High Cutting Power
Whatever model you choose, it should be able to cut wood without bogging down. For hobbyists, a 15 amp in-line saw is enough to stand up to the densest types of wood. In-line saws run at lower speeds than worm-drive saws, thus ensuring more power on each push. However, not all in-line saws can handle tough wood like lumber; you will have to get a worm-drive saw to manage these projects.
Quality Blade Guard
You should make sure the blade-guard is snug-free. Blade guard can also be quite annoying when it accidentally stops the saw. This will happen if you’re trimming a small piece off. Many professionals pin back the blade guards, or even remove them. However, you can’t be fully protected if the blade-guard is disabled. Thus you should choose a model with a blade guard that can handle all angles and depths. Those models that have a large protruding lobe often work the best.
Speaking of safety, you should check the spindle lock that keeps the blade from moving when you switch them. You saw should also have a safety switch to prevent starts. Some models have an electric blade break which makes the blade to quickly stop. If your saw doesn’t have this feature, you will have to wait until the blade stops spinning.
A Reliable Base Plate
A base plate is the part that breaks down most often. Those plates that are made of stainless steel can become a headache because they bend easily. Cast aluminum or magnesium plates are more durable but they will crack if you accidentally drop the saw. Fiber-reinforced plastic plates are the most durable; they are ribbed and thick.
Good Connection between the Blade and the Plate
Whether model you choose, its motor will be connected to the base plate. It allows you to adjust the depth and the bevel angle. Older models can have the pivot point placed in line with the blade guars, which will give you the bevel you don’t want. Models that don’t have a pivot point in line with the handle are more stable.
Smooth Bevel Adjustment
If you’re going to do framing work, especially roofs, you should get a saw with a smooth bevel function. The base should pivot without problems, too. Modern models have bevel stops that can be used in angles, but you should also be able to set the bevel to any angle you need.
Convenient Depth Adjustment
To handle many projects, you will need to adjust the depth of your cuts. Thus, you need to be able to move the base plate without problems. It is not that easy to do on circular saws with inboard levers that are tucked between the guard and the handle. Thus, it is better to get a model with outboard levers and keep one hand on the handle while adjusting the blade depth. Besides, you can quickly grasp the levers when they are coated in rubber. The depth scale should be marked – the larger the numbers, the better.
Clear Cut-line Visibility
If you want to make clear cuts, you need the cut-line marker to be aligned with the cutting edge of the blade. The best models allow you to cut either to the left or to the right of the line. However, when you can’t see your cut-line, your saw should provide a clear sight to the blade.
Electric breaks stop the motor within seconds after pushing the trigger, while saws without electric brakes require between 10 to 15 seconds to stop. The electric brake can quickly revise the flow of electricity to make the tool stop. The main reason why many choose electric brakes is to save limbs and fingers. Quickly stopping the brakes means less likely to get hurt or damage your work. Besides, most modern models have it anyway.
Just like other tools, circular saws have a wide range of blade sizes. But if you’re getting a corded model, you will probably get 7, 1/4 inches but cordless drills have two popular options, the 7, 1/4 inches and 6, 1/2 inches. Your choice should depend on your needs. For example, larger blades are heavier but allow you to make fewer cuts. Besides, it is more convenient to make angle cuts with bigger blades.
A shaft lock is a button that you can press to hold the blades still. Make sure your model has this feature because it makes blade changing much easier. Cheaper models usually don’t have shaft locks but middle-class and professional saws have.