If you want a saw that can quickly rip through or cross cut some wood, then a good general purpose circular saw is just the ticket. Circular saws are the most popular choice for this type of work and remain the biggest seller in the power saw market today.
When these were first released, most people could simply not afford them at all. Today you can pick one up from about $30, though if you want something that will last, and have all the important features, then allow a budget of about $70-80.
Circular Saws gain their popularity as they are inexpensive and versatile. These types of portable saw can be used for a wide range of tasks such as bevelling, plunge cuts, ripping and cross cutting all of which can be done with great ease. All you need to figure out is the task you wish to accomplish and I will help you determine which device suits your needs to accomplish it.
For convenience I have shown below a table that shows the Top 10 circular saws in the market today.
This should give you a good snap shot of what is out there right now.
Top Ten Circular Saws By Price & Ratings 2017
Below I have provided a buying guide that should help you out. I have also done some individual reviews on some of the most popular choices for people which I have included right below.
The Rockwell RK3440K Review
This one is a very popular choice for many users. You can read a full review on this one by clicking here. There is another model of the Rockwell known as the RK3441K which has some slightly different features and you can read about that one by clicking here.
These are two popular choices in this particular style of circular saws.
General Information On These Types Of Powered Circular Saws
The circular saw comes in various makes and models, as is always the case when buying any power saw or tool. I would recommend a circular saw that allows easy adjustment and blade visibility as seeing where you’re cutting is vital when making the most accurate of cuts. This is a feature that is often over looked, and yet it remains for me, the most important thing when you come to actually using the saw.
Understanding Their Uses
The best circular saws will have a high base alignment and kerf indicators that ensures a smooth operation when cutting on any type of Job. There are a few things to consider when buying this type of saw, it really depends on the user. Some will want one for DIY home improvements whereas someone else who works in the wood working/construction business and professionals will want something robust and powerful.
We will cover below some aspects which make some circular saws stand out from the others. This saw is nothing more than a motor with a blade attached. The wheel then spins very quickly and takes all the manual effort out of sawing through different materials such as wood, plastic and various types of metal.
They can be a dangerous tool and you do need to be really careful when you are using one. I have saw some pretty horrific accidents as a result of not being careful when using one of these.
Circular saws come in many different sizes, power sizes and styles with multiple different features. Yes it can get confusing, but the good news is that there is guaranteed to be one, that will suit your own particular individual needs.
On a regular basis, manufacturers are adding features to these, to try and make their brand stand out and be different from the others. Our advice here is to ignore the advertising and marketing hype and just focus on the important features that you will need to complete the jobs you need doing.
Two of the most popular choices for these saws are from Rockwell and you can read more about them here. They are the Rockwell RK3440K and the Rockwell RK3441K. By clicking on either you can read full and detailed reviews.
The Basic Component Parts of A Circular Saw
What Can A Circular Saw Be Used For?
This is a general purpose saw that takes the work out of sawing and you can, or should be able to use it, to cut through any type of wood, irrespective of how dense the wood is, or what condition it is in. By this I mean if the wood is damp or heavily filled with knots. It is used extensively in the construction and building industries, and many home owners, will have one of these in their workshop, tool shed or garage.
Other people will use it for cutting through metals such as those used for trunking, conduit and light aluminium. It is a versatile saw and a good one to have in your garage or workshop as and when you need it.
What Are The Different Types & Designs of Circular Saws?
There are several designs when it comes to circular saws. but in essence there are:
The main difference is really where the motor is positioned, and then how that motor transfers the power to the gears, and eventually to the blade. Below I have gone into a little more detail on both.
Understanding The Sidewinder
The sidewinder is also a more compact saw due to this design. This design also means that the average speed the blade turns at will be about 6,000 rpm which is pretty fast. It does however have less torque than the worm drive. The sidewinder usually has the blade located on the right hand side.
Understanding The Worm Drive
With the worm drive, the position of the motor is at the rear of the tool and it then uses two gears, at right angles to each other to spin the blade. The average speed of this blade will be around 4,500 rpm, but the actual driving torque is much higher. Due to the rear position of the motor, a worm drive circular saw is longer and much heavier than the sidewinder version. The worm drive usually has the blade located on the left hand side.
So which type should you get? The sidewinder has the blade on the right, so if you are right handed, the weight of the saw will be able to rest on the wood that is being cut, which is good. However the trade off is that the actual sight line of where you need to cut is a little restricted.
The sidewinder is a great choice if you need to do work overhead. It is also a good choice as both of your precious hands are kept well away from the cutting area. generally speaking the sidewinder is a great deal easier to handle. With the worm drive the blade is on the left hand side, which means the motor weight is on the right.
To follow a cut line is really easy when using a worm drive. This one is great for ripping sheets of wood, framing, major renovation work, or for cutting when you are holding a piece of wood. My favorite use for a worm drive is doing plunge cuts and these are made simple using a worm drive circular saw.
It is also a more powerful saw for heavier types of sawing such as going through wet wood. The worm drive will also need oil from time to time and that is not required with a sidewinder type. On the other hand, they are also a lot quieter to use.
Worm Drive vs Sidewinder Summary
The worm drives I think tend to be more heavy and unbalanced, though having said this they are filled with an enormous amount of power (Mr Professional). Sidewinders obtain their name from the protruding motor which is situated from the side of the blade these are much cheaper and tend to be a lot lighter (Mr DIY).
Other types of highly portable saws are the trim saw which is simply a scaled down version of the circular saw and not to forget the portable cordless saw. We have covered those off in separate articles.
This debate has gone on for years in the building industry. it comes down to personal preference and both Roy and I use the sidewinder, as it is lighter, more versatile, needs less maintenance and has been able to handle any job we have ever used it for. You can also get a cordless version of the sidewinder, and that is the one that is by far the most popular.
The sidewinder is also cheaper than the worm drive version, so we say if in doubt, go with a sidewinder. So, now that we have gotten that decision out of the way, what else should you be considering. We think the next big question is this.