The decision on which brand, model, and type to buy when shopping for a circular saw depends on many factors. These include how often the saw will be used, how tough the construction tasks will be, reliability of the power tool manufacturer, and of course, price.
Batteries for Cordless Power Tools
Not so long ago, the only cordless power tools were little more than toys. The main reason, like with cell phones, was the limitation posed by battery technology. The capacity just wasn't there.
The earliest (and weakest) batteries for battery-powered circular saws were Nickel-Cadmium Ni-Cd batteries. Today these are most likely to be found on mini circular saws or trim saws.
A better power pack is the Ni-MH Nickel Metal Hydride which offers 50% more service life and is sufficient for most household DIY projects.
Better still is the Li-Ion Lithium Ion technology. The benefits include no battery memory effect when charging, 5X more charges, and 2X longer run-time. They are suitable for heavy-duty use.
Saw Types with Respect to Saw Guards
There are two basic types. They relate to both safety and functionality.
Pendulum Guard. This is the most dangerous and most common of the two. The blade guard extends below the footplate. A lever is attached to the guard to allow the user to draw the guard up into the housing.
Plunge Cut Guard. This type is much safer since the entire blade is covered by the guard. Without the lever, one hand can be used on the trigger and the other to stabilize the cut. These are used with guide rail systems like the DeWalt Track Saw. Festool Power Tool Company from Germany competes with DeWalt in this market but are more expensive.
Sidewinder vs Worm-Drive Saws
These distinctions refer to how the circular saw blade is aligned with the motor. Sidewinders are the type used by most craftsmen because they are less expensive and are up to almost all tasks.
The motor is simply attached to the blade at a 90 degree angle. The simple construction is one of the factors that keeps the price down on these models.
Worm-drive saws cost more and are heavier, but are the most powerful and long-lasting. Journeyman carpenters that use them every day have a saying, Youll only have to buy one.
Popular Circular Saw Manufacturers
Ironically, although the name Skil® is synonymous with circular, its a brand thats really considered an entry level tool by many professional tradesmen, bit it is suitable for occasional tasks.
For a saw that will really last, without developing wobbles and overheating while working hard, its best to go with a more professional model.
DeWalt ranks high (disclaimer: its one of my favorite brands) and offers both conventional and the DeWalt track saw models. Festool does as well, but is more expensive.
Bosch is also a very dependable power tool manufacturer. Makita has a solid reputation and tends to be a bit less expensive. Finally, Black and Decker strikes a good balance between quality and price for most homeowners.