Best Cordless Circular Saw

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

Check Price on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Very ergonomic design
  • Easy cuts

Cons

  • Meager battery life
  • Not the most powerful saw

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.

All things considered, the Makita is a good all-around saw. The lightweight and ergonomic design make for easy cuts and make this particular model a good choice for a first-time saw buyer. While it’s not powerful, it does deliver on light to medium-duty jobs. The biggest drawback is the limited battery life. With a bigger project, you’ll need at least three batteries to keep going.


DEWALT DCS391B 

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Pros

  • Great battery life
  • Powerful saw

Cons

  • Heats up when used extensively

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 DeWalt delivers good power for a cordless circular saw. While it isn’t made for extensive cutting like a corded drill is, it puts in a good fight when it comes to power. That makes this model perfect for a job with regular short-burst cutting needs.


BLACK+DECKER BDCCS20C 

 Check Price on Amazon.com

Pros

  • A steal if you’re not looking for raw power
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Doesn’t deliver the power you’ll need for bigger DIY jobs

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.

At the lower end of the price range in this test, it also comes in at the lower end of the power spectrum. It’s not a bad saw; it’s made soundly, lightweight, easy to handle and has a more than decent battery life. It’s a tool that has traded power for an economy, so if you’re looking to buy a circular saw that you’ll occasionally use for light-duty jobs, it’s a great deal. If you’re a regular DIY-er or looking to build a deck in a weekend, you’ll want something with a bit more of a punch.


Ryobi P506

Check Price on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Good balance in power, price and battery life
  • Laser beam helps make cutting easier

Cons

  • Use of plastic makes for a cheaper feel

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 Ryobi isn’t the most powerful tool, nor does it have the longest battery life. In most things, this saw is a good balance in most features. The additional feature of a laser beam to guide you and the surprisingly soft price might make this model a great choice for a DIY-er, especially one with a Ryobi battery hanging around the garage.


Makita SH02R1

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Pros

  • Small powerful tool
  • Easier to use for small jobs

Cons

  • Lacks versatility

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.

The Makita SH02R1 is great for smaller jobs and cutting through boards and drywall. Its small size makes it perfect for tighter spaces but renders the saw useless for bigger projects, both literally and figuratively. If you buy this model with a clear plan in mind, you won’t be disappointed. However, this is not the model to buy for a versatile circular saw.


Bosch Bare-Tool CCS180B

Check Price on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Very powerful and well-made
  • Clean and precise cuts

Cons

  • The safety switch is awkward to reach

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.


Buyer’s Guide

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

circular saw bladeBlade 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’.

Power

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.

Blade Speed

Close up blade of circular sawAs 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.

Safety Features

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.

Charging Time

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?

Bosch Bare-Tool CCS180B

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.


FAQ

When should you use a circular saw?

Cordless circular saws are used for quick cutting jobs. Imagine building a deck and cutting boards or the supporting 2x4s to size quickly. These are situations where a circular saw works perfectly. Another reason to use a circular saw over a miter saw or a table saw is flexibility. A circular saw allows you to make cuts where the material is, instead of bringing the material to the saw. For those reasons, roofers and carpenters are more likely to use a circular saw than furniture makers or drywall specialists.

A circular saw is also the tool of choice when you’re cutting into something in place, like a rotting board in a deck or a door. These situations all work best for a quick cut. If you’re building something bigger or have a lot of longer cuts to make, or cuts that require a bigger blade, a miter saw or table saw would be a better option.

How does a circular saw work?

A circular saw is a handheld machine that has a quickly rotating blade surrounded by a metal or plastic case (the ‘shoe’). You place the saw near the material you want to cut, line up the blade with the line you want to cut and move it forward, letting the blade cut through the material for you. This means the blade always faces down when you’re using a circular saw, and you can only dependably cut in straight lines forward.

Other than with a table saw (which is essentially a reversed circular saw), you move a circular saw through the material, instead of pushing the material past the blade. That also means you’re automatically a bit restricted in the use of a circular saw to smaller areas. Once you start cutting, you have to be able to finish the cut.

How can you cut concrete with a circular saw?

Although most jobs with a circular saw will involve (some type of) wood, a circular saw is equipped to tackle other materials, too. To cut through concrete with a circular saw, you first need to make sure that the concrete confirms to the dimensions your circular saw can cut. A 5 ½ “ blade will never cut through a 3” thick concrete block, simply because it cannot cut through. Because concrete is much stronger than wood, you’ll probably need to err on the side of caution when it comes to dimensions, especially with the (generally weaker) cordless saws.

To cut through concrete with a circular saw, you need a diamond blade. You can buy these online; make sure they fit your model circular saw. Set the saw to the correct depth. Mark your desired cut with some chalk and line up the saw to the line. Then cut as you would any other material. If you can, lower the RPM on the saw and make sure not to push too hard but to let the saw do the work for you.

How can I cut through metal with a circular saw?

There are many different types of metal, and when you’re working on a project, you may very well run into a cutting job that involves some sort of metal. If you look around and your eye falls on your circular saw, you’re not alone. Actually, your circular saw is equipped to cut through metal, although the type of saw and the type of metal may put some restrictions on what you can and can’t do.

With a cordless circular saw, you lack the power to cut through ferrous metals like steel and iron. But as long as you stick to nonferrous metals such as copper, aluminum, and brass, you’re good to go.

When it comes to picking a blade, you’ll want a higher tooth to count when you’re working with thinner materials and vice versa. The type of blade should be a carbide tipped abrasive cutoff wheel, which you can easily find online. After you have all the materials lined up and the depth of your saw adjusted, cutting metal isn’t anything different than other materials as far as technique. Safety-wise, you need to make sure you’re wearing goggles, gloves and long sleeves, as metal shavings can be dangerous.

How can I cut plexiglass with a circular saw?

Cutting plexiglass with a circular saw is easy in comparison to concrete or metals, but it may still take some preparation. With a really thin sheet of plexiglass, consider using a less powerful tool than a circular saw. If you have a thicker sheet, a circular saw is a perfect tool to cut plexiglass.

If you have a new sheet of plexiglass with the protective film still on it, leave it on while you’re cutting. This prevents scratching the material. You’ll want to use the same type of carbide-tipped blade you’d use for cutting metal. A difference with metal is that overheating of the material is a real risk with plexiglass, so cooling with water while you’re cutting isn’t a luxury. While cutting plexiglass with a circular saw isn’t difficult, it may leave you with a rough edge. Simply sand it as you would a wooden edge and you’re good to go!

How can I cut brick pavers with a circular saw?

While a wet stone cutter is a perfect tool to use for brick, it’s not a tool most people have around the house. That’s why it’s good to know that a circular saw can do the job for you, too. Again, cordless circular saws lack the brute strength of a power tool, so take it easy with thicker bricks. When you’re confident your saw can tackle the pavers, make sure you get a diamond-tipped masonry blade.

Set the cutting depth of the saw to ¼”, even though you won’t cut through the material this way. The shallow cut will instead function as a ‘pilot hole’ for your deeper cut. Because of the rougher material, it will take a bit more to control the saw. This shallow cut helps reign in the saw.

Like with the concrete, use a marker to indicate where you want the cut made. Wet the paver to keep dust from flying off it when you cut and make sure you can still see the marks you made. Now set the saw down and cut across. It may be necessary to go back and forth a bit to make a clean cut. Repeat this process on the other side of the paver, so you have the ¼” cut on both sides.

Lower the blade by another ¼” and repeat this process. Keep lowering the blade by small increments until you cut through the paver. As you can guess, it’s best to do a few pavers at the same time, going through the same increment for a number of pavers, so you reduce the adjusting of the blade to a minimum.

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