5 Best Trim Saws of 2019 – A Complete Review & Buyer’s Guide

Trim Saw

If you like to play around with wood, be it cabinetry, paneling or molding, then you must know that the tools make the man.  There are countless woodworking tools out there, enough to make an experienced woodworker sound like a novice. Trim saws are just part of the larger tapestry. They mainly help in trim work, and they feature a smaller blade usually less than 6 inches. They are used for finessing and precise cutting, achieving accuracy levels that circular saws cannot.

The five best trim saws in the market is not necessarily a list made of refined and fancy saws. Rather it is made of saws that facilitate progress and success with intuitive features. That is a hard-earned nugget of wisdom that took me 14 years to learn.

I have always been spellbound by woodworking since my younger days. I watched talented men turn bare wood into items of cleverness and beauty. Today, it is the interaction with shavings and sawdust that brings home the bacon. Over the years I have learned valuable lessons when it comes to saws.

My trim saws always performed well until I switched from one project to another. Getting consistent accuracy with my saws was a problem. Either there would be too much tearing out in one piece or the blades would falter in the face of hardwood.

The idea of having different trim saws for various projects was appalling. I knew I had to find the right saw that I could rely on for all my go projects.  I needed high-quality cuts with the hustle and the trials and errors.

Best Value
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser Guide
Makita 5005BA 5-1/2-Inch Circular Saw with Electric Brake
PORTER-CABLE PCE381K 5.5 Amp 4-1/2" Compact Circular Saw Kit
Genesis GCS545C 5.8 Amp 120 Volt 4-1/2 in. Control Grip Compact Circular Saw with Vacuum Adapter, Blade Wrench, and 24T Carbide Tipped Blade
Best Overall
Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2" Compact Circular Saw, 5 amps, 3500 rpm with Dust Port and Accessory Kit
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser Guide
Makita 5005BA 5-1/2-Inch Circular Saw with Electric Brake
PORTER-CABLE PCE381K 5.5 Amp 4-1/2" Compact Circular Saw Kit
Genesis GCS545C 5.8 Amp 120 Volt 4-1/2 in. Control Grip Compact Circular Saw with Vacuum Adapter, Blade Wrench, and 24T Carbide Tipped Blade
Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2" Compact Circular Saw, 5 amps, 3500 rpm with Dust Port and Accessory Kit
Best Value
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser Guide
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser Guide
Makita 5005BA 5-1/2-Inch Circular Saw with Electric Brake
Makita 5005BA 5-1/2-Inch Circular Saw with Electric Brake
PORTER-CABLE PCE381K 5.5 Amp 4-1/2" Compact Circular Saw Kit
PORTER-CABLE PCE381K 5.5 Amp 4-1/2" Compact Circular Saw Kit
Genesis GCS545C 5.8 Amp 120 Volt 4-1/2 in. Control Grip Compact Circular Saw with Vacuum Adapter, Blade Wrench, and 24T Carbide Tipped Blade
Genesis GCS545C 5.8 Amp 120 Volt 4-1/2 in. Control Grip Compact Circular Saw with Vacuum Adapter, Blade Wrench, and 24T Carbide Tipped Blade
Best Overall
Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2" Compact Circular Saw, 5 amps, 3500 rpm with Dust Port and Accessory Kit
Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2" Compact Circular Saw, 5 amps, 3500 rpm with Dust Port and Accessory Kit

Last update on 2019-06-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What to look for in the Best Trim Saw

A few more buys down the line; I found that cost isn’t in any way related to quality when it comes to trim saws. The best trim saws are literally blended into the woodwork. You need a buying formula if precision, consistency, and durability matter a great deal to you like all woodworkers.

The more teeth, the better

The accuracy of your work is as good as the number of teeth on your trim saw. More teeth mean a sharper and steady focus cutting action.  A trim saw with fewer teeth removes a large amount of material, frustrating your design objectives.

To be on the better side of things, you might want to consider a trim saw with crosscut blades. Time and again these have proved to deliver smoother cuts in my projects. Rip blades are the exact opposite, precisely what experts would warn you to steer clear from. They chuck out a lot of materials, cutting with the grain instead of across it.

Smaller gullets are a ticket to accuracy and finesse

The gullet is the term that refers to the space between the teeth on the blade.  Large spaces between the teeth result in bigger chips of materials cut. Because a trim saw’s primary purpose is to achieve accurate cuts where the circular saw cant, it would be unwise to get a trim saw with larger gullets.

The one dilemma that you will have to contend with is the fact that smaller gullets generally mean a lower speed rate. Now, most models out there don’t have the right RPM for their blade type. A purposeful speed and sizing are what you need.

Alternate top bevel is the right tooth configuration

The performance of your trim saw also depends on the shape of the blade. There are many teeth styles, configured for crosscutting and ripping and designed for hard and soft materials.  The best tooth type for trim saws is Alternate Top Bevel (ATB) that is styled for crosscutting.

With the ATB tooth configuration, the blade teeth are alternating between right and left-hand bevel. This arrangement facilitates a smoother cut. The left and right alternation results in minimal ripping and removal of material.

A Low hook tooth angle is preferable

You don’t want an aggressive fast cut with trim saws. Precision demands a low hook angle that slows the feed rate. In this case, you will go with blades that have a negative angle; the teeth face backward, in the opposite the direction of the blade rotation.

Teeth quality also matters

Durability matters a great deal. It is reliability, and in the case of trim saws carbide brazed teeth on a steel blade plate is what you should be looking for. The cutting tips determine how well the blade will serve you. In a highly durable trim blade, the teeth have undergone a tri-metal brazing process – no matter how tough the material you are cutting through these teeth doesn’t falter. They have high flexibility and impact resistance.

Sidewinder is better than worm drive designs

A sidewinder trim saw has its blade sitting right beside the motor. On the other hand, worm drive trim saws have the motor that placed squarely in front of or behind the blade. Sidewinder models are ideal for accuracy.

5 Best Trim Saws

1. Makita 5005BA 5-1/2-Inch Circular Saw with Electric Brake

Sale
  • Blade on the left side
  • Lightweight (6.8 pounds) for increased maneuverability
  • Powerful 8.0 amp Makita motor for fast cutting action
  • Electric brake for maximum productivity
  • Lock-off button helps prevent accidental starts

Last update on 2019-06-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Makita brand has over the years built some credibility to its line of saws. The 5005 BA 5-1/2 inch saw features an electric brake for emergency stops.   That can come in handy when you start to lose accuracy. You will also have a shaft lock for a more comfortable and quicker blade change.

With a lot of saws, I noticed that heating was always a precursor to excess removal and tear out. This Makita trim saw model solves the problem with double insulations. The lock-off button will also prevent the saw from making unintentional cuts. It is a safety feature.

The saw is powered by an 8.0 am motor.  The cutting speed is 8000 RPM. I found this to be just enough to handle sturdy wood frames but can be too rough on soft boards. Other features include the fact that the Makita 5005BA 5-1/2-Inch is lightweight. You will get to work for longer without feeling the strain on your hand.

The Makita saw comes with a socket wrench, rip fence and combination blade. Its weight is less than 6.8 pounds. It also features a dust collection bag for capturing all that emanates from the process.  The included lever enables for retraction of the blade guard when making plunge cuts. Otherwise, the blade stabilizers allow stable blade rotation and accurate cuts.

Makita Pros & Cons

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Pros
  • Lightweight design
  • Left design enhances the visibility of the cutting line
  • Lock-off button to prevent unintentional startups
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Cons
  • It has a small knob
  • The base plate is thin
  • Hard to set the blade at a right angle to the table

2. SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw

Sale
  • Powerful 14-amp motor delivers 5,300-RPM for greater speed and faster cuts
  • 7-1/4-in carbide-tipped blade included. Spindle lock for easy blade changes.
  • 51° bevel capacity for a wide variety of cuts. Arbor size: 5/8 inches, cord length: 6 feet
  • Lightweight 6.95-lb design reduces fatigue
  • Dust blower keeps line-of-cut free of sawdust for improved visibility.Anti-snag lower guard reduces snags when making narrow cut-offs

Last update on 2019-06-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

With the Skil 5280-01 saw you get a carbide tipped Steel blade with 18 teeth. This saw has a left side blade just as in the Makita 5005BA 5-1/2-Inch Circular Saw for greater visibility when cutting.  The feature will help you cut with increased precision.

The build is compact with a ball bearing construction for stabilization when working. Its motor is high torque using 15 amps for enhanced cutting power. The depth of cutting with the Skil 5280-01 saw is 1-3/4 inches at 90 degrees, and at 45 degrees the depth is 1-5/16 inches.

This trim saw is also lightweight, weighing mere 8.7-pounds, which is slightly lighter than the Makita 5-1/2 inch saw. Buyers also get a 2-year warranty. I used it to cut 4×8 sheet goods and some heavy 7/8 inch flooring. Despite its lightweight nature, it compromises nothing on performance.

I am right handed, and so I found the left side blade to be highly convenient. More than that, you can adjust the depth of cut from the back. The adjustment knob is conveniently located for ease of use.

Skil Pros & Cons

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Pros
  • Carbide tipped teeth for strength and durability
  • Lightweight thus less fatiguing
  • Comes with a warranty
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Cons
  • Carbide tooth  blades are hard to find
  • Not an excellent performer with angled cuts on 2 bys
  • Cutting straight is hard – the blade guard keeps moving out of place

3. Porter-Cable PCE381K 5.5 Amp 4-1/2-Inch Trim Saw

Sale
  • 5.5 Amp compact circular saw, running at 3,500 PRM for power and fast cutting speeds
  • Lightweight and compact unit for easy maneuvering
  • 1-11/16" depth of cut, cuts 2x material in single pass
  • 0-45 degree bevel capacity for variety of cuts
  • Dust port with vacuum adapter keeps your work area clean

Last update on 2019-06-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Porter-Cable PCE381K 4-1/2-inch is a compact trim saw running on a 4.5 amp motor. Its speed is 4,500 RPM, the most ideal for trim saws.  This speed can handle plywood without over tearing but is also sufficient to handle hardwood and 2 by 4s.

This saw is a worm gear drive with 100 % ball bearings. At 90 degrees its cutting depth is 1-5/16 inch and at 45 degrees it is 1-1/16 inch.  For durability and strength, the saw uses a 20 tooth blade that is carbide brazed.

PC 314 was one of my earliest trim saws. I found it useful for my woodworking adventures as well as for general home improvement and repair projects. It weighs 7 pounds, which is slightly more than the SKIL HD5510 6.5 Amp 5-1/2-Inch saw and the Makita 5005BA 5-1/2-Inch Circular Saw. That can be a bummer if you are looking for super light saws.

Porter Cable is a reputable manufacturer of power tools, so I went on this knowing I wouldn’t be disappointed. The PCE381K 4-1/2 inch saw comes with a one-year limited warranty. It is a compact unit with comparatively easier maneuverability.

Porter-Cable Pros & Cons

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Pros
  • The 4,500 RPM speed is ideal for trimming without over tearing
  • Can cut 2x materials in a single pass
  • Facilitates 0-45 degree angle for a variety of cuts
  • Has a dust port with a vacuum adapter to clear debris
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Cons
  • Not easy to cut straight even when using a saw guide
  • No spindle lock for changing the blade
  • Challenging to make bevel adjustments because if the knurled knobs
  • Motor feels underpowered
  • One has to check oil levels constantly

4. Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2 inch Compact Saw

Sale
  • Compact but powerful 5-amp electric motor, matching performance of full-size saws at 3,500 rpm
  • At only 5 lbs., is 50% lighter than conventional 7-1/4" circular saws, cuts through 2x4s in a single pass
  • Left-handed blade design provides remarkable cut-line visibility
  • Slim, inline grip design provides great comfort, balance, and control; maneuverable for overhead cuts
  • The saw's maximum cutting depth at 90 degrees is 1-11/16" and its bevel capacity at 45 degrees is 1-1/8".Arbor Size:3/8 inches

Last update on 2019-06-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is another versatile and compact trim saw with an ergonomic design for comfortable working.  The ergonomic design helps with your grip for accurate cuts. On top of that, you will have a lock-off switch to prevent accidental powering. A metal inner liner and an outer guard help to maintain its durability through the toughest of jobs.

A covetable feature, one you will not find in the Porter-Cable 314, SKIL HD5510 or the Makita 5005BA trim saws is the laser guide system that helps with precise cutting. You will be able to cut places and angles not possible with other trim saws. You can manage bevel cuts with a depth of 1 ⅛ inch.

The Rockwell RK3441K comes with a level indicator that will enable you to adjust the depth of cut as per your needs.   The saw weighs a mere 5 pounds, and its speed is 3500 RMP. As per the buying guide, this low RPM is ideal for smoother finishes.

It has a depth indicator level that allows you to change the depth of the blade easily. And speaking of the blade, this model is sold as a bare tool, but you can also opt to get the kit, which includes diamond grit saw blade.

Rockwell Pros & Cons

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Pros
  • Laser guide for precise cutting
  • Lock off switch for safety
  • Ergonomic design for long hours of working
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Cons
  • Lock off is to the left, an  inconvenient for lefties
  • Not powerful enough for tougher jobs

5. Genesis GCS545C Small Handheld Saw

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  • Add the powerful, compact, and lightweight control grip 4-1/2 in. Compact circular saw to your tool set today!
  • Powerful - 5.8 amp motor and 3500 RPM uses triple-gear reduction for maximum torque | Cut through 2x material with ease without using a heavy and bulky 7-1/4" Circular saw.
  • Convenient - quickly cuts through all 2x material with included tungsten-carbide-tipped blade | with 4-1/2" blades, you don't have to keep larger blades around for those smaller projects to cut 2x materials!
  • Clean - built-in dust port and vacuum adaptor keeps cutting area Clear of debris | connect to your shop Vac with the vacuum adapter To keep your garage, workspace, benchtop clear of debris!
  • Versatile Replacement blades are available: 24T TCT (Gacsb451) and 60T HSS saw blade (Gacsb452)

Last update on 2019-06-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Genesis trim saw runs on a 5.8 amp motor. Its triple gear reduction enhances torque while reducing the risk of damage to the gears.  The saw is lightweight at 6 pounds and features an ergonomic grip. You can work with it using one hand and use the other to steady the wood.

Genesis GCS545C trim saw has a speed of 3500 RPM, and its cutting depth at 90 degrees is 1-11/16 inch.  The depth of cut and angles are adjustable too. Using the rip guide that comes with the saw you will be able to make long accurate cuts. The saw uses a carbide brazed blade, but you might want to upgrade that when working with hardwood or metal.

Genesis Pros & Cons

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Pros
  • Comfortable handle design
  • Powerful motor
  • Depth of cut is adjustable
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Cons
  • Not ideal for larger projects
  • The blade will falter fast, needing upgrading

The Best Trim Saw

For woodworking projects, I choose the Rockwell RK3441K every day. Its features are superior, including a laser guiding system for accurate small cuts and a depth level indicator that will streamline your work. Its other desirable features include a balanced speed of 3500 RPM and a lock off system for safety.

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