with large 10-inch blades. Smaller 6 1/2 inch blades are more appropriate for cross-cutting wood
Rip blades typically have deep gullets (spaces between the teeth), which help clear out the sawdust produced when cutting. This will also help prevent the material from binding between the blade and saw itself. Look for a rip blade with a high tooth count, which indicates more teeth spaced close together
Combination blades – These have both standard and skip tooth patterns on one blade. This is ideal for cutting different materials without having to switch out the blade, saving you time
3. Cordless vs corded
Cordless circular saws are lighter and easier to manoeuvre but don’t have the same power as their corded counterparts. Cordless circular saws can’t cut through thick pieces of wood without burning. If you want a more powerful saw, it’s best to go for one with a cord. However, if weight is your primary concern, a cordless circular saw is the way to go.
With the availability of brushless motors, cordless circular saws are catching up to their corded counterparts in terms of cutting power. However, you will still need to cut through thick pieces of wood slowly if your battery isn’t large enough
Makita, Bosch and Dewalt all make durable circular saws with cast metal gear housings. It’s best to avoid plastic gear mechanisms on your saw.
5. Budget – how much you can afford to spend on a saw
You get what you pay for with tools like circular saws, so cheap is never the way to go. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot to get a high-quality circular saw.
6. Safety features, such as blade brake or anti-kickback pawls
Blade brake stops the blade immediately after it comes into contact with the material being cut, so it doesn’t move back and forth.
It’s an important safety feature, especially when cutting stock that is thinner than the depth of cut.
Anti-kickback pawls – These are latches on either side of the blade that will stop the saw from moving back toward you if something gets caught in the blade or if it binds against another material. This is also good to have for your safety and the safety of those around you.
You should also look for a saw that has a soft-start, which allows the blade to spool up slowly before reaching full speed. This prevents jerking when starting your circular saw.
A circular saw is a great tool to have in your garage if you need to make crosscut cuts, rip and other types of straight cuts. Whether you choose a corded or cordless circular saw, make sure it has features like blade brake and anti-kickback pawls to help keep you safe around the saw. Choose a saw with either a 7-1/4 inches or 10-inch blade based on what type of cuts you’ll be making most often. Make sure that the saw is durable and has a cast metal gear housing if possible before buying one. Also, know how much you can afford to spend on a saw and get the most for your money that way.
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