When it comes to cutting everything from wood and metal to plastic and more, one of the most popular and versatile types of saws that you can use is the circular saw. Now, with that being said, not all circular saws are built the same or have the same purposes.
Indeed, there are many different kinds of circular saws out there that you need to be familiar with. What we’re here to do today is to provide you with a basic overview of all of the major different kinds of circular saws, so you can figure out which one of these is best for any given application.
1. Sidewinder Circular Saw
Yes, this might sound like a war plane out of an action movie, but the simple reality is that a sidewinder circular saw is what you probably imagine when you hear the words circular saw. The sidewinder is the normal circular saw that we usually use for most woodcutting tasks.
These are small and portable circular saws that have relatively small motors that are mounted to the left of the blade, which directly turn the shaft that turns around it. Sidewinder circular saws do not have many moving parts and are therefore very efficient in terms of energy usage, as they allow the blade to turn very quickly.
Generally speaking, these are always corded or use a lithium-ion battery. The sidewinder circular saw is best used for making rip cuts and for cutting plywood, soft lumber, and for making vertical cuts, as well as overhead cuts. The downsides to sidewinder circular saws is that they don’t have a rip fence, and they don’t have all that much power either.
See how sidewinder circular saws compare with: angle grinders | bandsaws | hypoid saws | jigsaws | jigsaws and reciprocating saws | miter saws | plunge saws | reciprocating saws | table saws | track saws
2. Worm Drive Circular Saw
The worm drive circular saw is the most popular alternative to the sidewinder circular saw. One of the main differences here is that with the worm drive circular saw, the motor is mounted behind the blade and is connected to it with a series of gears.
The result here is that worm drive circular saws have a lot more torque than sidewinder circular saws, but also a lot less speed. The main benefit that you get with worm drive circular saws is that they are extremely powerful and durable, and thus able to cut deep and efficiently into dense and hard materials. These are very long-lasting tools.
The worm drive circular saw also features a great sight line. Generally speaking, the worm drive circular saw is best used for making plunge cuts as well as long cross and miter cuts. The downsides with worm drive circular saws are that they are very heavy, they’re quite slow, and they also need oil.
3. Hypoid Circular Saw
The hypoid circular saw is kind of like a Frankenstein mix between worm drive circular saws and sidewinder circular saws. Just like worm drive circular saws, this type of saw has the motor mounted behind the blade.
What is interesting to note is that the hypoid circular saw, unlike the worm drive circular saw, transmits power to the blade using a series of beveled gears that never intersect with each other. In all reality, the difference is that on hypoid saws, the engines are enclosed and never need to be oiled, unlike with worm drive circular saws where the engine does need to be oiled on a regular basis.
On that same note, due to the beveled gears that hypoid circular saws feature, they’re also much quieter than worm drive circular saws. The power level is about the same as with worm drive circular saws. The main uses of hypoid circular saws are for cutting very hard or wet lumber. If you need a powerful saw, then this is a good option to go with, although they are quite heavy, and the motor can wear out quite quickly with prolonged and heavy-duty use.
4. Miter Saws
Miter saws were first invented in the 1960s, and at this time are quite likely the most popular version of the circular saw. The reason why the miter saw is so popular is due to its versatility. This is a circular saw that is attached to a swinging radial arm as well as a worktable below. This radial arm can be raised up and brought down onto the workpiece.
There are also many versions of the miter saw, including the sliding miter saw, compound miter saw, compound sliding miter saw, and dual compound sliding miter saw, with each of these having increased functionality over the other. Miter saws are great because they can be used to make cross cuts, angled cross cuts, miter cuts, angled miter cuts, bevel cuts, miter and bevel cuts, and more.
The advantages that you get with miter saws are the fact that they are fairly portable, they are easy to use, they’re fairly powerful, and they can make a whole lot of cut types. Miter saws are also very fast to use and are ideal for cutting many pieces of lumber down to the same size. The main disadvantage that comes with the miter saw is the big-time price tag.
5. Biscuit Joiners
The biscuit joiner is a very unique type of circular saw, one that is a part of a larger and more complex mechanism used to join two pieces of wood together without any nail holes being visible when everything is done. The biscuit joiner is used to cut a small slit into both boards. A third piece, which is called a biscuit, is then glued to the inside of both of them.
This is something that you could do with a manual tool, but that said, a biscuit joiner does make life a bit easier. Get with the biscuit joiners that you can clean the attached two pieces of wood, but the big downside is that this is the one and only thing that it can do.
6. Chop Saws
The chop saw is like a mix between a normal handheld or sidewinder circular saw, and a miter saw. This type of saw has a very dense and hard blade that doesn’t really have any teeth. Realistically, it looks more like the grinding blade on an oscillating multitool than it does a saw blade.
This is a flat blade that closely resembles something like a pizza cutter. Chop saws may be handheld like normal circular saws, or they may be attached to a radial arm and a base. The very special blades that these saws have are ideal for cutting things like pipes, concrete, asphalt, tile, metal, and more.
The blades are usually made out of either cubic boron nitride or diamond. The main advantage of chop saws is that they can be used for materials that are much harder than what a miter saw or a circular saw can cut. With that said they are quite expensive, and they generate a whole lot of heat.
7. Table Saws
The table saw is a very useful type of circular saw, one which features a very large and stationary table with a circular saw mounted underneath the table. Technically speaking, you could say that the saw is mounted upside down as when you use a table saw you pass the wood over the table with the saw blade cutting from underneath.
With the table saw, instead of pushing the saw across the workpiece, you actually push the workpiece across the saw blade. Table saws work really well for large pieces of wood when you need to make large crosscuts or large rips.
They also make it a lot easier to make consistent rips and crosscuts in order to make various pieces of wood the same size. Of course, table saws are great for large applications, but with that being said, they’re not at all portable and are very expensive too.
8. Concrete Saws
The other type of circular saw that you need to be familiar with is the concrete saw. Concrete saws are extremely large, heavy, and powerful circular saws that use extremely hard carbide blades or diamond blades in order to cut materials such as concrete and asphalt.
Due to the fact that the materials being cut are very dense and hard, generally speaking concrete saws will feature a water cooling system that sprays water onto the blade to reduce heat and friction.
The advantages of concrete saws are that they can run on a variety of fuels and that they can cut hard materials, but the disadvantages are that they are extremely large and heavy, they overheat easily, and they are very expensive.
Now that you know the basics about the eight major different kinds of circular saws out there, you can now make an informed choice as to which one is the best option for any given task.