Cordless circular saws are defined by two main design properties: one, that they use circular/round blades to cut into surfaces, and two, that they do not have a power cord, hence their name. This saw relies on battery power rather than a wall power supply. Two main advantages of using a circular cordless saw are mobility and the ability to make cuts fast. You can take the best cordless circular saw with you for off-site jobs and comfortably use it in sites with no power supply. And because you don’t have to worry about the cord winding up around objects or getting in your way, you’re able to make cuts faster and save time.
With the right saw for the job, you have half the work cut out for you. Picking a suitable cordless circular saw is as important as choosing any other power tool. To ensure you’re not stuck with a saw that frustrates you, we spent time testing different cordless saws, evaluating weight, battery power, blade diameter, cutting depth and supported degrees, speed in RPM, and warranty information. The result is an in-depth analysis that tells you which saw is best for which task.
Top 8 Cordless Circular Saws Review 2020
As you would imagine, this isn’t a week’s work. It took us months of sawing off wood, aluminum roofs, and gypsum, and notes-comparison with independent contractors and professionals in the field to form a conclusive verdict. We hereby present our findings, including in-detail reviews of each product, a comparison table, and a comprehensive buying guide to help you find the perfect cordless circular saw for you.
Benefits of a battery powered circular saw
One of the biggest advantages of using a cordless circular saw is that you can use it anywhere, even in job sites with no power supply. Just make sure the battery is fully charged to get the most out of its power. If you will spend a considerable amount of time working, packing a fully charged, supplementary battery ensures that you keep going if the first battery runs out of power.
It’s also small and in most cases compact, qualities that make it easy to handle and convenient for small jobs.
Most cordless circular saws are also fast and therefore convenient for quick jobs that don’t involve thick materials.
Circular saw safety tips for woodworkers
Before using the saw, confirm that the blade is sharp. The sharper the blade, the more seamless your cutting will be and the faster you’ll be able to work. Sharp saw blades are also safer as they don’t require you to exert too much pressure while using the saw, which can increase the likelihood of accidents.
- Always wear protective gear before using the saw. In particular, use gloves, a dust mask, and eye and ear protection.
- Avoid loose clothing and jewelry as these can get trapped in the saw. Likewise, if you have long hair, tie it up in a bun or better yet hide it underneath a helmet or hat.
- Do not over-tighten the blade-locking nut.
- Do not place your hand under the guard or shoe.
- Do not twist or force the saw during use.
Generally, there isn’t much difference between cordless and corded circular saws, so this eliminates any need to compare the two varieties on price points. When it comes to individual cordless models, however, the price can be as low as $100 or higher than $100 and is largely determined by how heavy duty the saw is, how powerful the motor is, and the kinds of jobs it’s designed to do, with higher capacity saws fetching more on the price front.
Examining the following features to choose the best cordless circular saw
Knowing what features to look for is key to identifying the right saw for the job at hand. Let’s look at each of the features that matter and how you can examine them to choose the best cordless circular saw.
Size and weight
Cordless circular saws are generally smaller than the corded variety. They also tend to be lighter. Adding the battery, however, adds some weight, but it’s nothing that would make the saw too heavy to lift. The exact battery weight depends on the size and capacity of the battery, with higher capacity batteries being bigger and heavier.
This is definitely something you need to consider, especially if you’ll be sawing at heights above your head. If the saw is heavy and you have to lift it to a considerable height to use, you’ll have a hard time getting the job done. On the other hand, if you’re only doing small jobs at a time and working at waist or elbow height, you probably won’t have trouble using a bulky saw.
That said, there are plenty of small, light saws you can use. Good examples are Bosch CSM180B, Kobalt 24-Volt Cordless Circular Saw, Hitachi C18DBALP4, and DEWALT DCS373B. Compare different saws to find the right one for your requirements. You can also consider using a smaller, lighter battery if doing a small job and save the bulkier batteries for bigger jobs.
The science of blades
The unspoken rule when it comes to blades and cordless circular saws is that these types of saws use smaller blades, at least compared to the much bigger corded types. Typically, these blades can be anywhere between 41/2 and 71/4 inches.
Getting into the meat of the blade application, though, the blade diameter, number of teeth, kerf, the arbor hole size, and RPM (revolutions per minute) all make a difference.
The bigger the blade is, the deeper your cuts will be.
Fewer teeth on the blade mean the blade will cut faster, but leave a rather coarse finish. Blades with more teeth are slower, but give a fine finish.
Because of their smaller size, cordless circular saws are best served by blades with a thin kerf. The kerf refers to the width of the cut; choosing a thin-kerf blade means your saw is only able to cut through thin pieces of material at a time. As such, both the saw and blade are likely to last longer than they would if you used a wide-kerf blade, which would be unproportional to the size of the circular saw.
The type of surface you’ll be cutting through will also determine what type of blade to use. Blades for both stone and metal surfaces are toothless, while those used for wood-cutting are toothed, with the teeth classified by type of cut.
Ripping blades, those ones that cut along the grain, have fewer teeth and are designed for rough cuts.
Crosscutting blades, those that cut across the grain, have more teeth and are designed to give a clean, finish. The teeth are also smaller, with small gullets separating them.
Combination blades have both rip and crosscut blades, and can be used for both ripping and crosscutting.
Motor and power
How much power your saw battery packs determines what the saw can and can’t do. The higher the battery voltage, the more you can accomplish. As a guide and to ensure you’re never stuck with a drained battery, an unfinished task, and no power supply, only use your cordless circular saw for smaller tasks. If you must tackle a bigger task that requires a lot of power, have an extra battery or two to replace the first one when it runs out of power.
Most cordless saw manufacturers use brushless motor technology, which has a positive impact on performance and motor shelf-life. However, some cordless saw motors still use brushes. The important thing to remember if you have this type is that the brushes need to be replaced as advised by the manufacturer. With many of the saws in the market, this is something you can easily do. But always consult the user’s guide for a step-by-step guide on how to do this as the process may differ from one brand to another depending on design.
Battery life depends on battery size and strength. A 20V or 18V battery will last longer than a 12V battery, so remember this when choosing your cordless saw. If doing small tasks, the larger batteries are well able to take you through a day’s work.
It helps to test the battery for power the day before and recharge it if necessary so that you can maximize on the available power. If you suspect that the task you plan to do requires plenty of power, have a spare battery to ensure you don’t run out of power midway.
A few safety features make using your cordless circular saw safe. Here are the most common:
Blade guard – A two-part feature that has an upper guard and lower guard. The upper guard is fixed, while the lower guard retracts while you cut. If possible, choose a guard with angled lower edges as this moves more smoothly.
If the guard does not retract fully or keeps getting stuck, you can manually manipulate the guard lever to guide the guard retraction. However, exercise utmost caution to protect your fingers from the blade. One way to ensure the retraction is smooth is by maintaining the minimum depth of cut possible; aim to keep the portion of blade that’s protruding below the surface at no more than a ¼ inch.
Blade lock mechanism – This holds the blade in place during removal and installation of the blade.
A rip fence guide is a bar with a long and short side which helps in keeping your cuts even and parallel to the edge of the board. When using the short side of the foot, the rip fence allows you to measure up to 4 inches; on the long side, you can set it up to 71/2 inches.
To use the rip fence, insert it through one of the holes on your saw, align to the needed width, and tighten the bolt to keep it in place. Rip fence kits come with several wing nuts to fit different saw hole sizes, which means you can use the rip fence with different brands of circular saws.
Oil checks only apply to cordless circular saws that use gear oil. The manufacturer will specify if the model you’re buying uses oil. Check your user’s manual for clarity, but if unsure, ask the manufacturer directly or through their authorized dealers. Do this prior to buying the saw just in case it’s a deal-breaker for you, assuming you’d rather not deal with oil checks and refills.
Should you opt for a saw that uses oil, check the oil level regularly, preferably before each use and top up as needed. Only use the manufacturer recommended oil to eliminate the risk of damage to your saw gear.
As with any tool, your cordless circular saw is subject to regular tear and wear. With good maintenance practices, however, the saw should last many years. Bear in mind that if you use the saw regularly and/or for heavy-duty work, it will have a shorter lifespan than a saw used occasionally and/or for light tasks.
Battery runtime may also reduce the longer you use the battery. Plan to do a battery replacement in future, again, depending on how frequently you use the saw. Most manufacturers will indicate the expected hours of runtime you can expect to get from the battery. Use this to estimate when you might need a new battery. In any case, you should notice when the performance of the battery starts diminishing, so this should be easy.
It will make you feel good to know that the saw you’re buying has a warranty and that if it doesn’t work as expected, the manufacturer will make up for the inconvenience. Cordless circular warranties range from 3-5 years on average, with a few manufacturers issuing a limited lifetime warranty. An example of a saw with a lifetime warranty is Hitachi C18DBALP4. The Hilti WSC 7.25-A3.9 comes with a 20-year warranty, which is as close to lifetime as it gets.
If the saw comes with a battery, the manufacturer may issue a different type of warranty for the battery, usually a shorter one compared to the tool warranty, given that the battery is expected to wear out faster than the saw.
Circular saw working tips
To cut wood and metal more effectively, you’ll need some useful advice and here we have several tricks to help you:
- Blade depth – always set it before cutting the chosen piece of wood. Loosen the adjusting level after holding the blade alongside the board till the blade is 0.25’’ or 0.5’’ below its base. Never set the blade too deep – it will definitely kick back;
- Always support the plywood while cutting it – it will allow you to evade chips and splinters on the board, yet you shouldn’t use clamps;
- Take care of the pieces already cut – they must always have enough space for falling or being set aside;
- Operating circular saw while standing can be more convenient at times, yet you should remember that the wood should only be supported from one side only since the board will be bent down a bit and might kick back unexpectedly;
- Sawhorses are not necessary while cutting the heavy wood – precise cut can be done if you set the board on your foot 12 inches farther from the line of cut;
- Practice your cutting skills – precision comes with experience, and if you’ve started to cut off track, you should stop immediately and wait till the blade stops spinning. Never be afraid to begin again and with time you’ll succeed!
The number one rule to remember when carrying a cordless circular saw is to never place your finger on the on/off switch as you may accidentally switch on the saw. Also, ensure that the blade guard is in place and that it works well.
If you’re worried that others, and specifically kids, may trigger the saw, consider removing the blade before transporting the saw and only bolt it back in when you’re ready to use the saw. Put the blade in a sheath and keep it away from children’s reach.
If you’re new to using a circular saw, lining up the saw for a straight cut may seem impossible, but it’s actually easy to do, and you only need to use your fingers to guide the saw. Here’s how:
Align the saw blade with the cut line.
Pinch the base of the saw between your thumb and index finger.
Begin to cut, moving your finger along the edge of the board to keep the cut straight and even.
A speed square helps you cut clean square cross cuts with your circular saw. To use the square, align the saw blade with the cut line, and then slide the speed square against the saw base, such that the perpendicular edge of the square aligns with the side of the saw base. Press the square to ensure that it doesn’t move. Switch on the saw, let it run to full power, and begin to cut along the square, keeping the edge of the saw base against the side of the square the whole time.
Cordless circular saws cut solid wood and plywood as well as any other saw. In fact, they are primarily designed for woodcutting, although with the right blade, you can use them for cutting through other material. So, yes, you can safely cut wood with a cordless circular saw.
Our best pick for cordless circular saw is the Hilti WSC 7.25-A3.9. The solid build, design, and balance, high-capacity battery, deep cutting capacity, and comprehensive warranty won us over. We also like that it has a high RPM and cuts through a range of materials with ease.
Number two on our list is the Milwaukee 2731-22 M18, whose sturdy construction points to a well-engineered tool. Lots of features make this saw a delight to use, among them being LED light for better visibility in dim environments, brushless motor technology that delivers more power, a battery with high voltage, and a lengthy warranty.
Rounding up our nominations for best cordless circular saw is the Festool TSC 55REB, a well-balanced saw that cuts swiftly and precisely. This saw has plenty of cool features, including a 5200 RPM motor, power boosting brushless motor technology, guide rail, splinter guards, and a chip collection bag.