What is a Circular Saw?

A circular saw is a power-saw using a toothed or abrasive disc or blade to cut different materials using a rotary motion spinning around an arbor.

A circular saw is a tool for cutting many materials such as wood, masonry, plastic, or metal and may be hand-held or mounted to a machine. Circular saw blades are specially designed for each particular material they are intended to cut and in cutting wood are specifically designed for making rip-cuts, cross-cuts, or a combination of both.

Circular saws are commonly powered by electricity but may be powered by a gasoline engine or a hydraulic motor which allows it to be fastened to heavy equipment, eliminating the need for a separate energy source.

4 Main Factors to Consider when Choosing a Jigsaw

  1. Circular Saw Design
  2. Circular Saw Power Source
  3. Circular Saw Features
  4. Circular Saw Blades

1. Circular Saw Design

Two basic designs:

Sidewinder or inline saws are the most common, traditional circular saws. The motor is located along the same axis as the blade. A shaft runs directly from the motor to drive the blade. Sidewinder saws are more compact and lightweight than worm drive saws and are well-suited to most circular saw applications.

Worm drive saws have their motors positioned at a right angle to the saw blade. The motor uses gears to increase the torque transferred to the blade, which makes the saw well-suited for heavy-duty use. Worm drive saws are longer than sidewinder saws and tend to be quieter.

2. Circular Saw Power Source

Two types of available power source:

Cordless circular saws are convenient when working in areas where extension cords are difficult to use. And, since they are smaller than most corded saws, they work well in confined spaces. Cordless saws are best suited to cutting wood and wood products, due to the limitations of their batteries. They can cut tough materials, but the extra power needed for those applications drains batteries quickly. Cordless saws typically range in size from 5-3/8 to 6-1/2 inches.

Corded circular saws don’t depend on batteries for power and are better suited for tough cutting jobs like masonry, steel and continuous woodcutting. Corded saws are available in many sizes, but the most common is 7-1/4 inches. A corded circular saw requires a suitable extension cord. 

3. Circular Saw Features

Here are some common features that you should look for:

  • Amps on corded saws and volts on cordless saws measure power. Higher amps and volts mean more cutting power.
  • Blade capacity determines the maximum depth of cut a saw can achieve. The larger the blade, the deeper the cut. The most common blade diameter is 7-1/4 inches. Most saws with blade capacities of 6 inches or more can cut through 2 inch dimensional lumber at a 45 degree angle in a single pass. A 5-3/8-inch saw can cut through 2 inch dimensional lumber in one pass at 90 degrees but requires two passes at 45 degrees. As a general rule, saws with smaller blade capacity weigh less and are easier to control.
  • Electric brakes reverse the flow of electricity in the saw motor when the trigger is released. Reversing the current stops the blade’s momentum quickly. Electric brakes can stop the blade in as little as two seconds, much quicker than a blade on a saw without this feature.
  • Spindle or shaft locks make it easier to change the saw blade. The shaft lock immobilizes the shaft and blade, making it much easier to change the blade.
  • Bevel capacity indicates the maximum bevel cut the saw can make.
  • Bevel stops are presets that allow quick adjustments for bevel cuts.
  • Laser guides help improve cutting accuracy by projecting a beam of light onto the work piece.

4. Circular Saw Blades

The blade is the key to all circular saw. Different blades are available for different applications. When purchasing a blade, make sure it’s compatible with your saw. Some common blade types are below:

  • High-speed steel blades are harder than steel blades and stay sharper longer.
  • Carbide-tipped blades have carbide tips attached to their teeth. They are more expensive than other blades, but they stay sharp much longer than steel or high-speed steel.
  • Tile-cutting blades are specially designed for cutting ceramic tile. Better tile-cutting blades have diamond-tipped blades.
  • Masonry blades are made of abrasive material for cutting concrete, brick, cinder block and other masonry materials.


Take into consideration the above factors before buying a circular saw. You should aim to buy a product that meet your project or task requirement and most importantly is the safety aspect of the tool.

If you want to make sure you are getting the right circular saw for your job, feel free to contact us. Our professionals are more than happy to help you.