A circular saw is one of the most commonly used power tools among woodworkers. Whether you are a professional or a DYI-er, a portable circular saw, along with a cordless power drill, is something that you must have in your collection.
Combined with the right blade, it can cut through wood, masonry, ceramic tile, and even steel.
A good circular saw with good maintenance can last up to 10 to 20 years. But to get that out of your circular saw, you must pick the one most suits your needs.
This is where most beginners and even some experienced people seem to need help. There are so many varieties of circular saws in the market, each equipped with its own features and advantages.
That’s why, here in this article, we’ll tell you what to look for (and what to watch out for) when buying a circular saw.
Why Do I Need a Circular Saw?
Since their invention, circular saws have gained massive popularity among woodworkers worldwide, and for a good reason. They make cutting wood (and other stuff) easier, faster, and safer while providing an output with a better finish than regular handheld saws.
A good circular saw will save you time and effort and enable you to cut out different shapes of the material you are working on that you could not possibly have done using a regular saw.
What Does It Do?
A circular saw is a multi-purpose tool that can slice through many materials to give them the shape you desire. From a small plank to a large piece of timber, a circular saw is a go-to tool for cutting and slicing. Here are some of the things you can use it for:
Cutting Large Timbers
If you have ever visited a sawmill, you probably have seen how they cut large pieces of timber using a bigger circular saw. These mega saws are usually about 3 meters in radius. They are powerful enough to cut through forest timbers to a manageable size.
Although fireplaces have been upgraded to electric ones, some old households still prefer old-school firewood-powered fireplaces. Firewood is also a necessity for campfires.
For such cases, the best option is to cut logs into moderately long slices to turn them into firewood. The job becomes much easier and less labor if an automated circular saw is used for slicing.
A mini circular saw is preferable for this task since you will surely not make firewood for an entire neighborhood but just your house or camp.
The best thing about circular saws is that they can even cut down metal. I’m not discussing soft metals like zinc, copper, brass, or aluminum here.
Even stainless steel can be cut through using a circular saw. All you need is a saw big enough to provide you the power required for its serrated blades to do their trick.
To Get Straight Edges
The circular saw is typically designed for cutting at different angles that a regular saw cannot reach. But you can up your game by using a blade with extra teeth. This will provide you straight edges or 90-degree cuts like a pro.
Cutting Long Planks of Plywood
This is a necessary task that needs to be done no matter what you are building. Whether it is a shelf, a table, a bench, or anything that offers a flat surface, it must be made out of plywood boards.
Yes, you can cut the plywood using a table saw, but the job will get much easier and provide better results if it is done using a circular saw.
What AMP Setting is Good for My Circular Saw?
Let’s get a bit technical here. Circular saws have several labels that describe the tool’s power. It might seem too confusing for a newbie. Still, that information is crucial to measure the performance of the circular saw.Pay a little attention, and you’ll understand the whole thing once I explain it.
Typically, two kinds of ratings are used to measure the power of a tool. The first kind is the AMPs rating. The term ‘AMP’ is short for ‘ampere,’ a power unit in which electrical current is measured.
The amp rating of a circular saw will tell you how much current the tool can carry without overheating or damaging itself.
This rating shows the saw’s ability to absorb and dissipate heat. The higher the speed (RPM) that the saw has, the more air it can draw in and, as a result, run cooler.
You should look for the ideal RPM rating to get the optimum performance out of your circular saw, at least 15-amps. Any amp rating lower than 13 is considered average and is recommended for smaller jobs.
The second kind of rating used for circular saws is the amp hour rating.
This is only applicable for saws that run on a cordless battery pack. This rating indicates the level of amps that your cordless battery pack will provide in an hour.
For instance, if the hour rating is 2.6 amps, the battery pack can provide 2.6 amps of power consistently for an hour.
This rating also indicates the capacity of your battery. The larger the hour rating, the longer the battery life.
Back to high school. We all know that a volt is a standard unit that indicates the level of charge that a battery pack can provide on a single full charge. Individual batteries in battery packs typically provide a solid 3.6 volts of power.
The batteries are strung together to make battery packs sold in ratings of 12, 18, 20, and so on. The volt rating of your battery platform will indicate the energy provided by the battery pack that will determine the torque of your compact circular saw.
There is a huge misconception that the 20V MAX batteries provide more power than their 18V counterparts. But the truth is, the range of power provided by a Lithium-Ion battery is between 3.6 to 4.0 volts at max.
The 20V packs may be able to hold in more power, but they tend to run out much quicker than the 18V ones. So, the key here is to go for the ones that run on 18V batteries.
Your blades need to be in a size that fits your circular saw. Circular saw blades come in a wide range of diameter sizes, such as 6.5-inch, 7.25-inch, 8.25-inch, and 10.25-inch.
Once you have decided which size of blades fits your circular saw best, you can explore the different types of blades.
Circular saw blades are designed specifically for different tasks. There are the cross-cut blades, the rip-cut blades, the combination blades that work both as a cross-cut and a rip-cut, and the specialty blades designed to cut fine edges.
The Final Finish
You can find circular saws in hardware stores, home improvement stores, and online.
But if you’re buying one for the first time, it’s better to see the tool in person and check out all its features than ordering one online.
You can browse online for different brands and types of circular saws, read and watch expert reviews on them, make a shortlist, then head out to the store and see which one fits best for your needs.