Whether you’re framing out a home for a construction job, cutting baseboards and trim pieces for carpentry, or making small DIY repairs around the house, a quality circular saw is a must. Luckily here at Surf’n’Buy we’ve got the circular saw market handled. Here we look at some of the top circular saws models and compare and contrast them. Specifically, we looked at a few factors to gauge differences between the models and selected the top 10 circular saws for you. Whether you’re on the jobsite as a pro or just need a new saw for your workbench in the garage, we got you covered. In this best circular saw guide, we’ll talk about what kinds of jobs each saw does best, and maybe jobs where a saw might not be so well-suited for.
We’ll compare and contrast the various brands and models, as well as explaining some of the newest and most common features on the latest tools. Do you need a cordless saw? What about battery packs? What’s an overwrap? How light is too light? How heavy is too heavy? What kind of blade should I buy? These are all questions we’ll get into, so if you need some good info on the best circular saws and tool brands available this year, read on.
Now let’s go through the top ten circular saws in 2019.
Top 10 Circular Saws
1. DEWALT DWE575SB: Best Rated Circular Saw
- Lightweight and compact 15A (Ampere) saw delivers power for the toughest applications
- This product is manufactured in China
- This product meets customer requirement
- Lightweight and compact 8.8-Pound
- Electric Brake
The DeWalt DWE575SB is the highest-scoring circular saw in our tests, period. This is because it does pretty much everything well. It’s AC-powered, which means it’s power output and engine are up to pro standards. Yet even with that strong engine and powerful build quality, it’s still a very light machine. It’s built well, as the engine, housing, and overall construction are high-quality. The lower guard is tough and a equipped with a ball bearing for smooth operation.
The ergonomics of the machine are very natural, many users report that the DeWalt DWE575SB feels good in the hand and is easy to get used to as an instrument. What sets this machine apart from many others is it’s electric brake system. If you release your finger from the trigger, the saw blade stops very quickly compared to most other brands and models.
This is just an extra safety feature that puts it up over the top. This DeWalt has excellent reliability. It’s hard to find an review for this saw that isn’t perfect. It even comes with a blade cradle and a pro-quality bag for transport. If you need a machine that can handle pro jobs but isn’t extremely large or expensive, this is your tool.
2. Rockwell RK3441K: Best Small Circular Saw
- Compact but powerful 5-amp electric motor, matching performance of full-size saws at 3,500 rpm
- At only 5 lbs., is 50% lighter than conventional 7-1/4" circular saws, cuts through 2x4s in a single pass
- Left-handed blade design provides remarkable cut-line visibility
- Slim, inline grip design provides great comfort, balance, and control; maneuverable for overhead cuts
- The saw's maximum cutting depth at 90 degrees is 1-11/16" and its bevel capacity at 45 degrees is 1-1/8".Arbor Size:3/8 inches
All you really have to do to understand the Rockwell RK3441K is look at it for 5 seconds. Whatever you call a saw like this around the house, in hardware stores and on jobsites it’s known as a ”trim saw.” This is (obviously) because smaller pieces of wood that ‘frame’ the edges of windows and walls are called ‘trim pieces.’ Smaller materials call for smaller tools, so the best trim saws are compact and maneuverable. Obviously, both the blade and the housing of this Rockwell are smaller and therefore lighter than most of the saws on our list. Rockwell is a brand owned and built by a Chinese company called Positec. Positec is actually the current OEM manufacturer for a lot of Black and Decker/DeWalt equipment that’s currently produced. This is actually kind of why for us this tool makes it all the way to #2: basically, you’re getting DeWalt/Black and Decker quality at a lower price. The less middlemen, the better, we say.
Who knows, maybe this is the future when it comes to overseas branding and distribution of tools; less heritage brands and more actual OEM manufacturers creating their own brand names. We’ve surely had enough of the opposite. Anyways to recap: It’s diminutive stature compared to other saws means it’s got great maneuverability. Adjusting the saw couldn’t be easier; the fliplock mechanism and controls are well-designed and feel natural. It’s got all the power you need, even if you’re doing pro-type work. And the Rockwell comes with a strong 3-year warranty.
Basically, to use this device you just need to figure out if you want a small saw or not. If you’re a smaller-sized person and you want something you can handle for occasional housework, this is a good choice. If you’re a dedicated trim carpenter, or if you have small, thin things to cut regularly, this is your tool. A lot of it is like how you would want a campervan or maybe a big-body Benz to travel long distances, and a small car for the city? You would also want a small saw for small projects. If this is your situation, then this Rockwell RK3441K could be right fit for you.
3. DEWALT DCS391B: Best Battery Powered Circular Saw
- Powerful 460 MWO, 5,150 RPM motor delivers power and speed to make the most demanding cuts with ease
- High strength and lightweight magnesium shoe provides jobsite durability for long-term cut accuracy
- 0-50°(degree) bevel capacity allows for aggressive bevel cuts for a multitude of applications
- Optimized rubber overmolded comfort grip delivers optimal balance and control; Power Tool Type: Cordless
- 6.5-Inch carbide-tipped blade for cutting 2 times material at 90° and 45° and more cuts per charge
Yes, this is basically the same DeWalt as the #1 rated circular saw. And yes, we understand that this one is #3 while the other is #1. Yes, we do plan to explain why. Basically, this DeWalt DCS391B takes a 20-volt battery instead of an AC power source. We feel that the added reliability and power that comes with using AC power, in the long run, is better than batteries. An AC-powered unit in actuality, in real-life use, is lighter than a circular saw with batteries because you’re not forced to carry the battery pack around. AC-powered units scream for long, all-day usage. To us, that’s just something that favors professionals and heavy users. However, as we mention in the review, what’s good for one person is of course maybe not the best for others. And there are for sure people who would prefer the portability of a battery-powered unit over one that plugs into a wall.
To be fair and honest, however, this opinion put us in the minority. This 20-volt DeWalt is the #1 seller on Amazon.com in the ‘circular saw’ category. Just that fact makes it a fairly incredible product in some ways. Just like the #1 rated unit, this DeWalt DCS391B has an incredible feature not available on many other saws; the sawblade is affected by an electric brake. Basically, when your finger leaves the trigger, the engine mechanism puts a brake on the blade. If you don’t understand why this is important, just look on Google or Yahoo at ‘table saw accidents’ or ‘circular saw accidents.’ Yes, not pretty. So you can get why for us this is a pretty serious feature.
Even with a battery, it’s lighter than circular saws from only 5 or 10 years ago. It’s fairly well made compared to most tools as well. The ”shoe” is made of a high grade stamped alloy. The unit has its lower guard set with a ball bearing for durability, and the overall build quality of the engine and powertrain are high. Inside, there’s a built in ”dust blower” type of system, which really helps in always being able to ”sight in” your cuts. Basically, if you don’t mind trading some power for some mobility, this is one of the best circular saws on the market.
4. SKIL 5280-01: Best Corded Circular Saw
- Powerful 15-amp motor delivers 5,300-RPM for greater speed and faster cuts
- 7-1/4-in carbide-tipped blade included. Spindle lock for easy blade changes.
- 51? bevel capacity for a wide variety of cuts. Arbor size: 5/8 inches, cord length: 6 feet
- Lightweight 6.95-lb design reduces fatigue
- Dust blower keeps line-of-cut free of sawdust for improved visibility.Anti-snag lower guard reduces snags when making narrow cut-offs
Alright; so before I even say anything, I have to note that at least in the United States, these things we are taking about are not really referred to as circular saws. Pretty much anyone in a hardware store or a construction site will just say the word ”Skilsaw” to describe any brand of circular saw. It’s sort of how we (at least in the American South) say ”hey, what kind of Coke do you want” when we mean to say, ‘what type of soda do you want?’ This ubiquity has some validity. Being an originator counts for something. Even though Skil is owned now by Bosch of Stuttgart, there’s something about having a product that is the original, made by the company that originated it. To Bosch’s credit, they’ve taken good care of the brand; SKIL are known inside and out of the USA as a quality-made tool.
This SKIL 5280-01 has something interesting that could be called something ”a little extra” – it’s a laser sight! Yes, it feels almost James Bond-like when you engage it! And it’s not just for show; almost all of the online reviews and user experiences refer to this laser and the sighlines of the Skilsaw to be very accurate. As with the DeWalt units previously mentioned, the build quality of Skilsaws is high. Their customer service and repair network is well known for taking care of their people. Just like with the other high-rated saws, this Skilsaw is pretty easy to adjust and dial in to your liking.
Another feature the Shilsaw has a lot of cheaper saws don’t is a torque clutch. Basically how a torque clutch works is that the motor gradually speeds up under load, which is basically as you set into your cut. This reduces the chance of ”kickback” and any accidents from occurring. It’s small features like a torque clutch that are hard to quantify in a review, but work very well in distinguishing one tool from another in real life. This SKIL 5280-01 is a good machine that can handle big jobs but doesn’t cost a lot.
5. Black & Decker BDCCS20B: Best Cheap Circular Saw
- High torque motor 5-1/2-Inch. fast cutting blade for a variety of cuts
- Tool-free depth of cut allows for easy depth adjustments
- Bevel adjustment with detents at 45 and 90 degrees
- Compact design for ease of use
- Works with the entire BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX System (Battery and charger sold separately)
Alright, well, this is another small-sized trim saw. As mentioned above with the Rockwell, this tool is more maneuverable and easie to handle than the standard 7 and a quarter inch saws. This Black & Decker BDCCS20B circular saw also distinguishes itself from the Rockwell unit we reviewed earlier, because this one runs on batteries instead of AC power. Black & Decker is basically DeWalt, so the build quality, warranty, and customer service from the brand are in line with what one might expect from a well-known market leader. To summarize, the main reason this doesn’t beat the Rockwell in our tests because it runs on battery power instead of AC power. This really hurts the Black & Decker in a disproportionate way compared to the 7 and 1/4 inch-sized saws; because, get this: the Black & Decker is smaller.
A smaller tool with a smaller engine, body, and overall size would struggle more if suddenly forced to consume far less power. And in this case, this is what happened. There are lots of stories about people tryng to cut basic and rather soft things, like plywood, and the B&D wasn’t up to the task. There’s a third unique situation concerning the Black & Decker unit; the blade faces left. A lot of ‘pro’ worm-drive equipment is set up this way; so if you’re a pro, this is a good thing. If you’re a lefty, this may also be a good thing. Honestly, a lot of this stuff is all worth doing rather than just reading; we advise thay you actually head out to a local hardware store or tool shop, and test out the saws! Even if you’re not able to start any of them up, just being able to put your hands around Black & Decker BDCCS20B and visualize how it works will help you out in determining what ergonomics you like.
6. SKIL 5180-01: Best Circular Saw for Beginners
- 14-Amp motor for more power and performance than the SKIL 5480
- 15% weight reduction vs. SKIL 5480, reduces user fatigue
- 51Degree bevel with positive stop at 45Degree for greater cut capacity that SKIL 5480
- Improved dust blower keeps line of cut free of sawdust
- Includes 20-Tooth Carbide Blade
As mentioned before, Skilsaw is the company that originated this type of circular saw. The main differences between this Skil 5180-01 and the one that’s rated higher than this one are actually pretty small. This one is slightly less powerful, and doesn’t have the James Bond laser sight. There is a good thing, though; this model is cheaper! Like we always say; if you assess your needs and look at the different choices, one may still find this tool to be your best option compared to most of the others. You just gotta look around and judge everything on the merits.
In a lot of ways, this model Skilsaw is kind of ”the” circular saw. When we evaluate these devices, we look at three main things; weight and overall handling of the tool, the speed and power provided by the engine and cutting blade, and finally cost. This Skil machine did well in all of our tests. It’s sort of the perfect balace, to be honest. We like no-nonsense utility here, and this unit epitomizes that ethos. Basically, a lot of the bells-and-whistles that are present in the top-rated machines are absent here. You won’t find any laser sights, electric brakes, or gimmicky battery systems that can be used by other hand tools. The machine doesn’t come with a free carry bag or case or any of the sort.
It’s basically everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you’re buying for the long-term, honestly, you’ll want to avoid a lot of extemporaneous features anyways. Those things are the first to go. Ask anyone who’s spent money on a used car that had power windows and lots of luxury gadgets. Those things are great when new, but after a few years it’s that added complexity that usually needs maintanance. Basically, look and see if the added features of tools higher on the list sound good for you. If you don’t need them, this Skil 5180-01 may be a good pick for you. It’s an honest product.
7. Makita XSS02Z: Best Compact Circular Saw
- Makita-built motor delivers 3, 700 RPM for faster cutting and ripping through wood
- Heavy gauge, precision machined base for smooth, accurate cutting and added durability
- 50° maximum bevel cutting capacity
- Weighs only 7.3 lbs. With battery (battery not included) for reduced operator fatigue
- 6-1/2" Blade delivers a 2-1/4" Cutting capacity for a wide range of cutting applications
Now we talk about something in a similar vein; if the Skilsaw rated just before this one is the barebones model, than this Makita XSS02Z is solely focused on one thing. That specific thing is durability. Makita tools are just known as some of the most durable things on the planet for some reason. This durability is hard to quantify, but it has its fans. Basically this Makita circular saw kind of looks bad on paper. Most of the other well-known and high-end brands make and sell models that have more powerful engines, more features, and more stuff. And this all comes at a price that is equal to or less than what Makita does for you as a consumer. This of course begs the question: Why do people still buy the Makita?
Why would it even survive in the marketplace? Well, the answer (as mentioned earlier) is just that the thing is extrememly durable.
For real, it’s almost impossible to find a hand tool in general that has a reliability rating like this. Yes, there are some downsides. The motor runs using ”brushes” instead of a ball bearing drive. Even the battery packs on Makita tools are kind of underpowered; they run on 18 volt charges instead of 20 or 22. But it’s funny; its sort of like how overclocking a processor or putting a turbocharger on an engine wears it out faster? Makita sort of underpowers and overbuilds their devices.
The other very positive thing is that lots of online reviewers remark that this Makita unit not only has good power, but that it also makes clean and aesthetically pleasing cuts. Accuracy and cleanliness are other things that are hard to quantify in a review; some of it could be due to the quality of the blade on this Makita; a lot of reviewers say it’s very good. So don’t just look at the numbers, look at the little things. This Makita XSS02Z excels in a lot of ways.
8. SKILSAW SPT77WML-01: Best Worm Drive Circular Saw
- Lightest magnesium construction reduces user fatigue for less down time
- Cut-Ready depth of cut system helps with quick, accurate depth measurements
- 53° bevel allows users to complete a wider variety of cuts
- 15 Amp of power gives users the power to rip through more lumber in less time
- The anti-snag lower guard provides smooth operation for small cut-off pieces
So this one is the beast. The one that’s built like professional models are built. What isn’t stated in a lot of these reviews is that this type of circular saw that’s on pro construction sites. Basically, there are basically two types of circular saws; there’s the kind we’ve reviewed so far, which are called ‘sidewinders.’ As you might guess, the second type is the type we’re reviewing now; worm-drive units. A worm-drive unit basically has it’s engine in the rear or the unit instead of directly on the side. The blade spins ‘directly’ with a sidewinder, meaning there’s no real redirection of the engine’s power. This differs from a worm drive unit, because to get the blade moving, some sort of power transfer has to occur.
That’s actually what the phrase ‘worm drive’ means; it refers to the spiral-shaped internal drive system that allows for the power to be turned 90 degrees.
What’s funny is that ”industry standards” for this stuff are different depending on where you live. East coast construction workers and woodworking pros seem to prefer the worm-drive saw, while on the US West Coast the sidewinder rules the jobsite. Honestly, more important than the engine type is the way the saws are laid out; on a worm-drive saw, the motor is on the right of the blade. This means most people cut from right to left. It’s the opposite with a sidewinder; with those machines, the motor is on the left side of the unit. Most people using sidewinder saws cut from left to right.
Worm-drive saws are considered more durable and easier-to-use by right-handers. However, this comes at a cost. Worm-drive machines have larger engines and housings due to that gear-transfer mechanism. This makes them heavier than sidewinders. Everything that makes a worm-drive saw good makes this SKILSAW SPT77WML-01 good and vice versa. This is for sure one of those things you should try in person. Go to your local hardware store and try out a worm-drive saw; you might like it! If you do, read up on this SKILSAW SPT77WML-01, it’s a great representative for this type of machine. It honestly only isn’t higher up in the rankings because it’s too big, too heavy, and too much saw for most people. But if you need one of these, you need one of these no other stuff to say really!
9. Ryobi ZRP506: Best Circular Saw for the Money
- EASY GRIP: Rubber overmold makes it easy for you to grip and control this tool, even in slippery conditions
- LASER GUIDE: The tool generates a red line on the work surface in front of the saw upon the tool's activation, letting you see where you're working
- ADJUSTMENT: Easy-access knobs let you adjust your depth up to 1 9/16 inches and your beveling angle from 0 to 50 degrees
- ONE+ COMPATIBLE: This tool is compatible with many Ryobi battery, including the P100, P101, P102, P103, P104, P105, P107, and P108
- INCLUDED BLADE AND BLADE WRENCH: A 5 1/2 inch blade, tipped with carbide to reduce corrosion and wear, is included. The wrench used to remove the blade is included in a slot on the tool
So we move from a Chevy Suburban to a Smart Car. This Ryobi ZRP506 is a small saw that was built for occasional task around the house. It’s also fairly cheap, so that’s a plus. Just know that before you get involved with this machine; it has a 5.5 inch blade. Most circular saws are at least an inch larger. This extra inch is important if you’re trying to cut 2x4s that are ”standing up” or cutting any large wood. What this thing was meant to do is cut things like Sheetrock, pressed wood, or PVC. Sadly, it’s this small size and portability. A lot of people evidently tried to use this saw to make 45 degree cuts in thick hardwood. Because of the low motor power and battery power, one has to keep their hands steady if you want to make a clean cut with this saw. But as we’ve said so many times, pick the tool that’s right for you. This machine for sure is made for portability and maneuverability, not power.
As with some of our reviewed units, if you don’t want something big and heavy, check out this device. If you need a small saw around the house to do small cutting tasks, you could do worse than picking something like this. A good story online concerning this saw centers around a guy needing something small to cut the tops of a decorative picket fence.
This is the kind of stuff this saw was made for. Another positive with this saw is the price, it’s usually found for under fifty dollars, which of course is one-quarter of the cost of many saws. If you know what you want and you know what you’re going to get with this Ryobi ZRP506, it can still be a good tool. And, as mentioned before, it’s cheap! Find out what you plan to cut and work with and if it’s light-duty, this Ryobi may be a good pick.
10. PORTER-CABLE PCC660B: Best Budget Circular Saw
- High-Performance Motor delivers 4000 RPM's for aggressive cutting
- 6-1/2" Carbide Tooth Blade delivers a 2-1/8' cutting capacity
- Beveling Shoe pivots up to 50 degrees
- Contoured Over molded Handle
So let’s say you’re on a budget, but you need something fullsize. It’s kind of a statement that set’s itself up for failure; they say you can’t have things ‘‘good, fast, and cheap.” The old adage is that you have to pick two and a lot of people think that’s being generous. But we’ve all been in tight situations before, and we’ve all been on a budget. So if you’re in that kind of situation, what do you do? You need a Cadillac but you only have Yugo money. Well, in this case we would tell you to take a look at the Porter-Cable PCC660B. The thing with the PCC660B is that it costs as much as the small Ryobi normally but the Porter-Cable is a fullsize unit. It’s even fairly light; 6.5. pounds.
Unlike with the Ryobi, this Porter-Cabe has a little bit of a reputation for being tough! Yes, it doesn’t have an automatic-brake system or a laser pointer for guiding cuts. But if your saw broke and you need another one, or you’re looking to upgrade or replace a 10 or 20 year old unit, you could do a lot worse than picking up something like this. Porter-Cable is a company originally from upstate NY, but it was bought in 2004 by the company that owns Black and Decker/DeWalt.
We see this as a good thing; it means your machine was built by a company that makes a lot of gear. Lots of that gear is well-made, and they seem to stand by their products. Again, none of these are bad things.
One quick caveat with this Porter-Cable machine; engine get pretty hot after use. This makes sense, but we just wanted to put it out there that this is a budget unit, so some sacrifices have to be made. The batteries are also 18v instead of the more standard 20v. Again, this is a budget unit, so compromises in quality have to come somewhere. Finally with negatives, we wanted to make sure you knew a lot of online reviewers said the ”shoe,” the metal housing that surrounds the blade and the saw unit ”sits” on, is prone to warping. You can kind of ”hack” this budget saw into a good one if you spend the extra $10 or so to get a high-carbide blade in it. Say, a Diablo or something similar. That kind of thing can turn a budget machine into something decent and if you’re low on cash, tips like this are gold! This Porter-Cable PCC660B is a good budget pick.
What Types Of Circular Saws Are Available?
Well, the answer is that the best circular saw is the circular saw that fits your needs. Are you looking for cutting power? Or would you prefer the safety and convenience of cordless, battery-powered devices? This is an important question, because you can only pick one of those two answers. If you’re cutting heavy stuff, or you’re cutting a LOT of stuff, you’re going to want cutting power. If the small engine in the saw isn’t powerful, you’re going to spend a lot of sweat pushing that soft saw through those hard boards. Even worse, you’re going to expound a lot of energy trying to keep your hands steady while your soft saw slowly makes its way through those boards.
But a cord has it’s own limits. If you’re trying to build small fences outside, or build a tree house, or do an art project outside, you might prefer a cordless circular saw. These cordless saws are popular for the same reason cordless drills are popular; they just do the job simpler and with less fuss than traditional corded devices. There’s another plus about these items that has to do with cordless drills and other power tools; if you own any of these devices, if you’re lucky, you won’t have to buy new batteries. Just use the ones that you also use with your drill, as long as they’re made by the same company, etc. If you’re lucky, you might even have more than one battery for long sessions.
There’s even a third ”engine type” or consideration to make besides 120v corded or 18v/20v battery pack power; it’s whether or not you want ”worm drive” or not. Most all the pro equipment is ”worm drive” gear, because it’s the most durable and the best at transferring power. But it has a major downside for the consumenr market; it’s heavy! Lixe 2x the weight of more consumer-grade systems. So if you’re not a subcontractor or doing this stuff for a living on a regulat basis, it might be smart to go with a more consumer-grade solution. Speaking of specialized solutions, smaller saws exist than the 6.5inch standard. If you’re not cutting something as thick as 2x4s on the regular, and especially if you don’t want to carry something heavy around if you don’t have to, think about a trim saw.
They follow the basic design and mechanical principles and standard circular saws; they’re just smaller in size. This is perfect for someone who wants a saw around the house to cut stuff, which is a very different thing than wanting a professional circular saw to cut a few hundred pieces of 2x4s a week as a professionak residential home framer. Finally, there’s all sorts of small features that you have to decide for yourself if you want them or not. Do you want a small laser sight to shoot out of your saw, illuminating where the blade’s gonna go next? If so, that’s something that the market can solve for you. Are you right handed or left handed? Which side do you prefer to have the blade sit? Are you going to cut mainly on an angle? Then you should find a model that’s easily adjustable.
This kind of stuff can go on and on, but I think you guys get the point. Assess your needs, then run through this Surf’n’Buy’s guide. Most of the saws we review stick with the standard 7-and-a-quarter size, but we do also stick in a couple of the best-rated smaller saws. As stated above, on a construction site, these are just known as ”trim saws.” Either way, they’re here as well, so if you need to round out your arsenal of saws for smaller jobs we have you covered there too. When it comes down to rating a circular saw, you have to look at the total package each brand and model brings to the table. We break it down like this; how’s the weight/handling/workability of the tool? How does the tool rate in raw performance terms; this encompasses stuff like the power of the motor and the speed at which it cuts. How do things like battery life or whether the unit has a cord or not affect the utility of the tool? What about overall build quality and long-term toughness?
Once you figure out what you need, the guide will show you the right saw for you. Whether you need something light and small or something big and tough, we reviewed some of the best saws avaiable on the planet in a few different types.
Which Circular Saw Is the Best?
Whether you’re a builder, carpenter, or even just a person who likes to DIY home improvements or hobbyist projects, a circular saw is the cornerstone of any tool set. Most people don’t even call this tool a circular saw. For a lot of people, especially in the United States, this type of device is simply called a Skilsaw. Much like inline skates are sometimes called ”Rollerblades” or riding on a surfboard with a sail on it is called ”Windsurfing,” a lot of brands have become so integral to a device or object that their brand name becomes the de facto name of the object. Kleenex, anyone? Anyways, yes, Skil (the tool company) basically invented the circular saw and was the first company to really popularize its use.
Yes, obviously, the worlds of woodworking and lumber already had similar devices mounted to tables or connected to larger machines, but it was two guys in New Orleans that in the 1930s that really popularized the device. A French immigrant saw people hacking at sugar cane with machetes, and decided to create a small saw that could be held in the hand. That company he started with that invention became Skil, named after his invention, the ”Skilsaw.” These days Skil is owned by Bosch, the German electronics and tool company based out of Stuttgart, and they still make similar devices.
Nowadays many brands make this type of saw, and it is the ”go-to player” in many tool sets in a lot of ways. Most of the saws we review in this guide stick with the standard 7-and-a-quarter size, but we do also stick in a couple of the best-rated smaller saws. On a construction site, these are just known as ”trim saws.” Either way, they’re here as well, so if you need to round out your arsenal of saws for smaller jobs we have you covered there too.
Who Makes the Best Circular Saw?
A lot of people make their way into hardware stores and home improvement warehouses asking this same question. As with many consumer goods, a lot of these ”brands” make good stuff and cheap stuff. A $1000 saw by a company isn’t going to preform at the same level as a $100 one from the same company. Luckily, even though large conglomerates own a large amount of the brands, at least in the power tool market there’s a lot of consistency and a good amount of satisfied customers. This also goes for the lower end. These small machines are made a lot better than they used to be, and if you get something that was made for what you’re using it for (there’s that concept again!) you’ll probably sort yourself out.
Honestly, it’s like the brand doesn’t even really matter sometimes. This is a small machine, made in China, like 60 or 70 percent of the items on this list. The other 30 or 40 percent are made in the US, or in Mexico, or Mauritius, or who knows where. And who knows if those machines are made to a better or worse standard! These days actual data, like online reviews and sales figures, show a lot more about a brand than a name on the side of a machine. Use these words along with our guide, and hopefully you can find something that will fit your needs.
Best Circular Saw Brands
DeWalt is an American company started by a guy with the smae name who invented the radial arm saw. If you don’t know what that is, that’s cool; a radial arm saw was basically the precursor to the miter saw. Anyways, that company is owned by Black & Decker now, and most of the B&D ”high end” tools are branded with the DeWalt name. They have something like seven factories in the USA as well as overseas facilities, and make a full range of tools. The DeWalt name is pretty well respected on jobsites as they’re known to make quality gear.
Rockwell saws are part of Rockwell Tools, a company owned by a Chinese conglomerate called Positec. They work out of Charlotte, NC and make a full variety of gear. The funny thing is you’ve probably used Rockwell or Positec tools before just under different names. Positec did all the R&D and built a lot of tools for brands like Black & Decker/DeWalt, and Rockwell is basically that company making those same tols for themselves to sell. The Positec/Rockwell a lot of credibility; if anything, we’d rather buy tools fro the actual maker, vs. buying tools from a company who licenses their name to put on tools made by another company. The less middlemen, the better in our opinion.
For a lot of people, especially in the United States, this type of device is simply called a Skilsaw. Much like inline skates are sometimes called ”Rollerblades” or riding on a surfboard with a sail on it is called ”Windsurfing,” a lot of brands have become so integral to a device or object that their brand name becomes the de facto name of the object. Kleenex, anyone? Anyways, yes, Skil (the tool company) basically invented the circular saw and was the first company to really popularize its use. Yes, obviously, the worlds of woodworking and lumber already had similar devices mounted to tables or connected to larger machines, but it was two guys in New Orleans that in the 1930s that really popularized the device.
A French immigrant saw people hacking at sugar cane with machetes, and decided to create a small saw that could be held in the hand. That company he started with that invention became Skil, named after his invention, the ”Skilsaw.”
These days Skil is owned by Bosch, the German electronics and tool company based out of Stuttgart, and they still make similar devices.
Yes, they are owned by Bosch presently, but the power and durability of their tools is said to be as good or better now than at any other point in their life as a company. They are middle-to high end at most home improvement stores, and have stellar ratings online both from writers and consumer users. They also have a fair amount of truly pro gear available for those who want it.
Black & Decker
Black and Decker is one of the older American tool companies. They acquired DeWalt in the 1960s and in 2010 aquired Stanley to form a rather large group of tool makers. They’re headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin and sell tools all over the world. They’ve won awards in industrial design and have been a mainstay of American tool making since 1910.
B&D, as a brand, is their midrange line second only to DeWalt. Their reputation is pretty good, and this saw has a 2-year limited warranty.
Makita is a Japanese power tool company founded in 1915, and they do a lot of business. They have factories and operations in at least a half-dozen countries. They do a couple billion dollars worth of business every year, and it is worth mentioning that most of their products sold in North America are built and tested in Buford, Georgia, USA.
They along with the brand Milwaukee Tools are sort of known as the most reliable tool companies around; they’re similar in that way to a Honda is with cars. They are also fairly unique in that they only make power tools. They’re not a ”legacy” brand that wa purchased by a large comnglomerate or anything. Makita makes power tools, and nothing else. Honestly though, all of these things are positives for purposes of our reviews. Makita tools have a very good reputation online as we said earlier, it’s almost impossible to find a negative review of this saw!
Ryobi is a Hong Kong owned brand that’s part of a giant international conglomerate called TTI. TTI owns a whole bunch of brands, including Craftsman, Ryobi, Milwaukee, Hoover, Dirt Devil and a bunch more. Honestly, it’s like the brand doesn’t even really matter sometimes. This is a small machine, made in China, like 60 or 70 percent of the items on this list. The other 30 or 40 percent are made in the US, or in Mexico, or Mauritius, or who knows where. These days actual data, like online reviews and sales figures, show a lot more about a brand than a name on the side of a machine!
Porter-Cable was a company that was founded in Syracuse, NY with only about $2000 in seed money and operating capital back in 1906. In the late 20s they invented the portable belt-sander. In around the year 2004 the company was bought by Black and Decker, and production was moved overseas. Nowadays ”Porter-Cable” is a name still used by B&D to place on lower-end models such as this one we’re reviewing.