A circular saw cutting wood

Circular saws are essential tools in any woodworker or hobbyist carpenter’s toolkit, and the first power tool you should master. It’s the equipment used to achieve a wide variety of cuts, cleanly and efficiently.

Circular saws have a notorious reputation as being dangerous and accident-prone, and they are if you don’t use them properly. But once you’ve got the hang of it, they are actually straightforward to use.

Using them is one thing, but buying a decent circular saw is an entirely different matter. Lots of conflicting information and advice can further confuse a first-time user. Buying the wrong saw can even risk your life.

So today we’ll run through the best circular saws in the UK, as well as a quick buying guide to help you pick the right one.

Why Do You Need a Circular Saw?

The main advantage of circular saws is that they can make clean cuts quickly and efficiently. If you’ve ever used a hand saw before, you’ll know it’s super hard to do it manually and get professional results.

You can do various styles of cuts with a circular saw, including crosscuts and rip cuts, which is cutting against and with the wood grain respectively. You can also perform plunge cuts, which is lowering the circular saw and slowly cutting wood from above.

There are also certain situations where cutting is impractical or impossible without a circular saw. These include cutting through a fixture (such as a door) or on things overhead.

The good news is that circular saws aren’t terribly expensive. You can get a decent one for as little as £60. Once you’ve got through the learning curve, there really is no reason not to own and use a circular saw.

What to Look for in a Circular Saw

Like any power tool, circular saws come with many different features and types. Getting acquainted with them will help you navigate through the options, and find the perfect one for you.

Here are some of the things you need to consider:

Type of Circular Saw

Circular saws can be categorised based on how the saw blade itself is attached to the motor. They come in one of two kinds: sidewinder or worm drive

In sidewinder saws, the blade and the motor sit next to each other. Rotational power from the motor is transferred directly to the blade via a small gear. This gives sidewinders more RPM (rotations per minute). 

Sidewinder saws are generally lighter when compared to worm drive saws, giving them much better manoeuvrability. For cutting things overhead or on elevated surfaces, they’re the saw of choice.

These saws are also recommended for beginners since they are easy to handle, plus they’re less expensive than worm drives. However, professionals also tend to go with them for prolonged sessions, where soreness of the arm becomes an issue.

Worm drive saws, on the other hand, have the motor located behind the blade. Power is transmitted through a worm gear, hence the name. This setup makes worm drive saws heavier than sidewinders.

Their weight does give them a significant advantage. In essence, worm drive saws are much more powerful than sidewinders, because of the extra power the worm drive gear gives them. They excel at cutting power which can make quick work of wet, dense, or engineered timber with relative ease.

The design of most worm drives is longer than sidewinders. The handle is placed nearer the motor, far away from the spinning blades. The result is that you’ll be able to handle kickbacks safer and better with less risk of injuries.

The main drawback of the weight, however, is that they’re harder to control. Your hands can quickly tire out, especially during more extended periods of use.

Now, if you’re wondering which one is better, the answer is there’s none. Both have their own pros and cons. In fact, it would be beneficial to have both types in your toolbox to handle a wide range of woodworking situations.

However, if you have to pick one, we recommend trying them out and getting a feel for each one. If you haven’t handled a circular saw before, a sidewinder might be more beneficial.

Power

The next thing you need to look at is the cutting power of the circular saw. This is measured in RPM or revolutions per minute. It tells you how fast the saw blade is spinning and, therefore, how effective it is at cutting through materials.

As a rule of thumb, 4,500 RPM should be the absolute minimum to buy. If you’re working with particularly tough material, go even higher. You should also take a look at the amp rating of your circular saw. Make sure it can handle up to 15 amps for best results.

Remember, the goal of the circular saw is to be able to glide through wood effortlessly. Anything less than that, and you’ll risk getting jagged edges in your cuts.

Power Source

Circular saws can be either be uncorded or corded, and each has its own specific best use scenarios.

Corded circular saws need a continuous connection to a power source via an electric outlet. They are best when used for tough cutting tasks for extended periods, like when dealing with steel or hardwood. The added power means corded saws come in a wider variety of sizes, with  7 ¼ inches being the average.

When shopping around for corded saws, make sure the cable is long enough. Ensure that you can easily manoeuvre around freely without the cord getting in the way or accidentally getting yanked from the socket.

Cordless circular saws don’t require an electrical outlet to run. Instead, they rely on batteries. The freedom of not having any cord makes these types of saws much more manoeuvrable. If you work in smaller spaces where you need to move around a lot and cut in unusual angles, cordless saws could be the best option.

However, cordless circular saws can’t quite match a corded saw in terms of cutting power. Doing so will quickly drain the battery.

Blade Size

You also need to consider the size of the blade when shopping around for a circular saw. The size determines how deep your saw can cut through a material.

Again, this is a case where there is no “right” size. What you pick will rely on what kind of cutting you need to do regularly.

The standard blade size is 7 ¼ inches, which is suitable for the majority of woodworking needs. Smaller sizes, such as 6 inches or 5 3/8 inches, can cut through materials up to 2 inches in depth. They’re more limited in how deep they can cut through, but have the advantage of being lighter and easier to control.

Blade Materials

The blades of a circular saw are removable, allowing you to easily swap them on the fly. There are various blades you can use, each with their own properties.

One of the most durable blades is the carbide steel blade. They are steel blades fitted with carbide “teeth”. The reinforced edge makes the blade stay sharp for longer, but they tend to be much more expensive than other types. If you do a lot of woodwork, these blades can be a good investment.

High-speed steel blades are the more common blade type. They’re “workhorse” blades, which you can rely on for regular cutting tasks.

Then there are the speciality blades which you use for specific purposes. Tile-cutting blades, for example, are usually tipped with a diamond so that they can cleanly cut through ceramic tiles. Masonry blades have abrasive blades to facilitate cutting through rough materials like brick or concrete.

On a different but related note, you should also note the number of teeth in the saw blade, as this has an effect on how powerful or fast the blade cuts. This number ranges from 10 to 48. The more teeth there are, the slower but cleaner it cuts.

Adjusting the Depth and Bevel

All circular saws will come with levers that allow you to adjust the depth and bevel of your saw. Setting the correct depth of the saw is important because they cut much better. When set too deep, too much of the blade gets exposed, which is a hazardous proposition.

Look for levers that are easy to set. Make sure that the scale is readable, so you can make accurate adjustments. The scale should be engraved or embedded into the saw itself so it won’t ever fade away.

Safety Features

Circular saws are hazardous power tools that can cause serious injury if misused. That’s why one of the crucial things you need to look for in a circular saw is its safety features.

An electric brake is one of these features. It reverses the flow of current to the blade motor if the saw trigger (which you’re holding) is released. This action instantly stops the blade within seconds to prevent further injury.

One of the other safety nets is the blade guards. These protect your hand from the spinning blade and prevents any injuries. Look for blade guards that can give ample protection for the users.

Cutting Guides

Like scissors, cutting perfectly straight lines using a circular saw takes steady hands and plenty of confidence. Fortunately, most saws are equipped with features that make achieving this much easier.

The most common cutting aid is an adjustable guide, which is a ruler placed parallel to the base. For a more advanced solution, some circular saws have a laser pointer as a continuous guide to help straighten your cuts. Both methods still need concentration on your part, however, and don’t always guarantee a perfectly straight cut (but it comes close).

For the straightest cuts possible each and every time, consider using a guide rail. This is placed onto the surface being cut and kept in place using clamps. You then slide the circular saw along the rail, ensuring straight cuts consistently.

Best Circular Saws in the UK

Makita 5008MG/J

Specs

  • Type: Sidewinder
  • Maximum Cutting Depth: 75 mm
  • Maximum Bevel: 50 degrees
  • Weight: 4.8 kg
  • Blade Diameter: 210 mm
  • Bore Diameter: 30 mm
  • Power: 1,800 watts, 5,200 rpm
  • Corded: yes

Makita is one of the most well-known manufacturers of power tools in the world, and they extend that legacy to the 5008 MG/J. This is a lightweight, yet powerful circular saw that can achieve 5,200 rpm with 1,800 watts powering it.

Performance-wise, the cut depth of 75mm covers a lot of different situations, as well as the max bevel of 50 degrees. It gives the 5008 MG/J quite a lot of versatility on where it can be used.

What we noticed is that this saw might be bigger than what most people are comfortable with. While it means more cutting power than your average sidewinder, it’s going to be less manoeuvrable because of the size.

The 5008 MG/J can achieve cuts with depths of up to 75.5mm, making it suitable for a wide variety of situations. You can cut through a 9×3 piece of timber or a 4×4 plywood in seconds.

A lot of people recommend swapping the supplied blade of any circular saw as it’s usually of substandard quality. However, the blade that comes with the 5008 MG/J is pretty resilient. It has thus far cut through everything we’re thrown at it.

In terms of cutting aids, the 5008 MG/J provides you with a pair of LED lights you can follow for a straighter cut. It also has a rule guide attached, plus a built-in blower to clear the line of any dust so you can follow it more accurately.

One slight drawback is that the screw that holds the guide rail is obstructed by the bevel adjustment lever. It’s a minor annoyance to have to manoeuvre over it just to be able to use the guide rail.

Overall, the Makita 5008 MG/J is a lightweight powerhouse that cuts better than any of its class. The added bulkiness of this unit is a good tradeoff for the cutting power you get, in our opinion. 

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Cut depth of 75mm is better than most of its class
  • Cutting aids like guide rail and LED light
  • Comes with a good quality blade

Cons

  • Bulkier
  • Expensive

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0

Tacklife Mini Circular Saw

Specs

  • Type: 
  • Maximum Cutting Depth: 46mm at 90 degrees, 35mm at 45 degrees
  • Weight: 3.19 kg
  • Blade Diameter: 120mm (for wood and plastic), 115mm (for soft metal, tile and wood)
  • Power: 710 watts, 6 amp, 3,500 rpm
  • Corded: yes (3-meter length)

The Tacklife is one of the best mini circular saws in the UK we’ve seen in a while.

This handy tool has been pared down to make for quick cutting tasks that can be done with just one hand. For one, the metal-assisted handle is very comfortable to grip, even when the saw is ripping it out at full speeds.

The smaller, compact size gives this saw great manoeuvrability and is one of the better ones to use for overhead or elevated tasks. It felt nicely balanced, and it had enough heft to it that you can easily apply pressure when cutting.

Initially, we were concerned that the smaller frame of the Tacklife wouldn’t be powerful enough to do a decent job. But despite the size, the saw handled itself pretty smoothly when we tried it out on a 16mm piece.

The 3,500 rpm motor (which would be underpowered, specs-wise) was surprisingly powerful. Given that the maximum depth of this model would be lower than most (this is expected), it still made cuts so accurately that we could barely notice them.

The Tacklife comes with a set of 3 blades, 2 from each type, which allow you to use the saw to cut through a variety of materials from wood to tile and even soft metal. So it’s good that it’s versatile right out of the box.

We also like the laser and rip guide, which made cutting straight lines relatively easy. It was accurate from first use with no adjustments needed.

Overall, this is one of the best compact circular saws in the UK. It has a winning combination of balance, compactness, and power that make it a great addition to your power tool kit.

Pros

  • One-handed operation
  • Nicely balanced and manoeuvrable
  • Powerful cutting from such a small package
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Includes a set of 6 blades

Cons

  • Takes some getting used to
  • No storage box or carrying case included

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0

Dewalt DCS391N-XJ

Specs

  • Type: Sidewinder
  • Maximum Cutting Depth: 55 mm
  • Weight: 998 g
  • Blade Diameter: 165 mm
  • Blade Type: 24-tooth carbide-tipped steel blade
  • Corded: no (battery and charger not included)

Dewalt is a big name when it comes to power tools and saws in general. The DCS391N carries this legacy by being one of the best cordless circular saws in the UK.

First, to clear things off, this is a bare unit. It runs on an 18V XR lithium-ion batteries that you need to purchase separately. It also doesn’t come in a Dewalt box. The good news is that this brings down the price somewhat. If you wanted to own a Dewalt for cheaper and have spare batteries from a previous saw or drill, this is a bargain.

Now, on to the performance of the saw itself. First thing you’ll notice is that this is a well-balanced circular saw. Even with a battery fitted in, it wasn’t too heavy to the touch. It fulfils the role of a cordless tool quite well by being easy to manoeuvre around. The handle is comfortable to touch, and the trigger is perfectly placed.

In other words, you’ll feel in total control while you’re using this saw.

At the same time, the DCS391N looks AND feels durable. It has a cast magnesium base that gives it rock-solid construction, perfect for repeated use.

The DCS391N comes with a lot of little features that all add up to a great experience. It has safety features built-in like an electronic brake and lock-off switch. There’s also a dust extraction port. A spindle lock allows for quick blade changes on the fly.

We also have no problem with the saw’s runtime. If you use it for lighter work, it could last you an entire day. It might struggle with tougher materials, but this isn’t what it’s made for anyhow (best to have a corded circular saw for that).

At the end of the day, the Dewalt DCS391N delivers. You get a workhorse tool that gives you total freedom on where and how you use it.

Pros

  • Extremely durable design
  • Good battery efficiency that should last for days of cutting
  • Nice balance and manoeuvrability
  • Decent cutting power

Cons

  • No battery or charger included

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0

Evolution Fury 1-B

Specs

  • Type: Sidewinder
  • Maximum Cutting Depth: 60mm at 90 degrees, 40mm at 45 degrees
  • Maximum Bevel: 45 degrees
  • Weight: 4.4 kg
  • Blade Type: F185-TCT 16 teeth multi-purpose blade
  • Blade Diameter: 185 mm
  • Bore Diameter: 20 mm
  • Power: 1,200 watts, high torque motor
  • Corded: yes

The Evolution Fury 1-B is one of the best budget circular saws in the UK. It’s a fantastic general purpose power tool you can use in a variety of situations.

Despite the price, the saw performs admirably well. The construction and quality of the unit and blades also hide the fact that this is a budget-priced power tool.

The 1200 watt motor gives enough torque and power to cut through anything we’ve ever put in front of it so far. The included multi-purpose blade can cut through old nails or screws, making it particularly useful when working with reclaimed timber. The optional diamond blade adds even more versatility by allowing you to work with concrete, brick, or stone.

You can do a variety of cuts with this, including plunge cuts, and tilts of up to 45 degrees.

In other words, it can do what every other expensive saw can. So far, it has yet to choke on us, and we’ve been using it a lot recently for most of our woodwork needs.

What the Fury 1-B lacks, however, is the guide and adjustment levers. The construction feels shoddy, and the material looks cheap. It’s a shame, but we think they had to cut corners somewhere to keep the price down.

But overall, you get what you pay for (and even more) with the Evolution Fury 1-B. That’s why we think it’s the cheapest circular saw in the UK that anyone should own.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • The multi-purpose blade can cut through a variety of materials
  • Nicely balanced

Cons

  • The blade doesn’t cut as gently as other brands
  • The plastic material used for the guides and knobs feels cheap
  • The cord is short at only 1m

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0

Bosch Professional GKS 190

Specs

  • Type: Sidewinder
  • Maximum Cutting Depth: 70mm
  • Maximum Bevel: 56 degrees
  • Weight: 4.1 kg
  • Blade Diameter: 190 mm
  • Power: 1400 watts, 5,500 rpm
  • Corded: yes

The Bosch GKS 190 is considered one of the best professional circular saws in the UK.

It’s a favourite among woodworkers thanks to its high torque and power – one of the highest in its class. The 5,500 rpm is hard to beat and gives the GKS 190 unparalleled cutting power.

Once we used it, we understood how relevant that was. Ripping through even the heaviest of wood was effortless, like a hot knife gliding through butter. It leaves a clean cut that’s hard to tell at first glance.

This is a powerful saw for the most demanding of applications, plain and simple. The cutting depth and maximum tilt bevel make the GKS 190 very flexible in a wide variety of situations a professional will encounter in the field.

Of course, all that power means the GKS 190 is heavier than most circular saws. The storage box is very large and could be a problem for those with limited space in their tool shed.

Little icings on the cake include a turbo blower and wood chip deflector. Both of these work to give you a clearer view of what you’re cutting. The soft-grip handle is ergonomic and comfortable, which is a must for such a powerful hand tool.

One minor annoyance is that the blade shield sometimes gets in the way, especially if you’re working on thicker materials. Once you start, however, the problem goes away. As we said, it’s minor but slightly annoying.

If you’re a professional looking for a powerful and versatile circular saw, the Bosch GKS 190 is your best bet. 

Pros

  • One of the most powerful circular saws in the market at 5,500 rpm
  • The high cutting depth and bevel make it very flexible
  • Dust blow and wood chip deflector features
  • Ergonomic handle

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0

HYCHIKA Circular Saw

Specs

  • Type: Sidewinder
  • Maximum Cutting Depth: 65 mm at 90 degrees, 45m at 45 degrees
  • Maximum Bevel: 45 degrees
  • Weight: 4 kg
  • Blade Diameter: 190 mm
  • Power: adjustable from 2,200 rpm up to 4,700 rpm max
  • Corded: yes

Whilst not a well-known brand, the HYCHIKA Circular Saw nevertheless delivers reliable cutting performance. Because of its friendly price point, we consider this the best circular saw under £100 available in the UK.

A useful feature of the HYCHIKA we didn’t find anywhere else is the adjustable torque. You can select cutting speeds from 2,200 rpm to a maximum of 4,700 rpm. This allows you to adapt the saw based on the density of the material you’re working with.

The HYCHIKA includes two cutting aids that will help you make the perfect cut. The scale ruler allows you to align the saw, while the built-in laser guides you to make straighter cuts.

This circular saw is lightweight and manoeuvrable, making it easy to work with. It complements the tilt feature well (up to a maximum of 45 degrees) to give you the ability to make smooth turns and bevels as you cut.

As for the cutting performance, it’s pretty decent. Not as perfect as more expensive saws, and you might need to sand edges on occasion. But for the price point, it’s fantastic. Works well as a “pre-cutting” tool, but not as much for finer details.

If you’re someone who just woodworks on the side and doesn’t want to spend a small fortune with circular saws, the HYCHIKA is a good choice.

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • Adjustable torque
  • Cutting aids like laser light and ruler guide
  • Robust safety features

Cons

  • Tricky to use in the beginning
  • Doesn’t produce a perfectly smooth cut

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0

WORX WX427

Specs

  • Type: Sidewinder
  • Maximum Cutting Depth: 46 mm at 90 degrees, 30mm at 45 degrees
  • Maximum Bevel: 45 degrees
  • Weight: 4.8 kg
  • Power: 710 watts
  • Corded: yes

The Worx WX427 is a mini circular saw that can be operated with one hand. This tells you how flexible and manoeuvrable this hand tool is. Despite this, the WX427 comes equipped with enough power (710 watts) for most cutting needs. You can work through wood as well as harder materials like brick and stone using any of the 3 blades included in the package.

Handling wise, the WX427 has a slim, in-line grip that makes the unit comfortable to the touch. The balance is also just right, making it perfect for extended cutting sessions without tiring you out. 

While the WX427 was made for one-handed operation, in practice, we tend to use two hands for better support. It’s where the lightness of the WX427 worked against it, as it’s easy to veer away and make uneven lines when cutting. It’s even more evident if you’re cutting thinner materials.

For this reason, we often use the WX427 as a rough cutting tool for preliminary work (or occasionally chopping up firewood). Getting fine cuts right takes a bit of practice to pull off, more so than with other saws in our experience.

One other drawback of the WX427 is that it’s considerably more expensive than other compact circular saws in the market. 

Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a quality saw for smaller tasks or rougher cuts, the Worx WX427 is a good candidate. It’s also great as a substitute for your main circular saw.

Pros

  • Small, easy manoeuvrable circular saw
  • Decent cutting power despite the size
  • Ergonomic

Cons

  • More expensive than comparable mini circular saws
  • Harder to achieve more delicate cuts

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0