The Best Cordless Circular Saws of 2022

Liberate yourself from the constraints of the power cord with these top-rated cordless circular saws.

By Tony Carrick | Updated Mar 3, 2022 3:34 PM

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Best Cordless Circular Saw Options

Photo: depositphotos.com

Advancements in battery technology have paved the way for a whole new crop of powerful cordless circular saws, some of which can even handle the same 7 1/4-inch blades that their corded counterparts use.

Freed from the constraints of a cord, these cordless tools can operate at most job sites without the need for generators or 100-foot power cords while eliminating the tripping hazards and cord snags that can cause hitches in a cut. Read on for some of the features you should consider when shopping for the best cordless circular saw and some top picks available today.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Makita XSS02Z 18V LXT Cordless 6-1/2″ Circular Saw
  2. RUNNER UP: Bosch Bare-Tool CCS180B 18-Volt Circular Saw
  3. BEST BUDGET: PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX 6-1/2-Inch Cordless Circular Saw
  4. BEST SMALL SIZE: BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX 5-1/2-Inch Cordless Circular Saw
  5. BEST SIDEWINDER: DeWalt 20V Max 7-14-Inch Circular Saw
  6. BEST WORM DRIVE: Makita XSR01PT 18V Rear Handle Circular Saw
  7. BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: EnerTwist 20V Max 4-1/2” Cordless Circular Saw
Best Cordless Circular Saw Options

Photo: depositphotos.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cordless Circular Saw

A few things to consider when shopping for a cordless circular saw include style, power output, blade size, and features.

Sidewinder vs. Worm Drive

Sidewinder versus worm drive is one of the most hotly debated topics in the world of woodworking. Let’s take a closer look.

Worm-drive circular saws and sidewinder saws differ mainly in the placement of the motor. A worm drive’s motor attaches to the back of the saw and engages with the blade via two gears—the spiral “worm” gear and another gear—which transfers the motor’s energy to the blade.

Because this setup is less direct, most worm-driven blades do not spin as fast as sidewinder blades, hitting maximum speeds of only around 4,500 rpm. A worm drive saw uses larger gears, which gives it more torque than a sidewinder, allowing it to absorb shock better and take on tougher cutting jobs.

Worm drives have a longer and narrower profile than sidewinder circular saws, which extends the operator’s reach and allows access to tighter spaces. This makes them ideal for jobs like remodeling and framing.

Sidewinder saws have their motors on the saw side, which makes their profile wider, shorter, and lighter than a worm drive saw. This compact shape makes the saw easier to handle and better-suited for inexperienced users. Sidewinder saws use a spur-gear to turn the blade at speeds close to 6,000 rpm.

Power

It used to be that cordless circular saws were less powerful than corded varieties. Thanks to advancements in battery technology, the power gap has closed dramatically. In fact, many cordless circular saws have more battery life than corded circular saws.

Circular saws’ power rating is measured in rotations per minute (rpm). Most cordless circular saws have 4,000 rpm, with higher-end saws boasting 5,000 rpm or more. The higher the rpms, the better the cutting power. Keep in mind that rpms are not necessarily a good indication of torque. Though a worm drive saw may have lower rpm than a sidewinder saw, its design gives it more torque.

Battery

Given the substantial power requirements of a circular saw, cordless circular saws feature a rechargeable 18-volt or 20-volt lithium-ion battery that attaches to the saw. Many manufacturers design their batteries to work interchangeably with their entire cordless power tools lineup, including cordless circular saws.

Blade Size

Because cordless circular saws usually don’t have as much power as corded saws, most can’t handle a full 7 1/4-inch blade. While smaller blades will produce more torque because they are easier for the motor to turn, they are limited in cutting depth.

The majority of cordless circular saws feature 6 1/2-inch blades, although a few high-end saws use 7 1/4-inch blades. A 6 1/2-inch blade offers a maximum cutting depth of 2 1/8 inches, while a larger 7 1/4-inch blade can cut to a depth of 2 7/16 inches. Smaller cordless circular saws will feature both 5 1/2-inch blades and even 4 1/2-inch blades.

Brushed vs. Brushless Motor

The main difference between brushed and brushless motors has to do with friction. Without going into the mechanics of how each motor works, a brushless motor produces less friction, resulting in an efficiency rating of between 85 and 90 percent. In comparison, brushed motors lose more energy to friction, resulting in 75 to 80 percent efficiency.

While this difference may not amount to much for corded circular saws that have access to a limitless supply of 110-volt power, it has a significant impact on cordless saws. The higher the efficiency rating, the less energy is lost to friction, which means more of the battery’s power goes toward turning the saw blade. This equates to more cuts before the battery loses its charge.

A higher efficiency rating also means a 20-volt battery can dedicate more power to turning the blade, resulting in more torque and higher maximum rpm. The most powerful cordless circular saws, including those capable of turning 7 1/4-inch blades, use brushless motors.

Also, because these power tools produce less friction, brushless motors create less heat, which reduces the likelihood of overheating that could damage the motor.

Safety Features

Cordless circular saws feature similar safety features to corded saws, including retracting blade guards and blade locks that immediately stop the blade once the trigger switch is released.

Cordless circular saws also use trigger safeties to prevent accidental start-ups. Other safety features include molded handles with rubberized grips that prevent the tool from slipping out of the operator’s hands.

Additional Features

In addition to standard features such as bevel angle and depth adjustments, cordless circular saws also offer new technologies designed to extend the saw’s life. Some saws will shut off if the saw is overheating or if the battery is close to overloading.

Higher-end saws have waterproof seals that resist water and dust, allowing them to withstand the harsh environment of an outdoor worksite. Some saws will even automatically adjust torque and speed based on the workload to optimize performance.

Our Top Picks

The saws below are made by some of the most respected and well-established power tool manufacturers in the world. They feature powerful motors and cutting-edge cordless technology.

Best Overall

Best Cordless Circular Saw Options: Makita XSS02Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion
Photo: amazon.com

With a powerful motor that delivers 5,000 rpm, the Makita brushless cordless 6 1/2-inch circular saw is at the top of its class. While there are other saws on the market that are just as powerful, Makita’s use of cutting-edge technology raises this model to a higher level. This includes its automatic speed technology, which makes automatic adjustments to the saw’s speed and torque to optimize performance based on what is being cut.

Makita also equips this saw with a brushless motor, which reduces friction, leading to longer run times before recharging is needed. This saw is built to endure the rigors of a work site with a series of seals that protect the motor from water and dust, making it an excellent option for outdoor use. Helping extend its battery life is a technology that allows the battery to communicate with the motor to prevent overheating and overloading.

Product Specs

  • Type: Sidewinder
  • Motor: Brushed
  • Speed: 5,000 rpms

Pros

  • 6 ½-inch saw
  • Automatic speed technology integrated
  • Overheat and overload protection
  • Suitable for heavy-duty and outdoor use

Cons

  • Battery and charger not included

Runner Up

Best Cordless Circular Saw Options: Bosch Bare-Tool CCS180B 18-Volt Lithium-Ion
Photo: amazon.com

One of the challenges with a cordless power tool is its battery, which after just a couple of years begins a slow march to death with ever-shortening usage times between recharges. Bosch uses a protection system that prevents the battery life from overloading, extending its life. The same technology also prevents the motor from overheating, ensuring that it will also be around for a long time. Be sure to take advantage of every single one of the 4,000 rpm of power this saw puts out—enough to cut through up to 2-inch thick wood.

Other features include a 50 percent bevel angle for a wide range of angled cuts and an electronic brake stop that ensures you won’t have to stand by idly after each cut, waiting for the blade to wind down.

Product Specs

  • Type: Worm drive
  • Motor: Brushed
  • Speed: 4,000 rpms

Pros

  • Battery protection system included
  • 50 percent bevel angle
  • Electric brake stop built-in

Cons

  • Some users have reported issues with depth adjustment

Best Budget

Best Cordless Circular Saw Options: PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX
Photo: amazon.com

If you thought you had to pay a lot for a quality cordless circular saw, think again. Longtime tool manufacturer Porter Cable’s cordless saw offers exceptional value without cutting corners. There’s no compromise with power here as this 20-volt saw puts out an impressive 4,000 rpm of cutting force, allowing it to cut wood up to 2-inches thick.

That said, there are some trade-offs when it comes to price. It does lack the battery- and motor-saving technologies of higher-end saws. And some of its construction isn’t as durable, with a plastic cover versus a longer-lasting metal one. While this circular saw may not offer enough durability for pros, its power and affordability make it a good option for a home DIYer.

Product Specs

  • Type: Worm drive
  • Motor: Brushed
  • Speed: 4,000 rpms

Pros

  • Ample cutting power; can cut wood pieces of up to 2 inches thick
  • Suitable for at-home DIY projects
  • 20-volt power output

Cons

  • May not be as powerful or durable as comparable options

Best Small Size

Best Cordless Circular Saw Options: BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX
Photo: amazon.com

Though not as powerful as its larger cousins, this compact, 20V MAX cordless circular saw packs a punch in a compact and easy-to-transport form. This cordless saw uses a smaller 5 1/2-inch blade, limiting its cutting ability but giving it excellent torque, allowing it to cut through tougher materials. And with its lighter weight, it’s easy to handle, not only making it easy to transport to the work site, but also great for above-the-head use and other awkward cuts.

Other features include a bevel adjustment for angled cuts and a tool-free depth adjuster. This saw is an excellent option for occasional home use or for DIYers who want a saw that’s easier to handle.

Product Specs

  • Type: Worm drive
  • Motor: Brushless
  • Speed: 3,700 rpms

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Bevel adjustment built-in
  • Tool-free depth adjuster
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • Battery and charger not included
  • Heavier than comparable options

Best Sidewinder

The Best Cordless Circular Saw Option: DeWalt 20V Max 7-14-Inch Circular Saw
Photo: amazon.com

DeWalt has a reputation for making powerful cordless power tools, and this cordless circular saw is no exception. While it may lack some of the cutting-edge technology of other high-end cordless circular saws, it’s one of the only ones that feature a 7 1/4-inch blade. That’s because most cordless saws can’t supply the torque needed to power such a blade.

With its 5,200-rpm brushless motor, this circular saw doesn’t have that problem. The added size allows for cuts up to 2 9/16-inches deep. The DeWalt 20V Max doesn’t disappoint with battery life either. It can make up to 330 crosscuts on a single charge. Other features include a 57-degree range for bevel cuts, an LED light for added visibility during cuts, and an electronic brake.

Product Specs

  • Type: Sidewinder
  • Motor: Brushless
  • Speed: 5,200 rpms

Pros

  • 7 1/4-inch blade
  • Ample cutting power; cuts up to 2 9/16-inches deep
  • 57-degree range for bevel cuts
  • LED light built-in

Cons

  • Pricey

Best Worm Drive

The Best Cordless Circular Saw Option: Makita XSR01PT 18V Rear Handle Circular Saw
Photo: homedepot.com

It’s tough to beat the power and technology packed into this formidable worm-drive saw from Makita. A powerful 5,100-rpm motor puts it on par with many corded circular saws. That’s enough juice to drive a full-size 7 1/4-inch blade, which gives it a 2 9/16-inch maximum cutting depth.

Makita is known for its advancements in battery and motor-saving technologies, and those are on full display with this saw. Brushless technology allows the saw to operate 50 percent longer on a single charge while reducing heat from friction, ensuring that the motor will last a long time. Automatic speed change technology adjusts speed and torque while in use to optimize performance. And, if that’s not enough, Makita’s Star Protection Technology protects against battery overload.

Product Specs

  • Type: Worm drive
  • Motor: Brushless
  • Speed: 5,100 rpms

Pros

  • 2 9/16-inch maximum cutting depth
  • Automatic speed change technology integrated
  • Star Protection Technology included; protects from battery overload

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Heavyweight model; limited portability

Best Lightweight

The Best Cordless Circular Saw Option: EnerTwist 20V Max Cordless Circular Saw
Photo: amazon.com

Designed to be wielded with only one hand, the EnerTwist’s diminutive size and light weight makes it one of the more versatile cordless circular saws you can buy. Make overhead cuts, cuts on vertical surfaces, in hard-to-reach areas, and in small places with this mini circular saw, which weighs in at just 4.5 lbs. and features a 4 1/2-inch blade.

This saw can cut to a depth of up to 1 11/16 inches, just enough to get through a standard 2×4 and make bevel cuts up to 45 degrees. Features include a laser guide and a side guide for accuracy. A large handle is easy to grip while soft padding adds comfort, making controlling this saw with one hand a relative breeze.

Product Specs

  • Type: Sidewinder
  • Motor: Brushed
  • Speed: 3,500 rpms

Pros

  • Weighs just 4.5 pounds
  • Suitable for making cuts in hard-to-reach-areas
  • 4 1/2-inch blade
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • Some users report manufacturing defects
  • May not be suitable for heavy-duty projects

Our Verdict

Finding the perfect cordless circular saws for your projects can be difficult with so many options on the market. One of the best options overall is the sidewinder Makita XSS02Z saw with its brushed motor, 5,000 rpm cutting power, and 6 ½-inch saw. Alternatively, the worm drive PORTER-CABLE saw has a brushed motor, delivers 4,000 rpms of power, and is capable of cutting wood pieces up to 2 inches thick.

How We Chose the Best Cordless Circular Saws

We researched the most sought-after cordless circular saws in their respective categories and discovered that the best models are determined by their type, power and speed, weight, motor type, and other special features included by select brands.

While searching for the best cordless circular saws on the market, the most popular among users were the worm drive models for their ease of use and ability to cut in hard-to-reach areas. While not as popular, the sidewinder picks are also viable options due to their lightweight constructions and suitability for beginners. No matter the type, the above options range from 3,500 to 5,200 rpm speeds and weigh as little as 4.5 pounds so they will not cause fatigue while in use.

The above cordless saws also include brushed and brushless motors to satisfy your personal preference. These picks also include various saw sizes for different cutting depths, ranging from 4 ½- to 7 ¼-inch blades. For added safety and convenience, some of these power tools also include automatic speed technology and beveled adjustment.

Tips for Using a Cordless Circular Saw

One important thing to do is choose the proper saw blade for your cordless circular saw. This goes beyond just selecting the appropriate size. There are many different types of blades designed to cut different materials, from rip blades to cross-cut blades to general purpose blades. Choosing the right blade is key to making successful cuts.

Once you’ve selected the proper blade, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper blade installation. This typically involves removing the 5/8-inch bolt holding the blade to the drive with a wrench. Make sure the blade is facing the right direction. Most blades have an arrow printed on them, delineating its proper rotation direction.
Cordless circular saws feature depth gauges and bevel adjustments. Make sure to calibrate these features for the cut you’re making.

Before operating a cordless circular saw, make sure you have the proper safety gear, including safety glasses. Except for smaller 4 1/2-inch cordless circular saws or hand-held saws, most cordless circular saws require two hands for safe use: a handle that includes the trigger and a knob-like grip toward the front of the unit. This allows for optimal control of the saw while preventing fingers from getting in the blade’s path. Finally, make sure the retractable guard is in place before cutting.

Because a cordless circular has its own power source, it’s free to go wherever it’s needed. To get the best performance out of a cordless circular saw, it’s essential to follow some important safety and operation guidelines.

  • Choose the right blade
  • Install the blade correctly
  • Calibrate the proper depth and bevel angle
  • Wear the proper safety gear
  • Operate the saw safely

FAQs 

Below we’ll address some of the most commonly asked questions about cordless circular saws.

Q: How do cordless circular saws work?

As with a corded circular saw, a cordless saw works using a small motor to power a circular blade. While a corded saw is powered by direct current electricity from a standard electrical outlet, a cordless circular saw uses an 18- or 20-volt battery attached to the saw.

Q: Why are most cordless saws left handed?

Most cordless circular saws have left-side blades, which means the motor and the bulk of the weight are on the right side. Because of this configuration, the trigger handle is held with the left hand and the stabilizing knob on the front of the saw is held with the right hand. This design maximizes visibility, allowing the operator to get a clear view of the cut line.

Q: How long does a cordless circular saw last?

Manufacturers rate saws by the number of cuts they can make before needing a recharge. While this is difficult to measure, given that different materials and different cuts demand different amounts of power, a standard cordless circular saw can make as many as 300 cuts on a single charge.