The best small circular saw will depend on several factors that we discuss throughout the article. Not everybody needs a full-size circular saw at all time so for your home projects having a small circular saw in your toolbox will streamline your process and make you more efficient.
Have you used a small circular saw or found a need for one? Why use a small circular saw? Your regular circular saw can cut everything you need to cut anyway. Anyway, which one is the best small circular saw? Well, keep an open mind, today we introduce the features and benefits of a small circular saw. We review the three most popular small circular saws, enabling you to make the best choice. A small circular saw, as its name indicates, is smaller than the regular circular saw and easier to carry around. Because it’s lighter and more compact, it can also be easily gift-wrapped for a special occasion. A small circular saw is an ideal gift for a DIY family member.
Why A Small Circular Saw?
The small circular saw is roughly 50% lighter than a regular circular saw. It is also designed to be used with one hand. Even though it is a small handheld tool, it delivers the same fast cutting of a regular 7’1/4” (184.15mm) machine. The advantage is that it is easily maneuverable and especially useful for overhead and vertical cuts. Some are capable of cutting lumber wood up to 1-11/16” (42.86 mm). Perfect for those small jobs at home.
The slim grip handle with an integrated safety trigger is insulated to protect you, should you accidentally cut into an electric cable. The handle design improves comfort while enhancing grip and control, allowing you to guide the saw with just one hand. The handle is a good fit in the hand and suitable even for a woman’s hand.
The 4-1/2″ saw is great for cutting wood, especially 2×4 nominal lumber materials. The 2×4 refers to the rough-cut green wood, but what you buy is in reality only 1.5″x3.5″. Cutting 2x4s is done in a single pass, you can do this all day long due to the reduced weight of the tool and the effortless cut. It must be noted though, that not all circular saws can handle a 2×4 cut. Lower down, we review the battery operated Makita SH02R1 with a 3-3/8″ (85.72mm) blade that delivers a maximum cutting depth of 1”. So keep on reading and make sure you choose the best tool for your needs.
The Rockwell RK3440K has a integrated laser guide
The blade is mounted to the left of the gearbox to make it easy for a right-handed user to see the line of cut. The Makita SH02R1 offers a built-in dust blower that helps to keep the line of cut free of debris so that the line is clearly visible. This is a particularly handy feature. Without the blower, I find that dust builds up very fast on the cut line, which obscures the line. The blower eliminates the need to lean over the tool to blow the dust away. Another solution is to attach a vacuum cleaner to the vacuum adapter provided by the other circular saws. It is a workable solution and also keeps the shop clean at the same time.
The blade of the small circular saw is thinner than a normal circular saw, almost half the width. The thin blade reduces the strain on the tool and at the same time, rotating at high speed. The two features combine to deliver the same performance of the full size machine. All this means is that you will not be slower with this tool but even faster because of the convenient design.
Two of the saws we review are corded machines and one is battery driven. Something to consider when buying a corded tool is the length of the cords. I find that some tools come with cords that are too short to be useful. I noticed that the two corded saws that we review are supplied with 10’ (3M) cords. In a well-designed workplace, this is adequate.
Before I go onto more valuable information on how to use a small circular saw, safety tips and a whole lot more, let’s get to the point of this article: A review of the best small circular saws.
WORX WORXSAW WX429L — 4½”
Best Small Circular Saw for the Money
- Cut 2×4’s in a single pass with an easily maneuverable compact saw that weighs 50% less than a traditional 7-1/4″ circular saw
- Thin blade makes for less tool strain, resulting in full size circular saw cutting speed and performance
- Easy-set depth gauge lever and 0-45-degree bevel settings for quick adjustments
- Left-sided blade design for great cut-line visibility; grip with integrated safety trigger for comfort, balance, and control
- Box includes 4-1/2” WORXSAW, 24T Carbide-tipped Blade, Parallel Guide, Vacuum Adapter, Allen Key, and Manufacturer’s 3-year warranty
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the WORX WX429L.
Overview | WORX WORXSAW WX429L
The WORX WORXSAW WX429L is the No.1 best seller compact circular saw on the Amazon website. It is a 120V corded-electric saw with a 10’ cord. This is a fantastic length, able to reach most places. The rated current of this machine is 4 Amp. In the user’s manual the cutting depth at 90° is given as 1-11/16 inch (42.86mm). It confirms that the WORXSAW cuts 2×4’s in a single pass at 90°. This places the WorxSaw in the same league as the Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2” compact circular saw, which uses the same size blade. We’ll be reviewing the great little Rockwell circular saw next.
VIDEO | See what it can do (WORX WORXSAW WX429L)
The WORX WORXSAW is a compact saw and weighs only 5.3 pounds (2.4kg). As can be expected, the depth of the cut can be set easily while holding the saw in hand. It is also an easy one-handed operation to tilt the blade for bevel cuts up to 45°. This makes job changes for different cutting depths and angles quick and convenient.
When you open the box, you will find it includes a 4-1/2” WORXSAW, 24T Carbide-tipped Blade. The blade is great for longevity when cutting wood, plastic, and composite materials. Also in the box is a T-shaped parallel guide that makes it a lot easier to cut parallel to the edge of the wood. A vacuum adapter is supplied for the guy who wants to connect a vacuum cleaner to remove the dust as you saw. Using a vacuum cleaner in this way is a great aid in keeping the workshop clean and keeps the cut area clean as well.
The WORX WORXSAW WX429L is a great gift idea for the men in your life. Be it for dad, brother or son, this small circular saw is a cool gift idea the men will love. It is also the most affordable of the three saws so order one online now and beat the holiday rush.
Rockwell RK3441K — 4½”
Best small circular saw for the money.
- Compact, powerful 5-amp electric motor – delivers full-size performance at 3,500 rpm to cut through 2x4s in a single pass
- Only 5 lbs., 50% lighter than conventional 7-1/4” circular saws
- Left-handed blade design provides remarkable cut-line visibility
- Slim, inline grip design provides great comfort, balance, and control – easily maneuverable for overhead cuts
- Arbor-lock button for easy blade changes
- Maximum cutting depth at 90 degrees is 1-11/16” and bevel capacity at 45 degrees is 1-1/8”
- 4-1/2” blade has a kerf less than half the thickness of larger 7-1/4” blades. The smaller, thinner blade means less effort and motor strain so the 5-amp, 3,500 rpm matches the performance of full-size circular saws.
- Slim, inline grip design makes it comfortable to hold for extended periods of time.
- Built in dust port for a easy shop vacuum hookup
The Rockwell RK3441K small circular saw is a powerful and functional circular saw. It can easily replace conventional 7-1/4-inch circular saws, if you don’t need to make particularly deep cuts. There is no need for a bulky circular saw when cutting 2x4s and sheet woods. The small circular saw will cut in the same amount of time with ease and comfort, thanks to its lightweight and compact design.
If your DIY work involves cutting materials less than 2″ thick, the Rockwell small circular saw will tackle any of these jobs with ease. It is easy to control the saw, which fits comfortably into your hand. The slim grip handle improves comfort, whilst enhancing grip and control. Great for making cut-offs, plunge cuts and rips.
Interestingly, the Rockwell utilizes a 5-amp motor as compared to 4 amps for the Worxsaw. Calculating wattage at 0.7 PF, the WorxSaw uses 336 Watts and the Rockwell 420 Watts, making it a much more powerful motor. Both run at 3500 rpm so the Rockwell is the strongest small circular saw of the two. The Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2” small circular saw is therefore my personal favorite. The price of the WORX WorxSaw is almost half the price of the Rockwell, but I think the Rockwell is worth the difference.
At Only 5 Lbs, it’s 50% lighter than the regular 7-1/4” (184mm) circular saws. The great advantage here is that it needs less muscle power and energy to use.
Maximum cutting depth at 90 degrees is 1-11/16” (29.77mm) and the bevel capacity at 45 degrees is 1-1/8” (28.57mm). Because of the blade angle, a bevel cut is always less deep than a 90-degree cut.
VIDEO | See the Rockwell RK3441K in Action
The arbor size is the same as all 4-1/2” circular saws at 3/8˝ (9.52mm). The cord length of the Rockwell is a confirmed 10 Feet. The Rockwell small circular saw comes with a 3-year Manufacturer’s Warranty for peace of mind and shows the manufacturer’s confidence in the machine.
Makita SH02R1 12V Max CXT
Best small handheld circular saw if you want the convenience of battery power.
- Makita-built motor delivers 1,500 RPM for faster cutting
- 3-3/8″ blade delivers a maximum cutting depth of 1″ for a wide range of cutting applications
- Adjustable cutting depth from 1″ at 90° and 5/8″ at 45°
- Tilting base for bevel cuts from 0° – 45°
- Cuts plywood, MDF, pegboard, particleboard, melamine, drywall and more
- Weighs only 3.5 lbs. with battery for reduced operator fatigue
- Compact design at 12-3/8″ long
- Built-in dust blower helps keep the line of cut free of debris for increased accuracy
- Ergonomically designed handle with rubberized soft grip provides increased comfort
- Blade wrench is attached to saw for fast and convenient blade changing
- Battery Protection Circuit protects against overloading, over-discharging and over-heating
- 12V max CXT™ Lithium-Ion 2.0Ah battery BL1021B, features an integrated L.E.D. battery charge level indicator
- Part of the expanding 12V max CXT™ series, combining performance with superior ergonomics in a compact size
- Not compatible with 12V max pod-style tools, batteries and chargers
- 3-year limited warranty on tool, battery and charger
- Only use genuine Makita batteries and chargers
- (1) 12V max CXT 3-3/8″ Circular Saw (SH02Z)
- (2) 12V max CXT Lithium-Ion 2.0Ah Battery (BL1021B)
- (1) 12V max CXT Lithium-Ion Charger (DC10WD)
- (1) 3-3/8″ 20T C.T. Saw Blade (A-95021)
- (1) Tool Case
The Makita SH02R1 is different. It is the only battery powered mini circular saw in the lineup. It runs at 1,500 RPM compared to the 3500 RPM of the corded models. The blade is only 3-3/8″ (85.7mm) in diameter so the maximum cutting depth is 1” (25.4mm). The Makita SH02R1 with battery weighs only 3.5 LBS. It is therefore not comparable to the two corded saws that we’ve reviewed. It is a smaller, lighter, battery-powered circular saw and is meant for smaller jobs.
This saw is excellent for trimming branches and roots. Its compact design at 12-3/8″ long, fits into small spaces and with no cord it is as portable as can be. It cuts plywood, MDF, pegboard, particleboard, melamine, drywall and more with perfect precision and ease.
The battery lasts a good while. A battery protection circuit protects the battery against overloading, discharging it too low, and against over-heating. This battery protection ensures that you get the maximum possible life from your Makita battery. The 12V MAX CXT Lithium-Ion 2.0Ah battery (BL1021B) features an integrated L.E.D. battery-charge level indicator. The indicator makes it easy to know what the state of the battery is. You know when to quit working and charge the batteries. Or, if you’re smart enough to have bought an extra battery (or two), you can simply exchange the battery and continue working.
As I mentioned before, the Makita SH02R1 has a built-in dust blower, which helps keep the line of cut free of debris. Another handy feature is that the blade wrench is attached to the saw for fast and convenient blade changing without hunting around. I never lose the blade wrench, but I find that I waste a lot of time looking for it, very annoying.
Makita make excellent tools and if my experience is anything to go by, they last a lifetime. It will be used for floor, trim, and other small work. This little machine is better and quieter than a larger, 7-1/4-inch circular saw, for this purpose. I am glad to see that Makita has changed to a slide battery configuration for their 12-volt tools. The contacts are sure to last longer and the fitting mechanism is better too.
The blade is not only smaller in diameter at 3-3/8″(85.7mm) but the arbor is also different and it is given as 15-Millimeter (19⁄32″). The Makita is designed and built in Japan with metric tools and dimensions. It is therefore better to hunt for a 15mm arbor blade for the best fit. The Makita cutting depth is adjustable up to 1″ (25.4mm) at 90° and when using the tilting base for bevel cuts, only to 5/8″ (15.87mm) at 45°.
Two 12V MAX CXT Lithium-Ion 2 Ah batteries and charger are included with the Makita SH02R1 small circular saw. If a longer runtime is desired it is good to learn that all 12V max CXT cordless tools are also compatible with the 12V max CXT Lithium-Ion 4.0Ah battery (BL1041B). It should double the cut time.
Tips for using a circular saw
The blades provided with the 4-1/2″ machines are ideal for cutting a variety of woods and plastics. The special thin kerf design of the blades also provide for more cuts per battery charge on the battery models. If you need a really clean cut with less chipping and splintering, you may need to buy a blade designed for that type of cut. Blades designed for a clean cut with precision sharpened teeth cut cleanly and cost more, but are a real pleasure to use. A variety of blades are available to suit all cutting tasks and will enable you to cut a wide range of materials.
When you rip wood, (cutting along the length of the grain) the blade tends to follow the grain and force you off your cutting line. It is therefore a sensible thing to use a rip fence or straight edge guide when ripping. This improves the accuracy of the cut and reduces the chance of blade binding.
Adjust the cutting depth to the thickness of each workpiece. Less than a full tooth of the blade teeth should be visible below the workpiece.
Circular Saw Safety
Wear safety glasses, always wear safety glasses!
Never hold the workpiece that you’re cutting in your hand or across your leg. Secure the workpiece to a work bench or stable platform. It is important to support the work properly to minimize the risk of the workpiece shooting out due to blade binding, or loss of control of the cut. All of these are dangerous situations that are best avoided.
Always use blades with the correct size and shape of arbor holes. Some blades come with a diamond shape and not a round arbor hole. Blades that do not match the mounting hardware of the saw are dangerous. On top of that, it will run eccentrically, causing loss of control, vibrations and a bad cut.
VIDEO | Safety Tips when using A Circular Saw
Never use damaged or incorrect blade washers or fastening bolt to hold the blade. The blade washers and bolt are specially designed for your saw, for safety in operation. If you lose any of these items, replace them with parts from the authorized supplier.
Kickback could cause the saw to jump backwards, but the operator can control kickback forces, if proper precautions are taken. Maintain a firm grip on the saw and position your arm over and behind the saw to resist kickback forces. Position your body to either side of the blade, but not in line with the blade. Position the hand not holding the saw well away from the travel path of the saw.
Kickback may occur if you attempt to remove the saw from the work or pull the saw backward while the blade is in motion. So, when the blade is binding, or when interrupting a cut, hold the saw motionless in the material and release the trigger. Then wait until the blade comes to a complete stop before you remove the blade from the cut.