Circular Saw vs. Plunge Saw: Which One to Get?

Circular Saw vs. Plunge Saw: Which One to Get?

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Many DIYers rent their power tools from a local supplier, and that’s perfectly okay. Doing so can save you money if you only need a tool for a one-off project or task. But if you’re really committed to your DIY work, then you should probably invest in your own personal set of power tools. That includes investing in t, such as a circular saw or a plunge saw.

Both of these can be productive for a variety of projects.

But still, they are important differences between these two power saw types that you must fully understand before investing in either. This guide will dig into those differences. At the same time, this guide will provide you with the insight needed to choose either of these types of saws based upon the kinds of projects you intend to undertake.

Circular Saws and Plunge Saws: The Basics

Before we jump into the differences between the circular saw and the plunge saw, let’s take a minute to become acquainted with both tools at a basic level.

What Is a Circular Saw?

Circular Saw If you have any prior DIY experience, then there’s a good chance that you’ve used a circular saw before.

But if you still need a refresher, this handheld power saw utilizes a spinning disc blade that rotates around an arbor to create an abrasive force. This force can be used to but through a variety of materials, though woodcutting is the most common task of this strong, versatile tool.

To that end, a skilled user can make rip cuts, cross cuts, and more with a circular saw in hand. All of these cuts tend to return a moderately smooth finish, though this depends more on the kerf of the chosen blade and the speed at which the cut is made.

Circular saws do require a fair bit of safety training to use properly, though, due to their exposed blade arrangement.

What Is a Plunge Saw?

Plunge Saw You may not be familiar with the name “plunge saw.” That’s because it is a less common title for the popular “track saw.” This alternative name alludes to the capacity for this power saw to make reliable, straight plunge cuts as it slides along a fixed track. This is accomplished via a rotating disc-style blade that can be set at a certain depth (though that height can often be adjusted when the blade is not in motion.

Plunge saws are well-known for their relatively safe operation. This is because their blade is always oriented downward. They are also able to contain output sawdust effectively, again because of their downward orientation.

However, these power saws are not exceptionally portable due to their permanent mounting on a bulky track.

Circular Saw vs. Plunge Saw: What Are the Differences?

With the basics out of the way, let’s take a look at their differences in greater detail.


First and foremost, you should know that these two power saws differ a lot when it comes to portability.

A circular saw, for example, can be carried from place to place around a job site with relative ease. This is because there are relatively compact in size and not so heavy that they become uncomfortable to tote around.

Meanwhile, the plunge saw can be a bit of a burden to move around a job site. This is because some of them cannot be removed from their track, which serves to maintain the unit’s straight cutting capacity. At times, this track can also make it difficult to store this saw away anywhere but on top of a work surface.

Plunge Saw Mobility

Maneuverability and Accuracy

Maneuvering either of these power saws around during a cut can be challenging. However, with some practice and preparation, a circular saw can be effectively used to make a variety of curved and angled cuts.

A plunge saw simply cannot perform either of those jobs due to its fixed orientation. In return, though, its accuracy when it comes to cutting uniform straight cuts is unmatched.

Dust Management

One aspect of these two power saws that you may have overlooked is their capacity for dust management. To that end, you may not have realized how effective plunge saws are at keeping sawdust under control. This is because these units always channel their dust downward and away from your face.

By comparison, a circular saw will typically eject its sawdust outward wherever possible. Most modern units are built with guards to block ejections towards the user. But still, they are prone to making a dusty mess.

Circular Saw in Use


Both of these power saws can be used safely, so long as you use proper PPE and follow all of the use instructions outlined in the saw’s manual.

However, plunge saws are known for being just slightly safer for regular use due to the downward-facing direction of their set-height blade. Circular saws require a bit more skill to operate safely, primarily due to their broad cutting space.

Which of the Two Should You Use?

Both a circular saw and plunge saw can get a lot of use in a creative DIY woodworking show.

A plunge saw, for example, can become your go-to option for straight cuts of any kind and any depth. You can even perform longer-than-average cuts with a plunge saw without worrying about running off course. The cleanliness of a plunge saw’s cut is also ideal for those looking to immediately put their cut lumber to use.

Meanwhile, a circular saw is a very versatile tool that will allow any DIYer to get a variety of different jobs done. This is because circular saws can be equipped with several blade types that let them cut through masonry materials, tiles, plastic, and more. Besides this, circular saws can be used to make quick cuts through dense lumber stock.

Circular Saw Versatility


On the surface, you might assume that these two circular-blade based power saws were exactly alike. But in practice, a DIYer should know that a circular saw and the plunge saw are best suited for separate types of woodcutting jobs.

With these different uses all in mind, you should be ready to choose which of these power saws becomes the newest addition to your DIY arsenal.

How Do Circular Saws Compare with Other Tools?

See how circular saws compare with: angle grindersbandsawshypoid sawsjigsawsjigsaws and reciprocating saws | miter saws | reciprocating saws | rotary saws | table saws | track saws