The Best Circular Saw Buying Guide

Circular Saw Buying Guide

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The circular saw is a true staple of any woodworking shop. They are powerful, versatile, and portable, giving you access to a wide range of cuts that other tools just can’t quite claim. If you want to rip woods without the need for a table saw, the circular saw is going to be your friend.

But for as useful as the circular saw is, it’s not always so easy determining which saw is right for your shop. After all, there are a lot of circular saws on the market and none of them are quite alike. Don’t worry, we are here to help. Read on for a comprehensive guide on choosing the right circular saw for your needs.

First, Why You Need One

If you are a blossoming woodworker who has never had the pleasure of using a circular saw before you are in for a treat. This tool gives you access to a wide variety of cuts that you simply can’t do without if you are to take your craft seriously.

The circular saw provides you access to safe bevel cuts, rip cuts, and other techniques that open the door to more complex woodwork. It is a tool that is truly for anyone that wants to take their woodwork to the next level.

On the other hand, the circular saw most certainly is not for the beginner, or at least not the beginner who is not dedicated to the process.

While the circular saw is useful, it is also one of the most dangerous power tools on the market. It’s the great power being accompanied by great responsibility conundrum.

If you feel up for the challenge of using your circular saw safely and responsibly, then read on for a guide on how to choose the perfect one.

Different Types of Circular Saws

As I said earlier, there are plenty of different types of circular saws from which to choose from, and we will now take a close look at the options you are likely to encounter as you examine the selection at your local hardware store.

The sidewinder is the most common option that you are likely to encounter in your quest to find the perfect circular saw. The sidewinder is characterized by the location of its motor, which is placed on the side of the saw making it more compact.

Much of the time, you will find that the sidewinder is one of the more lightweight options available, though of course, this will not always be the case. However, in general, you can count on the lightweight nature of the sidewinder saw making it a good option for overhead cutting, and, of course, transportation.

One of the other pluses of the sidewinder circular saw is that, due to the proximity of the blade to the motor, you can expect a higher RPM rate, which will give you a little bit more options with your woodwork. The sidewinder also gives you the option to go cordless if you want. Of course, there are pros and cons to using a cordless saw, but for those looking for the most portability possible, forgoing the cord will certainly help.

Who is the sidewinder good for? Pretty much anyone.

Best Sidewinder Circular Saw


Our pick for the best sidewinder circular saw is the DEWALT DWE575SB, it's an excellent lightweight and compact sidewinder saw. Easy maneuverability is a great feature to have in a circular saw.

  • Electric Brake
    The blade stops quickly after only 2 to 3 seconds, we love added safety!
  • Dust Blower
    Integrated dust blower keeps your cutting line clean and easy to see.
  • High Power
    The 1,950 Watt and 5,100 RPM motor is a real powerhouse.

Worm Drive
Personally, I am a fan of the worm drive, though that is of course not to say that it is the right option for everybody. The worm drive saw is distinguished from the sidewinder by the fact that its motor, instead of being located on the side of the device, is situated in the rear.

Because of this structure, the worm drive is much longer and skinnier than the sidewinder saw. The design makes plunge cuts a little bit easier, and you are also going to have better access to working with thicker materials.The problem with this saw, if it has one, is that it requires more maintenance than other similar models, mostly in that you will probably have to oil the components from time to time more than you would have to for the sidewinder.

You also may not benefit from the increased RPM that the sidewinder enjoys due to the proximity of the motor to the saw blade, though equipment is made so well these days that you can still count on all of the power that you need. While not quite as ubiquitous as the sidewinder, this is still a saw that going to be good for most users, especially those who will appreciate the easier access to plunge cuts.

Best Worm Drive Circular Saw


Another quality saw from DeWalt, the DWS535 is our pick for best worm drive circular saw for the money. It's a common favorite among contractors and features lightweight and high power.

  • Lightweight
    Only 13.8 pounds, due in part to the magnesium shoe.
  • Ease of Use
    Top-accessible spindle lock and extra wide saw hook make this a great user experience.
  • High Power
    Motor packs a punch with 4,800 no-load RPM speed.

Hypoid Circular Saw
The final type of circular saw that we will be looking at is the hypoid. On an up-close examination, you may very well mistake this tool for the worm drive. Indeed, they do bear a striking resemblance, each with their motor in the back which yields the long, narrow body type that we discussed earlier.

You will find that the difference here resides in the transmission as well as the gear box. The make of the hypoid saw differs in the placement of a few essential gears. The result is slightly better blade contact, as well as a smaller and quieter motor. You will also find that the motor is sealed with this type of saw, meaning that you will not need to apply oil the same way that you would for the worm drive saw that we mentioned earlier.

What you are essentially getting here is a tool that has all the pros of a worm drive saw that also is able to improve upon its cons. That being the case, this saw is for anyone that likes the features of the worm drive saw but also values a little bit more power, as well as the decreased need for maintenance.

Best Hypoid Circular Saw

Makita 5377MG

If you're looking for the best hypoid circular saw for the money, look no further than the Makita 5377MG. The saw features a powerful 15 AMP motor along with magnesium construction makes it a powerful and lightweight tool.

  • Lightweight
    Magnesium components make for a lightweight (13.2 lbs.) and well balanced saw.
  • Heat Treated Steel Gears
    Heat treated hypoid steel gears ensure long life and reliability.
  • Oil Bath
    The sealed oil bath technology helps ensure 100% surface coated gears.

Buying Considerations

Now that we have taken an in-depth look at the three main types of circular saws that you can expect to find, let’s now examine a few of the key buying considerations that will ensure you choose the one best suited for your needs.

  • Type
  • We of course just looked at the different types of saws that you can expect to find throughout the course of your search, so I won’t take the time to reiterate them, but suffice it to say, you should decide going in what type of saw is best suited for your needs so that you don’t waste time looking at equipment that isn’t even right for you.

  • Power
  • While circular saws are, in general, powerful tools, the extent to which this is true is going to vary model to model. Keep in mind that the more power you have the easier it is going to be to work with tougher materials, so if you are buying this saw with the intention of ripping hardwoods, you are going to want as much power as you can get.

  • Blade Position
  • Typically, you are going to find that most sidewinders feature a lift-side blade placement, while most worm drive saws feature right side blade placement.

    Which will be best for you is mostly a matter of personal preference, but blade placement does make a big difference.

    No, not necessarily a technical difference, but you definitely do want to approach your woodwork with a sight-line that you are comfortable and confident with so keep that in mind as you look for your circular saw.

  • Warranty
  • There are a lot of parts and pieces in a power tool, and they are put to the test every single time that you use them. While you shouldn’t expect anything to go wrong with your saw the fact of the matter is that it does happen sometimes. When it does, you want to make sure that you won’t be financially responsible for it.

    Not all warranties are the same, so read up before you buy your saw.

  • Price
  • Price is the final and ultimate consideration of all buying decisions. If you have never shopped for power tools before, you will soon find out that they are available at a wide range of prices.

    However, that is not to say that you have to break your bank in order to get some good stuff. There are plenty of circular saws out there that will provide everything that you need for an affordable price. Remember that there is nothing wrong with a basic saw just so long as it is able to accomplish everything that you need it to.


As you can see, there is plenty to consider as you look into buying a circular saw. The good news is that these considerations are all fairly easy to make, and they are all in place to ensure that you get a piece of equipment that is perfect for you and your shop.

Like I said at the beginning, a good circular saw really will change the way that you do your woodwork. Just be sure to do your homework, take your time, and select the very best saw for your unique needs. Your shop will thank you for it.

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