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Looking for good quality circular saw

BGodfrey's picture

I have a 23 year old Porter Cable model 447 circular saw.  It has been used for everything from building cabinet carcasses to serious residential framing.  It has been left out in the rain, dropped, kicked, stepped on, fallen off of ladders, and even used a few times for cutting cinder block.  Amazingly, I just put on a new fine finish blade, carefully adjusted the plate and cut up some nice maple plywood with almost no tearout. 

But the saw is in serious need of some rebuilding.  I went looking for parts and found that I can still get the parts I need, though from more than one source as many of the parts are discontinued.  But the cost for some bearings, a new cord and strain relief, guard bumper, and brushes would be almost $100 with shipping.


So I thought it would be time to get a new saw.  What a confusing mess that is!  So many manufacturers, each with multiple quality levels.  How do I find another saw as good as this one? 

I want this level of reliability.  And I want this level of accuracy.  I want to be able to run my saw along a guide or shooter board and make a clean cut.  And I don't want to hear from the inevitable grouches who are going to say it can't be done with a circular saw, you need an 800 pound table saw and a special building to use it in.  They don't know what they are talking about.  My standards are very high and the saw I've got has lived up to them.  I'm not going to cut faceframes with this saw, but I've cut up truckloads of plywood with my old saw and always satisfactorily as long as the blade was sharp.  (You can buy a lot of new blades for the cost of an 800 pound saw and the building to use it in!)

I don't want a worm drive saw.  Or at least I don't think I do.  I've never owned one, but I've used them.  They seem heavy and awkward to me and I've never had any complaints about the 447.  If you think I am wrong about this, please feel free to explain why. 

That Festool saw looks awfully nice, but out of my price range by a few times.  I think I paid around $150 for the 447.  I see homeowner grade saws with good brand names on them for $80 to $100.  I don't trust them.  I don't think you can make a saw this good to sell for so little.  I wouldn't object to paying $200 or so for an equal quality new saw, but if I peek inside and find a bunch of plastic I will feel really ripped off.

If anyone can help me select a new saw I would appreciate it.

One thing to consider is how (post #212394, reply #1 of 21)

One thing to consider is how important weight is to you.  I bought my current PC saw in large part because, of the better-built saws, it was the lightest.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Weight is not important to (post #212394, reply #6 of 21)

Weight is not important to me.  Reliability and accuracy are important to me.  Minimal runout, I think, blade wobble, whatever it is called, is important to me.

New bearings are $5 each (post #212394, reply #2 of 21)

New bearings are $5 each online, just shop around after you get the number off the old (e.g. 6207)

Brushes - any size you want on ebay, for under $5 per set.

New cord and strain relief - if you had save all other tools in ;the last few years, you would hve one free - worst case $15

guard bumper - old piece of tire works fine, free

$30 max to rebuild your PC.  

Your $100 is buying stuff form the wrong places or with a PC part number, go generic.



agree... (post #212394, reply #4 of 21)

Agree with bearings and brushes.

My oldest saw gets cycled over to cutting stone.  Just replaced the bearings on that this past summer.

A couple days ago I knocked my DeWalt off the worktable. Only fell about 3', but when I squeezed the trigger? Sparking galore and it sounded like it was having a heart attack.

Pulled the brushes, one of them the corner was broken off. Sanded it with a light touch on sandpaper to get it to shape, put it back and and it was as good as almost new.

I've picked up a lot of tools for low or no cost because "the motor is shot." Usually it's just the brushes. 

Like the OP, I'm in the market for a new sidewinder, and like another poster, I'm leaning towards MKE. I've got to hold them in my hand before buying though because my wrist is completely shot, so balance & ergonomics are very important to me.

There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.

This saw has four bearings.  (post #212394, reply #7 of 21)

This saw has four bearings.  Two of them are available for low prices as you mentioned.  Two of them are no longer available.  I have found those two as "new old stock" at two different websites, but because they are at a premium, the sellers are charging over $20/each for them.  I don't blame them, but it does run up the price of a rebuild quite a bit.

Also, what I like about my old PC-447 is that knocking it off of a 3' bench would probably have no effect on it at all unless it landed just right on the heavy and robust bottom plate.  That could knock the plate out of whack.  But a drop from a 10' ladder has not done any damage at all.  Must have landed on a different part of the saw.

Is "sidewinder" what they call non-wormdrive circular saws now?  It's been a while since I bought one.  :-)

no bearing despair.... (post #212394, reply #8 of 21)

If the bearing has a number on it it can be had, at least in my world, at the local mill supply/bearing house for the manufacturers list price.


That is a world I am (post #212394, reply #11 of 21)

That is a world I am unfamiliar with.  If I hunt up a supply/bearing house do I take in the bearings or the PC part numbers or what? 

There are certainly other parts I can make myself (power cord - over $20 to buy) or do without (new dust nozzle) if I can knock the price of those two discontinued bearings from $22/ea down to $5/each.

Milwaukee... (post #212394, reply #3 of 21)

I'd buy a new 7.25" Milwaukee, I can't come up with a model name without trekking out to the shop or the truck or the tool shed.

I've bought 3 of them in the last maybe 12 years,one is now a parts saw [my fault] , one is in the truck and the newest in my shop.

Every other side winder I've used pales in comparison by my standards.

2 are made in U.S., the last one in China. The China one seems equal to the others except it jumps to full speed so fast it's amazing. 

But that's just one guys opinion..........


I went and looked up the (post #212394, reply #10 of 21)

I went and looked up the Milwaukee saws.  It looks like the plate is just a stamped plate.  How accurate is that and how resistant to bending if dropped?  The plate on my 447 is cast with a lattice of thick bracing cast into it.  It's got grooves along the bottom so it slides very smoothly, too, due to less drag against the workpiece.

but wait! there's more! (post #212394, reply #12 of 21)

The base is from a solid piece of aluminum plate, alloys of aluminum can be pretty hard . You could bend one but I've never. Once I had a stud wall section including a header assembly  [don't ask] fall on one and break a couple parts but normal abuse hasn't hurt anything. I've been using this model saw for hmm... 13 years. I try not to drop my tools but some might say I'm a bit careless actually.

As for the bearing number you can give it to them on the phone or take the part. Besides the numbers [gives the dimensions] there are letters which denote the style; i.e. shielded, sealed, semishielded etc. 

A circular saw is limited in accuracy in the best case but if I have to crosscut something really wide in the shop that is my go to tool [with an edge guide of some sort].  Stuff like extra wide entry door rails or breaking down 4x8 hardwood plywood for instance. 

I have  6" and 4.5'' porter cable saws I really enjoy for some things but the milwaukee is the go to. Having said all that I encourage you to fix your saw if the costs are reasonable. You can usually find a milwaukee 7.25'' for as low as $100 recon. A real bargain I think.


A circular saw can actually (post #212394, reply #13 of 21)

A circular saw can actually be very accurate if it has no blade wobble and you take the time to calibrate it.  It isn't as accurate as a heavy cabinet saw with infeed/outfeed/side tables and high end fence.  But if you take the time to put your guide in the right place it is a far more accurate way to cut plywood than running it through a wobbly contractor's table saw with poor material support.  If the blade is sharp and not wobbly and you don't force a quick cut you will get minimal tearout - no worse than a contractor grade table saw and usually better.  This is because the big, heavy, floppy piece of plywood is stable and well supported (I use four straight KD 2x3s laid across my leveled-up sawhorses) and the "fence" - the guide or shooter board - is longer than the workpiece.  The saw is really just a holder for the spinning blade and as long as you keep it tight to the fence (don't push) it goes very straight.

I had to drop my wife off (post #212394, reply #15 of 21)

I had to drop my wife off someplace and on the way back I was passing a Home Depot so I went in to look at the saws.  I am definitely going to rebuild mine.  I agree that the Milwaukee looks like one of the best.  They had a beat-up Makita that looks like it was borrowed from the rental shack as a placeholder.  (Probably sold their demo at Christmas.)  It looked more robust than the Milwaukee.  But neither of them are equal to the 447.  And the rest are real junk. 

I also looked at the battery saws.  I've become very fond of 18V lithium tools and was wondering about a 6" battery saw.  I had an early one that was sheer pook: built like a toy and truly awful.  Well they certainly look fancier, but if you wiggle the plate and look at how they are loosely riveted together and so on, they are still built like toys. 

So I'll look up a bearing supplier and drop by the next time I'm in the area.

Thanks for all the help and advice!


I have a Porter-Cable - 324 (post #212394, reply #16 of 21)

I have a Porter-Cable - 324 MAG Circular Saw. I really like it, it's light, powerful, and accurate. You might want to check one out, or the other variations of it. It runs on 120vac, not a battery.

saws, saws, saws.... (post #212394, reply #19 of 21)

I have a Milwaukee sidewinder, a Bosch Sidewinder and a Milwaukee M18 cordless saw.  The Bosch is the most accurate, and the M18 is the most comfortable.  Its power is not normal for a cordless and it lasts all day.  For stair cases on site, the Bosch was unbeatable.  I've had the Milwaukee for 20+ years and yes the plate is stamped.  And not so great for detail.  I've had the Bosch for 15 years and would not trade it for anything.  Im partial to sidewinders.  If I were to need skill saw I'd look at the Makita with the magnesium base.  Othwerwise, I hope I have bought my last saw!!

BG (post #212394, reply #5 of 21)

   Have had, used and loved the Rockwell 315 for over 40 yrs.  lucky to have found two others but have yet to dedicate one for parts.  The original is still used and in the van.


sevaral years ago I took the plunge for a Festool track saw.  All I use now for cuts formerly done with the 315 and a shoot board.  If dust collection has a value, this puts the Festool on top.

  If ever the 315 gives up and both extras are scavenged and mantle pcs., I'll be in your boat.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


The Festool would certainly (post #212394, reply #9 of 21)

The Festool would certainly be an awesome replacement for my 447 when it comes to the accurate cutting of plywood, but probably not so good for hacking up 2x6s.  And the cost puts me off of it.

May I ask a question about the Festool, since you are a real user and apparently not a marketing person? 

I can see how well it would do cutting the full length and width of a sheet of plywood, but what about cutting smaller pieces?  Cabinet backs, sides, ripping strips, that kind of thing? 

I went down to the metal yard a few years ago, bought a 20' section of 2"x3/8" aluminum bar stock and cut it into 9', 6', 3', and 2' lengths.  Now I have convenient guides for just about any cut I want to make.  And I have my 8' shooter board for really quick cutting as it is much easier to align with the pencil marks.

Bg (post #212394, reply #14 of 21)

As you use the bar stock, same thing with the track saw.  Different lengths for different scenarios.

but with their track you can securely put diff pcs together to add length.

you need as well to lay the pc you want next to similar thickness stock o firmly seat the track.


it does the same without measuring and accounting for the base plate width as you line it up like the shoot a cut mark.  And the perfect plus is if you change to a bevel cut.  The change doesn't alter the shoot board, the pivot point is the same on all cuts.


and yes, the 315 for all dimensional cross cuts.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Thanks.  I will see if I can (post #212394, reply #17 of 21)

Thanks.  I will see if I can find one to check out.  The comments on Amazon are very good except for one thing.  Apparently they break easily.  Like break in half.  I don't know if those are just the early ones or if they still have that problem - the ratings with that complaint are older.  If they are still that fragile, I'll keep looking.

Sorry, I posted this wrong.  It was a reply to the Porter Cable 324 suggestion.

There's a Third Kind of Saw (post #212394, reply #18 of 21)


The Makita 5477 is set up like a worm drive saw, but with a different gearing arrangement.

The result? A saw with a longer baseplate and more power than the usual circular saw, but not quite in the worm-drive class.

I'm no artist - more like a kindling maker :D  Yet, this saw has allowed me to make beautifull, straight cuts. There's enough power that I usually don't even notice when I cut through something 'extra.' The base has enough of a lip that it easily tracks along any guide I might have.

With a new saw going for around $150, there's not much savings in rebuilding your saw - especially when you consider your time and effort.

IF you decide to rebuild, I'd consider starting with a visit to a bearing house (Motion Industries, Applied Technologies) first. Wishfull thinking aside, far too often manufacturers use oddball bearings that aren't available. Likewise, if the bearings are bad, you might have a damaged shaft as well. You might as well find out at the start whether you can rebuild it - or not.