Classic circular saws are definitely versatile but also too cumbersome for some tasks. That’s where a small handheld circular saw comes in handy. Using this type of tool, you can tackle a variety of small tasks and keep working even if you’re short on space.
A portable circular saw offers the same functionality as an average circular saw, but it’s much more flexible and easier to take around.
In this article, I want to share a detailed buyer’s guide (for those who are unsure if they need a circular saw or not) and 7 experience-based reviews of the best compact circular saw models available on Amazon.
Top 7 Best Compact Circular Saws Reviewed
- DEWALT ATOMIC 20V MAX – Top Pick
- Makita SH02R1 12V Max Portable – Runner Up
- WORX WORXSAW 4-1/2″ Compact – Great Value
- BLACK+DECKER 20V BDCCS20B
- Genesis GCS445SE 4.0 Amp 4-1/2″
- TACKLIFE Small Circular Saw with 6 Blades
- WEN 3625 5-Amp 4-1/2-Inch
Here are my test-based compact circular saw reviews. Each of these models has both similar and unique characteristics, so be attentive not to miss what you really need.back to menu ↑
1. DEWALT ATOMIC 20V MAX – Best Mini Circular Saw Overall
DEWALT is a trusted American power tool manufacturer with decades of experience on the market. This Baltimore-based brand has been amongst industry leaders since 1924, and it keeps gathering only positive reviews.
ATOMIC DCS571B is my favorite mini circular saw overall for several reasons. First of all, it’s compatible with an excellent 20V li-ion battery series. You can choose from 4 battery types and extend the work time from 1.5 to 12 hours.
Unfortunately, the tool comes without a battery, so you have to order it separately along with the charger. A DCB205 battery pack will be enough to cut up to 339 feet of ¾ OSB.
The brushless motor is powerful enough to spin the blade up to 4500 RPM, which is very good for such a compact buddy. The blade size is 4-½”, and my tests showed that it’s enough to cut 2x materials at 90° bevel angle. If you need 45° cuts, be ready that 1x material is the limit.
The tool is very easy to use due to the proper balance of weight and ergonomics. It weighs 6.6 pounds with all the additional parts attached. If you don’t feel like holding it with one hand, you can clip on an auxiliary handle on top of it to achieve a firmer grip. The dust port is also removable so that you can hide it if you’re not using a vacuum.
Safety features include a push-down trigger, so the blade stops rotating when you release the button. The rip fence keeps you from accidental contact with the blade during cutting.
If something goes wrong within the first 30 days, you can get your money back. The 3-year warranty is provided as well.
- Cuts 2x material at 90° and 1x at 45°;
- Removable handle for tight cuts + onboard wrench;
- Spins the blade up to 4500 RPM;
- Compatible with all ATOMIC batteries (up to 12 hours);
- High accuracy of cuts.
- Battery and charger are sold separately.
2. Makita SH02R1 12V Max – Excellent Cordless Mini Circular Saw
Makita is an advanced Japanese power tool brand that has been in the competition with DEWALT and other trusted brands for over 100 years already. You probably already know this brand for its quality and adequate pricing.
The SH02R1 saw has a very compact design with a convenient industrial rubber handle so that you don’t need any extra grip. The whole thing weighs only 3.5 pounds, which is almost twice less than the device above. However, other specs are also a bit lower.
This saw has a small brushless motor powered with a 12V li-ion battery that provides from 2 to 3 hours of work time. Two batteries and a charger are included, but you need to replace batteries from time to time as they wear out. The peak cutting depth at the 90° angle is 1 inch and 5/8″ at 45° angle, which makes it a good choice for small works.
Safety is guaranteed due to the push-down trigger, rip fence, and a mechanical safety toggle that prevents you from pushing the button accidentally. When you need to carry the tool securely, use the retractable shield.
Extras include a built-in dust blower and an on-board wrench, so it’s very easy to replace the blades without leaving the worksite. Finally, the tool is protected with a 3-year tool, battery, and charger warranty.
- 3-year warranty for the entire kit;
- Convenient hardcase;
- Easy to use with 1 hand;
- Charger and batteries included;
- Adjustable bevel angle.
- Requires only Makita li-ion replacement batteries;
- 1-inch peak cutting depth.
3. WORX WORXSAW 4-1/2″ – Great Value for Money
WORX manufactures a large variety of eco-friendly power tools for probably all existing outdoor and indoor jobs. I like this brand for modest price formation along with high-quality manufacturing standards.
The WX429L handheld mini saw is designed for cutting with 4-½’’ blades, which is enough to cut 2×4 materials without effort. The motor is powerful enough to deal with anything from hardwood to metal and stone.
The good thing is that you’re not limited to the work time as the tool is corded. On the other hand, the peak RPM is limited to 3500, while DEWALT can make 4500 with the same blade size and a li-ion battery.
The bevel is very easy to adjust with a large plastic bolt on the side. You can make accurate cuts at 0-45°, but be careful with the protractor as it has only 4 angle marks.
The tool is quite small and lightweight (5 pounds). The weight is distributed evenly, making it very convenient to hold. On the other hand, I would like to have a removable handle on top for a better grip while cutting through tough materials.
It’s quite safe to push on the metal par, but it may get really hot if you work long! In case of emergency, you can stop the blade immediately, using the red button placed right near the large push-down button.
Extras include an Allen key that isn’t built into the handle, a parallel guide, a universal vacuum adapter, and an excellent 24-T carbide-tipped blade that lets you make an extra-smooth finish and will serve you really long.
- 24-T blade, Allen key, guide, and vacuum adapter are included;
- 3-year manufacturer warranty;
- Weighs only 5 pounds;
- Unlimited worktime (overheating switch is built-in);
- Convenient emergency brake.
- Lacks a handle on the top;
- The protractor could be more precise.
4. BLACK+DECKER 20V BDCCS20B – Ergonomic 5-½’’ Circular Saw
BLACK+DECKER is one of the oldest American power tool brands. It has been making excellent budget tools for DIY and professional purposes since 1910.
BDCCS20B is the biggest saw on my listing. It comes with a 5-½’’ 12-T ripping blade with carbide tips, but you can replace it with any other blade for higher precision. The cutting depth is slightly over 2 inches for 90° bevel and around 1 ½” for 45°.
Despite a larger motor and base socket, the tool weighs 6 pounds and has a very convenient design with large plastic handles for both hands. Another excellent ergonomic solution is a retractable blade guard that also lets you adjust the cutting depth without tools. The bevel angle is also very easy to change due to the detailed protractor.
Safety features include a double-button switch that requires you to push the safety button to activate the main push-down trigger. The blade guard for transportation is also provided. What I don’t like is the absence of a dust vacuum hole. Be ready that all the debris will be scattered around chaotically.
- Highly convenient design;
- Excellent budget model;
- Toolless cutting depth adjustment;
- Adjustable bevel angle.
- Battery and charger sold separately;
- The default blade’s too rough for smooth crosscutting.
5. Genesis GCS445SE 4.0 Amp 4-1/2″ – Best 4 1/2 Circular Saw if You’re on a Budget
I bet you haven’t heard about Genesis. Well, it’s a young but trustworthy US-based manufacturer. It was founded by Richpower Industries in 2003 and achieved a big share of the mid-price power tool market.
The GCS445SE saw is very similar to WORX WX429L. Both devices are designed for 4 ½’’ blades and have 4-Amp motors that make up to 3500 RPM. But as the brand isn’t that popular, the price is usually around $20 lower for nearly the same specs.
Of course, the body material is a bit rougher, and the upper blade shield is made of plastic instead of metal. Anyway, the ergonomics of the tool and safety features are on the same level. The emergency brake and retractable blade shield are all here.
You can also benefit from an adjustable 0-45° bevel and the same high-quality 24-T carbide-tipped blade. The package also includes a parallel guide, Allen key (attached to the cord), and a telescopic dust vacuum adapter. It’s a very useful accessory that lets you make the cutting path even clearer.
I recommend this tool for amateur use if you’re on a budget. Unlike the tools that I reviewed above, this one has a 2-year warranty instead of 3-year, which may also serve as a shorter average lifespan indicator. It’s a great budget deal anyway!
- Makes up to 3500 RPM;
- Excellent budget choice;
- Comes with a 24-T carbide blade, dust vacuum adapter, wrench, and parallel circular saw guide;
- Secure design;
- Cuts through 2x materials.
- Cheaper body materials;
- 2 years of warranty instead of 3.
6. TACKLIFE Circular Saw with 6 Blades – Great Multi-Function Compact Circular Saw
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TACKLIFE is an American brand with mixed American and Chinese production lines. Due to such a partnership, the quality of the tools is high, but the prices are a bit lower than on average American brands.
The TCS115A circular saw is equipped with a 5.8 Amp motor that can rotate the blade up to 3500 RPM, which is enough for the vast majority of tasks, including metal cutting. The cutting depth depends on the bevel angle and can be adjusted from 45° (1-3/8 inches (34. 9mm) deep) to 90° (1-11/16 inches(42. 9mm) deep).
Although the features are quite similar to the tools above, this one is significantly heavier and weighs 8.27 pounds. Actually, it’s a payment for versatility. This tool is compatible with the vast majority of 4 ½’’ and 4 ¾’’ blades.
Moreover, the default package includes 6 replacement blades for cutting all the material. There’s also a bright laser guide that lets you improve your accuracy if you’re a beginner.
TCS115A is safe to use as it has a double-switch system. You just cannot start the engine until you don’t push the trigger and the safety switches simultaneously. You will need some time to get used to this feature, but it makes the tool very safe. Finally, it is protected with a 2-year warranty and a 30-day money-back warranty.
- Compatible with 4 ½’’ and 4 ¾’’ blades;
- Six blades are included in the package;
- Spins the blade up to 3500 RPM;
- Adjustable bevel angle;
- Highly secure switch.
- No wrench included.
7. WEN 3625 5-Amp 4-1/2-Inch – Excellent Alternative Due to Miniature Circular Saw
WEN is an original American power tool manufacturer founded in 1951. Today, it’s one of the biggest power tool brands in the US and also one of the cheapest! WEN 3625 is a budget 5-Amp 4 ½’’ saw that has nearly everything you may need. This corded tool comes in a sturdy plastic case that lets you transport it securely.
Similarly to other tools on my listing, you can adjust the bevel angle and change the blade with a wrench in a minute. The tool weighs slightly over 5 pounds, so it’s quite easy to use, but a removable handle could be a good add-on. I like the bright laser guide that makes it much easier to cut accurately as well as the precise bevel angle protractor.
Using this tool, you can achieve the needed precision easily. Along with a two-year warranty, it’s one of the best budget circular saws.
- Equipped with a laser guide;
- Comes in a sturdy case;
- Powerful enough for cutting all common materials;
- Long dust vacuum adapter.
- No removable handle.
Small Circular Saw Buyer’s Guide
If you’ve never used portable circular saws before, you should read this guide to understand what to look for to choose the right tool for your projects. It will also help you to understand the reviews better.
Why should I buy a small circular saw?
Small circular saws are extremely useful for home DIY projects. Purchasing a high-quality tool, you get a reliable work partner for the next 10-20 years. This tool lets you do a variety of jobs.
Using a circular saw, you can cut a variety of materials, including wood, metal, plastic, and even stone (if you install a diamond cutting edge). It’s an ergonomic instrument that allows you to do fine crosscutting jobs as well as rough and quick ripping. Finally, it’s easy to operate with one hand!back to menu ↑
What should I look for when buying a compact circular saw?
There are quite a lot of aspects that you should consider before making a purchase. Power, blade type, ergonomics, and some other things can affect the workflow, so let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Compact circular saws are equipped with smaller motors, so every unit of power matters. If you want to make cuts faster, you have to look for a model with the highest power value, which is counted in Watts. All machines have this index written in the description, so it’s not difficult to find.
You will also be interested in the highest RPM available for each model. In most cases, more Watts mean higher peak RPM as well. Another important feature is an RPM switch. The more RPM modes it has, the better.
You can also tell one model from another by amperage. The industry standard is 15 Amps, but 10-12 Amps is also a good value if you use the saw occasionally. Some brands may offer more than 15 Amps, which is a good offer if you need a compact saw mostly for ripping.
You can choose between corded and cordless models, both of which have pros and cons. In short words, cordless devices are much more portable and let you work away from electricity and in hard-to-reach places, while corded ones can work only in places with direct access to outlets. You can read more about both types below.
You should evaluate how easy it is to replace the blade on each model. It’s usually effortless, but exclusions occur too. Besides, it’s also reasonable to check out the reviews of blades, their number in the package, and the availability of replacement blades in your region. Most probably, you won’t have any problems with this.
When you are looking for replacement blades, it’s important to match the peak RPM of blades with the modes available on your tool.
Ergonomics & Safety
You need a tool that won’t overstress your hands too fast. It should be as light as possible and have convenient positions of control. The size of the grip is also important. The instrument should feel natural and not cause discomfort.
Next, make sure that the saw you choose has at least a single safety measure. These devices are small but similarly dangerous to normal-size tools. One of the best safety options is a power brake that stops the blade immediately.
The deeper cuts your saw can make, the more job types you can accomplish. The most common cutting depth is 2 1/2” for 7 ¼” models. These tools also have the widest range of replacement blades. Smaller types include 6 ½” and 8 ¼” saws. The smallest trim saws usually have 4 ¼” or 4 ½” blades.
Extras & Warranty
Extra features may include laser guide, dust port, built-in lights, adjustable bevel (22 1/2° and 45° are universal angles), or even waterproof characteristics. Choose the option that meets your needs better.
As for the warranty, it’s wise to buy a tool with the longest warranty on the list. A longer warranty usually serves as a measure of longevity. It’s also great to have a tool with a replacement or refund warranty. Usually, only US-based manufacturers offer such an option.back to menu ↑
Battery-operated vs corded
Originally, all handheld circular saws were corded as batteries were not portable and capacious enough to drive the blade. Today, battery-powered circular saws are even more portable and convenient to work with than the corded ones. You can bring them virtually anywhere, independently from the availability of outlets.
On the other hand, your work time will be limited compared to corded machines. This means that you need to purchase a tool with replacement batteries to be able to work without interruptions for recharging. This makes battery-operated devices significantly more expensive. However, the average amp-hour rating varies from 5 to 9 hours, which is quite long.
The batteries are also quite heavy, so you may need to rest a bit more often. However, in some cases, it’s just impossible or too difficult to manage cords! That’s where all the advantages of cordless tools become extremely valuable.
Some other power source concerns are related to the power of the tool. Actually, that’s not a problem anymore. The market is full of cordless saws that have the same cutting power as corded ones. It’s only a matter of your budget.back to menu ↑
Here are the answers to some of the questions that my readers ask most frequently. I tried to be concise and comprehensive to provide you with skim-through answers. If you still have questions after reading this, contact me via the comments.back to menu ↑
Are mini circular saws any good?
Small circular saws are extremely helpful for a variety of tasks. Actually, they offer the same functionary as conventional circular saws but have lower power, RPM, and cutting depth limits. If these limits aren’t too low for your projects, you will love this tool. I promise.back to menu ↑
How deep can a 7 1/4 inch circular saw cut?
The standard cutting depth of a 7 ¼” saw is around 2 ½”. Some models can cut up to 3”, but this depends on the design of each particular model. If you need mode, look for an 8 ¼’’ circular saw that cuts over 4 inches deep.back to menu ↑
What is a compact circular saw used for?
Saws of this type are very good for a variety of tasks, including:
- Bevel cutting;
- Fine cutting;
- Cutting wood, metal, plastic, stone, and more.
Enjoy Fine Cutting!
Now you’re an expert in compact circular saws! Don’t forget about safety rules and add the guide to bookmarks to double-check your considerations when it finally comes to purchasing the tool. I recommend you buying a saw along with a few replacement blades to be ready for unplanned work.
Did you have any experience in using compact circular saws, or would it be your first tool? Share your experience in the comments section below the article. If you have any questions on the topic after reading the article, you’re welcome to contact me via the comments section as well. For more useful tips, buyer’s guides, and reviews, stay tuned!