The best circular saws in 2024, according to experts

A solid circular saw will provide years of quick, safe, and straight cuts no matter what project or material you're working on.

Best overall

DeWalt DCS573B Flexvolt Advantage 20V Circular Saw on a plain background

DeWalt DCS573B Flexvolt Advantage 20V Circular Saw

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Best budget

Skil 5280-01 15 Amp 7-1/4 Inch Circular Saw on a plain background with its laser level active

Skil 5280-01 15 Amp 7-1/4 Inch Circular Saw

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Best premium

Makita XSH06PT 18V X2 LXT Circular Saw Kit on a plain background

Makita XSH06PT 18V X2 LXT Circular Saw Kit

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Circular saws are powerful, versatile, and can be very affordable. As a result, they are extremely popular. They are often the first saw owned by DIY enthusiasts and are found on jobsites around the world. Although the basic design is simple, you’ll find dozens of models on the market with various features. This can be very confusing for first-time buyers. Luckily, we’re here to outline the key features and functions to consider when finding the right tool for your specific needs. Here are the best circular saws on the market right now.

How we chose the best circular saws

I am a keen DIYer and have remodeled two of our homes from the ground up. I have owned multiple circular saws and occasionally pushed them to their limits. To add to my experience and ensure we had up-to-date technical information, we researched the current offerings from all the leading manufacturers.

When putting together our collated selection of the best circular saws, we aimed to find tools for all needs and budgets. Some of our picks offer impressive performance but would be overkill for many, so we have also included models that would suit beginners or occasional users. In addition to performance and budget, we looked at construction materials to ensure durability, power source, any features that made them more user-friendly, and weight—which can have a considerable impact if the tool is used for long periods.

The best circular saws: Reviews & Recommendations

Our favorite circular saws offer something for everyone, from the DIY user on a budget to the demanding professional. We assigned each category so that new circular saw buyers could quickly identify the tools most likely to meet their needs, but all of our picks are tools we’d be proud to keep in our storage shed.

Best overall: DeWalt DCS573B Flexvolt Advantage 20V Circular Saw

DeWalt DCS573B Flexvolt Advantage 20V Circular Saw

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Why it made the cut: A feature-packed circular saw from a brand renowned for durable construction and reliable performance.

Specs

  • Blade Diameter: 7-1/4 inches
  • Power: 20V cordless
  • Maximum Depth of cut: 2-9/16 inches
  • Weight: 8.2 pounds (excluding battery)

Pros

  • Runs at 5,500 rpm for faster cutting
  • Flexvolt Advantage accepts 20V or 60V batteries
  • Brushless motor maximizes battery performance

Cons

  • Premium price tag and there’s no bag
  • As is common, battery and charger are extra

With so many good tools available, picking a single best circular saw is never easy, but the DeWalt is arguably the best all-rounder on the market. It has renowned durability and reliability on top of its impressive performance. It also offers numerous user-friendly features that suit both professionals and amateurs who are prepared to invest in quality.

The DeWalt circular saw is a powerful 20V cordless model that runs at 5,500 rpm, providing faster cutting than many rivals. The brushless motor maximizes battery life. Thanks to the Flexvolt Advantage system, this saw can also use DeWalt’s high-capacity 60V batteries, which the manufacturer claims can result in a 77-percent power increase. In real terms, the larger batteries are more expensive, but those who use a circular saw every day should improve productivity considerably.

The saw cuts to a maximum depth of 2-9/16 inches, with the blade at 90 degrees and 2 inches at 45 degrees. An LED light makes it easier to see cut lines and improves accuracy in low-light conditions. An electric brake stops the blade quickly, so it’s safe to put the saw down after a cut. A rafter hook, favored by framers and other carpentry trades, is also included. The aluminum sole helps keep weight down, but once a battery is added, the all-up weight will be around 9 pounds.

Best budget: Skil 5280-01 15 Amp 7-1/4 Inch Circular Saw

Skil 5280-01 15 Amp 7-1/4 Inch Circular Saw

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Why it made the cut: Skil is one of the best-known circular saw brands, and this model offers good capacities at a budget-friendly price.

Specs

  • Blade Diameter: 7-1/4 inches
  • Power: 15 amp corded
  • Maximum Depth of cut: 2-7/16 inches
  • Weight: 8.7 pounds

Pros

  • Packed with useful features at a competitive price
  • Laser makes accurate cutting easier
  • Dust blower clears the cut line

Cons

  • Complaints are rare, but there have been motor faults

Skil was the first manufacturer to offer a hand-held circular saw way back in the 1920s, so they have unrivaled experience with this kind of tool. The Skil 5280-01 is their latest corded model and is a feature-packed circular saw at a very competitive price.

The 15 amp motor delivers 5,300 rpm for rapid cutting. Maximum depth is 2-7/16 inches at 90 degrees and 1-15/16 inches at 45 degrees. A single-sided laser is provided, which many beginners find invaluable for accurate working. In addition, a front-facing dust blower clears the cut line to maintain visibility.

An indicator light on the top of the handle lets you know power is on, and a trigger guard with a safety lock helps prevent accidental starts. Conveniently, the wrench for blade changing is kept on the saw. The sole is steel rather than aluminum, which helps keep costs down but adds a little weight, though it’s no heavier than many cordless competitors. The Skil circular saw would make a great value-for-money addition to the homeowner’s DIY tool kit, and the low price even includes a carry bag.

Best splurge: Makita XSH06PT 18V X2 LXT Circular Saw Kit

Makita XSH06PT 18V X2 LXT Circular Saw Kit

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Why it made the cut: This is a complete, high-quality, high-performance kit designed to satisfy the most demanding professional.

Specs

  • Blade Diameter: 7-1/4 inches
  • Power: 36V cordless
  • Maximum Depth of cut: 2-5/8 inches
  • Weight: 10.5 pounds (including batteries)

Pros

  • Powerful pro-grade tool with batteries and charger
  • 3-stage battery charge indicator
  • Dual LEDs brighten the darkest workplace

Cons

  • It’s a considerable investment
  • Heavier than many

Those needing a high-performance circular saw will want to look closely at the impressive Makita SH06PT kit. Where most rivals offer 18V power, the Makita uses two batteries in tandem to provide 36V. What’s more, these are high-capacity 5Ah (Amp hour) versions that will deliver consistent performance for longer than the standard 2Ah models. The kit includes a dual-port rapid charger and a durable carry bag.

With a speed of 6,000 rpm, the Makita is one of the fastest-cutting circular saws on the market. The electronically-controlled brushless motor also features Automatic Speed Change that matches torque output to the demands of the material being cut so the blade won’t slow or bind. Maximum depth of cut is 2-5/8 inches at 90 degrees and 1-13/16 at 45 degrees. There are two cut-line LEDs fitted for clarity in even the darkest workplaces, and 3-stage LEDs are also used to indicate charge level.

The sole is made of magnesium, which is both lighter than aluminum and stronger. However, the Makita still weighs 10.5 pounds with both batteries installed, making it heavier than most. Given the investment required, the Makita SH06PT circular saw kit will most likely appeal to professionals, though it could also benefit keen DIYers undertaking large remodeling jobs.

Best corded: DeWalt DWE575SB 15 Amp Circular Saw

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Why it made the cut: This tool meets the high standards expected of the brand and is one of the best general-purpose circular saws available.

Specs

  • Blade Diameter: 7-1/4 inches
  • Power: 15 amp corded
  • Maximum Depth of cut: 2-9/16 inches
  • Weight: 8.8 pounds

Pros

  • Durable, reliable, and versatile all-rounder
  • Integral blower for line-of-sight visibility
  • Ball bearing lower guard for durability

Cons

  • Expensive for a corded saw
  • No LED or laser guide

Before the introduction of cordless tools, the DeWalt DWE575SB circular saw might easily have been our best overall pick. It has the brand’s renowned durability and reliability, and its 15 amp motor means it can deliver consistent cutting performance while battery-powered competitors are taking a break for recharging.

Blade speed is 5,200 rpm with a maximum depth of cut of 2-9/16 inches at 90 degrees and 1-9/10 inches at 45 degrees. It will cut bevels at up to 57 degrees, which gives it greater versatility than many rivals.

The DeWalt corded circular saw does not have LEDs or a laser for guidance, but it does have a blower to keep the cut-line free from dust. There’s also an electric brake to stop the blade quickly. The lower blade guard runs on ball bearings, which might not seem much, but they should ensure smooth, snag-free operation for the life of the saw. With its aluminum sole, the DeWalt DWE575SB is also relatively light and easy to handle.

Best heavy-duty: Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 15 Amp Worm Drive Circular Saw

Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 15 Amp Worm Drive Circular Saw

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Why it made the cut: While most rivals have similar cutting depths, none can match this circular saw for consistent power delivery.

Specs

  • Blade Diameter: 7-1/4 inches
  • Power: 15 amp corded
  • Maximum Depth of cut: 2-3/8 inches
  • Weight: 11.5 pounds

Pros

  • The unrivaled power delivery of worm drive
  • Cut-Ready system for rapid adjustment
  • Ergonomic handles reduce effort

Cons

  • Bigger and heavier than most
  • Not recommended for inexperienced users

Skil produces two ranges of power tools. Those under the Skil brand are largely intended for DIY use. The Skilsaw brand is for professional tools, and the SPT77WML-01 worm drive circular saw falls under that category.

In the hands of experienced users, this tool has one main advantage: the worm drive. In a nutshell, this is direct gearing between motor and blade arbor (the shaft that holds the blade), which effectively transmits almost all of the power available. So, while actual cutting capacities are little different from many competitors, the Skilsaw delivers consistent performance even when sawing through the toughest materials.

The Skilsaw worm drive circular saw uses the brand’s own ‘Dual-Field’ motor specifically designed for circular saws. It drives the blade at 5,300 rpm. Maximum depth of cut at 90 degrees is 2-3/8 inches, and at 45 degrees is 1-15/16 inches. The Cut-Ready system has pre-set markings allowing for rapid depth adjustment to suit commonly used materials like 2×4 or 1/2-inch plywood. Handles are ergonomically positioned to put the operator’s force at the optimum position behind the saw to minimize effort. Nevertheless, even with the magnesium she and frame, the Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 does weigh 11.5 pounds. This bulky and comparatively heavy circular saw is not recommended for beginners.

Best compact: Milwaukee 2530-20 M12 Fuel Circular Saw

Milwaukee 2530-20 M12 Fuel Circular Saw

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Why it made the cut: This tool is light and easy to handle and can still cut many DIY and trade materials.

Specs

  • Blade Diameter: 5-3/8 inches
  • Power: 12V cordless
  • Maximum Depth of cut: 1-5/8 inches
  • Weight: 5.25 pounds (excluding battery)

Pros

  • Compact and very lightweight
  • Maintenance-free brushless motor
  • Overload, overheating, and over-discharge protection

Cons

  • Some full-size corded tools are cheaper
  • Blade is HSS not TCT

Those who mostly cut 2x lumber and sheet material could find the Milwaukee 2530-20 an attractive alternative to full-size circular saws. It is not only more compact but at under 6 pounds with a battery fitted, it is also remarkably light.

The maintenance-free brushless motor runs at 3,600 rpm. With a blade that’s only 5-3/8 inches in diameter it obviously has lower cutting capacities than a 7-1/4 inch circular saw, but it still offers a maximum depth of 1-5/8 inches at 90 degrees, and 1-1/8 inches at 45 degrees. It makes a good choice for DIYers and professionals who don’t need a heavy-duty circular saw. The Redlink Plus electronic control system optimizes battery performance and also protects the saw from overheating, overloading, and over-discharge, so the Milwaukee 2530-20 should maintain the same level of performance throughout its life.

The tool comes with a useful built-in LED work light, but somewhat surprisingly, the blade is only HSS (high-speed steel) rather than the TCT (tungsten carbide tipped) type usually found on a circular saw of this quality. Frequent users will probably want to upgrade it.

What to consider before buying a circular saw

At first glance, most circular saws look very similar, and the key differences may not be obvious. The following section explains these in detail so potential buyers are fully informed when making their choice:

Power and drive

Corded tools are almost always 15-amp because it’s the maximum power delivery available from a standard electrical outlet. Cordless tools vary considerably. 18- and 20-volt are common (they are effectively the same thing), but compact circular saws may be 12-volt, and heavy-duty models can be 36-volt or even 60-volt. With cordless tools, it’s also worth checking the Ah (amp hour) battery rating. The higher the figure, the longer the battery will maintain performance. So, for example, a 4Ah battery will run twice as long as a 2Ah battery.

The motor’s revolutions per minute (rpm) are another performance indicator because higher speed usually means faster cutting. However, it’s important to combine this with adequate power; otherwise, the blade might stall when taking bigger cuts or in tough material.

Most circular saws have sidewinder drive where the motor is fixed in line with the arbor (the shaft that holds the blade). The alternative is worm drive, where the motor sits behind the blade and is connected via worm gears. The latter typically transmits more power but increases the size and weight of the saw.

Blade size and capacities

A blade of 7-1/4 inches is the most popular size, but depending on configuration, the maximum cutting depth can vary. It may not be enough to make a difference for most users, but it’s worth checking.

There are also mini circular saws popular with hobbyists, which usually have a 4-1/2 inch blade, though even smaller versions are available. At the other end of the scale, there are a number of 10- and 12-inch circular saws. The largest we have seen has a 16-5/16 inch diameter blade and is capable of slicing through 6-inch beams. So, whatever size the material needs to be cut, there’s a circular saw capable of doing the job.

All circular saw blades are made of high-speed steel (HSS). Many have teeth that are tungsten carbide tipped (TCT). Tungsten carbide is harder and stays sharper for longer. These blades are a little more expensive, but most users find them worth the extra expense.

Weight and materials

A half-pound difference in the weight of a circular saw might not seem much, but it has an impact if you’re using it all day. The material used for the shoe (the bottom plate) can make a considerable difference.

Steel is often used on low-cost circular saws. It is strong and inexpensive, but there is a weight penalty. Aluminum is lighter and often the choice of good quality saws. The best material is magnesium (actually magnesium alloy), which is both strong and light but also expensive. As a result, it is usually only found on circular saws aimed at professional users.

Other features

  • LED work lights ensure the cut line can be seen clearly. LEDs might also be used as charge indicators on cordless circular saws.
  • Lasers can help improve accuracy. They track the path of the blade, so alignment is easier.
  • An electric brake is a nice feature. It brings the blade to a stop almost immediately. This can prevent motor damage if the blade jams in the workpiece and means users don’t need to wait to put the saw down once the cut is finished.
  • Some circular saws have a dust port, so a shop vac or other extraction can be attached.

FAQs

Q: What’s the difference between a circular saw and a miter saw?

A circular saw is a hand-held tool that’s taken to the workpiece, whereas a miter saw usually sits on a bench or stand, and the work is taken to it. Miter saws can cut thicker material than circular saws, and can create compound angles, but they cannot cut sheet material like plywood or OSB. Professionals and keen DIYers will often have both.

Q: What safety gear do I need with a circular saw?

As with all powered saws, some protective eyewear should be worn, and a dust mask is also a good idea. The blade guard will prevent most accidents, so it should never be removed or jammed open.

Q: What is kickback and how do I avoid it?

Kickback happens when the blade binds in the material, and either the workpiece or the saw gets thrown up by the rotating blade. It can cause serious injury. With a circular saw, it often happens when the saw strays off the cut line, and the user tries to twist the tool slightly to correct the problem. Rather than trying to continue with the existing cut and risk injury, it is better to start again from the other side of the material.

Final thoughts on the best circular saws

All of the circular saws described are very good tools and are unlikely to disappoint their owners. However, with its combination of performance, durability, and reliability, the DeWalt DCS573B is the standout choice. That said, it’s not the cheapest circular saw on the market. For those with a more limited budget, the Skil 5280-01 is a perfectly competent alternative.

If you’re looking for other cutting tools, check out our lists of the best miter saws and the best table saws. The right tool makes the job much simpler.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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Bob Beacham

Contributor

Bob Beacham has always had a fascination for all things mechanical and received an engineering degree from Aylesbury College in the UK. During his 35-year career, he has worked on everything from automotive components to oil rigs. On weekends you will often find him tinkering with a car or motorcycle. He’s also a DIY enthusiast, and with a great deal of help from his wife has completely renovated two derelict buildings, turning them into comfortable homes. He now splits his time between contract work and writing articles that share his practical experience. He may be the last person on earth who isn’t on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.