Best Small Circular Saws of 2020

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Categories Saws
These mini circular saws are powerful, versatile, and inexpensive.

The best compact circular saws are lightweight, easy to transport, and above all, easy to maneuver. They offer possibilities that larger saws don’t provide. They are great for working in confined spaces and cater to those tasks that require fast and convenient solutions.

We look at the best mini circular saws to determine which is the best in each category and which deserves the overall crown.


Do I Need a Compact Circular Saw?

The simple answer is no. A regular circular saw has a greater cutting depth, more power and can do anything the best small circular saw can do. But that is not the end of it, or this would be a short article.

Compact circular saws occupy that middle ground between full-size saws, offering an alternative for power, convenience and comfort of use. When you have lighter woodworking tasks to complete, why set up the full-size saw? It’s what compact circular saws are for.

They can zip along, sawing wood, metal, plastic, composites, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) with ease. The only thing you have to bear in mind is that smaller saws have less cutting depth, so the material you are working on will be slightly restricted.

So, if you want the compact option, a mini circular saw is lighter and more maneuverable. It causes less strain and fatigue, and above all, is affordable.

Quick Note

If you are starting out with circular saws, it might be a good idea to learn how to handle a smaller version first. That way, you can graduate when you have enough confidence.

How Do I Choose a Compact Circular Saw?

With so many models and makes to choose from, it can be a minefield getting the right one. Here are a few tips.

Corded vs. Cordless

If you want the freedom to go anywhere without the restriction of needing a power supply, opt for a cordless saw. They are the ultimate in convenience and release you from the shackles of a power cord and a plug socket.

Just bear in mind that batteries have a finite life between charges. So, the disadvantage of a cordless saw is the loss of power as the battery fades. And if it does drain halfway through a job, be sure you have a back-up battery to keep the saw going.

Many people think that plugging in your saw trumps the inconvenience of making sure that the battery is charged. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Using cordless saws just requires forethought and planning, typically the day before a project.

If you want a never-ending supply of power, choose a corded model. You plug your saw in, and away you go. Just remember to pack an extension cable for those jobs further away from the plug socket.

Power

The amount of power you need depends on what you are cutting. Metal and denser materials, like hardwood, will require a saw with more of a punch. Look at the motor specifications sheet/sticker to determine the power. Most compact circular saws operate at around 3,500 RPM and have motors with between 4 and 5 amps.

Remember

A higher the amp rating is usually an indication that the RPM will be greater, and so the more powerful the saw.

Ease of Use

Luckily, ease of use is one of the main attributes of a mini circular saw. They are light, nimble, easy to control, and above all else, easy to set up. They have small handles that are ergonomically designed, so they fit in your hand like a glove.

Small circular saws are the perfect tool for sustained use because they have less impact on your hands and wrists, meaning that you don’t suffer from fatigue.

Accuracy

Compact circular saws are accurate because they have a clearer sightline. The clearer sightline is thanks to the handle that is set behind the blade rather than to the side. It helps with the whole left side or right side debate that you get with conventional circular saws.

Experts argue that if you are right-handed, you should have the blade on the left and vice versa while using a conventional saw. However, with a compact model, that argument is diminished somewhat by the fact that the handle extends to the rear of the blade.

Also, many saws are equipped with laser guides to keep a clear sightline where you are cutting. And because they are lightweight, they glide across the surface of the stock and require minimal effort from the user.

Depth of Cut

Most small circular saws have a maximum cutting depth ranging between one and two inches. It means that it can’t compete with its larger cousins. However, if you are working on smaller stock pieces or thinner sheet material, this depth should be sufficient for most situations.

Anything thicker will require a full-size circular saw. But then again, they are compact saws for a reason.

Versatility

It all comes down to the weight, size, and maneuverability of the saw. A smaller saw is easier to handle. However, this has a flip side: smaller saws are restricted on the size and depth of the workpiece.

If you are working on a project that requires fast sawing and not too much bulk cutting, then a mini circular saw is the way to go.


The Best Compact Circular Saws of 2020

With so many compact circular saws to choose from, we scoured the internet for the best. What we have come up with is the seven best mini-circular saws to suit various needs to make your search easier.

1. Makita SH02R1 CXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Circular Saw Kit

Best Overall Compact Circular Saw

Makita SH02R1 12V Max CXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Circular Saw Kit, 3-3/8'
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This Makita saw kit is cordless, so you can take this thing anywhere. There is no restriction to a power supply. The power comes from the lithium-ion battery that powers the motor and generates 1,500 RPM. Okay, this isn’t the highest power of the saws listed, but for cutting precision angles, this saw is up to the task.

It has an adjustable cutting depth of 1 inch when set at 90 degrees and 0.62 inch at 45 degrees. It also has a tilting base for bevel cuts, meaning complicated angles are well within its capabilities.

Why We Love It

Cordless

Cordless saws free you from the confines of the cord; you are completely mobile.

Lightweight

This saw weighs just 3.5 pounds, so hand fatigue is greatly reduced.

Dust Blower

The dust blower keeps the line clear of debris. It means you can be more accurate when cutting. Also, it keeps the sawdust away from your face.

Keep In Mind

Low Power

At 1,500 RPM, this is not the most potent saw on the market. It restricts you to cutting wood, sheet material, and drywall.

Additional Specs

RPM1,500
Weight3.5 pounds
Cutting depth1-inch
Suitable forMDF, plyboard, melamine, drywall
Price$$
Warranty3-year

2. Dremel SM20-02 Saw Max Tool Kit

Best Compact Circular Saw for Beginners

Dremel SM20-02 120-Volt Saw-Max Tool Kit
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We chose this Dremel circular cutting tool as the best for beginners for its size, weight, and versatility. Everyone knows how adaptable these machines are, so if you want a comprehensive cutting tool, this Dremel has got you covered.

So, why is it so good? It has a powerful 6 amp motor and worm drive gearing. Plus, it has a straight cut, plunge cut, and a flush cut setting. It covers all the bases for those needing an all-encompassing tool.

It cuts hardwood, tile, composites, melamine, MDF, metals, and even masonry.

Why We Love It

Cuts Most Materials

Why go to the expense of buying specialist cutting tools when the Dremel does it all? It is one of the most versatile circular saws on the market.

Powerful Motor

The 6-amp motor produces 17,000 RPM. That’s why this tool cuts through almost anything.

Precise

A clear line of sight and a quick blade change feature means this Dremel is accurate with the cuts it makes.

Worm Gears

Worm gears deliver more power, and greater control, while increasing the lifespan of your circular saw.

Keep In Mind

Limited Depth

The blade measures 3 inches in diameter, giving this Dremel a cutting depth of 0.75 inches.

Expensive

Compared to some circular saws, this Dremel is quite a lot of money to buy. It is a multi-purpose tool rather than a wood cutting specialist, which means it’s excellent at a lot of things but specializes in none.

Additional Specs

RPM17,000
Weight6.75 pounds
Cutting depth0.75-inch
Suitable forMDF, plyboard, melamine, drywall, metal, concrete
Price$$
Warranty2-year

3. Tacklife Circular Saw with Metal Handle

Best Compact Circular Saw for Construction

TACKLIFE Circular Saw with Metal Handle, 6 Blades(4-3/4' & 4-1/2”), Laser Guide, 5.8A, Max Cutting Depth 1-11/16'' (90°), 1-3/8'' (45°), Ideal for Wood, Soft Metal, Tile and Plastic Cuts - TCS115A
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This Tacklife circular saw comes with all the accessories you could want as a construction worker. It has a laser-cut guide and ruler. There are six blades, including a grit diamond blade for masonry, two wood cutting blades, and blades for slicing through metal.

This mini circular saw is so well equipped, it had to be the best saw for construction, hands down. It even has an additional handle to give you extra grip and increase the pressure you place on the cutting action.

Why We Love It

Equipped for Every Scenario

It is the ideal circular saw for construction because when you are working on-site, you never know when you will need a specific tool. But with this saw, you have all of the angles covered.

Double Protection Switch

The saw can only operate if you engage the on/off trigger and the safety switch simultaneously.

The Price

For such a rugged tool with all the accessories, the asking price for this tool is excellent value for money. For that reason, it also makes for a great circular saw to learn on.

Keep In Mind

Build Quality Issues

Some users have reported receiving faulty goods and poor quality machines. Cheaper parts on the saw will lead to a malfunction sooner rather than later. So, what you save in initial upfront costs, you could lose in the greater scheme of things.

The Price

If you are on the lookout for a quality tool, the price should be an indicator of how good the saw is going to be. The rule of thumb that you get what you pay for is overwhelmingly correct.

Additional Specs

RPM3,500
Weight8.2 pounds
Cutting depth1.69 inches
Suitable forWood, soft metals, plastic, tiles
Price$
Warranty2-year

4. Rockwell RK3441K Compact Circular Saw

Best Compact Circular Saw for Woodworking

Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2” Compact Circular Saw, 5 amps, 3500 rpm with Dust Port and Accessory Kit
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This Rockwell compact circular saw is light, weighing just 5 pounds, which is 50 percent less than standard circular saws. It has a left-handed blade design to give remarkably clear visibility of the cut-line.

As with most compact circular saws, this model has a maximum cutting depth of 1.69 inches. The ergonomic handle makes it easy to control, even when making overhead cuts.

Why We Love It

Left-Handed Blade

Having the blade mounted on the left-hand side gives greater visibility and a more definite line of sight. It reaps the rewards when cutting extensive boards and intricate angles for framing and general woodworking.

Great on Wood

As the advertising states, “this saw was born to cut wood.” It slices through 2 x 4 lumber with ease.

Lightweight

Because this saw weighs just 5 pounds, it will put less strain on your hands and wrist. It means you can keep going for longer, helping you speed up the job.

Keep In Mind

Great on Wood

We realize that being great on wood is both a pro and a con. The downside is that it doesn’t cater to harder materials like concrete or metals.

Corded

This saw doesn’t offer the same freedom as the cordless varieties, so you will need an extension cable if you want to extend its reach.

Additional Specs

RPM3,500
Weight5 pounds
Cutting depth2 inches
Suitable forHardwood, softwood, plastic, 2-inch lumber
Price$
Warranty3-year

5. WORX WX429L Compact Circular Saw

Best Compact Circular Saw For Framing

WORX WORXSAW 4-1/2' Compact Circular Saw – WX429L
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Like the Rockwell model, this WORX saw could have been a contender for the best woodworking award. Instead, we thought the adjustable parallel gauge and the bevel adjuster make this tool the ideal candidate for the framing award.

It has a maximum cutting depth of 2 inches, so it can saw through 2 x 4 in a single sweep. If you are making window or door frames, this compact saw won’t let you down.

Why We Love It

Adjustable Depth and Angles

No one should underestimate the importance of a saw that easily adjusts to cater to different angles. This model allows you to cut straight lines with the parallel guide, and when you need that 45-degree cut, it adjusts with no problem.

Lightweight

This saw weighs 4.4 pounds, which is even less than the Rockwell saw. It means there is far less strain on you while you work on your projects. It also allows you to control the saw with one hand.

Left-Hand Blade

The majority of the US population are right-handed, so this left-handed blade allows for a clearer sightline of the cutting edge. Cutting frames just got more accurate.

Keep In Mind

Corded

The 10-foot power cord restricts the distance you can reach with this saw. It will never compete with the go-anywhere appeal of battery-operated compact saws.

Small Projects

It may be unfair to single out this saw as being deficient when it comes to large-scale projects. However, it is a fact that compact circular saws are not designed for heavy-duty construction.

Additional Specs

RPM3,500
Weight4.4 pounds
Cutting depth2 inches
Suitable forWood, metal, plastic, tiles
Price$
Warranty3-year

6. Genesis GCS545CControl Grip Compact Saw

Best Budget Compact Circular Saw

Genesis GCS545C 5.8 Amp 120 Volt 4-1/2 in. Control Grip Compact Circular Saw with Vacuum Adapter, Blade Wrench, and 24T Carbide Tipped Blade
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Would it be odd if we told you that this circular saw costs less than an average meal for two in a restaurant? Well, believe it, because this Genesis model is such great value for money!

It has an ergonomic grip, which is perfect for one-handed operation. It is lightweight, weighing just 6 pounds. Plus, it has a dust collector that attaches to a shop vacuum to remove any harmful pollutants safely.

We love its cutting depth of 1.69 inches. And finally, its 5.8 amp motor is powerful enough to cut through hardwood, softwood, and composites.

Why We Love It

The Price

It is incredible to think that this tool costs up to five times less than a standard size model circular saw. It seems like all the saws we featured are great value for money, but this one stands out as the best budget model.

Adjustable Depth and Bevel Control

This saw has an adjustable depth and bevel control that rivals the WORX model. It means that if you wanted to save some dollars and go for a budget saw, you could still achieve similar results.

Optional Rip Cutting Track

Okay, we get that the track is optional and is an additional cost. Still, it turns your inexpensive compact circular saw into a track saw with huge rip-cutting potential.

Keep In Mind

Best for Wood and Soft Metals

This saw is powerful, but it performs better when sawing through hardwood, softwood, aluminum, and copper.

Build Quality Issues

When products are cheaper, they typically have lower-grade components and attachments. This saw does suffer material and build quality issues because the price is so low.

Additional Specs

RPM3,500
Weight6pounds
Cutting depth1.69 inches
Suitable forWood, soft metals
Price$
Warranty2-year limited

7. Rockwell RK3440K Ultra-Compact Versacut Saw

Best Compact Circular Saw For Dust Extraction

Rockwell RK3440K Versacut 4.0 Amp Ultra-Compact Circular Saw with Laser Guide and 3-Blade Kit with Carry Case
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What we loved about this second Rockwell saw was its dust extraction capabilities. Never underestimate the damage sawdust can do to your lungs when inhaled.

This saw has an attachment pipe that connects to your shop vacuum to remove all the debris safely. It has the added benefit of clearing the cutting line of waste material to give you a clearer line of sight.

It also has a built-in laser guide to increase your accuracy when cutting. It will cut tile, wood, sheet metal, plastics and flooring with ease.

Why We Love It

Dust Extraction

This saw removes almost every particle of sawdust from the air via a connector attached to your shop vacuum. It means you have peace of mind that you aren’t inhaling any harmful particles.

Versatile

This little saw loves to cut through metal, wood, plastics, composites and even tile.

Laser Guide

We often fret about sightline when cutting wood accurately, so having a laser guide increases your chances of a better and neater outcome.

Great for Tight Spaces

The Versacut has a shallow nose, so the cutting edge is almost flat with the front. It means you can get close to walls and corners, allowing for increased maneuverability in cramped spaces.

Keep In Mind

The Price

This Rockwell model costs considerably more than the Rockwell RK3441K that we featured earlier in the review. We put that down to the dust extracting capabilities, so be aware that this comes at a cost.

Additional Specs

RPM3,500
Weight4 pounds
Cutting depth1.69 inches
Suitable forWood, soft metals, plastic, tiles
Price$$
Warranty2-year limited

Mini Circular Saw Comparison Chart

ProductBestRPMWeightCutting depthSuitable forWarranty
Makita SH02R1 CXT Lithium-Ion SawOverall Choice1,5003.5 lbs1″MDF, plyboard, melamine, drywall3-year
Dremel SM20-02 Saw Max Tool KitBeginners17,0006.75 lbs0.75″MDF, plyboard, melamine, drywall, metal, concrete2-year
Tacklife Circular SawConstruction3,5008.2 lbs1.69″Wood, soft metals, plastic, tiles2-year
Rockwell RK3441K Circular SawWoodworking3,5005 lbs2″Hardwood, softwood, plastic, 2-inch lumber3-year
WORX WX429L Circular SawFraming3,5004.4 lbs2″Wood, metal, plastic, tiles3-year
Genesis GCS545CControl GripBudget Pick3,5006lbs1.69″Wood, soft metals2-year limited
Rockwell RK3440K Versacut SawDust Extraction3,5004 lbs1.69″Wood, soft metals, plastic, tiles2-year limited
Jump to the Full Mini Circular Saw Reviews

Frequently Asked Questions

How Deep Can a 7.25-Inch Circular Saw Cut?

You can cut to a maximum depth of 2.5 inches with a circular saw that has a blade measuring 7.25 inches. Compact circular saws have a blade diameter of about 4.5 inches. This diameter reduces the maximum depth cut to 1.69 inches.

When Using a Circular Saw Is Good Side Up Or Down?

When cutting veneered plywood and thin sheet material, it is always best to cut with the good side facing down. Circular saws tend to splinter the wood on the side that faces upwards and leaves a neater finish on the underside.

Why Are Cordless Circular Saws Left-Handed?

It comes down to sightline and holding the material in place. 87 percent of the US population are right-handed or both, so it follows that cordless circular saws, in the main, cater to right-handed users. It makes it easier for them to see the line and control the workpiece (1).

Can I Cut Concrete With My Circular Saw?

You can cut concrete using a circular saw. You will have heard us say that your saw is only as good as your blade, and the same is true for a compact circular saw. You need a diamond-coated blade specially designed for the purpose of cutting concrete.

Diamond-coated blades have no teeth. However, the abrasive nature of the diamond grit scrapes away at the surface of the concrete, leaving a super-smooth cutting line.

What Is the Best Size Circular Saw?

The best size, and certainly the most common size, is the 7.25-inch blade circular saws. They have a cutting depth of about 2.25 inches and should cater to most materials you use. You can get saws with larger blades, but that would entail added expense. However, compact saws are much smaller.


The Verdict on Mini Circular Saws

No one can tell you which of the compact circular saws we’ve featured are going to be right for you. That comes down to personal opinion. But if we’ve helped in some way to clear the mist and make your choice easier, then we’ve done our job.

Mini circular saws are incredible tools, but as with anything labeled “compact,” they have their limitations. Choose your saw wisely and have fun starting your next project.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.
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