How to Choose a Circular Saw? [Simple Guide]

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Tackling DIY projects, whether you want to create or repair, requires a handy tool that’s versatile and easy to use. And what’s better at combining these than a circular saw?

These are powerful, hand-held tools that can be used to cut through a variety of materials, including plywood, MDF, lumber, and other materials.

And since they’re versatile tools, they come in various shapes and styles. If you’re not sure which option to choose, this guide will help you make the choice.

Structure of a Circular Saw

  1. An electric motor with a battery pack or a power cord
  2. Circular blade with a guard
  3. Adjustment knobs to control the blade angle and cutting depth
  4. Cutting shoe to hold the saw against the surface to guide the cut

Types of Circular Saws

1. Worm Drive Saw

Worm drive saws are the biggest in size and the heaviest.

Their motors are mounted parallel with the blade, and their handle is set further to the back in order to reduce kickback when you cut through tough lumber or even concrete.

2. Sidewinder Saw

Sidewinders are the most popular choice for homeowners. They’re lighter and a lot easier to handle than worm drive saws. Their motors are mounted at a right angle to the blade.

3. Cordless Saw

Cordless saws are less powerful than corded models and don’t run for extended periods as they run on a battery. But they can be very handy as they’re super maneuverable.

4. Trim Saw

These are small saws that are lightweight and compact. They’re ideal for finish carpentry.

What to Look for in a Circular Saw?

When you’re shopping for a circular saw, there are a couple of things that you should pay attention to.

Blade Size

The kinds of materials you’ll be able to cut depend on the size of the blade of your saw. The bigger the blade, the more powerful the saw will be, and consequently, the higher the ability to penetrate tougher materials.

Blade Adjustability

You’ll often need to adjust the blade as you work to make more precise cuts. Make sure the height and angle of the blade are easy to adjust and don’t require special wrenches.

Weight

Since these are hand-held tools, they shouldn’t be too heavy. Look for a saw that’s easy to handle and has lightweight construction materials such as magnesium.

The perfect choice would be a circular saw that combines being lightweight for easy maneuverability and being strong to cut through various materials.

Go for a saw that feels well-balanced in your hand so that you can handle it safely.

Durability

Your circular saw should be durable enough to withstand the duration for which you intend to use it. Its blade should also be durable and able to survive the toughness of the cutting jobs you’ll tackle.

Go for a unit with high-quality features such as a cast metal shoe instead of an aluminum one.

Power

The tougher the material you intend to cut, the more powerful the saw should be. A change in amperage that is as small as 1 amp can actually go a long way.

Ease of Use

How easy the device is to use, and its ergonomics will considerably affect its operation. Think of how easy the handling is, how comfortable it is to grip, and how easy it is to control.

Keep Your Blade Sharp

To make the best cuts, your blade should be as sharp as can be. Dull blades will burn and grind through the wood rather than actually cut it.

Circular saws cut upward through the wood, so when you’re changing the blade, make sure you unplug the tool first.

Install the new blade with the teeth facing forward so that it’s spinning in the right direction.

What Blade to Use with a Circular Saw?

Different types of blades are designed to fit different purposes as well as to cut through different materials. So before you pick your blade, you should consider your sawing needs first. 

If you’re going to do framing or demolition work, you should go for a blade of a size between 5-3/8” to 8-1/4”. These usually come with 24 teeth and can cut 2 x 4 wood effortlessly. In other words, they’re ideal for rough carpentry and projects where the final output doesn’t have to be the smoothest.

Blades of sizes between 4-3/8” to 8-1/4” are good for finishes. They’re usually equipped with 40 to 60 teeth and are used to finish plywood. They’re ideal for projects where you care about how smooth the finish is, including cabinetry and furniture-making. 

If you plan on cutting wood and metal, you should go for a 36-tooth blade -typically 6-1/2” to 7-1/4” in size. They enable you to work with a wider array of materials without having to change blades and tools in the middle of your work.

However, if you’re going to work with thin metal that is less than 3/32” then you should go for a 7-¼” blade. Medium metal between ⅙” and ⅛” typically requires a blade of size 6-½” to 7-¼”. Finally, thick metal of size ⅛” to ½” requires a 7-¼” blade with 38 to 56 teeth. 

Finally, if you’re going to be working exclusively with aluminum, you should get an aluminum (3/16” to 7/16”) blade of size 7-¼”, which typically has 56 teeth and is ideal for cutting aluminum.

Final Thoughts

Deciding on a particular saw can be a bit of a pickle as their types, uses, and the blades with which they’re compatible are numerous.

That’s why before you make your choice, you should know what you’re going to cut, how powerful you need your saw to be, and the size of the blade you’ll need.

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