Pro Woodworking Tips.com
Cabinet quality cuts are possible using high
quality hand held circular saws.
We have spent the better part of thirty years doing construction and
renovations. During that time, we have used and even abused, most brands, styles and sizes of hand held circular
saws. (I personally was never involved in the abuse part). Having employees, means having abuse. It's surprising
what some people will do with someone else's equipment.
The first circular saw I ever purchased was a Skill 7 1/4" saw, with 2 1/4 H.P. I was eighteen at
the time, and had just decided I was going to be a contractor, when I grew up. (If I grew up). The unit I
purchased was not my first choice, as it seemed kind of expensive at the time. The owner of the lumber yard I
was dealing with, also happened to own a large construction company. When he saw me carrying the saw I chose up
to the counter, he inquired how long I intended on being in business.
Me being the cocky sort, said something along the lines of forever. (Failing didn't seem even
remotely possible, at the time). He said if that's the case, I'd better reconsider my choice of saws. My choice
was apparently a poor one. He steered me to the Skill saw I ended up with. Now, thirty years later, the only
repairs ever needed on that saw has been two cords, and a set of brushes. The cords don't stand up well to a saw
That particular saw has a set of bearings in it that will keep the blade spinning for about twenty
seconds after letting go of the switch. In the right hands, it will cut a line straight and square. And believe
me when I say it's seen some serious use, in many different hands.
I've since bought about every brand and size since then, and have never been as satisfied as I was
with that one. Even the 8 1/4" saw, supposedly the same saw but larger, and about fifteen years newer, hasn't
impressed me as much as the first one. Cutting a straight line with that one has never become second nature like
the first. (In all fairness, I personally haven't done the amount of actual physical work as I did in those
early years, thank God). I am still able to cut a very straight cut with the original one though. That saw
wasn't a worm drive saw, which seem to lend themselves to cutting well, with plenty of power.
I've bought saws from certain manufacturers, that were reputed to be very high quality, and were
made by the very same people who made some serious equipment, that performed extremely well. After using them
for a couple weeks, I just gave them away. Some saws are not designed for the user, but for the ease of
manufacture. No thank you very much!
Sometimes I swear that the engineers have never held, used, or researched the very tool they were
designing! And the surprising part is they actually make it to the market. You'd think that somewhere along the
line, someone would have said, "this is a piece of ****", and sent the engineer back to school, or at the very
least, back to the drawing board. But nooo!
One of the newer brands on the market in the USA, is Festool. While it has it's limitations for
construction, for cabinet making it's great. With the extendable, non slip, track system, cabinet quality cuts
are simple. Even mitering cabinet sides on a jobsite are no problem. And with the dust collection system hooked
up to it, it's hard to beat. I did notice new users have a bit of trouble getting used to it having a
retractable blade system. This lead them to actually having a kick back, and cutting the aluminum guide. This
seems especially true for left handed users. And for those with two left hands, forget it.
Bottom line in chosing a saw is first deciding what type of work it will be used for most often. If
you're going to be cutting 2" x 4" lumber, forget the Festool. It's just not worth destroying a good saw for
that. Also, stay away from the $39.99 saws, unless your need a curved cut, because straight is out of the
question. Anytime you can watch the shaft slide in and out during a cut, you have a problem.
Look for a saw with a 15 amp motor, and try to move the shaft in and out prior to buying it.
(Unplugged of course). If possible, test it out. Some saws go out of there way to blow the saw dust in your
eyes. Having a shoe that won't bend or break is a big plus, and a notch where the blade will actually cut is
pretty handy. (Although, I rarely use them. I like to see where I'm cutting, so I look at the blade). And BY ALL
MEANS, use safety glasses.
Following these basic guidelines will get you a saw that you'll be able to count on for years to
Return to Portable Power