circular saw guide

A Circular Saw Guide For Homeowners And Handymen

Do you have a project in mind and no saw to get the job done? No worries. We’re here to help with this handy circular saw guide.

Whether you’re experienced with power tools or a complete newbie, you’ll want to make sure you know the ins and outs of circular saws before making your pick. Are you wondering which type of saw you’ll need? We’ve got anwers.

To learn more about circular saw features, types, uses, and circular saw sizes, read on.

Circular Saw Guide: The Basics

Circular saws are used to quickly and cleanly make straight cuts across a board or longer cuts along the length of a board. These cuts are called crosscuts and rips, respectively. Circular saws can also be used for bevel cuts, which are cuts that are angled and not square.

Circular saws have a:

  • Retracting blade guard to cover the blade when it is not in use
  • Foot plate to steady the saw against the piece being cut
  • Depth adjustment to accommodate difference in thicknesses of boards
  • Bevel adjustment that allows the foot plate (or shoe) to tilt to that bevel cuts can be made

These components come standard on circular saws.

Basic Circular Saw Designs

The most common circular saws are called inline, or sidewinder, saws. In this type of saw, the motor is located in line with the blade. These blades spin very fast, usually at around 6,000 rpm.

The other circular saw type is a worm drive saw. These saws have a motor that is at the rear of the saw, positioned at a right angle to the blade. A gear is used to spin the blade.

Since gears are used by the motor to spin the blade, they don’t spin as fast. However, this gear setup allows for more torque, so these saws are best for heavy-duty jobs. They are less compact and light than sidewinders but tend to be quieter.

Circular Saw Sizes

You’ll find circular saw sizes classified by blade diameter. The most common sizes are 5.5 to 7.25 inches. The size you’ll need is generally dictated by the types of projects you’ll be working on.

Circular Saw Blades

Perhaps the most important component of the saw is the blade. A variety of blades are sold for different types of projects and applications. It’s worth noting that blades should be compatible with the saw you ultimately choose.

Blade types include:

  • Blades designed for cutting ceramic tile, including higher quality blades that are diamond tipped
  • Blades intended for masonry work, such as cutting brick, cinder block, and concrete, that are made of rough, abrasive materials
  • High-speed steel blades that stay sharp longer than regular steel blades
  • Blades that have carbide-tipped teeth that stay sharper longer than high-speed steel

The blade that works best for you depends on your project needs, frequency of use, and your preference for higher quality blades that last longer.

Power Sources for Circular Saws

Consider how and where you’ll be using your saw when deciding what type of power supply will best suit you. There are two types.


Corded circular saws are great for jobs that require a lot of steady power. These would include masonry projects, cutting metals like steel, and cutting wood continuously.

Corded saws don’t depend on batteries, so you won’t have to worry about depleted power. As long as you have access to an outlet, you’re good to go for long periods of time. These saws will require an extension cord to accommodate different workspaces.


Cordless circular saws are all about convenience and mobility. They’re good for jobs where extension cords aren’t practical. Most cordless circular saws are smaller and easier to use in tight spaces.

Because their power is limited, cordless saws are generally better for cutting wood and products made of wood. Tougher materials like brick and metal can quickly run down batteries.

Extra Features

After you’ve decided on the basics, you can narrow your circular saw choices based on their features. In our circular saw guide, we’ve included a list of common saw features that you may find helpful for your needs.

Here are a few features to consider:

Blade Capacity

This will determine the maximum cut depth of a saw. Larger blades achieve deeper cuts. Though saws with a smaller blade capacity may be lighter and offer more control, they may take two passes for beveled cuts on thicker pieces.

Electric Brakes

This feature allows you to quickly stop the saw blade. This is accomplished by a reversal in the flow of electricity in the saw motor. This reversal of the electric current halts the momentum of the blade so that it stops in as little as two seconds. Saws that don’t have this feature take much longer to stop spinning.

Amps and Volts

Amps (for corded saws) and volts (for cordless models) measure the saw’s power. You’ll have more cutting power with higher amps and volts.

Shaft Locks

Shaft Locks make changing the blade much easier by immobilizing the shaft and the blade.

Laser Guides

If cutting accuracy is important to you, these might be a feature to consider. Laser guides improve cutting accuracy with a beam of light that is projected onto the piece you are working with. No more eyeballing the line or hoping for an accurate cut.

Bevel Stops

These presets allow for easy bevel cut adjustments. Bevel stops take the headache out of adjusting for those angles.

Bevel Capacity

This feature indicates the maximum bevel cut that can be achieved by the circular saw.

Finding the Right Circular Saw for Your Needs

A successful project begins and ends with proper tools and materials. You’ll quickly find that a circular saw is a necessity in most projects, large or small. Hopefully, you’ve found some great information in this circular saw guide that will help you choose the best saw for your needs.

For more tips, tricks, and reviews on the best tools out there, feel free to check out the rest of our blog posts.