Advantages of buying a small handheld circular saw
There are a number of advantages to buying a compact, hand-held circular saw rather than a full-sized circular saw. First, for anyone with a small workspace or garage, the reduced size is a major advantage in itself since the tool won’t take up all of your available space. The smaller size and light weight also make the tool easier to transport if you need it for a job outside of your workspace – whether in the yard or at a field site. These small saws can also be easier, and thus safer, for many people to wield since they don’t tire out your arms as quickly as a full-sized saw.
What material can you cut with a mini circular saw
Compact circular saws can be used to cut a huge variety of materials, although exactly what a specific saw can cut depends on its power and the blade you have attached. For starters, most circular saws can cut through any types of wood, but they can also cut through composites and thin metals. For best results, if you are cutting material other than wood you will want to invest in a blade that is specifically designed to cut through the material you are working with.
Using a saw of any type is inherently dangerous, so it’s always important to practice good saw safety. Be sure to wear eye protection and appropriate clothing to protect yourself from flying material and hearing protection to drown out the noise. A good safety practice whenever making cuts through an entire board is to set your depth of cut so that it extends no more than ¼-inch below the bottom of the board – there is no reason to have a ton of blade exposed under the board where it can cause damage to your body. Additionally, whenever you need to manually retract the blade guard for a cut, do it using your free hand rather than propping the blade guard open. Finally, be sure to keep your blades sharp and oiled with pitch to reduce the chance of your saw kicking during a cut.
Features you need to know before buying the best small circular saw
While portable circular saws have a lot in common compared to full-sized circular saws, there are also a number of features that differentiate them and can make a big difference in what they can be used for cutting. Here, we’ll cover some of the most important features and explain how they affect your saw.
Size, along with weight, is one of the main factors determining how portable your compact circular saw will be. If you plan to transport your saw frequently or have a small shop, you may want to choose a small saw like the model from Dewalt DCS391B. Note, however, that smaller size usually also means less power for cutting.
Weight is a concern both for portability and for how tired your arm will be after using your saw for extended periods or long cuts. Typically, lower weight is better – but this often comes at the cost of a smaller, less powerful motor. In general, choose the lightest saw that has the other features you need to get your work done efficiently.
While size and weight are important for portability, they are often pitted against the available power of the saw – after all, a larger, more powerful motor adds space and weight. Power is important because it determines what types of materials your saw will be able to cut through and how quickly it will cut through them. Although compact circular saws typically have nowhere near the power of a full-size circular saw, if you work with difficult materials it may be worth the weight trade-off to opt for a more powerful saw like the model from Makita 5007F.
Cord or no cord?
Whether or not you want to opt for a cordless or coded compact circular saw depends largely on how portable you need your saw to be and whether you’ll typically be working in places with electricity. For contractors who find themselves frequently working in field locations with only a generator or no electricity at all, it may be worth the added cost, reduced power, and limited battery lifespan that typically comes with a cordless saw.
Most circular saws, including all of the saws we reviewed, come with a standard carbide-tipped blade that serves as an all-purpose blade for cutting wood. However, there are a huge variety of blades out there that vary in quality and the type of material – metal, composites, and more – that they are designed to cut through. Upgrading your blade after you purchase a circular saw is one of the best additional investments you can make. The most common purchase is dado blade that is used for effective joints cutting.
The diameter of the blade makes a huge difference in the thickness of wood or other materials that your saw will be able to cut through. In general, the extra power of larger motors is used for spinning larger blades – which is why the powerful Makita 5007F saw has a 7-1/4-inch blade, the largest blade diameter of any of the saws we reviewed.
The speed of the blade is also important in determining how smoothly and efficiently your saw will cut. In general, a faster blade, like the 17,000-rpm Dremel SM20-02, will be less likely to experience kicking when cutting through difficult or knotty materials. However, these fast blades can also cause some burning when working with delicate pieces of wood.
Depth of cut
The depth of cut describes the maximum depth into a material that you can sink the blade, effectively putting an upper limit on the thicknesses of materials that you can cut through in a single cut. Larger blades like the Dewalt DCS391B, Milwaukee M18 2630-20, and Makita 5007F models offer the largest depths of cut. Note also that these saws allow you to adjust the depth of cut so you can easily make precise cuts without freehanding the saw.
Making beveled cuts is a common application of circular saws. Some of the saws we reviewed, like the Dewalt DCS391B model, are designed to make it easy to angle the saw relative to the material you are cutting via bevel guides. Having the ability to bevel your saw makes a big difference in the number of applications you can use it for.
Comfortable grip handle
Don’t ignore the grip handle when choosing a compact circular saw, as having a comfortable grip can make all the difference between being able to wield the saw for hours at a time and wanting to put it down after just minutes of use. Saws like the Dewalt DCS391B and Dremel SM20-02 models paid special attention to the handles to make them comfortable by optimizing the grip diameter and adding a comfortable over-molding to the handle.
The voltage is a measure of how much electrical power the motor on your compact circular saw will draw and can be indicative of how powerful the saw is. Note that all of the drills that we reviewed are 120-volts or less, meaning that any of the corded models can be plugged into a standard wall outlet and do not require a shop outlet wired for 240 volts like some larger saws.
A portable circular saw is a significant investment in your toolbox, so you want to make sure that it will work for years to come. Many manufacturers offer warranties on their saws to provide peace of mind and back up their products, although these vary in length from short one-year warranties like found for the Makita 5007F saw to impressive five-year warranties like for the Milwaukee M18 2630-20 saw.