There is a big debate amongst carpenters and woodworkers about what the best circular saw size is. Some people swear by a 6 1/2 inch saw, while others prefer a 7 1/4 inch saw.
In short, the 7 1/4″ saw is going to be a little more powerful and can make deeper cuts. The 6 1/2″ saw is slightly smaller and lighter making it a bit easier to maneuver.
If you’re looking for a general-purpose circular saw, go with the 7 1/4″. It will give you more power and versatility. If you want a lighter saw that is a little easier to handle, go with the 6 1/2″.
Let’s take a deep look at the pros and cons of each size to help you make the best decision for your needs.
I should point out that this is largely a matter of personal preference. A 7 1/4 inch circular saw does have some advantages over the 6 1/2 size though.
So, Which Size Is Right For You?
If you are a professional carpenter, contractor, or joiner with a lot of cutting to do, and/or you will be working with plywood or other heavy stock, then a 7 1/4 inch saw is the right choice.
For home use such as remodeling, cabinetry, or flooring work, a 6 1/2 inch saw will give you more than enough power and blade length to do all of your jobs.
If you are not sure, go for the 6 1/2 inch saw. It won’t let you down, and if you decide that a larger blade is more appropriate for your needs later on, then just upgrade to a 7 1/4 circular saw.
Which Saw Is Right For You and Your Project Needs?
Do a lot of overhead work such as cutting in ceilings, rafters, and roofs.
Use large pieces of plywood or other heavy stock on a regular basis.
Then you should choose a 7 1/4 inch circular saw. This site will give you the power and blade length needed to make these jobs easier and faster. You can read more about this topic in my article: What size circular saw is best for me?
Otherwise, if your jobs mostly involve smaller pieces of plywood, 2x4s, flooring, etc., then I highly recommend that you stick with a 6 1/2 inch saw.
The extra power and larger blade offered by the 7 1/4 inch circular saw just isn’t necessary for this type of work, and the extra weight and size will only get in your way.
The Benefits Of Each Saw
A 7 1/4 inch circular saw will give you more power, and a longer blade to cut with. This can make overhead work easier, but the larger size of the saw makes it harder to control in smaller spaces.
A 6 1/2 inch circular saw is much lighter weight and easier to handle than a 7 1/4 inch saw. It also has enough power for most jobs around the house or job site but does not have as much blade length.
Advantages Of The 7 1/4 Circular Saw
The first advantage is blade length. The actual cutting edge on a 7 1/4 inch saw is 2 inches, vs. 1-1/2 inches on a 6 1/2 saw. This means that the 7 1/4 inch saw has 50% more blade to cut through the material before you need to rotate or flip it over.
Another advantage is power. Most 7 1/4 circular saws are 0-1 horsepower vs. 0-3/4 horsepower on most 6 1/2 saws.
Some circular saw manufacturers are now offering 8-inch saws. These saws have the advantage of more cutting power than either 6 1/2 or 7 1/4, but also weigh about 10 pounds more, and cost almost twice as much!
I would only recommend 8-inch saws to people who really need the increased power and will use it a lot.
Advantages Of The 6 1/2 Circular Saw
The advantage of a 6 1/2 circular saw is its lighter weight and ease of control. A 6 1/2 inch circular saw weighs about 5 pounds, vs. 8 pounds for the 7 1/4 inch saw.
This means that a 6 1/2 inch saw is much easier to handle when overhead, or working in tight spaces where the larger saw can’t fit.
Which One Should I Buy?
If you are making your first purchase for a circular saw, I would recommend that you choose a 6 1/2 inch circular saw. In fact, even if you already own a 7 1/4 inch saw, you should consider buying a 6 1/2 inch saw if that’s what it takes to keep you from going overboard with a larger saw.
If you already have a 7 1/4 circular saw and are looking for something a little lighter weight, then buy a 6 1/2 circular saw. There really isn’t any good reason to get rid of your old 7 1/4 inch saw unless it has been extremely abused or lost its power.
In either case, I recommend upgrading to the new Makita SH01W 10-Inch Compact Cordless Circular Saw. It is about $50 more than a comparable corded model, but all in all, well worth it. If money is an issue though go ahead and get the Makita D-410 7 1/4 inch saw, it’s a good all-around saw.
Another alternative is to buy a cordless circular saw. They have come down in price significantly in recent years, and offer an almost perfect solution if you don’t cut a lot of material or do a lot of overhead work.
I recommend getting at least an 18-volt battery-powered model, such as the Dewalt DCS391B, which is much lighter weight than any other type.
Pros and Cons of Each Saw:
- Much lighter weight and easier to handle than a 7 1/4 inch saw.
- Much less expensive than a 7 1/4 inch saw.
- More power and larger blade length than the cordless models. (Optional) You can upgrade with an additional battery if you need more power or endurance.
- Comes with a rip fence as standard equipment, which is nice for those who don’t already have one.
7 1/4 Inch Circular Saw:
- Has more cutting power and a longer blade length than the 6 1/2 inch model. This will make overhead work much easier and faster but at the cost of increased weight and size.
- The larger size makes it more difficult to get into tight spaces, and it is harder to control on thicker materials such as plywood.
- The rip fence is not included but can be added at a later time.
Cordless Circular Saw:
- Cheaper than corded power tools in most cases. Some models even come with 2 batteries and a charger!
- Very lightweight and easier to handle than corded models. (Optional) You can purchase additional batteries for more cutting time or power if needed.
- No outlet required! These saws are designed so you can do your jobs anywhere. Of course, the battery life will vary depending on the model and what material you’re cutting through.
- Not as much power and blade length as the corded models. This can cause problems for some users if they get into thick or heavy materials such as plywood. That being said, you will be able to get the job done with one of these saws…it just might take a little longer than it would with a corded model.
Cordless Circular Saw vs 7 1/4 Inch:
- The cordless models offer more convenience and portability (obviously). They are great for lighter works like trimming and smaller projects, but if you use them on thicker materials such as plywood you will start to see the decreased performance. Corded models will still outperform any cordless saw in this type of work.
- The cordless models are a little less efficient in power and endurance than the 7 1/4 inch saws, but they still perform very well in most cases.
- The cordless model will be much lighter weight and easier to handle for overhead work. However, the 7 1/4 inch model is so large it makes overhead work easy if need be just get on a ladder!
So, which saw is the best for you? The answer to that question depends on your specific needs and preferences. Both saws have their pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh all the factors before making a purchase decision. Hopefully, this article has helped you make an informed choice about which circular saw is right for you.
How thick can a 6 1 2 circular saw cut?
The answer to this question depends on the specific model of saw that you have. However, most 6 1/2 inch circular saws can cut through material that is up to 2 inches thick. This means that they are perfect for cutting through thicker pieces of wood, as well as other materials such as metal and plastic. If you need to cut through something that is thicker than 2 inches, you may need to use a different type of saw.
Can a 6 1 2 inch circular saw cut a 2×4?
Yes, a 6 1/2 inch circular saw can cut through a 2×4. This is because most 6 1/2 inch circular saws can cut through material that is up to 2 inches thick.