Your Circular Saw Buyer Guide | How-To Tips & Info To Know

The circular saw is often considered as one of the cornerstones of any serious professional – and even if you’re a DIY enthusiast, you should have one in your growing inventory.

If you haven’t looked into a circular saw yet, then it should be time to reconsider your options. Yet, it can be a difficult task if you don’t know much about the circular saw – which is why we’ve created this circular saw buyer’s guide, to keep you informed when it comes to your next purchase.

Want to read the circular saw buyer’s guide but don’t have enough time at the moment? Don’t worry, we’ve created a quick overview in the list below:

  • Circular saws can come in two of the most common forms, the worm-drive and the sidewinder
  • Corded and cordless circular saw models will depend on your preference and use for the tool
  • The battery is what separates the two; with the corded circular saw powered directly by a constant power outlet
  • Blades are found in a variety of sizes, uses and also design, depending on your use and materials you’re cutting
  • Circular saws can be found for all; whether it’s experience level, budget or brand taste – there’s one perfect for you
Circular Saw Buyer’s Guide

The Circular Saw: What You Need To Know

There are many things you need to know and learn when it comes to the circular saw. Why is it such a renowned power tool?

What are the features of a circular saw, and how would you use one? Luckily, we’ve got your answers covered in this guide.

We’ll start off learning about the history of the circular saw and its use, as well as the difference between the two corded and cordless classes, as well the components and features you’ll find in a circular saw.

With that, let’s get started!

What Is A Circular Saw?

A circular saw is an extremely popular saw that’s used today, with millions of units being sold every year. A circular saw uses a rounded blade with incredibly sharp teeth, in order to cut through a number of materials – not only wood.

Circular saws are powered either by a corded outlet or by a battery pack in cordless models. This powers the circular saw blade as it rotates, with speeds up to 5,200 in some models. This spinning motion allows the blade to cut through the material without much force by the user applied.

Unlike many saws, the circular saw brings the blade to the material and glides effortlessly throughout the material. This allows you to adjust depth and height, in line with your project’s requirements.

The History

The first circular saw traces its origins back to 1777 when a patent was filed by a British man named Samuel Miller. This was one of the first models, a sewing machine. 

1810 saw a woman named Tabitha Babbitt design a simple invention, which originated after watching men struggling to use a pit saw, which only allowed cuts in one direction – making it an incredibly time-consuming and fatiguing task.

The invention was created within a disk made from tin, which was notched, and set up to spin thanks to a pedal on the spinning wheel. This laid the foundation for many circular saws seen today.

Worm Drive Saw Vs The Sidewinder Circular Saw: What’s The Difference?

When you’re looking at circular saws, you’ll come across the two common types of the circular saw: the worm drive, and the sidewinder circular saw. So, what exactly is the difference between the two? Read on to find out.

Worm Drive Saw

The worm drive saw is different to the traditional sidewinder saw, which finds the blade positioned ahead of the motor. The blade itself is rotated by a threaded worm drive, which runs down the shaft of the saw and is connected to the arbor.

The arbor is located in front of the motor, and the result of this positioning of internal components is increased torque – which is perfect for tougher materials.

The speed of the blade is less than that of a sidewinder circular saw, and the blade is always found on the left side of the saw. However, this is changing over time.

Sidewinder Saw

The sidewinder saw is the original circular saw model and is often called a ‘circular saw’, even though there are many different types of a circular saw. 

This type of saw positions the blade to the right side yet is becoming more common to see sidewinder saws with blades on the left side. This also affects your view of the line of cut – so the positioning can depend on preference.

The sidewinder circular saws used a spur gear, which is directly in line with the blade. This results in stronger power when in use, with a higher RPM speed that can be reached.

The Anatomy Of A Circular Saw

Now, you’ll have a bit of background information on the circular saw and are aware of the different types of saw that you’ll commonly find.  It’s time to look into the anatomy of the circular saw, and how these components make it one of the most popular and necessary power tools within the arsenal of any respected craftsman.

We’ll look into the corded and cordless classes, and you’ll come to find which model is better suited for you. If you have any questions or comments – let us know in the section at the end of this guide.

Let’s start with the corded circular saw.

The Corded Circular Saw

The corded circular saw is the traditional version of the circular saw you’d come to find. This type of circular saw is powered by a cord that runs into an outlet, powered by electricity. Due to their direct connection to constant power, corded circular saws can deliver some serious force when it comes to cutting materials. 

The corded circular saw is extremely durable and is often heavier than cordless counterparts – which isn’t a disadvantage for those who are looking to use these models within their workshops.

What features would you find when it comes to a corded circular saw? Find out below.

Features Found On A Corded Circular Saw

Both the cordless and corded circular saw have similar features, however they vary in one thing: their power source.

Below, we’ll be looking into the features of the corded circular saw – which is important for you to know.

The Motor

The motor, alongside the blade – is the heart and brain of the motor. Without an impressive motor, you’d as well be cutting manually; and imagine all the work in that?

Due to its constant connection to a power source, motors found in corded circular saw models can reach high speeds of 5,200 RPMs. Depending on the type of saw you have – say a sidewinder, for example, you can achieve higher RPMs.

A worm-drive circular saw motor can achieve lower speeds, but provide a higher torque for tougher materials.

Even though corded circular saws are tough and durable, they are often quite light – protecting the powerful motor when in use.

Additional Features

There are many features which can be found on a corded circular saw which were used to assist in the cutting quality, and also for measurement and adjustment purposes.

Preset bevel stops are so commonly found in corded circular saws, that they are more of a core feature than an additional. As well as preset bevel stops, you can find preset depth adjustments on many corded circular saws.

The Cordless Circular Saw

Like the name suggests, the cordless circular saw channels its power from a battery which requires charging from a power source.

It may seem like they’ve been a recent inclusion into the circular saw world – they have been around for much longer than you probably expect. Since 1928, in fact – when the first portable electric saw was created. 

This portable electric saw, named the Model E, was the first in a long line of cordless circular saw models, culminating in the models that we now are familiar with today.

Cordless circular saws are known for their portability, which is an important factor for the contractor who doesn’t have a consistent electrical source for their tools. What features would you find in a cordless circular saw? We’ve listed these below.

Features Found On A Cordless Circular Saw

The most notable difference between the corded and cordless model? You’ve guessed it – the power source.

The old adage of portable tools being weaker than their corded counterparts is false, especially when you compare the cordless circular saw to the corded models. You’ll come to learn this as we look into the battery, motor, and other additional features in our section below.

The Battery

Batteries are the heartbeat of the cordless class. These models require a charge, which isn’t long at all for some models.  Cordless circular saw batteries allow anywhere from 3-6 hours per charge, pending on the model and manufacturer.

Some batteries include technology which prevents them from overloading on power, channelling the source of electricity throughout the tool, into all the features it requires at an even distribution.

Many manufacturers of portable tools have created an ever-growing battery sharing platform, which allows you to share 18V and 20V batteries between other tools in the manufacturer’s series, meaning your cordless circular saw can use the same battery as your portable reciprocating saw.

The Motor

This is where the old sayings can be found, with many believing that the motors of cordless circular saws to be weaker than the corded versions. Many motors found in cordless circular saws can be found in two classes; brushless, and brushed motors.

Brushes motors are increasingly becoming phased out, as they contain copper brushes that conduct the power throughout the motor, and due to their constant use, can become worn down, affecting the use of your circular saw throughout its lifespan.

Brushless motors don’t have this issue, as the physical brushes found inside the motor are removed, replaced with an electronic circuit board in many cases – a sign of the technological advancements that allow us to work smarter, rather than harder, 

These models of motors will remain active for many years, which saves you both money and time when it comes to replacements.

Additional Features

Cordless circular saws can include many additional features, building on from the bevel stops and depth adjustments that can be found in corded circular saw models.

Cutting assistance guides are very common when it comes to cordless models. These include lines of sight, often a laser or LED light relayed in line which aids you in making your cuts incredibly straight.

Another interesting feature which you can find on these models includes dust blowers. This removes any debris from your line of sight when working, making for a cleaner worksite – also giving you more clarity working with tricky cuts. 

Soft over-mould grips and ergonomic features can also be found in cordless models. As you’ll often be using these for hours at a time, these features are provided to reduce your fatigue – and get the job done quicker.

Circular Saw Blades: What You Need To Know

With a powerful tool, it’s no use if you don’t have an understanding of the blades that have the job of cutting the materials.

Circular saw blades can be found in many forms, and when you purchase your circular saw, you’ll find that this often comes with an inclusive, standard blade to assist you in cutting.

Blades are categorized by their size, and also their amount of teeth. As a rule of thumb, it’s easy to remember that the more teeth a blade has, the finer the cut will be. 

When it comes to the size of circular saw blades, these will be found from 5” – 7 ¼” in cordless circular saws, and larger sizes up to 12” that are also available.

But what about the types of circular saw blades you can find? Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered, too.

Types of Circular Saw Blades

The most common form of circular saw blade you’ll find is the carbide-tipped blade, which is the blade that is often packaged with your circular saw upon purchase.

Circular saw blades aren’t just limited to carbide-tipped blades, however. Blades vary, with their composition different – this depends on the type of materials that these blades are designed for.

Here is a list of the other blades which you can find amongst the market:

  • Carbide blades
  • Diamond-tipped blades
  • Tungsten-tipped blades
  • Coated blades

Materials Circular Saw Blades Are Used For

  • Wood (grain, plywood, hardwood, etc)
  • Stone (masonry)
  • Plastics
  • Metals (steel, aluminum, etc.)

These are just some examples of blades composition and materials you can find that they are best used for. There are blades used specifically for finishing, crosscutting, ripping – the versatility of blades are almost limitless, and you’ll become familiar with different techniques and preferences throughout your journey.

The Last Say

There is no doubt that the circular saw is a necessity for anyone who deems themselves as a serious craftsman – whether your experience level varies from the odd project here and there to constant use, day in and day out on site.

The circular saw is perfect for any experience level, and there is a model for all budgets available – whatever yours may be. There’s a reason why the circular receives such a positive reception in the trades world – which you’ll come to learn when you start using one.

I’d love to hear what you have to say, though. Perhaps you have a question, or maybe a tip for those who are beginning?

Leave your comments in the section below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are additional features necessary in a circular saw?

Not necessarily. Many of these features are there to assist and reduce the amount of manual work you’ll have to do, yet if you’re starting out and don’t want to be overwhelmed by all the added components – find a standard, bare-bones model – it’ll help you get the job done.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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