When it comes to home improvement projects, A tool that you will find yourself using a lot is the circular saw. While circular saw would include a wide variety of different saws, in home improvement project a circular saw usually means a handheld saw, opposed to a table saw or a miter saw. Picking out a good hand-held circular saw can be tricky for new buyers. There are many different options, price ranges, and considerations. So how do you know which handheld circular saw to pick?
In this post, we will take a look at six different cordless handheld circular saws. By comparing these, you will not only get a good overview of great options out there but also dive deeper into the different aspects of what you look for when buying a circular saw. First, we will take a look at the different models. Then, we will discuss the different features you can find on a handheld circular saw before finally giving a recommendation based on the models we’ve discussed.
Best Cordless Circular Saw Reviews
Makita XSS02Z 18V LXT
The Makita XSS02Z doesn’t just look good, it handles like a charm, too. The surprising ergonomics of this model make it easier to cut straight lines. The ease of cutting is also helped by the 3,700 RPM motor, whereas the ergonomics are visible in every aspect of the design. While it’s heavy enough for the small size, it’s not heavy overall, making it an easy tool to work with all day long.
The Makita XSS02Z’s blade is 6 ½ inches, which means that cutting boards and 2x4s are a breeze. If desired, it can make up to 50-degree bevel cuts.
One of the things to look for in a circular saw is the sightlines. The better your sightlines are, the better you’re able to safely see what you’re doing – a crucial part of cutting in a straight line. With the Makita XSS02Z, you’re buying a circular saw with great sightlines.
If you’re interested in buying the Makita XSS02Z, please note that it is sold as a bare tool. That means it doesn’t come with the battery included. For people who already own a Makita 18V battery (Check prices on Amazon.com), that won’t likely cause any problems, but for people with other batteries, this could be an important consideration.
DeWalt is a household name in the world of (power) tools, and therefore it’s no surprise they have a contender in this ‘best cordless circular saw’ contest, too. The DCS391B comes with a 6 ½ “ blade and a 5,150 RPM motor, delivering a lot of power in a relatively small package. The magnesium shoe keeps the saw light, while not compromising on power.
The handle is all rubber, creating a soft hold that you can keep for a considerable time. The bright yellow shoe fits nicely into your hand and can make a bevel cut up to 50 degrees.
Just like the first model we discussed, the DeWalt doesn’t come with a battery or a charger. While this isn’t necessarily a good or a bad thing (it is what it is), it’s an important consideration before you make a buying decision, especially if you have batteries of a different brand.
One real drawback is that the saw tends to heat up with extensive use. When it does, it stops working, and while it will work fine after having cooled down, the inconvenience can be annoying. If you’ve only got this saw, taking it slow will be your only option. If you have other saws at your disposal, too, you may consider picking the DeWalt strategically.
The Black+Decker BDCCS20C is a slightly smaller saw. At 5 ½ “, the blade comes in at one inch smaller than the other two saws. As you can imagine, this isn’t a problem for most people, who’ll use this saw for 2x4s and boards. The 3,700 RPM motor will help you make these smaller cuts without a problem and doesn’t take much battery in the process.
Speaking of batteries, in contrast to the first two models we discussed, DBBCC 20 C does come with the battery and a charger. This makes it a good model for people who do not already have batteries laying around. At the same time, making your buying decision purely based on an included battery is not a wise decision-making process. It’s better to buy a circular saw that fits your needs perfectly than buy one that isn’t a great fit but comes with a battery.
The Black+Decker is great for smaller jobs. The included 12T carbide blade can cut a variety of materials and with the long battery life, you can go for a good amount of time before you need to charge the battery. While the 12T (which stands for the amount of ‘teeth’ on the saw) works fine for most of its jobs, you may want to consider buying an additional blade to get the most out of your saw.
The Ryobi P506 is a great middle-of-the-line model compared to the previous three models. It comes in at 4,700 RPM, which is not the most powerful but still has more to offer than the two models with 3,700 RPM. The most interesting feature, however, is the red laser line. This line shows you where your cut is going by displaying a red laser line straight ahead. Especially if you’re cutting along a longer line, this makes cutting in a straight line much easier.
As a lightweight circular saw, the Ryobi is easy to handle, also helped by the complete rubber overgrip. There is an extra handle to provide additional control. The blade measures 5 ½ “, making it big enough to cut most common materials. Like all other models, you can cut up to a 50-degree bevel with the Ryobi.
The battery life is decent, and while the Ryobi P506 doesn’t come with a battery, it is compatible with a wide range of Ryobi batteries, due to the One+ technology. That means that you can fit batteries in different price ranges on this circular saw and take it wherever you want.
The Makita SH02R1 is a little different than the other models discussed here. Although it comes as a kit just like the Black+Decker (meaning that the battery and charger are included), it’s the size of the blade that makes this circular saw stand out. The 3-3/8“ saw blade on this model is significantly smaller than the other saw blades we have discussed. Because you only use the bottom half of the saw, that means the Makita SH02R1 has a maximum cutting depth of 1”. While that doesn’t say much about the quality of the cut, it limits your options of cutting considerably.
With this smaller cutting range, the Makita doesn’t need to offer the same power as the other models (it can’t cut a 2×4, and therefore doesn’t need the RPM to sustain that sort of cut). The RPM of 1,500 doesn’t make this a very slow model; it makes it a circular saw for a different type of cuts. With the limited range, this kind of RPM is no problem at all. Use the Makita SH02R1 to cut plywood, drywall, MDF, particle board or pegboard. Because of its small size, this model is much easier to use in tight corners.
The batteries for the Makita SH02R1 offer an ergonomic handling of this smaller device. The kit comes with two batteries and a charger, so you can always keep going. With the battery check, you always know how much battery you have left until your next coffee break.
One drawback is that the blade is on the right instead of the left like most models. For right-handed people, this makes the sightline harder to see. Another small drawback is that the saw feels a little flimsy, even though it doesn’t affect its performance.
Bosch Bare-Tool CCS180B
The Bosch is the last of the circular saw we’ll be discussing. With 3,900 RPM, the Bosch comes in third place in the power ranking. While that’s not impressive in itself, the Bosch has a lot of redeeming qualities and still packs a surprising amount of power that cuts through thicker materials with ease.
The 6 ½ “ blade ensures that you can cut most objects and materials, including full 2” beams or boards. If needed, a bevel cut can be made with an angle of up to 50 degrees. When cutting, a few features of the Bosch help make your cuts straighter and easier. With a left-blade design, a right-handed operator can easily spot the cut line. The depth-of-cut gauge helps to keep the cut consistent and cutting an accurate line. The handlebar on top helps you push the saw easier and more consistently. All these things work together to make sure that when it comes to cutting, this is the most precise model with the cleanest cuts. While the RPM isn’t the highest, the Bosch does best with tougher materials.
Especially compared to the other models, the Bosch feels very durable and well-made. The depth bracket especially is made to last. It is protected from overheating and overloading, so the motor won’t suddenly blow up, either. The electronic stop helps you go from one cut to the next without any ‘down time’.
The battery life is a plus, and while this model doesn’t come with any batteries or a charger, it is compatible with other Bosch batteries.
The one drawback for this circular saw is that the safety switch is awkward to reach. While that’s hardly a reason not to buy it, it does create an inconvenience at times. The very casual DIY-er who only plans to rarely use a circular saw, and for light-duty jobs at that may not be able to justify the cost of this more powerful model.
To get the most out of your saw, you might order some extra blades, even though the blade that comes with the saw is perfectly fine, to begin with.
There are many different things to consider when buying a circular saw. While most of the features and considerations listed below have been mentioned in the reviews above, seeing them listed might help consider which features have more weight in your situation.
Bare tool or a kit
A bare tool is a saw and nothing else. This usually means that you need to buy the battery and charger yourself. Other extras, such as a carrying case, can depend on the brand and model. A circular saw in a kit will have at least a battery and a charger, but usually comes with multiple batteries and a carrying case.
Because a circular saw isn’t usually the first tool you buy, there’s a good chance you already have a battery and a charger. As most batteries within one brand are compatible across different tools, buying a bare kit for a brand you already have batteries for is usually a smart move. Make sure the batteries you have are indeed compatible with the circular saw you’re considering; you can confirm this by asking the customer service for the brand or confirming the voltage on the battery with the requirements listed.
Blade size doesn’t just make a difference in the size of the saw. A bigger blade can mean more versatility. As we’ve seen above, the smallest blade was made for the most precise job, ruling it out for cutting the common 2×4. At the same time, a 6 ½ “ blade can be cumbersome to use in those tight corners or for thinner boards. There isn’t such a thing as a blade that’s too small; only a blade that doesn’t fit the job you’re doing.
This all makes blade size a tradeoff between versatility and precision. The better you know what you’re going to use a circular saw for, the better you’ll be able to establish what blade size works best for you. It’s no shame to choose versatility. In that case, a 6 ½ “ blade or a 5 ½ “ blade works best, where the first has a slight edge over the second when it comes to cutting ‘2 bys’.
While power and the speed of the blade may seem directly connected, that doesn’t have to be the case. Just as a bigger wheel on your bicycle will take longer to go around, a bigger blade will have fewer rotations than a smaller blade that’s going the same speed.
More about blade speed in a little bit but now let’s turn to power. When it comes to cordless drills, there is always a lack of power. Battery-powered tools simply cannot deliver the same power as corded tools and are therefore already a tradeoff where portability is deemed more important than power. For most DIY-ers, the power of a cordless circular saw will be plenty.
As we just mentioned, a bigger blade will generally move slower than a smaller blade, just because of its size. The rotations per minute in our reviews ranged from 3,700 to 5,150 (with the exception of the specialized 1,500 RPM saw). The specific RPM you should use depends on the blade you’re using. The blade that comes with the saw will always work for the default RPM on the saw but when you buy specific blades, that may change.
For performance, the blade speed isn’t as important as power. A slower but powerful blade will go through materials better than a weak motor with a higher posted blade speed.
There are many different safety features you can find on a circular saw. One that we mentioned was the safety switch, which needs to be held for the device to use. Other safety considerations include wearing goggles, especially since most circular saws have a setup that blows all the sawdust (and slightly bigger particles) towards you. It’s one thing to just be covered in dust, it’s quite another to have something fly straight into your eyes.
Although a long battery life can get help keep you going, the time it takes to charge a battery will also impact how long you’re able to work. If you use a setup with two batteries and one charger, the charging battery should charge as fast as your other battery drains. While that isn’t a goal that’s easy to reach (which is why it’s best to start a big project with three charged batteries), some batteries charge faster than other. The Makita batteries are known to charge faster than comparable models from other brands. Unfortunately, the Makita also has the fastest-draining battery out of the models discussed above.
Which cordless circular saw is the best?
Each of the saws discussed above has its own strengths. While the Makita SH02R1 has clear strengths in a specific purpose, it lacks the versatile nature of the other circular saws. The single best circular saw is the Bosch Bare-Tool CCS180B; which makes it the best buy on Amazon.com.
A close second is the Ryobi P506; with a more competitive price tag, the Ryobi is the best deal out of all the discussed circular saws. Both of these saws are good all-around circular saws. Aside from price, the Ryobi has an edge on the Bosch with its laser, making a straight cut simpler to make.
If you’re starting from scratch and have no battery packs anywhere in the house, you could consider the Black+Decker. While that model is a good deal, it compromises on power to deliver the most affordable option and should only be used for light-duty work.