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You can easily spot a circular saw in a handyman’s toolbox. Not only for job-site work, but a good circular saw is extremely helpful for residential DIY projects. From framing work to cutting thick logs of lumber, you can finish a lot of woodworking with these single power tools. And replace it with a metal cutting blade and you can use the same handheld circular saw for cutting non-ferrous metal or PVC pipes. The detailed guide below will help you to understand and pick the best circular saw for your job site/domestic requirements.

Circular Saw Guide

Types of Circular Saw

Although they all look circular, you get different options when you search for a new tool. And each one of them is designed for a specific use. Go through the different types of circular saw mentioned below to understand which model suits what type of work the best. This will help you pick the right circular handsaw for your next big project.

Types of Circular Saw

Worm Drive Circular Saws

Common of all, worm drive circular saws are best for cutting thick logs of wood. With a motor placed on the rear, the worm-drive saw delivers higher torque with lower RPMs that is perfect for the smooth ripping of thick wooden boards. These types of saws are ideal for construction site use as they can tackle loads with high shock better.

A rear-placed motor makes it easy to see the blade in action. This results in the better cutting of boards without having to use any additional accessories. And with higher torque, there are fewer kickbacks, which is essential while cutting thick lumber.

Sidewinder (In-Line) Circular Saws

Instead of a motor on the rear, a sidewinder circular saw features a motor on the side. They are also called in-line saws. This is because the motor is in line with the center of the blade, thus, the name inline. In addition to that, a sidewinder saw features a blade on the right. This might not be great news for many left-handers.

If you compare a worm-drive circular saw and a sidewinder saw, there is no huge difference in torque or power they offer. But due to motor placement on left, the sidewinder offers higher RPMs for smooth cuts. Speaking of the motor, the enclosed motor of inline circular saws does not require lubrication at all. Thus, lightweight, low maintenance, and powerful performance make inline saws perfect for both domestic and Jobsite use.

Abrasive Circular Saws

Saws are not designed to cut wood and metal only. There are abrasive circular saws that can cut tiles, metals, and concrete. Instead of toothed edge cutting, these large circular saws use the friction cutting method. The high friction between blade and material helps cut it.

Also, instead of passing the material towards the blade, here you pull it towards you. And some cuts are steady. You simply put the rotating blade onto the material to cut it in half.

Hypoid Circular Saws

If power and torque are top requirements for your heavy work at the job site then a hypoid circular saw is best. They look similar to worm-drive saws but provide more power to tackle dense and wet lumber. Also, the motor placement is such that you can see the cut line clearly for accurate cutting of material.

With gears angled at 90 degrees to the axis, you can clearly see the blade. Also, it provides a good balance between blade and motor that helps in the better cutting of various materials.

Carbide Circular Saws

Big woodworking projects involve the continuous cutting of thick materials. And carbide circular saws are best suited for such heavy work. This type of saw comes in 3 different setups, horizontal, vertical, and pivot.

Its heat-efficient design and cooling factor allow you to run the carbide saw continuously. These large bulky saws are best suited for construction site use.

Flip-over Circular Saws

One can say a flip-over circular saw is a hybrid of the table saw and a miter saw. These saw with tabletop designs are a good choice for general woodworking. However, their design makes them best for framing work.

What to Look at When Buying a Circular Saw

Buying a circular saw isn’t like throwing a pack of chips in your grocery bag. Though some of the units are budget-friendly, they do cost you several bucks. And there are certain things to keep in mind before investing such an amount. If you’re buying a new circular saw then check out for following features/functions for the best user experience.

Circular Saw Blade

You need to use a compatible blade for cutting different materials. And thankfully, these tools accept a variety of blades. For example, high-speed blades are harder than steel blades and stay sharp longer. Then there is a carbide-tipped blade that is commonly included with such units. These are generally used to cut wood and non-ferrous metals. Many models accept diamond saw blades that can cut glass, ceramic, and other such materials.

Blade Size

Blade size differs from model to model. While the 7-1/4-inch blade is common with home-use units, there are large 6-1/2-inch and 8-1/4-unch saws that are ideal for heavy-duty work. A 7-1/4-inch circular saw can cut materials up to 2 inches thick set at 45-degree.

On the other hand, a 5-3/8-inch saw provides a cutting depth of 2-inch lumber at 90-degrees. However, you would require to pass the same thick material twice to cut at 45 degrees.

Power Source

There are two types of the saw when it comes to the power source. These are corded and cordless. It is quite obvious that a corded circular saw delivers more stable power than a battery-operated one. Also, many professional woodworkers prefer buying a corded electric saw as they continuously deliver power as long as the cord is plugged in. Thus, no need to worry about charging batteries.

The other type is the cordless circular saw which is more popular among beginners and DIYers. They are good for home use. Cordless handsaws can handle woodcutting jobs very well. Avoid using them for heavy-duty operations or cutting dense materials like ceramic tiles, metal, concrete, etc.

Cutting Capacity & Cutting Depth

Blade size determines cutting depth and capacity. And the rule is quite simple. A big saw blade measuring 8-1/4-inch provides a cutting depth of 3-inch. This is good for cutting thick lumber, PVC pipes, and non-ferrous metals.

Then there’s a 7-1/4-inch saw blade that is a common blade size. Such blade provides about 2-1/2 inches cutting depth which is good for most DIY projects and woodworking.

Small saw blades measuring 5-3/8 inches can also provide a cutting depth of up to 2 inches but at 90 degrees. You can also bevel cut 2-inch thick lumber with the small 5-3/8-in blade at 45 degrees. However, you’ll need to pass the lumber two times at 45°.

Also Read: Best Compact Circular Saw

Standard or Plunge-Cut

Straight cuts can be easily achieved with a circular hand saw. And thanks to onboard bevel adjustments that aids bevel cutting easily. But the real challenge is the plunge cut. Before you get your hopes down let me tell you that it is possible to make plunge cuts with a circular saw. The only thing is, it will take time and accurate measurements for an accurate plunge cut.

A plunge cutting is a technique to cut a circle, square, or rectangle out from wood. The first and foremost thing for a plunge cut is to mark the surface properly. Keep the saw toe planted to the line and start cutting a straight line. Do not go all the way to the edge. You need to take more breaks while cutting the circle. Finish the last inches with a small hand saw for precise results.

Safety Features

User safety is very important while handling such sharp tools. And thankfully, a majority of circular handsaws nowadays are equipped with safety features, These include electric brake, blade guard, etc. A handsaw with an electric brake stops the blade rotation quickly. This keeps the work environment safe as well as increases productivity. And the other common safety feature of the electric saw is the blade guard which protects your fingers while handling the sharp saw.

Safety Guard in Circular Saw

Also Read: Best Circular Saw with Electric Brake

Circular Saw Uses

As of now, you know that a circular saw is a versatile tool. Attach the right blade and you can use the tool for cutting wood, thick lumber, metal, glass, ceramic, concrete, and much more. But you need to analyze your needs before buying a new circular hand saw. Check the following points for more details.

Regular Use

A 7-1/4-inch circular saw is good for a small woodworking shop. It accepts blade sizes up to 6 inches. Get a durable, good-quality handsaw and it will be perfect for everyday use. You can also opt for a size big, a tool that accepts an 8-1/4-inch blade for regular use.

Heavy-duty use

The construction site requires a heavy-duty circular saw that can tackle everyday heavy usage. These are mainly worm-drive saws that offer more torque and fewer RPMs. With the right practice, you learn to maneuver worm drive saws without using a guide for straight or slant cuts.

Hobbyist Use

If you’ve picked up a new woodworking hobby or if you’re a DIYer then you might want to invest small. And many good circular saws under $100 are perfect for beginners, DIYers, and hobbyists. You can also opt for a cordless version if you do not have a workshop and wish to do a woodworking job outdoors.

The Bottom Line

A circular saw is a versatile little unit that can do much more than just cutting wood. It can be used for cutting metal, glass, ceramic, tiles, and even hard materials like concrete. The enormous power and user-friendly features of circular saws make them an ideal power tool for many random and professional jobs. I hope that you’ve gathered enough information about a circular saw and its uses that’ll definitely help you pick the best saw for your next project.


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