Both keen DIY woodworkers and professionals have numerous different saws to choose from, but without a doubt the two most versatile are the jigsaw and the handheld circular saw. The latter is invaluable for general workshop use, remodeling, and job site tasks, but the choice is much wider than many might assume. A closer look at the full range of circular saws reveals some interesting options.
While cordless tools continue to grow in popularity, the best corded circular saws often offer the optimum combination of performance and value. The following article delves into all the important details in order to help you make the right buying decision.
- BEST OVERALL: DEWALT 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw, Lightweight (DWE575)
- RUNNER-UP: BOSCH CS10 7-1/4-Inch 15 Amp Circular Saw
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BLACK+DECKER 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Laser
- UPGRADE PICK: Makita 5007Mg Magnesium 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
- BEST DIY: CRAFTSMAN 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw, 15-Amp (CMES510)
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: SKILSAW SPT70WM-01 15 Amp 10-1/4″ Magnesium
- BEST COMPACT: WORX WX427L 6A 4-1/2” Corded Compact Circular Saw
- BEST LASER GUIDE: SKIL 5280-01 Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser
- MOST VERSATILE: Evolution – 027-0004C Power Tools R185CCSX 7-1/4″
- ALSO CONSIDER: Makita 5477NB 7-1/4″ Hypoid Saw
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Corded Circular Saw
Those shopping for a corded circular saw for the workshop will find tremendous variety. In addition to the wide range of “standard” tools, there are highly maneuverable compact models and high-performance heavy-duty saws. Strictly speaking, table saws are also circular saws, but this article will concentrate on handheld models. The following technical aspects are important in narrowing down your choice.
Blade Size and Types
Circular saws are generally rated by their blade size. A 7¼-inch blade is common among general-purpose models, but they go to over 10 inches on heavy-duty circular saws and can be less than 4 inches on compact models.
Depth of cut is one of the main factors in choosing the best corded circular saw for a particular task. It is important to study specifications carefully as two saws with the same blade size often differ here. Look for the depth of cut with the blade at 90 degrees, which will be the absolute maximum. For most users, it’s also important to check the depth of cut when the blade is at 45 degrees, a common angle to cut bevels.
The number of teeth and the blade material will also have an impact. It’s common for standard 7¼-inch saws to be supplied with an 18- or 24-tooth blade with durable tungsten-carbide-tipped teeth. They are good for all kinds of general-purpose sawing, particularly with the kind of lumber used for remodeling or building work. However, a wide variety of different blades are available and can be worth investigating for different jobs. More teeth give a smoother cut and are often used for hardwoods. There are special blades for cutting sheet metals like aluminum, and diamond-tipped blades can saw through tile or concrete.
Power and Speed
The amp rating is usually a good indication of performance and thus the kind of work the saw is intended for. The maximum power of almost all corded circular saw motors is 15 amps, and it’s the most that can be supplied by a standard household outlet. Models aimed at the occasional DIY user might have slightly less powerful motors of around 13 amps. Compact tools might be as low as 4 amps.
Blade speed can be a useful measure in that a blade that’s turning faster will in theory cut more quickly. However, speeds quoted are invariably no-load speeds (in other words when the saw is not cutting), so they aren’t always an accurate reflection of performance. As a result, many saw makers don’t quote them. Generally speaking, manufacturers do a good job of matching speed to power output, so it’s rarely an issue.
Sidewinder or Worm Drive
There are two ways the power of a circular saw is transmitted to the blade: sidewinder and worm drive. Strictly speaking there’s a third: hypoid drive. However, hypoid is very similar to worm drive. It has slightly more efficient power transfer but is basically the same in terms of the impact it has on buyer choice.
Sidewinder drive is the most common. The motor is directly connected to the side of the saw blade, driving it via a rotating shaft. Sidewinder saws are usually more compact, lighter, and have faster blade speeds.
On worm drive (and hypoid) saws, the motor sits behind the blade and drives the blade via offset gearing. These saws are usually larger and blade speeds are slower, but they generate greater torque. This makes worm drive the better option for corded circular saws that regularly cut thick or hard materials.
Shoe Material and Weight
The shoe (or sole) is the base plate of the saw that rests on the material being cut. On budget corded circular saws, it is often steel, which is cheap and durable. However, it’s also heavy and prone to rust. Aluminum is perhaps the most common shoe material. It’s lighter than steel and doesn’t rust. It’s not quite as tough, but minor dings are not difficult to repair. Magnesium alloy (often just called magnesium) is the premium shoe material. It is almost as strong as steel, doesn’t rust, and it’s around 30 percent lighter than aluminum. It is noticeably more expensive, though.
All-up corded circular saw weight will make a difference to those who use the tool all day, especially those who cut vertically as well as horizontally. That said, lightness isn’t always a benefit. Plastic body parts will result in reduced weight but might not have the durability for some environments.
Ease of Adjustment
Corded circular saws are adjustable for depth of cut and blade angle. How easy this is to accomplish can make a big difference to convenience, particularly if changes need to be made frequently.
On older saws and some very low-cost models, depth adjustment requires an Allen wrench. Most now have easy-to-use tool-free levers. Some saws still require an Allen wrench for changing the angle of the shoe. Onboard storage for the wrench is often provided. A marked scale is attached for angles, but detents (preset holes or notches) for common angles like 22.5, 45, and 90 degrees make the job faster. It’s common for saws to have a maximum angle of 45 degrees for bevels, but some go a little further, the maximum found for this article being 57 degrees.
Circular saws almost invariably have a spindle lock, which stops the blade rotating to make it easier and safer to change. Onboard storage for the blade wrench is another useful extra.
- It can be a nuisance waiting for the saw blade to slow down so you can rest the tool safely. Some of the best corded circular saws have braking that activates as soon as you take your finger off the trigger, stopping the blade much more quickly.
- A blower that clears the path in front of the saw blade is a nice addition, especially if you frequently cut sheet material where gathering sawdust can obscure a cutline.
- The safety guards around the bottom of the blade can sometimes stick. Ball-bearing guides provide consistently smooth opening and closing.
- Laser guides are now available on some saws, helping users maintain accuracy by projecting a beam along the cutline. Care is needed when setting up, and alignment should be checked regularly.
- One or two circular saws offer LED work lights, though it’s not a common feature.
- A rafter hook is a useful addition, allowing the saw to be hung somewhere convenient rather than needing to be stored on a bench or the floor.
- A bag or case is useful for storage and protection but is not common, even among more expensive circular saws.
Our Top Picks
The top picks all come from recognized brands known for their high product standards and reliability. They represent a wide cross-section of both common designs and more unusual models. In order to make it easier for you to find the best corded circular saw for a specific task, each product has been assigned to an individual category.
With such great options available, it’s difficult to pick a single best corded circular saw, but the DeWalt offers both keen DIY enthusiasts and professionals just about everything they need. There is also the brand’s high standards of precision, durability, and reliability.
The 15-amp motor provides the basis for a powerful 7 1/4-inch tool. Maximum depth of cut is 2 9/16 inches. Bevel angle is up to 57 degrees, with detents at 22.5 and 45 degrees. Both are tool-free lever-operated. At 8.8 pounds, it’s one of the lightest circular saws in its class.
A dust blower is a useful addition, and ball bearings make for smooth guard operation. The supplied blade is an 18-tooth model, which offers fast and aggressive cutting but is perhaps a bit coarse for sheet work. A 24-tooth version is an affordable addition.
The runner-up from Bosch is another solidly built 15-amp 7 1/4-inch saw. It has a maximum depth of 2 7/16 inches and beveling to 56 degrees, with detents at 22.5 and 45 degrees. The 24-tooth blade will tackle most workshop and site jobs with ease. It weighs 10.2 pounds. There are simple levers for fast adjustment and an onboard wrench for blade changes.
Like the DeWalt, there’s a dust blower and a snag-free blade guard. The Bosch doesn’t quite match the DeWalt on a few key statistics but remains an excellent all-rounder and one that is very competitively priced. A carry bag is a nice extra.
The Black & Decker corded circular saw is typical of the brand: It’s a basic tool but one that offers all the essential features. Its price puts it within the reach of those who might only use a circular saw occasionally.
The motor is a 13-amp unit: not massively powerful but still capable of powering the 7 1/4-inch 18-tooth blade to a maximum 2 1/2-inch depth of cut. It will bevel to 45 degrees. All adjustments are tool-free. The shoe is steel, but much of the body is plastic, resulting in a remarkably lightweight tool at just 7 pounds. Perhaps surprisingly on such a low-cost circular saw, a laser guide is included.
The 7 1/4-inch Makita circular saw has a powerful 15-amp motor with precision gearing designed for maximum power transmission. At 2 1/2 inches, the maximum depth of cut isn’t particularly impressive, but the high-performance 24-tooth blade will cut effortlessly through just about all job site framing, flooring, roofing, and paneling materials. Beveling goes to 56 degrees, with detents at 22.5 and 45 degrees. Levers make adjustments quick and easy.
While shoe and blade guards are magnesium to reduce weight, it’s a measure of the tool’s toughness that it still weighs 10.1 pounds. A clear scale is marked on the leading edge of the shoe, and twin LEDs light the cut path. There’s a dust blower, too. The job site theme continues with the provision of a rip fence and a sturdy storage case.
The 7 1/4-inch Craftsman corded circular saw has a powerful 15-amp motor driving a fast-cutting 18-tooth blade (a 24-tooth version is available). The 2 1/8-inch depth of cut is a fraction less than some but still more than enough for many types of dimensioned lumber. Maximum bevel is 55 degrees, with the usual detents at 22.5 and 45 degrees. Both adjustments are tool-free.
Perhaps surprisingly on a budget circular saw, the shoe is magnesium, though this does little to minimize the 11-pound weight. However, blade guards are durable steel rather than the plastic found on some low-cost saws. A useful rafter hook completes the specification.
One glance at the 10 1/4-inch 40-tooth blade leaves little doubt that the 15-amp Skilsaw is designed for heavy-duty cutting. The impression is reinforced by the high-torque worm drive and the auxiliary side handle that provides extra grip.
The grip is necessary when the 16.5-pound tool is used at its maximum cut depth of 3.7 inches. A tool-free lever is premarked with 2x and 4x lumber thicknesses for fast setting, and it will bevel to 51 degrees, again tool-free.
The shoe is magnesium, combining toughness with weight saving. The lower guard is bearing-guided for smoothness. This is far from an everyday circular saw, but for those who need maximum job site performance, it offers outstanding capabilities.
Despite its modest size, the Worx compact circular saw can tackle a wide range of DIY and professional tasks, from sawing small-section lumber to cutting tile, plastic pipe, or even sheet metal. The 6-amp motor provides plenty of power, and the 4 1/2-inch blade cuts to a maximum depth of 1 11/16 inches. The aluminum shoe angles both left and right up to 45 degrees. All adjustments are lever operated.
There are a lot of features packed into this small body. It comes with two 24-tooth general purpose blades, two 60-tooth high-speed steel blades for metal cutting, and two diamond grit blades for tile. There’s a dust extraction port and a laser for accuracy. The Worx compact circular saw is a great addition to any tool kit, particularly for working in confined spaces.
Even without the laser beam, this corded circular saw from Skil is an impressive tool. There are 15 amps of power driving a 7 1/4-inch 24-tooth blade. At 2 3/8 inches, the maximum cutting depth is similar to many rivals. There are 51 degrees of bevel available, with a detent at 45 degrees. As expected from a quality tool, adjustments are by quickset levers.
The main feature is the laser, which projects a thin beam allowing accurate following of cutlines. This is particularly useful when it’s difficult to see the blade. There is also a dust blower to clear the path and a snag-free blade guard for smooth operation. The Skil weighs just 6.95 pounds. It is a great circular saw for the home workshop at a very competitive price.
Evolution has built a reputation for producing a range of versatile saws, much of which is due to the clever multi-material blades. On this model it’s a 7 1/4-inch 40-tooth model, capable of cutting through lumber (and embedded nails), ferrous and nonferrous metals, plastics, laminates, and composites. Maximum depth of cut is 2 1/2 inches in wood, and it will bevel to 45 degrees.
Powering the saw is a robust 15-amp motor. The design of the aluminum shoe channels air out the front, blowing dust away from the cut path. To extend capabilities even further, slotted guides are available so the Evolution can be used as a track saw. Once set up, this allows the user to make perfectly straight cuts in lumber, plywood sheets, worktops, and so on.
The Makita hypoid saw is aimed more at the contractor than the home workshop user, though DIYers undertaking substantial remodeling jobs might find it well worth the investment.
With the large contact area of its hypoid gears, the Makita transfers more of its 15-amp power to the 7 1/4-inch 24-tooth blade. This means consistent cutting to its 2 3/8 inch maximum depth with no risk of stalling. Beveling is available to 51.5 degrees, with 22.5- and 45-degree detents.
The shoe is steel for job site durability and has been chemically treated to prevent rust. Its useful rafter hook underlines the Makita’s target market of roofers, framers, and other carpentry trades. The 18-pound weight reflects the robust construction intended for tough working environments.
FAQs About Corded Circular Saws
The information above provides a close look at how these tools function and highlights a number of key features. Further detail comes from the top picks for the best corded circular saw in a number of different categories. That said, it’s possible there may still be a few unanswered questions. The following addresses those that come up often.
Q. Is it hard to maintain a corded saw?
Not at all, though there is an easy routine that will help extend the working life of both blade and saw:
- Clean the saw when you’re finished for the day and store it away from humidity to prevent rust.
- Change the blade immediately if there are any signs of damage or when it fails to cut effectively. A dull blade puts excess strain on the motor.
- If you’re cutting sappy lumber, clean residue from the blade with mineral spirits or acetone.
- Depending on the type of circular saw, there may be brushes in the motor that will wear out eventually. However, they can last several years and are not difficult to change when necessary.
- Worm drive and hypoid gears need regular lubrication.
Q. Do corded saws consume a lot of electricity?
They are not the least power-hungry of tools, though it depends on size. The wattage rating of the motor tells you the actual consumption. For a circular saw, 1,200 watts is considered average. None in this group dropped below 900 watts; neither were there any that exceeded 2,000 watts.
Q. How long should the cord extension be to move freely?
Even the best corded circular saw only has a cord 6 or 8 feet long, and this can feel restrictive. Most woodworkers plug into an extension to allow more freedom of movement. Just 12 or 15 feet should be plenty, though you can use up to 50 feet if an outlet isn’t nearby. A useful tip for cord safety is to loop it over your shoulder so that it trails behind you. That way you never risk getting it in the way of the blade.
Q. Are corded saws childproof?
No. They should be kept out of children’s reach even when unplugged. The blade guard might catch inquisitive fingers, and if it pushed back, it would reveal teeth that could be sharp enough to cut flesh.
Both keen DIY woodworkers and professionals find that corded circular saws are invaluable for general workshop use, remodeling, and job site tasks. Although cordless tools continue to grow in popularity, a wide variety of interesting options offers the optimum combination of performance and value for a variety of tasks.