Circular Saws by Blade Size
Circular saws are classified by the size or diameter of the blade they use. Small circular saws use blades with diameters that range between 3 1/4-inch and 5 1/2-inch. They are ideal for cutting thinner and lighter workpieces, such as plywood, wood trim, and more. These small circular saws are compact, lightweight, and easy to maneuver even in the tightest spaces.
The most common circular saw you can find on the market uses blades that have a 7 1/4-inch diameter. (Note: All of the corded circular saws we have reviewed here are 7 1/4-inch). They are popular among DIYers and professionals alike thanks to their portability, powerful motor, and versatility.
The 7 1/4-inch blades are ideal for cutting thicker workpieces with a width of up to 3 inches. They can also be used to cut thinner pieces of wood, but these beasts can seriously damage the thin workpiece. Apart from 7 1/4-inch, you can also purchase a smaller 6 1/4-inch blade.
You can also find larger circular saws that are designed for thicker workpieces and heavy-duty use. These circular saws use blades that have a diameter ranging from 8 inches to 14 inches. These are used primarily by professional builders and woodworkers. These saws can be used to cut a thin workpiece, but a beast of a machine like these can do more damage than good.
Circular Saw Buying Guide
Worm Drive Versus Sidewinder Circular Saw
The difference between these two types of saws is the position of the motor and the type of gear they use. With the sidewinder circular saw, the motor is positioned right next to the blade. The blade is usually positioned on the right side of the machine, and the saws have a maximum speed of up to 6,500 RPM. But you can also find units (such as this SKILSAW Southpaw and Bosch CS5 circular saw) where the blade is located on the left side of the machine and the motor is located on the right side.
The motor of a worm drive circular saw, on the other hand, is located at the rear of the blade. Its maximum speed can reach up to only 4,500 RPM. But what it lacks in speed, it makes up in torque. The majority of worm drive circular saws have blades located on the left side of the machine. They are heavier and pricier than sidewinders. But unlike sidewinders, you can wiggle them into tight spaces.
The cut-line indicator is a pair of notches located in front of the saw’s foot or baseplate. This indicator allows you to see whether your blade is perfectly aligned with the line you made on the workpiece. The size of each notch should not be too narrow that you can’t see the cut line nor too big that your precision suffers.
You might need to visit your local hardware store if you want to see the circular saw in action and check the blade visibility. A circular saw with a great design lets you see the blade while you’re working to make sure that it is aligned to the cut line. Steer clear of saws that block your line of sight with the front handhold or any part of the machine.
The bevel function allows you to make angled cuts. You probably won’t need to use this function often, but it’s good to know how to use it. Always check if the bevel knob or lever is easy to operate and if it locks in place securely.
Standard aluminum baseplates ensure that the machine is lighter and easily maneuverable. But it can also easily bend when you accidentally drop it. The good news? You can bend it back into place.
If you want a tougher baseplate, then look for circular saws outfitted with cast aluminum or cast magnesium baseplates. Because they are stiffer, the baseplates made of these materials are not prone to bending when dropped. Unfortunately, they can crack when dropped, so make sure that you use the power tool carefully.
You can choose fiber-reinforced plastic baseplates if you want a stronger circular saw. Thick fiber-reinforced plastic baseplates are very stiff and strong, but they are relatively rare compared to saws with standard or cast aluminum and magnesium baseplates.
Other Circular Saw Features To Consider
Circular saws have two types of brake systems: the manual brake system and the electric brake system. With the electric brake system, the blade stops rotating automatically when the trigger is released. This allows you to begin another cut immediately as soon as you finish another. With the manual brake system, you have to wait for 5 to 7 seconds before the blade comes to a full stop.
Some circular saws are now equipped with LED lights and laser guides. The LED light is a welcome addition especially if you are working in low-light conditions. The laser guide, though innovative, is not much help at all as most carpenters and builders still prefer the good old pencil or marker when marking a cut line.
Remodeling your home is not an easy task. If you’re looking for ideas, inspirations, and other important information about transforming your home, then check out the Sebring Design Build website!