FEATURES

For the most part, the four saws we reviewed have similar features, with a few exceptions. The Bosch is the only machine with a rafter hook. I think every pro-grade saw should have a hook; being able to hang the tool is convenient and can prevent falls.

Every saw except the Hilti has a brake. I've come to appreciate this feature. Not only does it make the tool safer to operate, but it allows me to set the saw down without worrying about nicking expensive composite deck boards.

Cordless saws can't be unplugged, so they always have safeties (trigger locks). I understand the need for this feature, but it does make cutting at odd angles – trimming rafter tails from above, for instance – more difficult.

All the saws except for the DeWalt have gauges on their batteries. This is a really nice feature because it can save you the hassle of getting up on the roof and then noticing you don't have the juice to make the cut.

THE BOTTOM LINE

We found these higher-voltage cordless saws to be so useful we stopped using corded models for pickup work, roof sheathing, and other intermittent cutting tasks. If I were in the market for a cordless saw for framing, my first choice would be the Bosch: It has good power and more runtime than all but the Hilti, and it's the only saw with a rafter hook. My second choice would be the Milwaukee. Light, powerful, and comfortable to use, it's the only saw that comes with two batteries.

Tim Uhler is a lead framer for Pioneer Builders in Port Orchard, Wash., and a Tools of the Trade contributing editor.

BOSCH 1671K

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1717676
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1
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tcm:78-1630198

The 1671K powers through engineered lumber and can cut 2-by material at a 50-degree bevel – even though it has a 6-1/2-inch blade. It has a comfortable grip and is the only saw in its class with a built-in rafter hook. This tool came in second in the runtime test – well behind Hilti but far ahead of DeWalt and Milwaukee. Features include a blade brake and battery gauge. We found only a couple of weaknesses with this saw: The plastic blade guard and the lever for setting the depth-of-cut feel somewhat flimsy.
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Bosch

DeWalt DC300K

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1717676
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2
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tcm:78-1630198

Though well-balanced and comfortable to use, the DC300K lacks some of the features of the tools that came out after it, such as a fuel gauge on its battery. It does have a brake and is the only saw whose blade can be changed without tools. The runtime is sufficient if you have a spare battery, but it's less than that of the Hilti and Bosch. We found this tool would occasionally bog down where other saws wouldn't.
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DeWalt

Hilti WSC 7.25-A36

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1717676
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3
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tcm:78-1630198

The Hilti is the beast of this group, a large powerful saw that's a near-replacement for a corded model. Its 36-volt 3.9 amp-hour battery contains 30 – rather than the usual 20 – cells and weighs about a pound more than its next-heaviest competitor. It has a battery gauge but no brake, and is the only model where the blade is to the right of the motor. The Hilti has significantly more runtime than the Bosch and more than twice the runtime of the DeWalt and Milwaukee. But performance has its price: This machine is bigger, heavier, and more expensive than other models.
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Hilti

MILWAUKEE 0730-22

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1717676
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4
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tcm:78-1630198

This 28-volt saw has a nice strong motor and feels well-built. Lighter and smaller than other models, it is very comfortable to use and handle. As expected, it has less runtime than 36-volt models. However, it's arguably the best value. Priced in line with the Bosch and DeWalt, it's the only saw that comes with two batteries. And its batteries work with more tools. Most 36-volt systems include a recip saw, some rotary hammers, and maybe a hammer drill; Milwaukee's 28-volt system has all of those tools plus a band saw, an impact wrench, a metal-cutting circular saw, a grinder, and a big right-angle drill.
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Milwaukee

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