The Best Circular Saws for 2018 – Top Corded and Cordless Models Reviewed

Features we examined for this review 

There are myriad variables that differentiate these saws from one another, even though not all of them are noticeable to the average user. For the corded units, we looked at weight, spindle lock, bevel capacity, depth of cut (blade size or diameter), positive bevel stop, price, RPM, motor, speed of cut, and length of cord (if an issue).

Best Circular Saws

Due to the variety of voltages available for cordless saws, this review keeps its focus on just the 18 and 20 V saws. Although there are a bunch of 12 V saws that are still available AND work well, the current trend in cordless tools leans towards 18 and 20 V batteries, so this review will focus on only those units. While many of the same features in the corded saw category also apply to cordless saws, features involving the saws’ batteries were examined (and are noted when appropriate).

Top Five Corded Saws - Comparisons

Money always talks 

For many people, the price of a tool is the defining variable that determines whether they do or do not make a purchase. However, in tool buying, like a lot of other things, more often than not you get what you pay for. That doesn’t mean that an inexpensive tool is poor quality; nor does that imply that an expensive tool is better just because it costs more than others. To cater to tool buyers of all shapes and sizes, this guide spans a range of prices for these tools.

Review Of The Top Five Corded Saws

1. Skil SPT77WML-01

The name Skil is pretty much synonymous with saws—just like “Band-Aid” refers to any adhesive bandage, the term skilsaw refers to a portable saw.

The unit in this review is one of the lighter saws (clocking in at less than 13 pounds), but it still packs a punch. The lightweight magnesium frame combines with the reliable worm drive famous on all Skill saws. The model features a 15-amp motor that cranks out 5500 RPM that makes quick work of even difficult cuts. The 7 ¼-inch blade gives a maximum cut depth of 2 3/8-inches at 90°. The bevel angle of 53° also features positive stops at both 45° and 90°. The maximum bevel still allows the user to cut through 2x lumber.

The SPT77WML-01 handles 2x and 4x lumber with ease—it also handles doubled up plywood easily. The spindle lock placement is new for this saw and it’s now easier to make blade changes.

This tool is an excellent investment for the more accomplished DIY homeowner who doesn’t use his saw every day (even though he could).

What we liked

  • Lightweight
  • Powerful
  • Spindle lock makes blade changes easy

What we didn't like

  • Magnesium is susceptible to dings when dropped
  • Depth adjustment mechanism isn’t really helpful

2. DEWALT DWE575SB 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight

If you go on any job site that requires the use of hand tools, you will instantly recognize the yellow of DEWALT. These tools have earned their reputation for reliability, performance, and quality—they are perhaps the brand that professionals are willing to pay a premium for—simply because they’re worth it.

DEWALT didn’t disappoint with this upgraded version of their classic circular saw. Weighing in at less than nine pounds (for a corded saw!), the DEWALT is the epitome of power and reliability. The 7.25-inch blade gives the same depth of cut at 90° as others, but the 57° maximum bevel combined with positive stops at common angles (90°, 45°, and 22.5°) really make this saw stand out.

The 15-amp motor produces a no-load RPM maximum of 5200 that also combines with an electric brake that stops the blade quite effectively (no 15–30 second run-on). The DEWALT also features an internal blower that will keep your line of sight clear while you cut.

DEWALT DWE575SB 7-14-Inch Lightweight

This circular saw comes with a high-quality carrying bag and a cord system that is three times stronger than previous iterations to prevent cord pullouts.

What we liked

  • Perfect price-to-performance ratio 
  • Lightweight
  • Powerful, with internal blower motor to keep sightline clear
  • Spindle lock makes blade changes easy
  • Carrying case and rugged cord

What we didn't like

  • No laser line
  • Not much else to dislike—this is a fantastic circular saw

3. Porter-Cable PCE300

Porter-Cable has earned a reputation for quality tools—they have been producing circular saws for almost 100 years, with the PCE300 being the most recent. This saw is perfect for serious home DIYers who seek a quality name brand product at an affordable price.

The steel-shoe version of this saw clocks in just under 10 pounds, so it’s a little heavier than the DEWALT, but that doesn’t hamper its comfort.

The Porter Cable comes with a 15-amp motor that produces a no-load speed of 5500 RPM, more than enough for any typical project. It also features a 7.25-inch blade with a 2.5-inch depth of cut at 90°, and 1.88-inches at 45°. This unit has a spindle lock, excellent depth adjustment, a 55 degree maximum bevel, with stops at 22.5° and 45° to provide ease of use for almost any home project.

As you might expect, there are several features that get left behind on a low-cost saw such as this one—the PC doesn’t feature a laser guide, dust collection port, or a blower to keep your sight line clear.

What we liked

  • Priced right
  • Lightweight (but the lightweight version costs a little more)
  • Powerful enough to handle any DIY task

What we didn't like

  • Steel version has a different handle knob (less user-friendly)
  • Lack of features (bells and whistles)

4. Milwaukee 6390-21

The Milwaukee 6390-21 circular saw is another model that’s built to stand up to the daily use of a contractor and still give the home DIYer a quality product without breaking the budget.

The Milwaukee has a powerful 15-amp, 3.25 HP motor that produces 5800 RPM of no-load speed that makes cutting hardwoods, wet wood, laminates, and softwoods easy and fast. It has the typical 2.5-inch cutting depth associated with a 7.25-inch blade, and it feels lighter than the > 10 pounds that it clocks in at.

However, there are several things that really detract from this saw and almost overshadow its strengths. For one, it lacks an electric brake as well as positive depth stops at common angles (90° and 45°). Furthermore, it has an extremely low bevel angle (only 50°) of the saws we reviewed. The aluminum base also suffers from dips that can take the plate slightly out of square (hardly what you want when making a cut).

These omissions (especially the lack of positive depth stops) really take away from an otherwise quality tool.

What we liked

  • Powerful
  • Adjustable grip, customizable for every type of user on the market
  • A longer cord than most (at nine feet)

What we didn't like

  • No laser sight
  • No electric brake 
  • No bevel stops 
  • Bevel angle maximum of only 50°

5. Black and Decker BDECS300

If you’re looking for a circular saw to make the occasional repair, cut the occasional piece of plywood or dimensional lumber, or just need a saw to begin a small collection of power tools, nothing could be a better investment that the Black and Decker BDECS300—this no-frills saw costs less than all of the other units reviewed, but performs well above its price point.

Like the other saws reviewed, the 7.25-inch blade allows you to make cuts up to 2.5 inches deep (90° or almost 2 inches deep at 45°, so it goes through 2x material without any issues. The BDECS300 has a 15-amp motor that reaches up to 5500 RPM—not the fastest, but fast enough for common home projects.

On the downside, you can only cut up to 45-degree bevels with this tool—obviously the lowest of the bunch. The CS1015 also lacks bevel stops, which shouldn’t be an issue for a typical DIY homeowner, but it is an inconvenience when you need to make multiple, uniform cuts.

The other serious issue associated with this saw is the lack of a spindle lock—the user cannot make a blade change just using the one (supplied) hex wrench. Of all the saws reviewed, this was the only one without this feature.

What we liked

  • Unbeatable price
  • Good motor that makes the basic cuts with ease
  • Good starter saw 

What we didn't like

  • No spindle lock
  • A lack of positive angle stops 
  • Maximum bevel is only 45°
  • You’ll need to get a new blade—the one included with the saw isn’t worth using

Review of the top five cordless saws 

Once you decide to cut the cord and go cordless, a few things change. First, the price of the cordless tools goes up considerably with most cordless units being two to three times more expensive than their corded counterparts.

Secondly, many saws use a 6.5-inch blade instead of the 7.25-inch blade—this makes it easier on the motor, which doesn’t have to generate as much torque to turn the blade. This generally doesn’t affect the performance of the saw, but it does extend battery life (at the expense of the maximum depth of cut).

1. Makita XSHO3MB

Makita has produced a wonderful cordless circular saw in the XSHO3MB. Logging in with an 18 V battery and a 6.5-inch blade, the Makita features a solid battery that combines with a new brush less motor that generates a no-load speed of 5000 RPM.

The benefits of a brush less motor (as it relates to cordless power tools) are twofold—more power, and the battery lasts longer, which is a definite win-win. This saw cuts soft and wet wood with equal ease and doesn’t bog down when forced into a cut.

The Makita also comes with a rafter hook, several positive angle stops, and an electric brake, which works exceptionally well. The adjustments for the cutting depth are easy to see and feel; the positive angle stops at 15°, 22.5°, 30°, and 45° provide the user with all the common angled cut adjustments. Since this is a 6.5-inch saw, it’s also lighter than its 7.25-inch counterparts—an important aspect if you’re planning to operate the tool one-handed, overhead, or in an awkward position.

What we liked

  • Powerful motor that doesn’t stall even under heavy load
  • Good battery life
  • Lightweight at 7.5 pounds

What we didn't like

  • It could probably cut faster if the battery wasn’t trying to protect the motor from stalling
  • Measurement plates are plastic

2. DEWALT DCS570

The new generation of cordless tools from DEWALT has raised the bar for others to clear. The incorporation of the 60 V battery pack to the DCS570 and its brushless motor elevates the performance of this tool (with a full 7.25-inch blade) to corded efficiency. It can cut through over 300 2x4s on a single battery charge. It has all-day power.

Another nice feature about this saw is the electric brake—instead of the long unwinding as the blade slows down after you’ve completed the cut, it stops almost as soon as your finger comes off the trigger. It comes in at just under nine pounds and features positive bevel stops at 22.5° and 45° (and a maximum bevel of 57°).

What we liked

  • Electric brake stops the blade quickly after you release the trigger
  • Maximum power—the 60 V Flexvolt battery provides corded performance and a super long run time
  • Brushless motor

What we didn't like

  • No laser line/LED
  • The 60 V battery pack makes this the heaviest tool in this review
  • No rafter hook

3. Bosch 18 V CCS180

This entry-level saw from Bosch provides a good balance of price to performance, particularly for the home DIYer who is looking for a cordless unit but probably won’t use it on a daily basis.

This 18 V saw is slightly under powered (it doesn’t have a brushless motor) and will bog down with heavy or deep cuts. It does come with an electric brake and a metal blade guard.

The smaller battery and blade make this tool a little lighter (just over 8 pounds) and easy to handle. However, it has some notable deficiencies—it doesn’t have a rafter hook, LED light, and only goes to a maximum bevel of 50°.

The under powered motor and other deficiencies make this saw perfect for light-duty uses of your typical homeowner, but it’s not solid enough for daily use by professionals. Its price will probably agree with the DIYer as well.

What we liked

  • Electric brake 
  • Metal blade guard
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable

What we didn't like

  • Underpowered, bogs down in deeper cuts
  • No brushless motor (no-load speed was < 4000 RPM)
  • No rafter hook (or LED)

4. Porter Cable PCC660B

For a company that normally produces high-quality tools at a fair price, the Porter-Cable PCC660B falls short. While the price of this saw is the lowest of the cordless units reviewed, we found that the cost savings don’t outweigh the problems this tool comes with.

Fitted with a 20 V battery and a 6.5-inch blade, the Porter-Cable is light and feels good in the hand. Using a straightedge, the PC does cut well—albeit slowly, and it requires a very steady had to do so.

The under powered and non-brushless motor generates only 4000 no-load RPM. What’s worse is that the saw itself tends to track left (like a handsaw that’s been improperly set). Part of this has to do with some of the flexible plastic parts used in the design.

It comes with a blade brake and has a bevel capacity up to 50°, but no positive bevel stops. It also doesn’t come with a rafter hook, laser, or LED light.

What we liked

  • Low-cost, least expensive cordless unit in this review
  • Electric brake
  • Ergonomically friendly

What we didn't like

  • Poor performance
  • No positive bevel stops
  • No rafter hook
  • Under powered motor and low no-load speed

5. Milwaukee M18 Fuel (2730-22)

The most expensive tool in this review, the Milwaukee justifies its lofty price with a high quality tool that outperforms many higher voltage and larger saws.

This saw uses an 18 V battery to power its brushless motor and 6.5-inch blade at a no-load speed of 5000 RPM. The handle and ergonomics of this unit are also superb—it feels good in your hands despite being a little heavier than other models (just over nine pounds).

It cuts through even the toughest woods with ease, and the enclosed blower makes tracking your layout line much easier than other saws. It only comes with a 50° bevel, however.

The Milwaukee also comes with a rafter hook, an electric brake, an LED light, and a metal blade guard. This saw was an absolute standout in almost every performance category.

What we liked

  • One of the fastest cutting 6.5-inch saws available
  • Plenty of noteworthy features—rafter hook, electric brake, LED, blower to keep your layout line clear
  • Ergonomically friendly

What we didn't like

  • High price point
  • A little on the heavy side, could make one-handed use more challenging

At the finish line 

While there are almost as many reasons to purchase a tool as there are tool buyers, they can be narrowed down to a few common ones—professional vs. DIYer use, and price. Therefore, we came up with two recommendations for each type of tool (cordless and corded)—Best Value and Best Overall.

Best Value—Corded 

The Porter-Cable met or surpassed all of the benchmarks you would expect for a quality circular saw. It also was very reasonably priced, but performed like a much more expensive saw—its excellent price/performance ratio easily makes this saw the Best Value. 

Best Overall—Corded 

The Milwaukee and the DEWALT clearly outperformed other circular saws—both have powerful motors that will handle the daily tasks on any job site. The price difference is also not significant, so this comes down to user preference and feel. 

Best Value—Cordless 

This was really no contest—the Bosch outperformed the Porter-Cable hands down. If you’re in the market for a cordless that won’t be used daily, then go with the Bosch. 

Best Overall—Cordless 

This came down to the DEWALT and the Milwaukee. Both of these saws performed extremely well and would serve any contractor on a daily basis. The DEWALT DWE575SB was less expensive than the Milwaukee, but it is also heavier and lacked a rafter hook. The lack of a rafter hook can be a deal-breaker for some pros, and using a heavier tool all day can also get tedious—for these reasons, we chose the Milwaukee as the Best Overall cordless saw.

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