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Old 11-18-2010, 04:50 PM
hikerguy hikerguy is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Durham, NC
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Default Type of circular saw to buy....

I've never owned a circular saw, but have a need for one now since buying a home. I've read a few articles and have narrowed it down to the following features:

7 ¼” in-line, metal or cast metal base, depth of cut and angle adjustments (with large knobs and smartly placed levers to make the adjustments), and a
shaft-lock mechanism for easy blade replacement.

One thing I hadn't read about is whether to buy a circular saw with the blade on the left or right (of the handle). I'm right handed. Which would be best in my case? Also, Is a spindle lock the same as a shaft lock (I'm thinking it is).

Any other features I should look for are welcome. I won't be a heavy user, but I want something that will last.


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Old 11-18-2010, 04:58 PM
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The norm I've always seen is blade to the right of the right hand. I have a 15 yr old Craftsman that still serves me well. Of coarse use carbide tip blades for best results.
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Old 11-18-2010, 05:12 PM
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I generally go with Dewalt when it comes to power tools. Milwaukee and bosch are also good brands, but I've found dewalt to be a good value and dependable so i stick with them.
I believe you will be happier with the blade mounted to the right. That seems to be the standard for right handed use.
I have a bosch CS5 circular saw I bought because of a good sale and I haven't been very happy with it. Its a left bladed model that was advertised as having "better visibility" but I've found that it just blows more dirt in your face and you really have to look over the top of the saw and not from the side anyhow. Its actually kind of awkward to use right handed, I almost always run it with my left.
To be fair, part of my being unhappy with the saw is that I loaned it to my masonry sub shortly after getting it. That was borderline retarted (ok not borderline, it was flat out stupid) on my part, masons do their cutting with a pointy hammer and should not be trusted with anything more complicated. I believe the electricians got ahold of it at one point too and thats almost as bad. At any rate, is has a bend in it and would not cut without binding when I got it back. I managed to straighten the base out enough to make it useable but its definitely not a precision cutter any more.
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Old 11-18-2010, 06:37 PM
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I've always made do with a cheap Skilsaw, like the model 5250 or thereabouts. I only use one for ripping a sheet of plywood or cutting through flooring. Of course I do have 10" table, chop and radial arm saws when the work can come to the saw. The latest acquisition is a 60's era Dewalt 10" radial arm saw that is really awesome. That was back when they knew how to make saws.
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Old 11-18-2010, 06:41 PM
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I've owned Craftsman, Skil (left and right-hand), Skil wormdrives, Porter Cable, Rockwell, Milwaukee and Hitachi along with several other brands.
For brute force, the worm drive was outstanding but not really necessary for me.
The Hitachi remains the most impressive and friendliest of any "skilsaw" I've ever owned and I don't intend to part with it.
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Old 11-19-2010, 06:31 AM
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Studying all the opinions here.
My saw grew legs at some point so I need to get another one eventually.
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Old 11-19-2010, 07:00 AM
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I have a Skil worm drive that I love. Tons of torque and not a common item here. The blade is on the left so it works well for me being a lefty. Those fortunate few who are allowed to use it complain about the weight.

I always bought makita without question, but i think they have declined in quality somewhat over the last few years and get a good bit made in china now which doesnt help.
I have a little 7 1/4 makita which is very easy to use one handed.

Hitachi made good stuff, I choose carefully however as china made is increasing with them now too.

I buy good blades for mine. Cost a lot more than the budget stuff, but the cut quality and long life is worth it. The mid level blades are what I use for general cutting on things that could have nails in it.
The cheap bulk pack blades are worthless and give a cut that could be bettered by hacking away with a butterknife instead.
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Old 11-19-2010, 08:21 AM
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Default she saw seashells by the seashore (5 times fast)

We use the Hitachi C7SB2 in our machine modified to suit our needs. This saw was chosen after comparing it against many other commercially available saws. It comes with a 24T carbide blade. About $80-$90US. In the year or so we have been using it there have been no problems at all. Yes, it is made in China, but it is well designed and constructed so I think you would be happy with it.

If you are on a budget, often you can find a "discount" unit returned by a previous customer. My Craftsman was acquired this way for $20 and came with warranty because I bought it "new". This saw has served me very well cutting 1000s of feet of plywood and is my "default" 7" circular saw.

Home DeLowe's has mega-sales the day after Thanksgiving (here in the states) and a couple years ago I picked up a NIB Ryobi 7" for $20 that way. It too, works well and would be a good choice if the price is right.
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Old 11-19-2010, 08:26 AM
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I go thru about 6-8, 7-1/4" circular saws a year. Not a single one of them has cut a piece of the W word (wood, there I said it**). We use them to cut refractory tiles in the boiler, we burn them up after 4 or 5 jobs, it doesn't matter if they are expensive or cheap, they all seem to last the same. We go to Sears, and whatever saw is on sale that day in the $59.95-79.95 range, thats the one we buy. The abrasive grit from the tiles, just eats the bearings alive, so we go mid range at Sears. I suppose on wood they would last.

** I worked in a furniture factory for about 3 years, at night, if I never see sawdust again it will be too soon.


Last edited by platypus20; 11-19-2010 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 11-19-2010, 09:41 AM
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dubby dubby is offline
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I have 3 circular saws... One, a 'cheapy' Skil brand... bought when I'd left my good one at the shop and didn't want to drive back to town. It works, but feels very flimsy and started growling at me after only a few cuts. It gets crap jobs now where I think there could be damage to the tool--but it still keeps working.

The other is a Porter Cable. My favorite things about this saw are the base and the tool less blade change. With good blades there's absolutely nothing I can't hack up. It's heavier than most, which I feel is a great feature on awkward and off-hand cuts. You don't have to hold it down as much. It has a nice grip, a very positive feeling switch, and the biggie--no 'dummy button' that has to be pressed before you can pull the trigger. That was it's #1 selling point to me.

The third, and I believe the best, is a late '60s-early '70s SkilSaw. It's not just a "Skil"'s the real deal from when they made saws that gave the segment it's name. I inherited it from my Grandaddy who was a roofer for 45 years, and will still scour garage sales and thrift stores for 'parts' saws just to have on hand should anything break. I save it for use on family projects and fun stuff, and when I just feel like I need to remember my Grandaddy.

As far as lefty-righty models, I prefer the blade on the left. That's what I was taught on and first used so that's what I'm comfortable with. You do get a lot more 'trash' thrown in your face as a righty, but I feel that looking down at the blade can give me a better cut than trusting the index marks on the base. I believe the left-right choice is one intended for safety as the further the blade is from your hands the less chance of you putting your hand in the way. By that logic, a righty should buy a blade on the right, a lefty with the blade on the left. The handle is held in that hand and your off-hand is used to stabilize your work or operate the blade guard.
I've always had more time than money.

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