Need a new circular saw

Forum: Power Tools

I’ve been working nights doing some carpentry and without my (relatively) luxurious and large tablesaw, I’ve come to the conclusion that my inexpensive skil circular saw is just not up to the task for practically anything. I have a nice finish blade and it cuts cleanly but I have to “test” cut practically everything to make sure the blade is in the right location.

I would like to get a saw with the following features but don’t know where to look.

Good base/fence. My biggest issue is where locating the fence. I always use a straight edge clamped to the piece I’m cutting. I have to use a magnifying glass to mark the fence location because the distance to the blade is not a whole number. It would be great if the fence location were “exactly 1-1/2” or something to that effect. For both sides of the blade (not the same distance of course, but both whole numbers easy to mark).

Beveling. When the blade is beveled, it throws the fence distance off. This absolutely requires test cutting. It’s such a pain and time waster. My table saw doesn’t require this do well should any other tilting blade require it? Also, the bevel is hard to move, has no preset detents, etc. Those are nice features I’d like.

Built in ripping fence/gauge. I saw some accessories online for this. It would be nice to have it built in our at least compatible AND be able to set the distance by markings on the fence (just like my trusty table saw) and not by guessing/using a tape measure/test cutting/etc.

I suppose different blade widths may prevent a strict “whole number” fence distance, but the beveling accuracy thing is absolutely a necessity. So what’s good out there for under $150?

Tags: circular saw

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12 Replies

Brian ...

On second thought, I just designed a “me proof” (fool proof) plywood clamp on fence with the blade/fence distance built in. So now I’m 50/50 on spending the money. But the bevel thing is still making me think about it. Maybe 51/49 on getting a new saw.

Madts ...

Brian: I bought the tracksaw with the works. I was getting too old to fight 4X8 sheets onto my 12" contractors table saw. Also my allergies are getting worse so the tracksaw combined with vacuum made sense. And that I now can work inside with hardly no clean up, turned out to be a no brainer but an expensive one.

—Madts.

Brian ...

Good idea. I didn’t think about that. I’ll look into it.

Manitario ...

Tracksaw is the way to go. Here’s a review from a couple of years ago of most of the major brands:
http://www.finehomebuilding.com/2015/09/16/tool-test-track-saws

Sounds like Festool is the best but $$$

MJCD ...

Brian:

While I have the Festool Track Saw, and am a fan of its accuracy et. al. I’m confident that the rest of the woodworking world has worthy competitors at a fraction of the price. Truth be told, I’d never take a Festool product out of my shop – there are too many real-world variables (dent, drop, get rained on, get stolen). I also have a 6" Porter Cable SawBoss (the old, gold-standard one); as well as a brutish Bosch wormdrive that ride nicely against a clamped straight-edge and bevel cut.

I’d look at the Makita and DeWalt, and perhaps Ryobi has an offering.

Mike

Brian ...

Thanks guys. Track saw sounds really nice but not budget is $150 tax and accessories included. Maybe what I’m looking for doesn’t exist except for a track saw and if that’s the case I guess I’ll just keep muddling through with my skill saw.

The bevel is the most important part because I made an accurate fence. Very simple. Just a piece of straight plywood with a small piece glued to one end to make a tee. The tee rests against what I’m cutting which makes the fence perpendicular, and I cut the length of the tee using the fence itself, so I just line that part up with the cut line. Now straight cuts are easy. Just line up the fence, clamp it, cut. Bingo.

But beveling is still an issue. On my right-tilt tablesaw, no matter what the bevel is, the fence distance remains accurate at the table surface. That’s not true for this skill saw. The pivot is not true, so the fence distance with bevel cuts results in different distances at the shoe. Therefore, test cuts required every time because I can’t measure it. And the bevel (and plunge) indicators are hot accurate. And there are no presets with detents.

I looked at a DeWalt saw on Amazon and the couple of reviews for beveling were not great. Something about play in the shoe resulting in wobbly cuts.

So really all I’m looking for is a saw that has a true bevel pivot with fairly accurate indicator and detent presets.

Unfortunately I think finding one will be difficult. Most people use circular saws for framing and the fine accuracy I’m looking for doesn’t show up much in online reviews.

The good news is that I finished my carpentry project successfully – two sets of French doors for side by side bedroom closets. I had to make the frames, cut the hinge mortises (using a router jig I made for my own door projects) and install jamb switches. Somehow, despite all my issues with the saw, the doors came out plumb and even and tight. So I shifted gears and moved on to plaster and paint so no more carpentry for a couple of weeks. Next carpentry project is building a wall with double pocket doors. Since this is mostly a framing project I won’t even need a new saw for that. I’ll rip the jamb and head trim at home on my tablesaw and just cut them to length onsite. It’s only a couple of pieces.

lightweightladylefty ...

Brian,

If your bevel cuts are generally the same (perhaps 45 degrees), would making an accurate fence be helpful? Perhaps something like this?

Once you cut the guide to the correct angle for how your saw rides the fence, you could align your mark exactly and adjust your blade accurately off the guide. ??? Just a thought.

I posted this, then reviewed it before my time was up and I’m not certain if you’d have enough support to keep your saw angle correct once the excess was cut away to make the guide fit your saw. Perhaps if your used 1/4" hardboard for the bottom guide it could work. I’m not certain how accurate your alignment would be. It would also depend on the configuration of your saw’s base plate and whether it is a right- or left-handed saw.

So maybe it was just a dumb idea on my part . . . but what do you expect from a woman? :-)

L/W

Brian ...

That’s a good idea. The bevel cuts I made on this recent project was for the strike side of the door so the doors get a nice tight fit. So it was only about 3°. I should have asked before. 4 cuts (4 doors) is worth making this jig. In fact, I have a jig that I made for straightening bowed boards on the tablesaw that I refined with another version but never tossed in the trash or repurposed. So double phooey on me for not thinking about that before. Dang. I even have the stupid thing made except for the tee at the end.

This happens all the time. I shoot first and then ask questions. You’d think I’d have already learned my lesson by now. Well at least I have it for next time.

This jig would work because once you cut it the first time, the fence location is set. Just line it up and go.

Moment ...

I agree with LLL , keep it simple https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2lQAJ5OECc

a1jim ...

I didn’t want to spend the kind of money the Festool and other guys charge for there track saw so I went the Grizzly router, works fine.

http://www.grizzly.com/products/Track-Saw-Master-Pack/T25552?utm_campaign=zPage&utm_source=grizzly.com

Whitacrebespoke ...

I ignored a tracksaw for a long time but bit the bullet and got one wouldn’t be with out now. But you don’t need the festool the Makita and Bosch are more than good enough for most. In fact the Makita and festool rails are similar and the Mafell is made by Bosch underliscense. I’d say though go with the Makita mag base 210mm circular saw if you don’t want a tracksaw or are doing rough carpentry work.

Whitacrebespoke ...

https://www.axminster.co.uk/makita-5008mgj-210mm-circular-saw-506164

Fence is not the greatest but my 190mm Makita is going in place of this Saw the mag base is so much better than the pressed steel ones