Milwaukee 2830 M18 7-1/4” Rear Handle Saw Review – Lots Of Power, Nary A Worm

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milwaukee 2830

What's This?This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. Wanna start an argument on your job site? Ask the framing carpenters which type of saw is better: Sidewinder or worm drive. Either type will get the job done, but most framers will be happy to tell you why THEIR choice is superior. Sidewinders are faster and lighter; worm drives have more torque. And yada yada yada… One thing both camps agree on: The saw had better have plenty of power. Until fairly recently, the only way to get that kind of power was with a corded saw. Milwaukee recently introduced a cordless rear-handle saw, which they claim has the power of a 15-amp corded tool. Join us as we explore that claim and make some sawdust with the Milwaukee 2830 Rear Handle Saw.

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The worm-free Milwaukee 2830 7-1/4″ rear-handle saw

To get the level of power pros demand, Milwaukee came up with a totally new electronics package. They also designed a new Powerstate brushless motor specifically for the Milwaukee 2830. When the saw is powered by the big dog 12.0 Ah battery, Milwaukee says the saw can make up to 570 cuts in 2x4s on a single charge. That’s a lot of sawdust! Here’s a list of the specs from Milwaukee; take a peek, then we’ll take a cutting look at the saw’s many features:

• POWERSTATE brushless motor: purposely built for the M18 FUEL rear handle 7-1/4 in. circular saw to generate the power and performance of a 15 Amp corded circular saw
• REDLINK PLUS intelligence: ensures optimal performance and provides overload protection to prevent damage to the tool and battery during heavy applications while still maintaining compatibility across the entire M18 system
• REDLITHIUM High Output HD12.0 battery pack: provides 50% more power and runs 50% cooler versus standard REDLITHIUM HD packs, superior pack construction provides the industry’s best protection against jobsite conditions (sold separately)
• Generates 15 Amp corded power
• Cuts faster than 15 Amp corded
• Up to 570 cuts per charge
• Electric blade brake
• LED work light
• No gear oiling required
• Multi-size rafter hook
• Magnesium shoe and guards
• Max. depth of cut at 90°: 2-1/2”
• Max. depth of cut at 45°: 1-7/8”
• Includes 7-1/4 in. blade and wrench

What’s In The Red Box?

Milwaukee offers the new saw in two configurations: In a bare tool version, as the Milwaukee 2830-20, and in kit form, as the Milwaukee 2830-21HD. Both versions include a blade and blade wrench with the saw. If you pony up for the kit, you’ll also get a High Output HD 12.0 Ah battery and a rapid charger, along with a generously-sized contractor bag to schlep it all around in.

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The Milwaukee 2830 kit includes a giant battery and charger and a Red contractor bag.

The Milwaukee 2830 will run on any M18 battery, although bigger is definitely better. If you’re already on the Milwaukee M18 platform, and have a good-sized battery and charger, opting for the bare tool will save you about $180 at current prices. Having said that, if your budget permits, it’s a chance to add the High Output HD12.0 Ah battery, Milwaukee’s most powerful M18 battery, to your collection at a savings. The battery alone retails for $199, and getting the charger and contractor bag further sweetens the deal.

Size matters, and the Milwaukee 12.0 Ah battery definitely goes big…

Lighten Up

If you’ve ever used a worm drive saw, you know they have a bit of heft to them. The Milwaukee 2830 rear handle saw, even though it’s not a true worm drive saw, maintains the tradition for rear-handled saws, weighing 10 lbs. 3.5 oz. without the battery. Sliding in the big boss battery brings the weight up to 13 lbs. 10 oz. While that’s not featherweight, it’s lighter than most corded worm drive saws, including the 15-lb. Milwaukee corded version. Milwaukee used strong magnesium for the shoe and guards on the saw, which helps keep the weight down.

Magnesium in the shoe and guards adds strength and lowers weight.

Speaking of light, the saw also has an LED light that illuminates when you depress the trigger lock-off button. While I was skeptical how useful it would be, after using the saw several times in less-than-stellar lighting conditions, I’m glad it was there.

The LED does a nice job illuminating the cut line.

When it’s time to take a break from all your slicing and dicing, the multi-size rafter hook makes it easy to hang the saw. The hook folds quickly and completely out of the way when the boss shows up, making it fast and easy to get back to work.

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A large, sturdy rafter hook swings out for stowage between cuts…
And tucks in out of the way when it’s time to get to work.

The Blade Runner’s Guide To The Milwaukee 2830

The first thing to note abut the Milwaukee 2830 rear handle saw is that it is left-bladed, meaning the blade is on the left when looking at it from the rear. For those used to a typical right-bladed circular saw, this will present a minor learning curve, but once you get used to it, it’s actually a pretty sweet setup.

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Similar to most worm-drive saws, the Milwaukee 2830 is left bladed.

The Milwaukee 2830 uses a standard 7-1/4” circular saw blade, and a 24-tooth framing blade is included with the saw. Blade installation is easy and intuitive, using the included blade wrench, which has a snug storage slot beneath the handle. A directional arrow, and the word “OFF,” are helpfully stamped into the flange, to minimize unnecessary straining and foul language caused by the retaining bolt’s reverse thread.

Blade installation is fast and easy…
And the blade wrench stows snugly under the handle.

Something to be aware of: The arbor on the Milwaukee 2830 requires a blade with a diamond-shaped cutout. Milwaukee makes a variety of excellent blades to fit the saw, but any good-quality blade can be used. Just make sure whoever does the blade shopping looks for one with the diamond knockout, rated for at least 5,800 RPM.

Make sure your replacement blade has a diamond knockout.

The blade on the Milwaukee 2830 spins at a brisk 5,800 RPM, far surpassing the 4,400 RPM top end of its corded worm drive cousin. Milwaukee incorporated a blade brake that stops the blade very quickly; in our testing, the blade consistently stopped in about a second. That’s a great safety feature for those of us who like to finish the workday with the same number of digits we started with.

Covering All The Angles

Adjusting bevel and depth of cut on the Milwaukee 2830 is easy. To adjust the bevel, flip up the bevel adjusting lever, tilt the shoe until the angle you want lines up with the top of the pointer, and lock the lever back down. The saw can handle material up to 1-7/8” at a 45° angle, and for those less-than-perfect joints, it can cut at angles up to 53°. The markings are engraved so they won’t wear off, and are fairly easy to read.

Bevel scale markings are etched in, and fairly easy to read

And here’s a Home Fixated insider tip: When I started cutting with the Milwaukee 2830, the bevel adjusting lever blocked the view of the cutting guide notch from certain angles. This can be adjusted by backing out the adjusting lever bolt a couple of turns, and rotating the lever to a position where it’s out of the way when the lever is locked, then re-tightening. It might take a little experimentation, but I easily found a spot where the lever was totally out of the line of sight when locked.

The bevel adjustment lever partially blocked the cut line…
But a quick tweaking got it totally out of the way.

Setting your cutting depth is just as easy. Flip up the adjusting lever at the rear of the blade, push the back of the shoe up or down, and push the lever down to lock it in. An easy-to-read scale and pointer lets you know how low you can go, with a max cutting depth of 2-1/2” at 90°.

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Setting the cutting depth on the Milwaukee 2830 is also fast and easy.

Once you get that blade spinning and kicking up sawdust, there’s another feature you might be interested in, that isn’t mentioned in the description. Included with the Milwaukee 2830 is a vacuum hose adapter. The adapter can be easily attached to the top of the blade guard by removing the screw that holds the dust chute in place, and swapping them out. It probably wouldn’t see much use on a job site where most of the cutting takes place outdoors, but might be a welcome addition for indoor use.

The Milwaukee 2830 also comes with a vacuum hose adapter…
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The adapter installs easily with a single screw.

Putting The Milwaukee 2830 Rear Handle Saw To Work

When the Milwaukee 2830 comes out of the box, it’s almost ready to start spewing sawdust. It just needs a couple of items from the B list – a Blade and a Battery. Installing the blade takes about a minute, and sliding the battery into its recess takes about two seconds. Adjust the bevel and cutting depth if needed, and you’re ready to rip.

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The battery clicks in from above.

The Milwaukee 2830 is a beefy saw with a lot of power. Controlling the beast is easy, thanks to its two handles. The rear handle has a layer of rubber overmold for comfort and a better grip, and the top handle is plain plastic.

The rear handle is roomy, with a layer of rubber overmold…
And the support handle helps steady the beast.

I’m right-handed, and the handle placement makes it easy to get a comfortable grip. Since it’s a left-bladed saw, southpaws are likely to be ecstatic. My wife is one of that minority, and she said it was comfortable to get a grip on, but she would prefer a saw that didn’t weigh as much as a small toddler…

I put the Milwaukee 2830 to work on several projects over a period of a couple of weeks. Its first taste of sawdust came while ripping sheets of plywood for wall sheathing, furring strips and a gable end. It was very easy to control the blade’s path, and the saw cut the plywood effortlessly.

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The Milwaukee 2830 sped through the plywood cuts…

Moving on to thicker stock, I used the saw to rip a bunch of 3/4″ and 1” furring strips out of 2×4 studs. Once again, the Milwaukee 2830 sliced steadily through, following the cut line easily, and with no bogging down or stalling. The saw has a standard slot for an edge guide, which is available as an accessory, for those of us with less-than-perfect guidance systems.

And easily made rip cuts in 2X stock.
The saw has a slot and a clamping knob for an optional rip fence.

To give the saw something a bit more challenging to gnaw on, I made rip cuts along a piece of 4×4 treated lumber. I kept the blade fully buried for the entire cut, and made cuts with the blade at 90°, and with the blade at its full bevel of 53°. The saw again plowed steadily through, with no stalling. I also made cross cuts on a laminated beam, fully 2” thick by 12” wide, and once again the Milwaukee 2830 forged steadily through.

The Milwaukee 2830 forged through a 4×4 with its blade fully buried, at 90°…
And had no trouble with the blade fully beveled to 53°.

Ready To Get A Grip On The Milwaukee 2830 Rear Handle Saw?

Clearly, Milwaukee is targeting professional users with the Milwaukee 2830. Its price puts it out of contention for most casual users, many of whom would also be put off by its weight. Pros are likely to love this saw, though. It’s very robustly built, has a great set of features, and has the power to do anything a 15A corded saw can do. Only faster, and without the hassle of a power cord.

Run time with the big 12 Ah battery is amazing. Milwaukee claims up to 570 cuts in 2x4s on a charge, and I wouldn’t be surprised. I used it primarily for rip cuts, which are more demanding, and I never ran out of juice.

milwaukee 2830
The Milwaukee 2830 was as powerful as any corded circular saw I’ve used.

Milwaukee knows that pros also demand reliability as well as performance. They demonstrate their confidence in the Milwaukee 2830 rear handle saw by backing it with a five-year warranty, and three years on the battery. Pick one up from the Home Depot, and you’ll get 90 risk-free days to get an argument going on YOUR job site!

Buy the Milwaukee 2830-21HD kit from the Home Depot:

Buy Now - via Home Depot

Buy the Milwaukee 2830-20 bare tool from the Home Depot:

Buy Now - via Home Depot

I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with Home Fixated in sponsored content. As a part of the sponsorship, Home Fixated is receiving compensation for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are our own words. This post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

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About Phil

Phil’s path to the pinnacle of success as HomeFixated’s Senior Writer was long and twisted. At various stages of his life, he worked as a framing carpenter, attended motorcycle mechanics school, served as an Army MP, did a hot and itchy stint installing insulation in Phoenix, owned and operated a small contracting firm doing residential renovations, and worked as an employee of a major airline (Motto: We’re not happy ‘til YOU’RE not happy). He is currently semi-retired, but continues to take on little projects, such as the total renovation of an old farmhouse. Yes, he is a slow learner. Future projects include a teardown restoration of his 1965 BMW motorcycle, and designing and building a kick-ass playhouse for his grandsons. Phil loves spending time outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, cool tools, and a cold IPA when beer o'clock rolls around.

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