Shopping for the right circular saw can be a challenging task in itself. However, things get even more confusing when you start coming across terms such as a left-handed circular saw.
Before you make a common mistake and jump to the (wrong) conclusion that the designation refers to the operator’s dominant hand, read this article to find out what it means and whether it can make a perfect fit for you.
A Q&A section on all things left side circular saw is included for your further reference.
Left vs. Right-Handed Circular Saws Explained
When it comes to looking for a circular saw, left or right-handed is probably the most widely misunderstood parameter. As I have mentioned in the intro, this has little to do with which hand you prefer to use when operating the saw. While these are related aspects, the relation is far from straightforward.
First of all, let’s get it straight — what you might see labeled left-handed circular saw is most likely not one of your left-handed power tools.
Most manufacturers these days prefer to use the term “left blade” (or “blade left”) instead because that’s exactly what the name refers to. In a left-handed circular saw, the blade is located on the left of the handle.
There are also saws with the opposite layout. The tendency is for professional and heavy users to choose models where the blade is positioned on their non-dominant side. In contrast, DIYers and occasional users might prefer to pick the exact match for the handiness.
There are some things to factor in when choosing a certain combination, though, from your preferred grip to safety, sawdust ejection to the line of sight, and more.
Let’s study the four possible combinations of handiness plus circular saw blade positioning.
Blade Left for a Left-Hander
If you mostly use your left hand in your daily operations and choose a circular saw with a blade on left, you might face compromised visibility as compared to a blade right model.
This is because the field you (and the blade) are working on is partly covered by your hand controlling the saw. You can still lean over a bit, though (just make sure you aren’t wearing any loose clothing and are following the common-sense safety rules!), if you want to see the blade.
Single-handed operation is not possible with matching blade side and dominance. Therefore, your only option would be to clamp the workpiece and hold the tool with both hands (although this is generally believed to be the best practice, especially for non-professionals).
One advantage of this combination is that the sawdust you generate will be blown away from you, which adds to both safety and orderliness.
Blade Right for a Left Hander
This is the perfect one-handed option for a leftie that also offers great visibility. Not that using just one hand to manipulate your circular saw while securing the stock with another is something you’ll read about in safety rules. Still, it’s a common approach among tradesmen and experienced users.
Unfortunately, you’ll most likely end up covered in sawdust if you choose this combination, which highlights the need for appropriate eye protection.
Blade Left for a Right Hander
Just like a blade right for a lefty, this is a good configuration for holding the tool with one hand and the workpiece with the other while enjoying the clearest line of sight that’s visible without learning over the saw.
On the downside, you happen to stand right in the way of the sawdust flying from under the blade as it cuts through the stock.
Blade Right for a Right Hander
A popular choice among home users, the right blade and right-hand combination means you’ll only be able to operate the tool using both hands (which is the recommended way to do it if you are using appropriate clamps to secure the stock).
However, being orderly due to the sawdust going the opposite way from where you are standing still has some weaknesses.
Most importantly, you won’t be able to see the blade from behind your hands unless you bend over the surface that you are working on.
Left Side & Right Side Circular Saw FAQ
Here are the answers to some very common questions that people ask regarding left side circular saws and the meaning of left-handed/left blade/blade left/etc. in this context.
Are there left-handed circular saws?
Yes, there are, but the term might be confusing in that it refers to the side on which the blade is positioned rather than the operator’s dominant hand. Left-handed is usually interpreted as having the blade on the left.
Why would you need a circular saw with the blade on the left?
Unless you are among the 10% of the world’s population who are left-handed, you are likely to appreciate a left-side blade as it allows for single-handed operation and better visibility. However, left-handed users might choose one for the comfortable two-handed grip that comes with it.
Which side should the blade be on a circular saw?
This depends on your preferred setting and experience. For example, for right-handed home users, the safety of a two-handed operation means a left blade circular saw is not the best option. However, professionals value the one-hand grip capability that the configuration comes with.
Which Side Do You Take?
Your choice will be largely determined by your preference for single-handed or two-handed operation, as well as whether you are right or left-handed.
If you choose to hold the workpiece with one hand while operating the saw with another, choose one with the blade on the side that’s not your dominant hand side. Otherwise, you might want to pick one that matches your handedness for a more secure two-handed grip.
Are you a leftie or a rightie? Which blade positioning is more viable to you? Share in the comments!