After drill-drivers and impact drivers, circular saws might just be the handiest cordless tools around. Until recently, their main limitation has been a lack of power—which discouraged tradesmen from using them except when they had to.
The last time I tested 18-volt circ saws the Milwaukee’s model 2630 beat all comers and cut nearly as fast as a 15-amp corded model, so when the company’s new 18-volt brushless saw (M18 FUEL model 2730) came out I was anxious to test it.
Brushless motors have traditionally gone into impact drivers, rotary hammers, and other tools that cruise along without drastic spikes in torque demand. Such spikes are said to be difficult for the electronics that govern a brushless motor to deal with. Milwaukee broke new ground by being the first company to adapt this technology to circular saws and other tools with high torque demands.
Like most other 6 1/2-inch blade cordless saws, the 2730 is a blade-left model. I appreciate the tool’s premium features: a quick motor brake, generous rubber grip surfaces, a sturdy folding hang hook, bright LED headlight, effective dust blower, and an accurate bevel quadrant marked in 1-degree increments up to 50 degrees. Markings on both the bevel quadrant and the front of the shoe are concisely engraved in stainless steel plates for permanence. The 90-degree bevel setting is adjustable, however, one feature conspicuously absent is a stop at 45 degrees.
In use, the cutline marker is centered exactly on the blade, though wider than the blade kerf, and the line of sight is pretty wide open during right-handed use. Unfortunately, the guard hung up whenever I made shave cuts on the right side of material if the blade was set much deeper than the material thickness. The guard worked fine if I set the depth-of-cut just deep enough to pass through the piece—but it was an extra step.
The magnesium shoe is stiff and sturdy, but narrow in width, making it easy to tilt the saw slightly and cause the back edge of the shoe to hang up on the corner of a board being cut. Again, this is largely attributable to the blade-left design. If the shoe was wider to the left it would be easier to keep flat during a cut.
In spite of these complaints about the saw’s format, I was impressed by its performance; it proved to be a strong and fast cutter in all materials. It didn’t feel like a compromise tool; it felt like a “real” circ saw.
In order to make comparisons between this and earlier saws I replicated the test procedure from my last 18-volt saw test—cutting test boards made by laminating four layers of 7/16-inch OSB (to represent 2x12 LSL).
I also cut through four foot widths of doubled up 7/16-inch OSB to test runtime, making 10 cuts at a time and resting the saw in between For all of the test trials, I replaced the saw’s stock blade with a new Irwin Marathon blade to accurately copy the procedure followed during my last tests.
Speed of Cut (time to crosscut LSL)
The model 2730 averaged 2.65 seconds per cut—versus 2.83 seconds for the top tool in the 2012 test and 1.96 seconds for a 15-amp corded saw.
Runtime (number of crosscuts made on a battery charge)
65 cuts in material equal to 2x12 LSL
Runtime (linear feet of OSB cut on a battery charge)
334 feet—versus 231 feet for top 18-volt tool in the 2012 test.
Weight: 8.4 pounds
Max cut at 90°: 2 1/8 inches
Max cut at 45°: 1 5/8 inches
Charging time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Kit includes: tool, one 4.0-Ah battery, charger, and tool bag.
Web Price: $299 (kit); $399 (2 battery kit 2730-22); $199 (bare tool 2730-20)
Milwaukee’s brushless motor circ saw beat the numbers from all of the tools in the last full test of 18-volt class circ saws, so from a performance standpoint it is the new best in class leader among 6 1/2-inch models. It falls short, though, of the performance of the 7 1/4-inch dual battery (36-volt) Makita saw recently tested by Tools of the Trade. Milwaukee just announced a 7 1/4-inch 18-volt FUEL model and we’ll be testing that as soon as we can get a sample.