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Choosing the best compact circular saw can be a difficult task when you’re faced with so many options.
So we put together this short guide on some of the top model available, as well as a buyer’s guide at the end.
Here's 3 products we picked out that thought you would be interested in depending on your budget...
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The Best Compact Circular Saws with reviews 2020
Here's a list of the best compact saws on the market today:
1. Makita SH02R1 12V Max CXT Cordless Circular Saw
- Makita-built motor delivers 1,500 RPM for faster cutting
- 3-3/8" blade delivers a maximum cutting depth of 1" for a wide range of cutting applications
- Adjustable cutting depth from 1" at 90Degree and 5/8" at 45Degree
- Tilting base for bevel cuts from 0Degree - 45Degree
- Cuts plywood, MDF, pegboard, particleboard, melamine, drywall and more
- Cordless model means you take it anywhere
- Batteries charge quickly
- Powerful for such a small saw
- Great quality build
- Perfect tool designed for quick cuts
- Comes with 2 batteries & charger
- 3 year warranty included
Not so Good
- Has a lower RPM than corded models but good torque
- Batteries are not compatible with other Makita LXT models (this is CXT series)
- Blade is on the right side as opposed to being on the left that most saws opt for (may not bother many users)
- No dust post
There’s not many cordless compact circular saws around but the SH02R1 from Makita is our favourite model.
While it may not offer the same RPMs as a corded model, it still produces enough torque to get the cuts you want as many users are happy with it’s cutting ability.
The user complaints we found about the lack of power, seemed to be from those who expected a mini circular saw to cut through tougher materials – and that’s not what this type of saw is designed for.
2. Rockwell RK3441K Compact Saw
- Very popular – top seller
- Lock-off switch for safety
- Ergonomic handle
- Reasonably priced
Not so Good
- Lock-off switch located on left side of the handle and makes it difficult for lefties to use without engaging it
- Blade can bind up with heavy work
- Not powerful enough to tackle every job
- No laser guide
This versatile compact circular saw has an ergonomic design to keep you comfortable when you’re using it so you can work a little longer. It helps you with your grip which in turn leads to better control of the saw and more accuracy. It has a lock-off switch for safety and a metal inner liner plus an outer guard to keep it durable and make sure it lasts through various kinds of jobs.
The left-handed blade design provides a better cut-line visibility plus it gets you into places that not all other compact circular saws could. It can also make bevel cuts of 1 ⅛ inch if you’re looking for a little more versatility when you use this saw.
It has a depth indicator level that allows you to easily change the depth of the blade. And speaking of the blade, this model is sold as a bare tool but you can also opt to get the kit, which includes diamond grit saw blade.
3. WORX WORXSAW WX429L Compact Saw
- Easily adjustable depth lever
- Bevels from 0 – 45 degrees
- Left sided blade design provides better visibility
- Very compact
Not so Good
- Bogs down a little with long cuts
- Left sided blade design
- Mot a good match for left handed users
- Although they claim it’s capable of it, cutting through a 2×4 is difficult if not impossible to do
This Worx compact circular saw is easy to adjust, whether you’re setting the depth or bevel angle. The grip is comfortable and the saw feels balanced in your hand so you can control the saw. It’s lightweight and easy to maneuver.
What’s unique about this saw is the left sided blade design which gives you a better view of the blade and the material you’re cutting. This makes it a little easier to keep your cuts straight and accurate. Of all the mini circular saws we reviewed, this one is the most compact. It would be great for women or anyone with smaller hands who has a hard time holding on to larger power tools.
Because of the blade positioning, left handed people might have a hard time using this Worx saw. It’s also important to keep in mind that this saw is great for small projects but bogs down with bigger projects. Some users ever call into question the claim that it can cut through a 2 x 4.
4. Genesis GCS545C Small Handheld Saw
- A powerful motor for this kind of saw
- Ergonomic comfortable handle so you can work comfortably for long periods of time
- Easy to adjust depth
Not so Good
- Included blade will need upgrading fast
- Made for small jobs and can bog down with big ones
- Trigger located a bit awkwardly
This Genesis compact circular saw has a powerful 5.8 amp motor. The triple gear reduction increases torque and reduces the potential for damage to the gears by lowering the stress placed on them. This lightweight design is easy to use and control thanks to its ergonomic grip. The saw can easily be used with one hand so you can use the other one to steady the wood or whatever material you’re working with.
You can easily adjust the depth and bevel on this one easily. There’s a rip guide included so you can make your long cuts more easily without having to worry about accuracy. You do get your blade wrench and a Carbide tipped blade with this tool, but you’ll probably need to replace it before long. If you want to cut any metals or harder woods, you should definitely upgrade the blade first.
5. Rockwell Versacut RK3440K Compact Saw
- Versatile as it comes with 3 different blades
- Laser cutting guide for precision
- Good safety features
- Easy to setup and use
Not so Good
- You have to apply added pressure to make the base plate which makes it a little cumbersome to use
- Cannot make bevel cuts
- Uncomfortable grip for anyone with large hands
This Rockwell compact circular saw comes with 3 different blades so you can cut wood, thin metal, plastic, PVC pipe, concrete, tile, and much more without having to make an extra trip to the hardware store to spend extra money on blades. It also has a laser cutting guide so you can get straighter and more accurate cuts.
The laser cutting guide is a great feature on any saw. There’s one little glitch with this one, though. Even though the saw itself is powered by electricity, the laser uses a battery. The battery runs out pretty quickly. This just seems like a design flaw since the laser could have easily been powered by the same electricity as the saw.
The Rockwell Versacut has a unique safety feature – a spring loaded base plate that covers the blade once the cut is complete. The depth of cut is determined by the depth gauges effect on the base plate. You have to apply enough pressure to push the plate to a set point where it will stop and the cut will be the right depth. While this makes this saw really safe, it’s a little cumbersome to use.
6. Genesis GPCS535CK Mini Circular Saw
- Comes with three different blades
- Small enough to be used with one hand
- Laser-light cutting guide for precision
- Comes with storage case
Not so Good
- A little heavy compared to other compact circular saws
- Blade is a bit smaller than other compact circular saws
This compact circular saw is small and mighty. Powerful enough to take on multiple cutting jobs but compact enough to be used with one hand. It’s actually sold as a kit and includes a carbide tipped blade, a 44T HSS blade for cutting metal, and a diamond blade for tile.
This makes it extremely versatile right away as you can cut softwood, hardwood, tiles, copper, and aluminum without even having to go to the hardware store to buy new blades. They all come in the box!
The thing that puts this small circular saw over the top is the laser-light cutting guide. This helps you make accurate cuts, every time.
To help this saw with even more versatility, the TrakRunner Miter system helps you make perfect miter cuts, even in tight spots. The downside to this compact circular saw is that, compared to the others we reviewed, it’s quite heavy. At 12 pounds, it might not seem like a heavyweight, but other saws in this category weigh in at around 5 or 6 pounds. That said, it also has higher RPMs than most of the other models.
7. VonHaus 4.5 Amp Compact Circular Saw
- Great value
- Waterproof design
- Comes with a carrying case so it’s easy to transport
- Can cut through a variety of materials
Not so Good
- A little heavy
- Safety features can actually be a bit restrictive
- Awkward to hold at times
- Small cutting depth
If you’re looking for a small, compact circular saw, this one from VonHaus is a good choice for small jobs. It comes with a carrying case so it’s easy to store and transport and a straight cut guide to help with accuracy. The maximum cutting depth is about one inch and it can handle wood, metal, tile, etc with the right blade.
Considering how small the blade is, this saw is a little on the heavy side, although it’s still lightweight enough to be used with one hand. The sturdy design is also waterproof so you don’t have to worry about any damage if you’re working in the bathroom, kitchen, or outside.
Some of the safety features are a little difficult to work around and can actually affect your ability to use the saw because it makes the saw so awkward to hold. There’s no way to just switch a button and have it run. You actually have to hold the safety buttons to get it to run. This is a great thing to have if you’ve got a curious little kid in the house but is a bit of an annoyance to anyone who’s familiar with using power tools.
8. MasterMind 800344 Small Circular Saw
- Has a three point ergonomic handle for comfort and control
- Has both a laser light and a LED light
- Small and portable
- Unique blade position lets you do plunging cuts easily
Not so Good
- The laser light is a little faint and its use is a bit limited
- Difficult to see cutting area because of the position of the blade
- Smaller blade than others
- Low RPM
The MasterMind 800344 compact circular saw has a three point adjustable ergonomic handle for comfort and easy control. This is a really nice feature because it allows you to change the handle as you change your position. Whether you’re standing, sitting, or crouching, you have a way to change the grip so you’re still comfortable using the tool. The trigger paddle is large and easy to locate with a safety release switch that has to be slid out of the way before you can use the saw.
The MasterMind 800344 has both a laser guide and a LED light. You’re not able to use both at the same time and the LED light is much more effective. It’s hard to see the sides of the blade and you might not be able to tell where you’re cutting, but either the laser or the LED is sure to help a little.
A word of warning
Be realistic in what you want to cut with a compact circular saw.
While there are models that can cut a range of materials, it is not a magic bullet.
Think of it as an additional tool that can help you make quick cuts conveniently. If you need something a bit larger and portable, then check out our cordless circular saw reviews.
For example, while you can cut tile with a compact circular saw, it’s not going to be the best at it. Unless you are making very rough cuts, it’s best to just buy a tile saw instead.
Remember also that circular saws are only designed to cut in straight lines, so if you need to make and irregular or curved cuts, you may be better off looking to buy a portable bandsaw.
What to Look For
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a mini circular saw.
Before you start looking for one, the best thing to do is figure out exactly what you’re going to use it for. What kind of materials will you be cutting? Indoors or outdoors? Are you planning a lot of projects or do you need it for just one job?
Once you know how you’ll use it, you can start to consider which features you need.
Power is important because it affects how quickly your compact circular saw can cut and, to an extent, determines what kind of materials it can cut through.
The nature of these tools is that they’re compact, so don’t expect to see the amps that you’ll see with the larger saws.
Mini circular saws will have an average amp of about 3-5, though you will see some with close to 2 and some with about 6.
A lot of things go into a saw’s performance than sheer power, but it’s safe to assume that a saw with an amp of 6 will be more powerful than one with an amp of 4.
Another thing to consider about power is whether you want a corded or cordless saw.
Cordless tools always come with the same benefits – easy to take anywhere, no need to worry about a cord getting in the way. But they also share the same downsides. Namely, you always need to be aware of your battery life and that you’ll be limited to the amount of work the battery will allow you to do.
Battery powered saws will also not be able to offer the same amount of sheer power as a corded one can. You’ll need to decide which you prefer more – something with more reliable power or something that allows you to easily work anywhere without worrying about being tied to an electrical outlet.
If power is something you think you’ll need in the future, you might want to consider a regular circular saw instead.
Blade Size and Depth of Cut
The depth of cut is the measure of how deep a cut your saw will be able to make into any material. Typically, a mini circular saw should have a depth of cut of at least 1 inch, though some can go as high as two.
Some handheld circular saws are capable of doing bevel cuts, which is an angled cut to the edge of the wood. This is a great feature to have because it makes your saw a lot more versatile. Without a bevel feature, you’re really only able to do straight rip, cross, and miter cuts.
While it isn’t the only factor that contributes to the depth of cut, the size of the blade plays a big part. Typically, a 4-inch circular saw is a standard size with some being just under that diameter.
There are a few extra things that aren’t really necessary on a mini circular saw but are definitely nice to have. Some of those are:
- Easy blade replacement – Worst case scenario, you have to take a few extra minutes to change the blade. But if you use your saw a lot and with a variety of materials, you could end up having to change it quite often. In that case, the easier, the better.
- Laser cutting guide – Some saws will have a laser light that shines a straight line onto the material. The idea is you follow the line with the blade and get straighter cuts. Laser guides vary in their usefulness. Some are much better than others. If you find one that works, it’s a great thing to have.
- LED light – This is another way to help you make more accurate cuts. Instead of a line, LED lights light up the surface right around the blade so you can what you’re cutting a little better.
- Carrying case – This is another thing that isn’t really necessary, but it’s a really convenient thing to have with a tool like this. Compact circular saws are small and portable. This isn’t a huge tool you’re going to want to leave mounted to a table for convenience, you will easily put this away after you use it. Having a nice case to put it in just makes it a lot easier to do.
You may also be interested in: Standard circular saw
There you have our best compact circular saws. If you’re looking into buying one, make sure you read our compact circular saw reviews and buying guide to help figure out what features you have to have and the ones you can live without.
We have to recommend Makita SH02R1. Between the laser guide, the three included blades, and the storage case, what’s not to love about this saw?