Features to Consider in a Circular Saw
Circular saws are one of the most versatile tools in the modern worker’s toolbox. Providing the ability to move around while making powerful, precise cuts, it’s no wonder they’re such a necessary tool to have. However, choosing the one that is right for you can be difficult (if not impossible) due to the increasingly overwhelming number of options on the market.
Countless brands offer tons of models that may differ only slightly at first glance. It is important to understand your circular saw needs by first understanding the type of job that you plan to undertake. Are you more of the occasional home DIY-er, looking for a reliable, if not all that heavy-duty, option to have around the house?
Or are you a professional builder whose equipment will be used day in and day out for years to come? Price also becomes a consideration. It’s no secret that you tend to get what you pay for, but how much is too much for your particular needs? We’ll go in-depth to explore the different factors that go into choosing the right circular saw for you.
What are the Different Types Of Circular Saws?
Circular saws come mainly in two different types: worm and sidewinder. Worm saws have the motor in line (or behind) the saw blade itself, making them a longer, thinner looking option. These are typically the more expensive option as they tend to be heavier duty and a little less noisy. Sidewinder saws have the motor next to the blade.
With these saws, right-handed people tend to have the advantage. Most of them are manufactured with the saw blade on the left-hand side of the motor where it would be visible to a right-handed operator. However, many left-handed versions are now popping up on the market. Sidewinder saws are usually less costly than worm saws, and they tend to be a little lighter and more maneuverable as well. This makes them a lot better suited for casual home use.
What’s the Difference Between Corded and Cordless Circular Saws?
Another option to consider is whether you would prefer a corded or cordless model. Cordless models are obviously more convenient, as they can go wherever you go without adding a tripping hazard. However, they do rely on batteries which can wear out quickly with continuous, heavy-duty use.
Also, batteries can add a significant amount of weight to your saw. While this isn’t necessarily something you can avoid if you’re set on a cordless option, if at all possible you should go somewhere where you can hold and get a feel for the saw you’re considering purchasing.
This allows you to get an idea for how manageable something of its size and weight will be for you and your particular needs. Corded models are usually the preference of professionals, as they can stay in use practically forever. Cordless saws are great for those who work with wood only, but if you will be doing any type of steel or masonry work, you’ll definitely need a corded circular saw.
Features to Consider in a Circular Saw: The Build
The build of the saw itself is another thing to look at. Circular saws have “shoes”, which is the flat part that surrounds the blade and runs parallel to the surface being cut. Some shoes are made of aluminum, which is a very lightweight choice ideal for those worried about maneuverability. However, aluminum is a flexible metal that will bend (or possibly even break) if your saw is dropped.
A steel shoe is obviously much heavier, but significantly increases the durability if the saw’s body. Most saws have rubber grips around the trigger and strategically placed around the saw body. Does the saw feel comfortable in your hand? Are you able to easily lift it with one arm?
The trigger safety switch should ideally be within one finger’s reach (most likely the thumb) so you can flip it quickly if needed. Most saws also have cutline and bevel markers around the blade housing. Clearly marked numbers, usually etched in a bright color, are most ideal. Also, see if your hand or arm is in the way of these lines when you hold the saw naturally. This can really slow you down during a project if you’re having to constantly re-adjust your grip.
Features to Consider in a Circular Saw: The Blade
Finally, the saw blade itself must be considered. Steel blades are nice and sharp, but not usually for very long. They’ll need to be replaced often. Carbide tipped will cost more but will last significantly longer. If you plan on working with masonry or tile at all, you’ll need a special blade (likely diamond tipped) for that purpose.
Additional Features to Consider in a Circular Saw
Some additional features are nice to have, if not completely necessary. Things like dust vacuums can really make your work more pleasurable and decrease the amount of times you’ll need to stop. Laser guidelines are also very handy to have so that you can ensure your cuts stay straight.
Electric brakes quickly stop the electricity flow (and the blade) for added safety. No matter what circular saw you choose to go with, be sure to do as much research as possible and try to find a physical model you can hold or test before you purchase. The right saw can last you a lifetime!