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The Best Circular Saws

TODO

Looking for a new circular saw but not sure where to start? Our guide shows you the best in both cordless and corded models.

A circular saw is a very versatile tool, useful for a variety of construction and DIY projects. Whether you’re buying your first one or upgrading an older one, you might have questions about which is the best circular saw on the market today.

I’ll walk through the top offerings in a few different categories. And I’ll help you understand which of them is right for you and your projects.

If you want to skip ahead, here are my top picks in the following categories:

    What to Look For

    Here’s a quick rundown on what features to look for in a circular saw. For a much more in-depth discussion, check out our complete buying guide to circular saws.

    Related: Choosing a Circular Saw: A Complete Buyer's Guide

    Corded vs. Cordless

    At one time, cordless circular saws just didn’t have the power of their corded counterparts. But battery technology has improved to the point where it’s a pretty level playing field. Except for the most demanding jobs, cordless saws can tackle the same projects as corded ones.

    Corded saws are generally cheaper than the equivalent cordless saw. And they don’t require purchasing batteries and chargers. But they do tether you to a source of power. On a construction site, or in a remote part of your own yard, that could be an issue.

    Related: The Best Corded Circular Saws

    Cordless saws give you the freedom to go wherever the job requires. The downside is that you’ll need to make sure you have backup batteries in case one dies. And the extra up-front cost of those batteries and chargers can add up. If you’ve already invested in one manufacturer’s cordless line, it might make sense to stick to that brand to get more use out of those batteries.

    Related: The Best Cordless Circular Saws

    Really, this comes down to personal preference, since you understand best where and how you’ll use the saw.

    Drive Mechanism

    Most circular saws are direct-drive, meaning the motor is attached directly to the arbor that holds the blade. Since this puts the motor to one side of the blade, these saws are also called “sidewinders”.

    Worm-drive saws have a more compex gear mechanism that connects the motor to the blade. This lets them deliver more torque for demanding jobs. The motor is usually mounted behind and in-line with the blade, rather than to the side.

    Direct-drive saws are usually lighter, but they aren’t quite as powerful as worm-drive saws. Some people also prefer the better balance from having the motor in line with the blade rather than to one side.

    If you aren’t sure, I’d stick with a direct-drive saw as there are far more options on the market. Only upgrade to a worm-drive saw if you’re positive you need the extra torque.

    Blade Size

    The most common blade size for circular saws is 7 1/4” in diameter. But I’ll also look at a couple more compact models below, which can be handy for certain projects.

    Related: The Best 7-1/4" Circular Saw Blades

    Most 7 1/4” blades have a 5/8” round arbor hole. They’ll generally come with a diamond-shape knockout. The knockout allows them to be mounted on saws (typically worm-drive models) that use a diamond-shaped arbor for more torque.

    Blade-Left vs Blade-Right

    If you’re holding the circular saw in front of you, the blade might be on either the left or right side. Some right-handed people prefer the blade to be on the left, so it’s easier to see it and follow a cut line. It also means the saw tends to be resting on the better-supported part of the workpiece rather than the piece you’re cutting off. The downside is that the blade is closer to your body and you may get your hand awkwardly close. So you may end up preferring a blade-right saw instead.

    Ultimately, this comes down to personal preference, and you might want to try both styles to see which you’re more comfortable with. And, of course, for lefties, you can just swap “left” and “right” in the above discussion.

    The Best Circular Saws

    Let’s take a more in-depth look at each saw in my list.

    Makita 5007MG 7 1/4" Circular Saw

    The Makita 5007MG is a great mid-range corded circular saw from a well-known power tool manufacturer. The saw can cut up to 2 1/2” with the blade vertical, and 1 3/4” when beveled to 45°. It can bevel up to 56° and has positive stops at 22.5° and 45°.

    Makita 5007MG
    Power Type: corded | Blade Diameter: 7 1/4” | Drive Mechanism: direct-drive | Blade - Side: right | Weight: 10.1 lbs

    The 5007MG has a magnesium shoe so it’s relatively light at 10.1 pounds. The build quality is solid and it operates smoothly, as you would expect from a Makita tool. A dust blower on the front does a good job of clearing sawdust, but there is no option to connect a shop vac or other dust collector.

    The only real knock against this saw is that the blade guard can be finicky. It works well for vertical cuts, but people have reported problems with bevel cuts. The blade guard can sometimes snag when cutting bevels, requiring you to manually pull it up to clear the workpiece.

    This model does not include a brake, so you’ll need to wait for the blade to stop spinning on its own before adjusting the saw. Makita offers the same saw with a brake as the model 5007MGA, but be prepared to pay a fair bit for the feature.

    Positives

    • Relatively light
    • Smooth operation
    • Effective dust blower on front

    Negatives

    • No electric brake
    • Blade guard can be finicky on some cuts

    Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 Worm-Drive 7 1/4" Circular Saw

    If you’d prefer the extra torque of a worm-drive circular saw, consider the Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 Skilsaw has been making circular saws since they first invented them back in 1924. This model is their latest iteration of a worm-drive saw.

    Skilsaw SPT77WML-01
    Power Type: corded | Blade Diameter: 7 1/4” | Drive Mechanism: worm-drive | Blade - Side: left | Weight: 11.5 lbs | Warranty: 1 year

    This saw is heaver than most direct-drive saws at 11.5 pounds. But it’s actually easier to handle than some lighter saws. Because the motor is in line with the blade, you tend to just push the saw straight forward rather than needing to adjust its direction.

    The SPT77WML will cut 2 3/8” with the blade vertically and 1 15/16” at a 45° bevel. It can cut bevels up to 53° and has a positive stop at 45°.

    One thing to note is that this saw will only accept blades that have a diamond-shaped knockout in the center. Most replacement blades you’ll come across have such a knockout, but you’ll want to make sure.

    Positives

    • Lots of torque for cutting difficult material
    • Good build quality
    • Blade-left design provides good visibility
    • Easy to track straight cut lines

    Negatives

    • Heavier than most direct-drive saws

    DeWalt DCS578 7 1/4" 60V MAX Circular Saw

    The DeWalt DCS578 packs more punch than most other cordless circular saws. It’s one of the few 60-volt models on the market. That gives it torque comparable to a regular corded saw. For most common jobs, you won’t be able to tell the difference between this saw and a corded one.

    DeWalt DCS578
    Power Type: cordless | Blade Diameter: 7 1/4” | Drive Mechanism: direct-drive | Blade - Side: right | Weight: 8.2 lbs

    And the DCS578 is even more capable than its predecessor, the DCS575, generating 47% more power from the same batteries. It weighs up to 11.5 pounds with a 9.0 Ah battery, more than many other saws. So if you have a smaller build, you might prefer to look at one of the lighter saws in this list.

    With the blade vertical, you can make cuts up to 2 9/16” deep. Beveled to 45°, you still get a respectable 2” of cut depth. The saw can bevel all the way to 57° and has positive stops at 22.5° and 45°.

    An LED light on the front of the saw and a small sawdust-clearing blower both make it easy to follow your cut line. If you don’t already have a DeWalt 60V battery and charger, the saw is also packaged as a kit that includes one of each.

    Positives

    • Power and torque comparable to a corded saw
    • Brake responds quickly to stop saw almost immediately
    • Deeper cuts than most other 7 1/4” cordless circular saws
    • Handle design is very comfortable to use and makes it easy to push straight

    Negatives

    • Heavier than many other saws in its class
    • Shoe friction requires a little more energy to push

    Skilsaw SPTH77M-11 7 1/4" 48 V Circular Saw

    The Skilsaw SPTH77M-11 is one of the only worm-drive cordless circular saws on the market. Many pros prefer worm-drive gearing over the traditional “sidewinder” gearing. That’s because of the extra torque it provides, transferring more power to the saw blade.

    Skilsaw SPTH77M-11
    Power Type: cordless | Blade Diameter: 7 1/4” | Drive Mechanism: worm-drive | Blade - Side: left | Weight: 11 lbs

    This saw makes easy work of thicker raw lumber, laminate beams, and so forth. The saw can cut up to 2 3/8” with the blade vertical and 1 15/16” at a 45° bevel. It can bevel up to 53° in all.

    The 48 V battery powers the saw at up to 5800 RPM. Skilsaw claims the battery can last all day and make over 400 cuts on one charge. The battery takes about an hour to charge, so you’ll want a spare or make sure you leave adequate time for charging.

    The saw itself glides smoothly on its low-friction magnesium shoe. It does an effective job of clearing dust towards the side opposite the blade, making it easy to follow a line. The blade-left design makes it simpler for right-handed users to keep an eye on the blade or notches as they cut.

    Ihe SPTH77M is heavy, weighing in at just over 11 pounds for the tool alone. When you add the 4 lb battery, the 15 lb total weight means you need some muscle to be slinging it around all day.

    Honestly, this tool is probably overkill for the average DIYer. But if you make serious demands on your cordless circular saw and want the best of the best, look no further.

    Positives

    • High torque for difficult cutting jobs
    • Smooth-gliding shoe makes pushing easy
    • Blade-left design increases visibility of blade while cutting
    • Effective dust clearing

    Negatives

    • Very heavy compared to the competition
    • Battery takes a full hour for maximum charge

    Black+Decker BDCCS20C 5 1/2" Cordless Circular Saw

    The Black+Decker BDCCS20C looks like a traditional circular saw, but has a smaller 5 1/2” blade. For light-duty work like cutting 2x4s or plywood, it can easily get the job done.

    Black+Decker BDCCS20C
    Power Type: cordless | Blade Diameter: 5 1/2” | Drive Mechanism: direct-drive | Blade - Side: left | Weight: 7.6 lbs

    At 7.6 lbs, it’s lighter than most full-sized circular saws. That can be a big advantage if you’ll be using it all day.

    I wouldn’t recommend it for any really hard woods, though, as the motor isn’t really up to it. For those jobs, I’d consider one of the beefier full-size models listed above.

    Positives

    • Two-handled design for safe operation
    • Depth of cut can handle 2x4s

    Negatives

    • Motor can struggle on thicker material

    Conclusion

    I’ve given you an overview of some of the top circular saws on the market today. For a basic corded model, I think the Makita 5007MG is a can’t-miss choice. Check out my picks above for some other options.

    If you want to look at more options, check out my roundups of the best cordless circular saws, best corded circular saws, and best compact circular saws. And to find the perfect blade for your next project, I’ve also broken down the best circular saw blades.


    Read more:

    The Best 7-1/4" Circular Saw Blades
    The Best 7-1/4" Circular Saw Blades
    C.J. Lang
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