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Craftsman's Contractor's Circular Saw is nicely made and designed. The price is not bad either.
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Craftsman 7 1/4" Contractor's Circular Saw

Well Built, Nice design

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

Posted - 4-4-2008

The hand held circular saw remains a staple in even over-equipped woodworking shops. It often remains the best way to break down large stock and can often be the best option for other many cuts. The Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw comes ready for the job with a list of nice features that go beyond what we expect from this kind of tool.

Basic Layout

The Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw is relatively standard in overall size and positioning of the handles and controls. The entire package weighs in at a trim 9 1/4 Lbs. The pistol-grip handle is ergonomically shaped and is comfortable to the hand. The trigger-style On/Off switch is easy to reach and has a positive feel to it. The forward handle is offset to the left just a little but enough to keep your hand out of the line-of-sight to the cut line on this right bladed saw. Both handles have rubber overmolds that give them a little vibration absorption and improve the security of your grip.

The grips are gentle on the hand and feel very secure. Note the replaceable brush caps on the motor housing.
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Both the bevel and cut depth adjusters are tool free thanks to lever locks. The retracting portion of the blade guard also has a nicely sized handle that keeps your fingers away from the blade when operating it.

Power

The Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw uses a 15-amp, 120V motor with a no-load speed of 5200 RPM. Motor power is sent to the blade through a heavy-duty gear set. The motor has replaceable brushes, a feature that will be most attractive to power users. The motor has a built-in electronic blade brake for safety.

A push-button spindle/blade lock makes changing blades easy and safe. The button is located on top of the blade drive housing next to the handle for easy access.

Blade Guard

The blade guard is effective and directs most of the dust to the rear through a cast-in port. Note the Freud Avanti blade that comes with the saw!

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The magnesium blade guard is nicely designed with aerodynamics that direct most of the sawdust to the molded in ejection port at the rear. This keeps the cut line cleaner. The retractable portion of the guard is automatic in most situations but can be operated by hand using a large handle.

Craftsman includes a Freud 24-tooth, narrow kerf Avanti framing blade. That is unusual but the mounting is pretty standard, using a 5/8"-diameter center bolt to retain the blade. A wrench is included for changing blades.

Base Plate

The 12 1/2"-long by 6 1/2"-wide magnesium baseplate keeps the Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw stable. It has tool free depth and bevel adjustments with easy to read cast-in scales at both points. The front of the base plate has a row of notches (1/2" spacing) that make aligning offset cuts more accurate.

The base plate can be tilted to a maximum bevel angle of 56-degrees and has a positive stop at the more popular 45-degrees. Maximum cutting depth at 90-degrees is 2 3/8" and 1 3/4" at 45-degrees.

The bottom of the base plate has a Teflon™ coating that helps keep the Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw sliding easily and predictably. That enhances both accuracy and safety. The bottom of the base plate is flat, forgoing the annoying ribs or grooves seen on some other saws in this category.

The included edge guide is very effective, especially when installed to the right of the blade as in the photo (left) above. If you try to install the edge guide to the right, the front locking knob (right) has nothing to push down on and forces the edge guide arm downwards. this should be a very small problem (if at all) for most woodworkers.
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The Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw comes with a very nice edge guide. The edge guide mounts at the front and back of the base plate, keeping it very stable. It has its own full-length fence that makes following an edge very easy and accurate.

In The Shop

Using the Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw presents no surprises. Equipped with the Freud blade, cuts are smooth and effortless, as you would expect. The motor has plenty of power and there is little vibration emanating from the saw itself. The rubber overmolds help isolate the vibrations of the blade cutting wood.

All of the controls are easy to use and produce the expected results. Even the bevel graduations appear to be spot on and easy to set accurately. The line of sight is uncluttered in part because of the handle positioning. Though the handles are offset to the left slightly, following a cut line is easy.

The edge guide is a very nice feature and works exceptionally well. The fence portion that actually follows the wood edge is long enough that it disregards small deviations to produce a remarkably straight cut.

The baseplate has a Teflon™ coating (left) that makes it slippery and predictable. the bevel locks (right) are tool-free and very easy to use.
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The down side to the Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw edge guide is that it only installs securely on the right side of the saw. The forward locking screw is all the way to the left of the base plate which limits setting the edge guide fence to a maximum of 4 1/2" to the right of the blade. This does cover most instances where an edge guide fence is used but it would be nice to be able to use it to the left of the blade as well. When installed from the left, the forward locking screw forces the forward edge guide arm downward because there is no support under it. Unless you do lots of edge guide cuts, this will have little to no impact on your use of the Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw.

The Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw comes in a blow-molded case that has storage for the blade wrench, edge guide and extra blades.

Conclusions

With a street price of only $139.99 (4-3-2008) the Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw is not a bank-breaker. Coming with the Freud blade also eliminates a very common after purchase expense.

If your shop does not have a good circular saw in it or you do typical homeowner jobs around the house, the Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw would be a good tool to have.

See the Craftsman Contractor's Circular Saw on the Sears website - Click Here

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