Tool Test: 8-1/4-Inch Circ Saws

If size matters, 8-1/4-inch circ saws are the way to go. We turned a veteran timber framer loose with two wormdrives and five sidewinders to find out which saws make the cut.

By Paul Boa Publication Date: May/June 20028 1/4-Inch Circ Saws

Tool

Weight

Amps

RPM

Cut Capacity

Cord Length

Street Price

Bosch

1656

13 lbs.

15

5,500

90°: 2 15/16"

60°: 1 5/8"

45°: 2 1/4"

10 ft.

$195

Comments: This model's cut view at 45 and 90 degrees is restricted. Adjustments are okay, except for the height adjustment. The locking screw doesn't tighten completely at full depth and allows the base to move. It has an adjustable 90-degree stop, which is good. The bevel angle is adjustable to 60 degrees. The top-mounted guard retractor spring is too heavy to operate smoothly. The saw vibrated a lot in the power test. www.boschtools.com

Tool

Weight

Amps

RPM

Cut Capacity

Cord Length

Street Price

DeWalt

DW384

12.8 lbs.

15

5,800

90°: 3"

45°: 2 3/8"

9 ft.

$179

Comments: A nice, well-performing tool, this one's got a good cut view, and easy-to-follow shoe guides. It's also got clear scales for angles and blade height. Except for truing up the out-of-parallel shoe, the adjustments work well. The shoe and body attachment is solid. The aluminum shoe is very flat. At 15-amps, its the lightest tool in this group. It vibrated a lot in the power test. It's got a good blade brake, a 50-degree bevel, and the deepest cut capacity. www.dewalt.com

 

Tool

Weight

Amps

RPM

Cut Capacity

Cord Length

Street Price

Hitachi

C8

11 lbs.

13

5,000

90°: 2 15/16"

45°: 2 1/4"

8 ft.

$200

Comments: Hitachi's saw does everything nicely, and is our favorite of the group. For one thing, it's light. The scales are easy-to-read and the shoe is the flattest and stiffest in the test. It's also solidly connected to the saw body, which is important. The saw is comfortable and powerful. It ran second in the power test with minimal vibration. The tough-to-manipulate angle locking knob is this model's only flaw. www.hitachi.com/powertools

Tool

Weight

Amps

RPM

Cut Capacity

Cord Length

Street Price

Makita

5008NB

11.7 lbs.

13

5,200

90°: 2 7/8"

45°: 2 1/4"

8 1/2 ft.

$189

Comments: This saw has very positive adjustments, but the bevel adjustment is a bit tricky to reach at 90 degrees. The aluminum shoe seems too thin and flexible. The guard moves around too much for my liking and got hung up on 45-degree bevel cuts. It's the second-lightest saw in the test, and generally has good balance and excellent feel. It vibrated a little too much in the power test, though. www.makitatools.com

 

Tool

Weight

Amps

RPM

Cut Capacity

Cord Length

Street Price

Milwaukee

6405-6

13 lbs.

15

5,800

90°: 2 3/4"

45°: 2 1/8"

9 ft.

$200

Comments: One word describes this saw's performance: powerful. It ripped through the OSB stack without a problem. The adjustments, however, are stiff and sticky. The shoe connects to the saw body at only one point, which allows too much movement. The bevel adjustment is sloppy, too. The guard moves easily, but won't clear the work at full depth on a 45-degree bevel. www.mil-electric-tool.com

Tool

Weight

Amps

RPM

Cut Capacity

Cord Length

Street Price

Milwaukee

6378

17.3 lbs.

15

4,400

90°: 2 7/8"

45°: 2 1/4"

9 ft.

$250

Comments: This saw operates better than its sidewinder cousin. Its adjustments are smooth and the shoe mount is fairly solid. The shoe is within 1/32 inch of flat, which is good. The guard works nicely and retracts easily. The cord is huge and the handles are a bit bulky, making them uncomfortable to use. Still, this is a very rugged saw. It came in third in the power test and ran smoothly during our test. www.mil-electric-tool.com

 

Tool

Weight

Amps

RPM

Cut Capacity

Cord Length

Street Price

Skil

HD5860

18.8 lbs.

13

4,300

90°: 2 7/8"

60°: 1 1/2"

45°: 2 1/4"

8 ft.

$200

Comments: Skil's saw has a good view of the line. Its height and bevel adjustments are smooth and the height scale is calibrated for stock thickness. The stamped steel shoe isn't very flat and it could use a more solid saw body connection. The quietest saw in the group, this one operates smoothly. It has nice feel and comfortable balance. It's a wormdrive, so it's heavy. The guard didn't hang up anywhere. The tool has a 60-degree bevel for complicated roof angles. www.skil.com