The 5 Best Mini Circular Saws In 2020 – Buying Guide And Reviews

Mini circular saw on the floor surrounded by saw dust

The circular saw is a workhorse in most places, but it’s not always the right way to go. For very thin material and in tight spaces, you need to find the best mini circular saw. They’re great for flooring, paneling, and even cutting drywall.

Just like any tool, however, you should make sure that you pick the right one for the job. So, if you’re looking to get a little new cutting action you should read on for a list of the best mini circular saws. We’ve also got some extra information to make sure you get the perfect fit.

Our Top Picks for Best Mini Circular Saws 2020

Here’s a quick roundup of the best mini circular saws:

Top Pick – Makita SH02R1 12V Max Cordless Circular Saw

My favorite out of the lot is the Makita SHO2R1. This compact saw is a bit smaller than many others, but it’s perfect for trim, molding, and light work. The ergonomics on this one are great, allowing for excellent control of the blade.

The first thing to note is that it has the quality you’d expect from Makita. It uses 3 ⅜” blades, which are adjustable to 1” cutting depth. That’s enough for most uses, but keep in mind that this saw is tiny compared to full-size options.

It can feel a bit underpowered on hard material, unfortunately. That’s simply due to it being a cordless circular saw and can be avoided by choosing the right blade for the job.

Overall, this little 12V saw is perfect for what a mini circular saw is intended for. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and can go anywhere with you.

Max. Speed1500 RPM
Voltage12
Blade Diameter3 - ⅜ inch
Item Weight3.5 lbs
Cutting Depth 1 inch
Warranty3 year

Pros

  • Battery operated
  • Good ergonomics
  • Easy to control
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • Blade depth is only 1”
  • A bit under-powered compared to corded models

If you need a light-duty, compact cordless circular saw then you’re in luck. Take a closer look by clicking below and see if it’s right for you.

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Best Value – Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2” Compact Circular Saw

If professional quality is your bag, then you should get acquainted with this saw from Rockwell. It’s got a 5 amp motor, a 4 ½” blade, and an easy-to-see blade for precision.

For the weight, it has impressive power. It’s under 5 lbs, easy to get into position, and the handle is well-designed overall. It pushes pretty high on the RPM scale, sitting at a cool 3500RPM as well for smooth cuts in wood.

The ultra thin kerf carbide tipped blade is half the thickness of a full sized circular saw blade. This enables the saw to transfer the power from it’s 5 amp motor into fast accurate cuts coming close to the performance of a full sized saw. 

The only downside I found was that the sawdust port seems to readily clog, which is unfortunate but just requires a little bit of attention.

Overall, this is a well designed saw that’s built up with professional quality. It’ll hold up for daily use and cuts well.

Max. Speed3500 RPM
Amperage5.0
Blade Diameter4 - ½ inch
Item Weight5 lbs
Cutting Depth 1 - 11/16 inch
Warranty3 year

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • 5 amp motor
  • High RPM motor

Cons

  • Sawdust collector clogs easily

If you need a saw that will stand up to daily use and a bit of punishment, check it out below!

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Worx WX531L Worxsaw 20V PowerShare 4-1/2″ Compact Circular Saw

For those who need high power from a cordless saw, this one from Worx is a great deal. The combination of a 20V battery and brushless motor gives this little saw the functional power comparable to a full sized saw. 

Despite the larger saw blade and the impressive power, the compact design means it’s still suitable where space is limited. The narrow sled is particularly useful on narrow workpieces where there’s limited space for clamping. 

However the narrow sled does come with its drawbacks, it can be quite easy to accidentally tilt the blade and cut a slight bevel. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you’re careful with your cut and try your best to get into a comfortable position while cutting.

This is a good option for the DIYer who needs something that can handle things around the house, including the occasional piece of 2×4. It even has bevel adjustment of up to 45 degrees for making those angled cuts should you need it.

Max. Speed6900 RPM
Voltage20
Blade Diameter4 - ½ inch
Item Weight3.8 lbs (without battery)
Cutting Depth 2 inch
Warranty3 year

Pros

  • 4 ½” blade
  • Decent power
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Not professional quality
  • Easy to tilt while cutting

If you need a high powered cordless saw, look no further. Check out the full details by following the link below.

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Genesis GCS545C Compact Circular Saw

If power is your thing, then you’ll be pleased with the motor in this compact saw from Genesis. It has a 5.8 amp motor, the highest of any saw on this list, and it will provide you with more than enough to make short work of… well, your work.

The high amp motor runs at 3500RPM and delivers a load torque thanks to the triple-gear reduction. That power is delivered to the workpiece by a 24 tooth tungsten carbide tipped blade ensuring the blade won’t be too quick to dull.

It also has a better-than-average handle to support the solid body of the saw making it super easy to use whether you’re making straight cuts or slightly more tricky beveled cuts.

This one is also a bit on the pricey side. If pressed, I’d also point out that the plastic guard can be worrisome in the long run, but it functions great right out of the box.

For a powerful saw that can handle more than lumber, this is a great pick. Even masonry work can be done, but you’ll still need to make a wise blade choice.

Max. Speed3500 RPM
Amperage5.8
Blade Diameter4 - ½ inch
Item Weight5.5 lbs
Cutting Depth 1-11/16 inch
Warranty2 year

Pros

  • Very powerful motor
  • Great handle
  • Lots of torque
  • Usable for more than wood

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Plastic blade guard

If you need some extra power in a compact platform, you’re looking at it. Take a look at the listing and decide if it’s right for you.

Check Price on Amazon

PORTER-CABLE PCE381K 4-1/2-Inch Circular Saw, Compact, 5.5-Amp

Professionals have different needs, and different price points, than those who are using their saw around the house. This 5.5 amp compact circular saw from Porter-Cable is well-built and designed for daily, heavy use.

It comes with all of the standard features, including bevel cutting. It’s also lightweight, with an excellent handle. Even the dust port works well on this one, which is a bit of a rarity in the world of power tools.

It would be nice if it was cordless, and it’s the most expensive on our list as I sit here writing this. The guide plate also appears to be a bit wonky in some cases, but it’s easily fixed with some knowhow.

Overall, this is the most expensive saw on this list but it’s also a great tool to have in your corner. The home DIY type may want to pass, but if you’re doing a particularly big job it’s still worth a second glance.

Max. Speed3500 RPM
Amperage5.5
Blade Diameter4 - ½ inch
Item Weight4.5 lbs
Cutting Depth 1 - 11/16 inch
Warranty3 year

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Good dust port
  • 5.5 amp motor
  • Good ergonomics

Cons

  • Expensive
  • The guide plate is sometimes a bit off, but easily adjustable

If a professional saw is what you’re looking for, then why not pick this one up?

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How to Choose the Best Mini Circular Saw

Blade Size

4 ½” blades are the most common with compact circular saws, but smaller blades are also available. Our top pick, for instance, has a 3 ⅜” blade.

There’s a big difference between those sizes: a 4 ½” blade can cut a 2×4 in a single pass while a smaller blade won’t be able to. There are much better tools for cutting down larger framing lumber, however, and a full-size saw is best for those applications.

Most saws will give you a bit less than half of their diameter in cutting depth, which is adjustable to some degree.

Most mini circular saws see use in projects that don’t require extra deep cutting, but if this is to be your only circular saw you may want to go with a 4 ½” blade.

Power

Power ratings for saws can be a bit tricky for the layman.

Amperage is the best indicator of a saw’s power, at least if it plugs in. Many people look to RPMs as well to give them an indication of the power that the saw puts down. RPM is less reliable as a power indicator.

Many compact saws run off of batteries, however, which aren’t rated for their amperage. Instead, you should look to the battery that comes with the saw. Higher voltage on the battery leads to a more powerful saw.

Most people who are using their mini circular to supplement a full-sized version should opt for a battery-powered option. These are light-duty saws, so most people are looking for the extra convenience of not having to find a plug.

Ease of Use

Compact saws usually have a different structure than a regular circular saw. They’re mainly designed for small, accurate cuts and the saws are altered to fit that purpose.

They’re all more ergonomic than most saws, but some companies do a lot better in this regard than others. A good fit in the hand requires the right angle on the handle, good handle material, and proper balance.

The shoe should be easy to place on the workpiece and adjust easily. Likewise, you should be able to adjust the depth of the cut without any trouble. Most mini circulars are quite good in this regard.

You should also keep an eye out for the blade connection. Changing blades is always a pain, but some tools make it a lot easier for you than others. 

How well you can see the blade is a factor that many people don’t consider, but a blade which is hard to see while the saw is in use makes it harder to get an accurate cut during use.

Altogether, some saws are just easier to use than others.

Precision

One of the main advantages of a smaller saw is that they’re more precise. With a compact saw, most problems with precision come from the user. Not remembering the kerf when doing something with tight tolerances like flooring, for instance.

For maximum precision look for a laser guide. They’re handy since they’ll show a straight line for the blade’s path, so you can see where you’re cutting before you even pull the trigger.

Depth and Bevel Adjustments

Depth adjustment is important for the precise cutting that a compact circular saw is often used for. Make sure that the depth the blade cuts is good enough for what you’re planning to do with it. It should also be easy.

Bevel adjustments should be smooth and snap into the position at 45 degrees without any trouble. It’s the most common angle, but being able to use other configurations is a bonus. Especially if you’re planning on working with trim or molding, where splicing requires great control of angles.

Portability

These saws are all quite portable.

For those working on job sites, however, a battery-operated model is desirable. If the saw will primarily be used in the shop then a corded model will be just fine.

Safety

Circular saws, even these little guys, can do serious damage if they’re not used properly.

Most saws have the basics installed from the factory. Blade guards should never be removed, so one which moves back easily is a boon. The safety switches are another pain to deal with, but don’t tape them down or alter them to make it easier. The risk goes up exponentially if you do either of those to your saw.

The other major safety feature to look for is an electric brake. Brakes clamp down o the blade once you let off the trigger, causing it to cease immediately. They’re installed on most circular saws these days and they’re essential for safety.

Remember to respect the saw when you’re using it. A 4 ½” blade may not cause as much damage as a big 7 ¼” one, but it’s still enough to take off fingers or severely wound an errant limb. Read up on safely using your saw if you’re new to using them.

Warranty

Always look for a warranty. The majority of them will only cover manufacturer defects but a small mistake can make your saw fail prematurely.

Longer is better, of course.

You should also look into the company’s history with honoring its warranties. The big brands are generally safe. Some smaller manufacturers may take excessive time to handle the problem.

It’s something you want, but if you’re lucky then you’ll never have to use.

Conclusion

Finding the best mini circular saw isn’t hard, there are a lot of compact versions available. When it comes down to it, the combination of power, handling, and ease-of-use makes for the perfect mini-saw. If you’re ready to get ripping, then look no further than this guide. We have you covered!

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