When choosing a circular saw, the most important thing is its ability to get the job done. Timber Framers often have a very different set of needs than professionals. Most DIY folks can complete a task at their own pace. Pros are on the timber species can vary in toughness and get soaked by rain. Regardless of the challenge, professional framers must use the best circular saw to get it done right and on time. When buying a professional-grade saw for timber framing or general construction, consider power and the durablity of the base.
There’s often some confusion about a circular saw’s real power. Most run at 15 AMPs. That number just refers to the amount of electricity the tool uses, not cutting strength. For professional purposes, look at the horsepower and torque. How fast a blade turns and how much strength it has working through tough or wet materials is what really matters.
There are several different styles of circular saws. For the purposes of timber framing, either will do they are called - Worms and Sidewinders.
· Worms: This style of saw generally puts the motor and blade in a straight line. That setup tends to provide excellent torque for cutting knotted and wet lumber. The handle is further back than some other styles and that helps with long rips through plywood, gang-cutting studs and dealing with kickback. Worms are excellent for plunge-cuts into the middle of materials. They do tend to be heavier than other styles and require oil. But another big positive is that you gain an excellent sight-line to the material you’re working on.
· Sidewinders: The name doesn’t have anything to do with rattlesnakes, though it’s probably borrowed from that very thing. Sidewinder saws have the motors mounted to the side of the blade. This allows the blade to spins faster. However, that position isn’t as advantageous for watching your cut or torque. They also position your hand next to the blade cover but don’t require oil. The biggest positives about sidewinders is that they are light and easy to handle for elevated cuts.
When it comes to saws, size matters. The heavier the saw, the more work your arm is doing. That adds up over the course of a shift. There’s no way around the physical nature of working construction. But you may want to consider size in terms of the type of cutting you generally perform. If you in the shop all the time a heavy duty may be a good thing. But if you’re hauling that tool around the job site making a lot of individual cuts, light weight may be to your advantage. Generally, worms tend to be heavier than sidewinders. Size, or weight, should be proportional to the labor.
Cut@ 90 Degrees
Makita 5007MG Magnesium 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
Comprised mostly of magnesium, this sidewinder manages a low weight of only 10.6 pounds. It operates at 5,800 RPM and has plenty of bells and whistles. These includes twin, built-in LED lights, dust blowing features, durable power cord and an attached blade wench. It has a 2.5-inch cutting capacity at 90 degrees and 1.75 at 45 degrees. The Makita’s industrial motor delivers enough torque to handle wet lumber. It also enjoys a centrifugal fan that keeps it cool during continued use. The trigger handle and front-grip are ergonomically designed and the levers are rubberized. This tool was designed with timber framing in mind. Pros like it for its versatility, power and light weight. It tends to be a winner with the DIY crowd as well.
PORTER-CABLE PC15TCS 15 Amp Heavy-Duty Circular Saw, 7-1/4"
This lightweight sidewinder spins at 5,600 RPM and has enough torque to handle any 2-by lumber and plywood with ease. At 11.3 pounds, it’s heavier than some other models of this design and has a magnesium and steel stamped shoe. The rest of the tool is aluminum with some steel. The hand trigger and front balance handle steer your hands out of harm’s way. It comes with locking knobs and measures for quick accurate adjustments. At 90 degrees, the cut capacity is 2-3/8 inches and at 45 degrees it reaches 1-13/16 inches. What pros like about this model is its 10-foot power cord and durability.
Makita 5007F 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
This sidewinder comes with plenty of perks and is a little cheaper than the other Makita in the list. It has two built-in LED lights, centrifugal fan, dust-blowing capability and ball bearing construction. It produces 5,800 RPM with enough torque to handle wet timbers. It has a 2-3/8-inch cutting depth at 90 degrees and 1-3/4 inches at 45 degrees. It also has easy-to-read measures and one-piece trigger and front stability handle. At about 11 pounds, it has enough toughness and durability for pro job sites.
Bosch CS10 7-1/4-Inch 15 Amp Circular Saw
This sidewinder enjoys a nice light weight of 10.3 pounds, soft grip handle, dust blowing capabilities, 10-plus-foot power cord and is considered among the more user friendly tools. It has a durable magnesium shoe and the trigger and front handle are not in a straight line. However, it presents excellent cut visibility for a sidewinder. The model ranks among the manufacturer’s best but users have noted some play between the shoe and body. This Bosch product may be better suited for the DIY crowd than the pro ranks.
DEWALT DWE575 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight Circular Saw
This super light DeWalt sidewinder weighs in at a sweet 8.8 pounds and sports the manufacturer’s signature yellow and black design. It’s 5,200 RPM are a tad low for commercial use but it has nice cutting range — 2-9/16 at 90 degrees. If you need to move around on the job, this tool won’t burn your biceps out. It features a ball bearing, anti-snag low guard and is a fast runner through timber. It has an ergonomically designed trigger grip and front handle. The electric brake halts the blade quickly and about the only negative is that the cord is only is 6-feet long. Framers are generally pleased with its weight vs ability to get a job done.
SKILSAW SPT77WML-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight Worm Drive Circular Saw
This lightweight worm gets high marks in terms of framing capability. The magnesium tool only weighs 11.6 pounds but comes armed with plenty of torque to rip through wet timbers, including hardwoods and commercially engineered materials. It enjoys a cutting depth of 2-3/8 inches at 90 degrees and has an anti-snag guard for short cuts and thin material. This best-in-class motor sports 5,300 RPM, which is high for a worm and its ergonomically designed, soft-grip trigger and top-positioned handles provide good weight disbursement. The red and black SKILSAW style has the look of a pro tool and its power makes it a winner with industry insiders.