Cordless Circular Saw

In our circular saw review series let's have a look at the cordless circular saw with a view to deciding on a personal viable alternative to the corded saw.

This cordless circular saw review is part multi-part article series on saws. The initial overview on circular saws can be found here.

Cordless Circular Saw Market by Depths of Cut

The cordless circular saw market is sub divided into three major types as well as depth of cut categories. The best known would be the 6-1/2"(~165mm) diameter blade. This blade size will allow a maximum cutting depth of up to 2-1/4"(55mm). Most battery powered saws fall into this small circular saw category with limited cutting depths.

This mini cordless circular saw market is part of an array of mini saws powered by 9.6V or 12V power cells. They have a maximum cutting depth of up to 1-5/8" (~40mm). Also known as cordless trim saws, they're often used for cutting other materials like plastics. Some of these mini trim saws resemble universal cutting knives.

The high-end battery circular saw market offers the best cordless circular saw range with a cutting depth of up to 2-7/16" (~65mm). Recently, power tool manufacturers such as Hilti, Hitachi) discontinued them. Currently only the Dewalt corporation is offering a 36 V cordless circular saw which cuts up to 2-7/16" (+65mm).


Cordless Circular Saw Market Comparison


Mini
Circular
Saw -
Trim Saw
Small
Circular
Saw
Cabinet Maker
Circular Saw

Voltage

<14.4 V

14.4 V

18 V

24V/28V

36 V

36 V

Depth of Cut 90°

up to 1-5/8" (~40mm)

up to 2-1/4" (55mm)

up to 2-7/16"
(~65mm)

Circular Saw Blade Diameter 5-3/8" (~135mm) up to 6-1/2" ( ~ 165mm) 7-1/4"
(185mm /190mm)
Weight approx. 7 lbs. (~ 3.2 kg) up to 9 lbs. (~ 4 kg ) 10 lbs. ( ~ 4.5kg )
Ah up to 2.6 Ah(12V)
Nickel-Metal Hydride
up to 2.6 Ah
Nickel-Metal
Hydride
up to 3.0 Ah
Lithium-Ion
up to 3.0 Ah
Lithium-Ion
up to 2.6 Ah
Lithium Ion
up to 2.6 Ah
Lithium Ion
Makita, Black&Decker, cordless circular saw among other manufacturers: Makita, Dewalt,
Black and Decker,
Makita,Ryobi,
Bosch,
Makita, Ryobi,
Ridgid
Milwaukee,
Dewalt,
Ridgid
Bosch DeWalt

Voltage and Battery Types for Cordless Circular Saws

Corded power tools operate on amps and watts. Any battery power tool operates on Volt (voltage) and Ah (amp hours). With voltage giving an indication of the power of the tool and Ah (amp per hour) indicating how long the cordless battery will provide this power.

  • In other words, the more Volt a cordless circular saw got the higher its power.
  • The higher the Ah a battery pack got the longer it will last.

The battery powered circular saw operates within four basic "power-category."

  • The common usage for those cordless circular saws also known as trim saws up to 14.4 V.
  • The average cordless circular saw operates on an 18 V power cell.
  • The tradition battery pack is 24V/28V for heavy duty cordless power tools such as, cordless hammer drills
  • Where power matters, high-power cordless voltage (36V) is the standard for cordless circular saws that cut more deeply.

Battery Types

If you're thinking of buying a cordless circular saw for your workshop review the battery types in detail. There are major differences between low-end DIY and professional cordless batteries.

Cordless batteries for circular saws are currently available in 3 different qualities:

  • Ni-Cd - (Nickel-Cadmium)
  • Ni-MH - (Nickel-Metal Hydride)
  • Li-Ion - (Lithium Ion)
Ni-Cd
Nickel - Cadmium
Ni-MH
Nickel-Metal Hydride
Li-Ion
Lithium Ion
The oldest and least powerful battery packs available for todays battery powered circular saw market are Nickel-Cadmium Ni-Cd batteries. Nickel-Metal Hydride Ni-MH battery packs where like the 2nd generation of battery packs used in cordless power tools. Ni-MH batteries allow:

  • up to 2-times more capacity
  • up to 50% more service life

compared to Ni-Cd batteries.

Lithium Ion Cordless Battery Packs Li-Io provide:

  • up to 5 times more charges
  • up to 2 times longer run time
  • at no "memory effect" when charging

compared to Ni-Cd batteries. These type of batteries are currently found on the best cordless circular saws.

Ah - or How long will a cordless circular saw last ?

Same Power - Different Amp Hour ( Ah )
Two almost identical 18 volt Makita cordless circular saw battery packs. Left with 1.5 Ah compared to 3.0 Ah. Providing longer lasting cutting power, at increased weight and size.

Reviews and ratings of any cordless power tool most of the time people examine voltage as the key to power. However next to voltage, the ampere hour value of a battery pack is equal importance to the professional.

AH or Ah (Amp Hour) gives you a clear indication of how long your battery pack will last. For cordless circular saws, 'Ah' is very important. because your cordless power saw and its (cutting) needs an exceptional amount of energy than that required for a cordless drill.
With more amp hours at your disposal you're going to require a larger and heavier battery pack. that means a heavier bundle to maneuver.

Practical Tip: Cordless Circular Saws Offer Multiple Uses

When you think about buying a cordless circular saw you should look into your existing range of cordless tools.

  • Do you use e.g. cordless drills of power tool companies which offer cordless circular saws?
  • Could you use your existing batteries and charger for the circular saw?

Interchangeability of battery and chargers with other cordless tools like drills is important to keep your cost down. It also guarantees that the batteries of the cordless circular saw are used more frequently which extends the overall battery life.

Cordless Circular Saw Review - Summary

What is the best cordless circular saw ? - What saw should you buy?

At present the market for cordless circular saw is offering only saws with relatively low depths of cut. With some exceptions, you may be looking for a small portable circular saw cutting up to 2-1/4" (55mm) deep you will find a wide array of brands with good to excellent saws.
For a cabinet maker a 18 volt cordless circular saw with a 3.0 Ah Li-Ion battery pack would be my choice.

More than recommending any particular brand or model, I would first look into what other cordless tools/drills you use in your workshop and start looking at a cordless saw of the same brand, to make sure to be able to use existing batteries and chargers. You should then compare the brands cordless saw models giving all aspects of this circular saw review.

In the following part of this cordless circular saw review series we will look into guiding systems. Covering simple rip fence to sophisticated guide rail systems and laser guides for circular saws.
Back to part 5 of...

<< Electric Circular Saw

This is part 6 :

Cordless Circular Saw

Read on with part 7 of...

Circular Saw Guide >>

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