Features

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Blade Brakes. Perhaps the best feature to be put on a circ saw (besides maybe the blade) is a brake. Having the blade stop its rotation before being lifted off a workpiece is a vital safety feature as well as an efficient time saver. All of the saws, except the Ridgid, have a blade brake. The action of the DeWalt and Milwaukee brakes was noticeably faster than most, while the Hilti's was relatively slow. The Metabo brake took a long time to act. I didn't think it even had one at first.

Work Lights. Another useful feature among these saws are cut-line headlamps on the Craftsman, Hitachi, and Makita. These let you line up a cut a little easier when the blade is shaded by the saw's body before the blade begins spinning. I prefer the trigger-switched designs of the last two. On the Craftsman, the user must manually switch the light on and off, and its slider switch, placed right by the thumb, was constantly getting bumped on by accident.

Fuel Gauges. A battery fuel gauge is a great feature and should be on all batteries. It makes it easy to see the amount of charge left, so a user isn't ascending a ladder to the roof with a tool that only has a few cuts left in it. The gauge is especially handy with LI batteries, which cut out without much warning when they are discharged. The LI batteries on the 36-volt Bosch, the Craftsman, Hilti, Milwaukee, and Ridgid tools all have this feature. The Metabo also has a fuel gauge, but it is obscured by the saw's body and must be removed from the tool when you want to check it.

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All of the saws have safety triggers that unlock the main trigger, like the one on the DeWalt.

Credit: Photo: dotfordot.com

Rip Fences. A rip fence is a minor feature that is included with most of the saws. It's not typically worth much mention, but the Hilti's full-length fence with two attachment points is the best I've ever seen on a saw. The Hilti saw also can fit onto an accessory straight-edge cutting-guide track for precision cutting–European style.

Rafter Hook. Another welcome feature found only on the Bosch tools is an integrated rafter hook, which stores flat on the top of the tools and flips out when needed. This enhances the portability of a cordless circular saw and is an example of a company really thinking about design features. The same can be said for the cut-line blower on the Makita saw.

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Cut-line lights like the Makita's help to sight the blade accurately when shaded or indoors.

Credit: Photo: dotfordot.com

Other Points. One feature not so well thought out was the inclusion of a laser guide on the Craftsman saw. Besides being invisible when used outdoors in bright light, I have yet to find a practical use for a laser on a circ saw, other than aiming itself straight at the DIY market.

Also, the toolless blade change gadget on the DeWalt didn't seem like a benefit. It was harder to use than the simple hex wrench stashed aboard most other saws.