Much debated topic - Cordless Circular Saw


#1

Long-time lurker, 1st time poster.

My wife is bugging me for a Christmas list and I’ve decided to get a cordless circular saw.

Back in 2012, I was doing a house reno and on a whim, but a Bosch 12v bundle at Lowes. For 18v, I bought into the Dewalt system because every contractor who came to the house used them.

I have an impact driver, drill, right angle drill, sawsall, jigsaw and an 18ga finish nailer in their 18v line. I haven’t bought into Milwaukee 18v because of battery compatibility, but with the saws, it appears that the m18 fuel line and the Dewalt Flexvolt DCS575 require new batteries so it is a separate decision on the more powerful tools.

The M18 Fuel 2372 with 2 9ah batteries is $399 and the Dewalt with 2 batteries is $330. Basically, the $70 isn’t compelling as getting the best performance is the goal. Whatever I get will tie me to the battery system for other compatible tools.

I know both have their following, as do the Hitachi and Makita (both of which I have in corded versions).

All the reviews I’ve seen barely distinguish one vs the other, so it might actually be the system that is the deciding vote.

Look forward to your suggestions.

jb


#2

Since you have DeWalt, I’d say that tips the favor in dewalt’s direction. You can still use the flexvolt batteries you get with a flexvolt circular on your regular 20V tools, which you wouldn’t be able to with Milwaukee obviously. Likewise, in either case you can’t use your existing batteries with your new saw, so that’s a wash.

The other factor to consider is what other tools going on either platform opens up for you, if there’s anything you’re interested in. Flexvolt adds the compressor, large miter saw, and table saw among other things that you can’t get on the 20V platform in any capacity. Milwaukee adds several tools DeWalt doesn’t have, but lacks the 12” miter and compressor options, among others. If there’s an M18 tool that DeWalt doesn’t have that you really want, maybe that tips the scales for you more than the battery compatibility.

In terms of performance, both saws are supposedly superb. I have the Milwaukee and can attest to it being fantastic, right up there with the corded makita, but I also hear really good things about the flexvolt circulars. Particularly the rear handle flexvolt model, it seems to be very well liked for its power. So take it with a grain of salt, but I’d rate power a tossup.

Have you looked at or tried a regular brushless 20V DeWalt circular? You mentioned having corded saws, so maybe getting something that can match or best a corded saw in power isn’t actually the best choice, particularly if you aren’t using the saw day in and day out for heavy applications. The previous gen Milwaukee fuel saw was and is still a great saw IMO, I only got the new one so I could pass along my old one, and mostly to get the two 12Ah batteries from a deal. (BTW, at acme they have the same saw 2732, but with 12Ah batteries not 9, and you get one for free with a promotion currently running though 1/31. https://www.acmetools.com/shop/tools/milwaukee-2732-21hd). The regular top end brushless 20V DeWalt May be all you really need, and let’s you use your existing batteries. Going for pure raw power mostly means that in a year or two somebody will come out with a saw more powerful again than whatever you get today, and you no longer have the most powerful saw. But if it does what you need, that’s what’s important, and the 18/20V saws have served that cordless need for several years at a pretty darn decent level.


#3

Echoing what Tim said, it sounds like Dewalt would be your best path. Milwaukee may have a wider variety of tools, but Dewalt covers all but the most specialized bases. I have the 20V brushless circular and have been super happy with it. I also have the 12" FlexVolt miter saw and have been super happy with that. I don’t think you’ll regret going with red, but given your current investment in yellow, that’s what I’d do.


#4

The Milwaukee 6ah and 12ah “high output” batteries are more comparable to the flexvolt if you’re looking to match or exceed the output of a corded tool. So if you’re eventually thinking about the cordless tablesaw or chainsaw, I would try to get a package with the high output batteries.


#5

I’m afraid I’m going to echo others… You already decided with your wallet. The FlexVOLT is also a 20 Volt Max and XR family setup. The batteries with the 60 and 120 Volt FlexVOLT tools are also 20 Volt XR batteries. You already bought into the FlexVOLT platform when you bought into the 20 Volt.

In fact, there’s a way to see it as you have bought into the 12 Volt and 8 Volt Max lines as well. What appears to be 5 separate families is actually just one Brand and Industry Spanning lineup. The 8 Volt screwdrivers and the flashlight supplement small jobs done while wandering from one spot to another on the site, the 12 Volt Max system is good for quick necessary jobs while going room-to-room, or doing quick marking, measuring, inspecting, and leveling. Then you step up to the 20 Volt Max Brushed system for investing into the family with high quality reliability. The 20 Volt XR are the next-gen eXtended Runtime brushless, and Bluetooth Connected family, demonstrating the future of the line. Both Max and XR are the workhorses of the DeWALT lineup. They’re the ones that do everything major that is required by an actual Tradesman on foot in their work area. Then there’s FlexVOLT, that is the 20 Volt XR supersized edition. Higher Voltages to replace Corded tools of the same caliber. Also, since the battery physically switches from the stationary tools to the hand-held ones, they’re genuinely meant for the hand-off from stationary workers, to installers and mobile tradesmen. “The trim was at the wrong angle, need it fixed.” Click, Zip, Fixed, Click back, install. “We need less overlap on this long side, take 3 inches off this side.” Click, Rip, Fixed, Click back, Bang Bang Bang with the Nail Gun. All the same battery being passed around, and dropped on the charger when empty.

You bought into one extensive relay system when you bought into the 20 Volt system on DeWALT. I’ve been slowly realizing it myself with my tools too. Tools I was once opposed to, due to mixing batteries, suddenly make sense, because they work well with my 20 Volt tools.


#6

I’m going to disagree with this one statement. Since 20V max batteries are not “forward” compatible with flexvolt, buying the 20V I would argue doesn’t really buy you in to the flexvolt platform. The chargers are cross compatible, but chargers are a dime a dozen, you’ll get one anyway buying a flexvolt kit to get the batteries. Unless you happen on a deal to get a bare flexvolt battery along with a bare flexvolt tool for less than the kit cost, then you could make an argument I suppose. Your prior sentences were more relevant, buying into flexvolt will have good carryover benefits for your 20V tools from being able to use the flexvolt batteries on them, along with the chargers likely. But it does nothing for your existing 20V batteries, and they don’t help you at all for flexvolt. It would be more relevant I think to say buying into flexvolt buys you in to 20V max, but not the reverse.

The rest I understand what you’re getting at, but there’s still dollars and cents cost between the lines that doesn’t reconcile with the “you bought into ALL of DeWalt” sentiment. The 8V screwdriver is a completely separate charger and battery from any other tool. It’s like buying an entirely new battery line. The 12V has some arguments for it, since you can get chargers that are 12V/20V in one. But DeWalt hasn’t made those standard like Milwaukee has (Milwaukee if you buy into M18, you basically get an M12 charger for free, just need tools and batteries). Flexvolt is more apt, since it’s batteries can be charged on a 20V charger, and indeed the typical bundled chargers with flexvolt tools are simply 20V rapid chargers, so you get charger compatibility with the 20V line.

To illustrate the point, assume I already own a significant swath of dewalt’s 20V line. I can buy the DeWalt 8V screwdriver, but I need batteries and a charger with it still, so get it for $100 (guessing), with two batteries. I can buy Makita’s similar 8V screwdriver also for $100 and get two batteries. I want a 12V light, and since I don’t have a DeWalt 12V/20V combination charger, I have to get a 12V light kit with a charger, 1 battery, and light. I could similarly get a Milwaukee 12V charger, battery, and light and it would cost the same.

At the end of the day, I still have 3 different chargers to keep up with, and 3 different batteries. I spent the exact same amount of money to get the exact same tools, there’s no cost efficiencies to be gained staying with DeWalt. Staying with DeWalt for all 3 lines gains me almost no ancillary benefits either (maybe combine down to 2 chargers instead of 3, but that’s it). It actually, I’d argue, did me a disservice by buying me in to dewalt’s 12V line, which is poor. I could have spent the exact same money, and gotten a very similar (or perhaps better) tool, but also opened up one of the really good 12V lines, like Makita, Milwaukee or Bosch. That ancillary benefit alone is well worth having 3 chargers instead of 2 any day. You could also add in that the other lines make higher capacity 12V batteries for their tools if you want, which DeWalt does not.

The 8V is a tossup, it pretty much exists only for a screwdriver, though makita does have the impact version screwdriver as well, while DeWalt has their light. Meh. No compatibility with anything else so it really doesn’t matter which one you get. If only Milwaukee made a screwdriver that used their newer usb charger platform instead of M4, then it would have benefits going with that to open up a range of other tools on the same platform…

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Adding flexvolt will give benefits to the existing 20V you own, and if it were me, that would probably be my primary consideration. The specialty tools, eventually most of them will cross brands. Milwaukee will make a router eventually to compete with DeWalt. DeWalt has their sander now to compete with Milwaukee. It’s just back and forth and who gets it first. They each have their specialties; some brands make better of certain tools than others, but for the core tools, all the higher tier brands are pretty much equivalent. Unless it’s several tools or some really specialty tools, jumping into the Milwaukee platform to open up expanded tool possibilities likely won’t hold much actual usefulness in the long run for most people. If you like the ergonomics on your DeWalt 20V, the flexvolt stuff is very similar, so that’d be an added reason to stay.


#7

No argument here, Tim. I agree with that point of view as well.

You see, I’m not an absolutist on this particular DeWALT family theory. There are deviations from it working 100% of the time, and I’m not even sold that it’s a good idea. It just happens to fit a certain pattern they’re pushing for.

In the 12 volt line, they’ve really neglected it as a whole, so it’s hard to really see what I mean. I know they have a weak Recip saw that is little more than a pruner, and a few Drills, Impacts, and Screwdrivers that, although just as rugged and useful as the 20 Volt level of this Family theory, just aren’t as price-to-investment compatible. But, the 12 Volt lineup has Instruments. Wall Scanner, Inspection Cameras, Thermal tools, Laser levels, Etc. It has a lot of these, compared to higher or lower on the DeWALT food chain.

So… really I don’t see the TOOLS as the thing that connects them all together. Rather the Industry does. DeWALT is usually aiming at the Jobsite market, usually Industrial. So, looking at the tools THAT way, we start to see the “Family” theory working together. It might not work 100% on a skyscraper build, but for Warehouses, Homes, and Reno businesses, it seems fitting.

To Illustrate: A House Build. You need Plumbing, Electrical, Woodwork, Framing, Concrete, Roofing, Drywall, and probably Brickwork. And obviously a Foreman coordinating everything, because… We’re humans and who knows why we do things, but we know someone has to keep us on track, even make sure we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot with a nail gun, or otherwise kill ourselves (or eachother) when we get tired and/or goofy in the brain.

Now, you’re going to have supplies brought in, and fit to the job. Outside the perimeter of the build, you’ll probably be able to set up the FlexVOLT tools to prep the big stuff into the finished product. Particle Board, Plywood, Mitered Joints, Etc. That gets handed to Framers, Drywall installers, Plumbers, and the Concrete workers of all sorts. The Framers are going to have a mix of the FlexVOLT 7-1/4" Circular saw, and the 20 Volt 6-1/2" saws, and a selection of Drills, Impact Drivers, and Nailers. Not all on a single person obviously, but 5-6 people, sure. As time goes on, it’ll be time for the Electricians and Plumbers to come in, and that’s where you start to see a mix of 20 Volt Drills/Impact Drivers, 12 Volt Instruments, and 8 Volt screwdrivers and flashlights being carried around. They all have their job to do, and each person carries a select set that suits their jobs. They finish everything they’re doing, and now Drywall, Insulation, and Cabinetry and Doors start getting to work. They’re carrying more 20 Volt tools for installing everything, Drills, Impacts, Nailers, Drywall Screwdrivers, the odd Laser Level to verify what they’re doing. Something goes slightly wrong, and a board of some sort, possibly decorative, possibly structural, is too long. They carry it out to the FlexVOLT team, and shorten it to the correct length, bring it back in, and install it. By this point they can’t guarantee they need the FlexVOLT team anymore, so these guys are carrying FlexVOLT batteries on their 20 Volt tools just in case. When they go out to make the adjustments, they unhook the FlexVOLT batteries, lock them into the FlexVOLT tools for the few minutes it takes to need them, then take the batteries back when done. Battery dies? Foreman tosses them another one, and they keep going. (Not literally, that’s a very mean Foreman. Ideally just handing it off, not throwing it.) Then the build progresses to roofing, with nailers galore, paint with the FlexVOLT Compressors (I’m hoping they make bigger, 120 Volt ones at some point, to make this a reality.) and air sprayers… All-in-all start-to-finish Max Family tools.

I know this is pretty much an idealized/exaggerated view, but… then again… DeWALT has been offering the Max family over the old XRP family with that level of idealism in mind. Ergonomics improved, Lighter, Longer Runtime, “Tougher” as they say… So, I’m pretty convinced that the “Marketing” side of the 5 Max family lines is actually meant to promote that start-to-finish DeWALT continuity.

Real world? Not like the Marketing world. For the INDIVIDUAL? It can work. You’ve already bought into DeWALT, you might as well stick with them, as long as a tool doesn’t fail you. For MYSELF? I’m a DeWALT guy, but DeWALT doesn’t make the rotary tools I use, Dremel does. I’ve been drooling over the Wall Scanner for years now, even back when it was the failed Radar Scanner. I’ve considered the IR Thermometer as well. These are 12 Volt Max tools, and my DeWALT tools are all 20 Volt Max and 8 Volt Max thus far. I think I have 1 20 Volt XR tool as well. And, honestly, I see how they all fit together in a build, or a project.

But, hey… You have 100% of my support to think otherwise. I don’t expect everyone to see things this way, in fact it can sound rather crazy at times. Hell, I’m still fond of my Stanley Anti-Vibe 16Oz Hammer, and only RECENTLY was convinced that, if I wanted a heavier hammer, I should go with Estwing’s UltraHammers. It doesn’t take much to get me to agree with others.


#8

Thanks to you both!.

I didn’t think the FlexVolt battery was compatible with the 18v tools, but if you’re saying the 18v battery also works with this saw, albeit at reduced performance, that’s a consideration.

jb


#9

So far, all my Dewalt tools are the older 18v or 18v XR tools. No 20v yet.

I should have made that more clear…

Thanks,

jb


#10

18V is one-way compatible with 20V and FlexVolt. DeWalt sells an 18V to 20V adapter. From there you can use 20V (and presumably FlexVolt) batteries with your current stuff. But your 18V batteries won’t work with 20V or FlexVolt.


#11

My key takeaway from all the discussion is that the Dewalt is the better choice for me because of my historic investment in their 18v tools.

I guess I will do that. I’m sure I will be thrilled with it.

Sadly, that leaves me reading all the rave reviews on Milwaukee gear and none in my shop. I will find something else I want to bring them in later.

So many tools, so little time…

Thanks to all for your suggestions.

Jb


#12

I’ve looked into all the cordless circular saws for a bit this year too and I have to say - sort of like you already thought - it won’t matter which new model cordless circular saw you buy.

Even getting a Ridgid or Craftsman from Lowes, etc. All the newer models have more than enough power - to cut everything well. Now I too have talked myself into the flexvolt dewalt but mostly again because I do have dewalt 20V stuffs and I want a flexvolt battery and charger.

Basically everything with a battery has as much or more capability as my 18 year old craftsman corded one.


#13

Thanks.

Ironically, my every day corded saw is a Makita that I bought in 1981 as a newly married guy. 37 years, 2 blades, and one cord repair later, it still works as well as it did the day I bought it. My corded drill, 3hp router are Hitachi and are great.

I didn’t consider those brands when I was going cordless because all the contractors who came to the house used Dewalt. My first purchase was actually the 18ga nailer because it was a hassle to take my portable compressor, hose and gun from room to room to install baseboard.

Over the last 6 years, all the brands have grown incrementally. you could almost walk into Lowes or HD and buy whatever tool is on sale and have a great functional tool that would last a casual user for years.

1st world problem I guess.