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Is it worth it to pay more for a circular saw?

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  • Is it worth it to pay more for a circular saw?

    So it occurred to me the other day that, out of all the tools I've accumulated over the years, I still get a lot of use out of my circular saw. And yet, it's not a very good one. It's a hand-me-down Craftsman from my dad, probably 35 years old. I can't say there's too much wrong with it... aside from the fact that sometimes blades are hard to get in and out. Oh, and it's excruciatingly loud. But aside from that, I set the depth, I ride the shoe along some sort of guide, and cut.

    So I guess I'm wondering if I'm missing out on anything in the world of circular saws in the last 35 years? For a tool I end up using a surprising amount, I'm willing to spend a few bucks for a new one, if it means having a better tool. What are your experiences?
    Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

    Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
    Twitter: @undefinition1

  • #2
    Soft start is a nice thing to have.

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    • #3
      for some reason i found myself with a milwalkee 12v rotary hammer drill, so one day i went out and bought my first circular saw being the milwalkee 12v saw and i love it. Cuts though everything like butter, easy to use and i havent used anything else for my projects. Only downside is its a handheld one and the blade is 5.5inches which is quite small, but hey hasnt stopped me being able make my furntiure and speaker projects

      i would like a new age table saw and sliding mitre saw as well

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      • #4
        I splurged on a battery -powered one from DeWalt and never regretted it. I hate the cord dangling around when I'm trying to concentrate on the cut.
        Francis

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        • #5
          Let me start by saying I have no brand loyalty. Crap is crap and good is good. I buy Ridgid battery power tools because of the lifetime warranty (including batteries). If I was going cordless that would be my choice.

          over a decade ago, I picked up a basic Dewalt circular saw for under 100 bucks. It's been exceptional in terms of quality. My father in law destroys tools, usually mine. So I bought him one too and it has amazingly survived (although he has cut the cord a few times).
          Carbon13

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          • #6
            I love my Milwaukee tilt lock saw. The tilting handle isn't a gimmick, it actually works well.

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            • #7
              Generally, the cheapest circular saws of any sort are not worth buying unless it really is something that will get used once in a blue moon. That hasn't changed since the 70s, at least. I used to repair power tools for a living.

              Cordless tools in general have improved immensely in the past 10 to 15 years. Cordless circular saws are now really, really good. My Bosch 18 volt cordless is my go-to "skilsaw" these days. It will do 98% of what I need and even with the biggest battery that will fit on there, it still seems much lighter than a worm drive. I keep an old Skil 77 worm drive around for when I need brute force, and a Skil 8.25" sidewinder for the depth of cut when that is needed. It will also tilt to 60 degrees, which is sometimes handy. Both of them live in the bottom of the job box. I have several others that seldom see the light of day these days. I do not miss the cords!

              Circular saws with aluminum "shoes" tend to be better for use with guides. They are more expensive, generally more robust, and seem to end up on machines that provide better accuracy and overall solid design.

              "12 volt" lithium cordless tools can be very good, but 18 volt tools (Including DeWalt "20 volt") will always outclass them. "12 volt" is really 10.8 volts (3s lithium ion) and is marketed as such pretty much everywhere in the world except the US. 18 volt is 5s, or 66% more voltage. That said, the current "12 volt" tools tend to be much more compact and more powerful than the old 12 volt NiCad tools that were the standard for a decade or so.

              TL, DR: Spend at least $100 and it's hard to go wrong.

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              • #8
                I'm now a firm believer in occasionally upgrading older tools even if they are still working acceptably.

                A few years back I had a jigsaw go out on me, replaced it with a new unit and it just cuts so much better and it's just a nicer tool to operate. It seems like a motor attached to a blade wouldn't be that different, but I bet if you picked up a new one, it would have a nicer feel, possibly quicker cut time, and would likely even be a bit safer.

                I've replaced routers, a jig saw, a belt/disc sander, drill press, and drills based on this premise, and new tech really can be a lot better than some older stuff. Not always, but usually I'd say. Soft start and quick blade slow-down times are two features that are worth the price of admission right there.

                TomZ
                *Veneering curves, seams, using heat-lock iron on method *Trimming veneer & tips *Curved Sides glue-up video
                *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF *Cello's Speaker Project Page

                *Building the "Micro-B 2.1 Plate Amplifier -- Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3 * Part 4 * * Part 5 'Review' * -- Assembly Instructions PDF

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                • #9
                  If I ever replaced my old cheap Skilsaw it would be cordless. Decades of fighting the cord and plug dragging and catching, from annoying to dangerous.

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                  • #10
                    Love my 20V DeWalt, and *really* love the Skil worm drive I use.
                    Don't listen to me - I have not sold any $150,000 speakers.

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                    • #11
                      +1 on cordless. I have three corded circular saws, none have seen the light of day in years.
                      www.billfitzmaurice.com
                      www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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                      • #12
                        I still have my first circular saw. Even with a bent shoe it was still returning acceptable results. I was searching for a Christmas present and suggested a Bosch or Ridgid circular saw as I liked the aluminum shoe. Wound up getting the Bosch and it is a huge improvement over my 30 year old saw. Since then I picked up a Bosch DA sander and next is replacing my aging jigsaw with a Bosch - I have used those several times and they are great jigsaws.

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                        • #13
                          I've had great results from nearly everything Bosch that I've bought. I first encountered a Bosch jigsaw in 1985. Someone kept running off with my worm drive. I needed to make a quick cut across a 2x6, and the jigsaw was right there so I grabbed it. It was set to full oscillation and had a sharp blade in it. I was astonished at how quickly it sawed through the 2x6. Been a fan ever since. Others do the oscillation now, of course, but I still like my 25 year old Bosch the best.

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                          • #14
                            These are really interesting responses, so thank you. I do have a Ryobi cordless circular saw, a mini one. I pretty much never use it anymore though, because it eats batteries. However, one thing I do remember liking about it was that the blade was on the left side of the shoe. It made it much easier to follow a cut line. It baffles why only worm-drive circular saws do this. The sidewinder saws are so un-ergonomic. I hate how I have to look over my shoulder to see what I'm cutting, and the weight of the saw is on the piece I'm cutting off.

                            So maybe it's time to re-investigate the cordless saws. The Ryobi one I have is 15 years old now; and you guys are makign it sound like things have improved quite a bit over the years.
                            Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

                            Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
                            Twitter: @undefinition1

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                            • #15
                              Also, I'm surprised no one suggested a track saw. I started looking into those for the first time last night. Most are very expensive, but apparently there's one called "WEN" that is notorious for being cheap, but pretty good once you get the bugs out. One video said that it produced results good enough for jointing. Wow!
                              Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

                              Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
                              Twitter: @undefinition1

                              Comment

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