are the most common type of handheld saw. Depending on the type of blade, circular saws can cut lumber, plywood, posts, plastic and metal.
Types of Circular Saws
The motor in these saws can drive the wheel in two different ways.
* A sidewinder
drive has the blade mounted directly on the driveshaft of the motor.
* In a worm drive
, the blade is driven indirectly by a series of worm gears.
** Worm drive saws have more torque and are more powerful tools.
Circular saws also come in cordless
* New battery technology has increased the power of cordless saws without significantly increasing the weight.
* Look for lithiummetal hydride (NiMH) batteries.
* If you get a cordless, get at least 18V. 24V or 28V batteries are preferable.
* If you get a corded, get at least 15A.
A standard circular saw
is a righthanded sidewinder saw, with a lefthanded motor and a 7.25" blade, but there are lots of factors to consider when buying a circular saw.
* ConsumerSearch liked the DeWalt DC 390K
also won high marks. It's recommended for wood or wood products only and has a magnesium base plate and upper blade guard.
* Taunton Press recommended the Milwaukee mentioned above, as well as the Bosch CS20
Four things that you should look for, according to the Taunton tool guide, are ergonomics (will it be comfortable for an extended period of use?), sightlines (can you see the leading edge?), depth and bevel adjustments (can they be made easily?), and the base and blade guard (is the baseplate sturdy and inflexible?).
Here are a few other things to consider.
* '''Blade Capacity''' is the maximum depth a saw can cut; the longer the blade (measured by diameter), the deeper the cut.
** Generally a 6" blade or larger can cut through a 2" piece of lumber at a 45-degree angle in one pass.
** Remember that the bigger blade, the more power required to turn the blade.
* '''Amps (A), Volts (V) and Horsepower (HP)''' all measure different aspects of the saw's cutting power.
** Corded saws are rated in amps. 15A is the minimum amperage recommendation for corded saws
** Cordless saws are rated in volts. 18V is the minimum recommeneded voltage for cordless saws.
* '''Blade Guard''' protects you from the blade!
** The action should be smooth and reliable, even when the bevel is set to an acute angle.
** You'll also want a bevel that extends past 45 degrees, since some angles that should be 45 degrees might actually be off by a few degrees. You might want the option to cut at a bigger angle to adjust if this is the case.
** Make sure to test this with the blade off and on; malfunctioning blade guards are the most common reason for recalls of circular saws.
* '''Electric Brakes''' reverse power in the motor when the trigger is released, stopping the blade in 2-3 seconds.
** Models without this feature may take up to 12 seconds to stop the blade.
** This is highly recommended for all circular saws as a safety measure.
* '''Ribbed Magnesium Base Plates''' give the best strengthweight ratio. A baseplate that's too flexible can cause inaccurate cuts and is easily damaged.
** For long, accurate cuts you should adjust the baseplate so it's perpendicular to the blade with the edge of the work parallel to the blade.
* '''Safety Lock-off Switches''' prevent accidental starts.
* '''Depth Adjusters''' are for safety purposes and cutting smooth, clean lines.
* '''Shaft Locks''' keeps the shaft and blade still when changing out the saw blade.
* '''Other Considerations''':
** '''Miter Adjustment''': for adjusting bevel angle.
** '''Dust Collection Port''': blows wood chips to the sides and lets you hook up a Shop Vac for easier clean up.
** '''Rafter Hooks''': may be convenient for storing the saw.
Circular Saw Blades
* '''Steel''': standard blade, good for cutting softwoods but dull quickly when cutting hardwoods.
* '''High-speed Steel''': better than standard steel for hardwoods.
* '''Carbide''': has carbide tips attached to blade teeth. They're more expensive but much more durable than either of the above.
* '''Tile Cutting''': for cutting tiles. HIghtipped teeth.
* '''Masonry Blades''': For cutting concrete, brick, cinder block and other masonry materials.