Help idjit pick out a saw (power tools question)

Tim Allen I am not.

I own no power tools. I took Industrial Arts in 1977. It didn’t take. I don’t “do” projects more involved than drilling holes or hammering nails.

But I have decided I need a saw. A power saw. Something with which to cut sheets of plywood.

I’ve decided I want to maximize versatility. I don’t need something for really specialized stuff, just one that will do a wide variety of tasks reasonably well. Price is not too much of an issue, I want quality because I don’t plan on buying too many saws so I would rather have one that lasts.

So the question is, what type of animal what I am looking for? I am thinking rotary saw. Yes? What features should I look for? Any brands to avoid? Any that are known to be especially good?

I highly recommend the Porter Cable 743K.

For a right handed user, it puts the blade where you can see it, the angle indicators are very accurate, the magnesium base is smooth as silk and light, and in heneral the saw is a beautiful thing. I used to use it in places where a jigsaw would fear to tread and the dust collector works very well too!

THe 1-1/2" and 5" setbacks are easy to remember and easy to calculate in your cutting list as well, not an unimportant feature.

Oh God! Thank the Universe you posted this!

This is a Serious matter!

You do not need or most likely want a Rotary Saw . I think you are actually talking about a Circular Saw .

As a man who loves his tools - however is not a tool himself - I must recommend only two brand to choose from. Either Dewalt or Black and Decker / Craftsman


As for the OP. Home Depot is currently offering an 18 volt cordless power driver, circular saw, saws all, all in one for $350! Very good price!

I guess I am a tool if I can not code worth a sh*t!

See! I told you I was an idjit! I don’t even know what I’m talking about.

Actually the circular saw thingy was what I was thinking of, I just had the wrong name.

You got a link to the Home Depot doohickey? I don’t quite get what you are referring to.

BTWPhlosphr I had a feeling you would be replying to this thread.


Ask and ye shall receive. Here is the set. It is priced at $499, but in stores it is $349.99. I am pretty sure this is not a store specific promo, so your local home depot should carry the sale.

Good Luck…

My lovely wife bought me the set two years ago for Christmas :slight_smile: I have dropped the power drill off my roof at 30 feet, went down the ladder, picked it up and kept on using it. This is a good investment!

He’s speaking of the cordless power tool kits which generally include a drill/driver, circular saw, reciprocating saw, and a light.

You may not need cordless, though. I would recommend the highest amp motor corded saw that you feel comfortable holding. You would be surprised how light they are nowadays. Some even show a blade path light, making it easier to sight the cut.

Just go out and look, I went through about 40 the last time I had to rplace one, I finally asked God for a sign and he said…

Oops I guess the link won’t bring you to the set, so from the link click cordless drills and screw drivers (on the left) then click 18V on the next page (on left). The dewalt set is right there…

Got it, thanks. It looks a little like overkill for my needs, though. I actually do have a drill which is adequate for now, and I own several flashlights. The cordless option is interesting, though. I hadn’t really considered that.

NoClueBoy your message timed out before you were able to convey the wisdom of the Almighty. That would be helpful as He and I are not normally on speaking terms. :wink:

Whatever you get, include a variety of blades for your different needs. They’re generally signed very well, so no need to guess.
A cordless saw is a great tool, very useful. Sometimes, though, in construction, you need the raw power of a corded tool. The weekender, though, could probably do just fine with cordless only. Saves triping over extension cords, let me tell ya.

If I’m doing the same cuts over and over again, I tend to use a table saw and a chop/miter saw.

Once you get the toolkit, you might find yourself using the reciprocating (Sawzall) saw a lot more. But not for ripping plywood. Circular saw for that.


Last corded circular saw I bought was a Makita. A sale sign went up on it right as I was reaching for the Porter Cable. So, I went for the cheaper price since the power and weight were identical. The model number got worn off, though… Sorry. It was three years ago, too, so the numbers are bound to have changed. The saw I replaced was a Craftsman that lasted about 15 years.

I beat the hell out of my tools.

My cordlesses are Dewalt 18 volt. Very happy with them.

You are very right. I found wonderful use number 143 for my saws all the other day. I was getting rid of some bushed that had some serious root systems all linked together. I tried pulling them out with my Avalanche first, then when my wife saw me tearing up the lawn, I promptly switched to the saws all. I was done in ten minutes!

Corded tools are used in my shop in the barn only when I know I am going to be there for more than a few hours. However for room expansion and other such activities the cordless dewalts work wonders.

Here’s my two cents:

Don’t forget that Home Depot has a panel saw in the plywood department and they will gladly hack a 4’x8’ sheet into smaller pieces for you.

I have a tablesaw and several other weapons available in my basement, but I have no desire to be manhandling big pieces of plywood, so I ask them to cut my plywood into more or less the size I need.

Carry on.

If you want the very best corded circular saw get a Skilsaw HD77 or HD77M wormdrive saw. The difference is the M has a magnesium motor housing and is much lighter. I had my first 77 16 years and it was still going strong when it was stolen from a jobsite.

If you want a cordless set, check the Ryobi kit. I bought one for my daughter last Xmas. Circular saw, recipsaw, drill/driver, light, mini-vac, 2 batteries and charger.

If you want versatility, I’d have to recommend a jigsaw instead of a circular saw. Circular saws really only do one thing well (althought they do it better than anything else) – they cut straight lines. They are also (in my opinion) somewhat more dangerous and less controllable than jigsaws. You * can * cut a sheet of plywood with a jigsaw, although the edge might be more ragged than with the circular saw, but more importantly, you can cut curves and holes with a reasonable degree of precision.

The jigsaw of choice is almost universally agreed to be the Bosch (

I’d have to disagree a bit with Phlosphr on tool choice – DeWalt is an excellent brand, but the Black and Decker home products are a mixed bag. Often shoddy enough so that B&D bought DeWalt so that they could slap a reputable name on their high-end equipment. Same thing with Sears Craftsman – things may have improved but they went through a long period of producing lower quality power tools aimed at the occasional do-it-yourselfer and in the process lost a lot of credibility.

But you pretty much can’t go wrong with DeWalt, Bosch, or Porter Cable.

Among my power tools, I have a Makita 5740B circular saw and the Bosch D-handle jig saw. I use them both equally often. Prior to purchasing both a circular saw and then a table saw, I used the jig saw for cutting plywood. It worked but the cuts were not as accurate and straight as with the circular saw. It is a tough call if you have to purchase only one. The Makita is under $100 and works as well as pricier models I have found. The Bosch is in a class by itself and often provokes a great sense of satisfaction with its design–a very analogous to the design excellence of the iPod. If you think you are mostly going to be cutting plywood and 2x4s, then the circular saw will serve you better. If you have the budget, get both and you will enjoy learning how to use them.

I Could’nt agree more.
I have the Magnesium one and it does a fantastic job. Easy to set depth and angle and for myself, I have always been able to cut straighter with a wormdrive.

Thanks for all the input folks. You’ve given me some specific leads, and some general guidelines that will surely help.

a few words about safety

For goodness sake… buy quality blades, too! and make sure they’re sharp! Blades that can be resharpened are cheaper in the longrun than an ‘inexpensive’ purchase today.
Cheap three-to-a-pack blades will have you pushing a circular saw hard enough to jumpstart a Mack truck!

Please also, wear eye protection and a dustmask.

Be safe…and carry on…