Compact Circular Saw

The compact circular saw is smaller and lighter than a conventional circular saw. 

Description:

The compact circular saw is an engineering control that may help reduce stressful hand and wrist activity.  The compact circular saw is smaller and lighter than a conventional circular saw and can be operated with one hand. 

Several manufactures make compact circular saws. Most traditional circular saws weigh from 10-13 pounds while most compact circular saws weigh from 2 to 4 pounds.  The blades are usually 3-3/8 inches in diameter with both corded and cordless models.  Many have unique features such as blade guards, dust collection, and the ability to make plunge cuts.

Corded models:

Craftsman makes the 3 1/2” TRAK-CUTTM Circular Saw with Miter Guide Base (Figure 1). The saw features a dust extraction system, power-on light, carrying tote with the miter guide base, an edge guide, and three blades: tungsten carbide-tipped (TCT), high speed steel (HSS), and diamond.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 11 pounds
  • Blade diameter: 3-1/2 inches
  • Maximum cut depth: 1-1/8 inches
  • RPM: 5000
  • Materials cut: wood, metal, tile, removes grout

Figure 1.  The Craftsman 3 1/2” TRAK-CUTTM Circular Saw, shown with miter guide base.

Dremel makes the Saw-MaxTM which features an adjustable foot to allow a variety of cuts (Figure 2).    The saw has a dust collection adapter, an optional 2 x 4 cutting guide, and an optional miter head/guide.  It comes with four abrasive wheels: multi-purpose carbide, metal cut-off, tile diamond, and a multi-purpose flush cut carbide.  

Specifications:

  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • Maximum cut depth: 3/4 inch
  • RPM: 17,000
  • Materials cut: wood, plastic, metal, tile, masonry

Figure 2.  The Dremel Saw-MaxTM.

Exakt Precision Tools Ltd. makes two compact circular saws: the EC 310N Mini Saw and the EC 330 Mini Saw (Figure 3,4).  They feature a spring-loaded plunging guard, which holds materials down during cutting and keeps the blade covered after cutting.  Both saws attach to conventional vacuums to allow dust extraction.  Blades available include tungsten carbide-tipped (TCT), high speed steel (HSS), and diamond grit edged.  The EC-310N is the base model while the EC 330 Mini Saw has a rubber-coated grip and an “ergonomically-shaped” molded body, designed to feel comfortable in the hand.  

Specifications:

  • Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Blade diameter: 54 mm (2.13 inches)
  • Maximum cut depth: 9/16 inch
  • RPM: 4,000
  • Materials cut: wood, composite, plastics, ceramic tiles, aluminum

Figure 3. The Exakt Precision Tools EC 330.

Figure 4.  The Exakt Precision Tools PS 160.

MasterMind makes the Compact Precision 3” Circular Saw (Figure 5).  The saw features a depth adjustor and indicators for angle cut length.  It comes with a vacuum adapter, laser line, LED light, and adjustable handle.  The saw comes in a hard plastic storage case with two blades (general purpose and carbide-tipped), an edge guard, two non-scratch base covers, a vacuum hose adapter, and two hex wrenches.  

Specifications:

  • Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Blade diameter: 3 inches
  • Maximum cut depth: 7/8 inches
  • Materials cut: "most building materials"

Figure 5.  The MasterMind Compact Precision 3” Circular Saw.

Rockwell makes the VersaCut Mini Circular Saw (Figure 6).  The saw features precision depth adjustment, a blade guard which keeps the blade covered when not in use, a vacuum adapter, and a laser guide.  It comes in a carrying tote with 3 blades (carbide tipped, HSS, and diamond), blade changing keys, a no-mar base plate, parallel edge guide, and vacuum adapter.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • Blade diameter: 3-3/8 inches
  • Maximum cut depth: 1-1/16 inches
  • RPM: 3,500
  • Materials cut: wood, sheet metal, plastics, pipes, hardwood flooring, tile

Figure 6.  The Rockwell VersaCut Mini Circular Saw, which comes with a laser guide.

Cordless Models:

Craftsman makes the NEXTEC Lithium-Ion Circular Saw, a cordless mini circular saw (Figure 7).  It comes with a battery level gauge, an adjustable foot allowing bevel cuts up to 45º, blade guards, LED light, vacuum adapter, carbide-tipped blade, and hex wrench for changing blades.  This tool does not come with a battery or charger, however all batteries in the NEXTEC line are interchangeable.   

Specifications:

  • Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Blade diameter: 3-3/8 inches
  • Maximum cut depth: 1-3/4 inches
  • RPM: 2,400
  • Materials cut: woods, laminates, plastics

Figure 7.  The Craftsman NEXTEC Lithium-Ion Circular Saw.

Makita makes the SH01W 12V Max Lithium-Ion Cordless 3-3/8" Circular Saw (Figure 8).  It features a dust blower and an adjustable base to make bevel cuts up to 45º (5/8 inches cutting depth at 45º).  It comes with two 12 volt lithium-ion batteries, a battery charger, and a carbide-tipped blade. 

Specifications:

  • Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Blade diameter: 3-3/8 inches
  • Maximum cut depth: 1 inch
  • RPM: 1,400
  • Materials cut: plywood, medium density fibreboard (MDF), melamine, drywall, other material

Figure 8.  The Makita SH01W 12V Cordless 3-3/8” Circular Saw.


Risks Addressed:

Stressful hand and wrist activity can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as muscle strains; tendonitis, which is inflammation of elbow and wrist tendons; or carpal tunnel syndrome, which is compression of a wrist nerve, resulting in finger numbness and loss of hand strength.  The compact circular saw can help reduce stressful hand & wrist activity because the saw is lighter and allows the wrist to be in a more neutral position during use.


How Risks are Reduced:

A compact circular saw reduces stressful hand and wrist activity since the saw is lighter than standard circular saws and the handle may keep the wrist in a more neutral position while cutting. 

The manufacturer of the MasterMindTM saw states that a user can adjust the “handle for a comfortable work angle that makes any job easier.”  Craftsman states that the NEXTEC 12.0V Lithium-Ion Circular Saw’s “ergonomically designed D Grip with over mold, positions the hand and wrist in a comfortable position for extended use.”  Makita states that their saw’s “ergonomic shape fits like a glove with even pressure and easy control.”  Dremel states that their saw’s small size makes it more ergonomic.

Safety and health experts believe a compact circular saw will help to reduce stressful hand & wrist activity because of its smaller size, lighter weight, and handle shape.


Effects on Productivity:

A compact circular saw may increase productivity in several ways.  By allowing plunge cuts, a user will spend less time setting up cuts.  The dust collecting capabilities of many of these saws may reduce cleanup time.  Their smaller size and lighter weight makes them faster to move around the work site.  Some saws may also cause less splintering than traditional circular saws, again reducing cleanup time.


Additional Considerations:

The user should be aware of the hazards potentially involved with compact circular saws.  These hazards include exposure to noise, wood dust, and silica.  For more information on these risks and how to reduce their effects please refer to the following links:

-Noise

-Wood dust

-Silica


Contributors:

Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC; Julianne Keenan, SPT, and Jesse Brouwer, SPT – Eastern Washington University


Hazards Addressed:

Availability

Rockwell VersaCut Mini Circular Saw
To obtain information, visit Rockwell or contact 866-514-7625

Exakt Precision Tools EC 330 and PS 160
To obtain information, visit EC 330 and PS 160 or contact +44 (0)1467 633 800 general@exakt.us

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.