Rockwell Compact Circular Saw Review / Giveaway

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I use my circular saw more than any other tool in my tool arsenal. It cuts, rips, miters and works wonders on all sheet goods. So when I had the chance to review the Rockwell 4-1/2 –Inch Compact Circular Saw, I got excited – and got out a bunch of stuff to cut. It does almost all the same stuff my other circular saw does, but it’s so small, I can almost fit it in my tool pouch. Heck, I might even use to make spiral cuts on the post-holiday ham.

Devouring a 2x4
Devouring a 2×4

When I first started framing years ago, there was a man on one of the crews who had a small 4-1/2 –inch circular saw. We all laughed at his “baby saw” but he was adamant about using it because cutting with a conventional circular saw ended up hurting his shoulder by the end of the day. I have to admit, I liked the idea of carrying around less weight and I conspired to use his saw when he wasn’t looking. After I fired it up and ripped through a few sheet goods, I started to see the benefits of using a smaller saw. However, when it came time to rip or cut 2×4’s or larger materials, I would have been better off using a hand saw – it just didn’t have the cutting depth or the power to make it useful for the job.

Rockwell Compact Circular Saw – I’m a Believer

That earlier experience in my life with a 4-1/2 –inch circular saw didn’t make me think good thoughts about the Rockwell 4-1/2 –Inch Compact Circular Saw, I was skeptical to say the least once it was on its way from Rockwell for our review. But, just like any good tool, there was more to meet the eye and after I got it out of the box, I had a newly found interest in using the saw.

It also helped that I did a little research on this nifty compact saw before it showed up on my door step. I’d read a few reviews and some other articles about the saw, but what really sparked my attention was that Popular Science (one of my favorite new tool and gadget magazines) voted the saw as one of the top 100 innovations of 2013. How could this little saw be considered one of the greatest advancements in compact circular saw technology?

Compact Cojones

Rips faster than a cheap pair of pants
Rips faster than a cheap pair of pants

The Rockwell 4-1/2 –Inch Compact Circular Saw has some serious power for such a small package. That’s because the fine engineers over at Rockwell crammed a contractor-grade gear box and a powerful 5-amp motor into a small handle. The super-thin 4-1/2 –inch blade spins at an amazing 3,500 rpm and plunges 2-inches (sort of: more like 1-11/16″ deep) into the material, so even if you’re rip cutting a yellow pine 2×12 (Which I did btw), you’re still going to cut through it just as you would with a conventional circular saw.

Unfortunately, when you’re cutting on a 45 degree angle, you’re only going to be able to cut 1-1/8 –inch deep. But when I used it side by side with my Hitachi 7-1/4 –inch making a straight cut, it made the same cuts without bogging down. I don’t see myself doing bevel cuts with this saw, so I’m not too worried about the cutting depth on an angle.

Heavyweight Use; Lightweight Handling

It seems like it’s a common reoccurrence. Whenever, I’ve got to break out the circular saw, it never fails that I’ve got to lift the beast up over my head to make a cut. It’s not only hard to see what the heck I’m cutting, but it’s also really heavy since I don’t have a forearm like Popeye. That’s another benefit of using the Rockwell 4-1/2 –Inch Compact Circular Saw. It weighs a mere five pounds. That’s almost twice as light as a conventional 7-1/4 –inch circular saw, It’s easy to cut up over my head without wearing myself out. Best of all, I can actually see what I’m going to cut since it features a left-handed blade design.

Friends with Benefits

It even does dainty cuts without excessive tear-out.
It even does dainty cuts without excessive tear-out.

But the Rockwell 4-1/2 –Inch Compact Circular Saw, isn’t just a circular saw for ripping the occasional sheet of plywood or a 2×4. It’s a real world tool that has two distinct features that gives it a special spot in my tool box. The vacuum port and attachment keeps all of the saw dust down to a bare minimum when working indoors. That’s something my big boy circular saw just doesn’t have.

It also comes with a cutting guide which is a nice feature to have when you’re ripping or cutting sheet goods. Because the blade is small and thin, it tends to get off of the cut line a little easier than my larger circular saw. With the addition of the adjustable cutting gauge, it was able to rip off pieces of 1×10 easily. I didn’t even have to break out the table saw – Huzzah!

All’s well that Ends Well with Rockwell

I was really shocked at how much I like this tool. I thought for sure it would be a wimpy cutting tool that would spend the rest of its days locked in my tool shed. The only thing I have to say that I don’t really like about the saw is that the safety switch is a little too high up on the handle, making it tough to engage unless you’ve got huge hands.

But I have to admit, it’s slowly replacing my circular saw for the much of my basic cutting. And priced right at just under $100 (or potentially FREE in our January 2014 Free Stuff Giveaway), it’s easy to see why this tool is constantly sold out both online and in stores. All in all, if you’re looking for a compact circular saw to take care of your light work at home, then the Rockwell 4-1/2 –Inch Compact Circular Saw is the perfect saw for you. If you work in the construction industry, this saw is also a great tool to have for quick cuts. When it comes to precision work, I’d still rather have my trusty 7-1/4 -inch circular saw though.

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About Eric

Since Eric built his first skateboard ramp in his parents driveway; he’s breathed, slept and eaten DIY construction. As a second generation master carpenter who runs two Florida-based construction firms, Eric’s had the chance to work on everything from Mcmansions to your local mall to the cat lady’s bathroom. So when it comes to dealing with construction s@#t; he’s the man—literally. There isn’t a tool or construction material that Eric hasn’t used and abused, and if there is; it’s rocking in a dark corner nervously waiting for him to show up for work.

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22 thoughts on “Rockwell Compact Circular Saw Review / Giveaway”

  1. They say you can tell a mans wealth by the toys he has accumulated. Then from what I’ve seen and read, all I would need is to add the Rockwell 4-1/2 –Inch Compact Circular my few tools and I’d be King of Wealth

  2. Looks like a great little saw! I’d love to add it to my arsenal of tools! Rockwell is coming out with alot of innovative tools. They are keeping better known tool manufactures on their toes! Great job on this saw Rockwell it looks like a very useful tool!

  3. I have a friend who has an old model makita 4 1/2 inch circ. he swears by it for making cutouts for electrical in drywall. I’ve never seen him do it but I know he still uses it today even though I believe makita has discontinued that saw. Something about the shape and size being perfect for cutting a laying out without measuring. Might be interesting to see if anybody’s done this before or if the rockwell would lend it’s self to the same function.

  4. Sounds a lot easier for 2x cuts than a big worm drive saw. What is the availability of replacement blades like. I haven’t paid much attention before, but wouldn’t want to have a saw and only be able to get blades online or a specialty shop.

  5. This would be great for the amount of cutting that I do on projects around the house. My regular circ saw is about 12-14 pounds and this would be much more convenient except for really thick cuts.

  6. I’m looking forward to giving this a tryout. May not replace my Powermatic ts but I’m sure it’s handy for quick cuts and sheet cuts.

  7. I build a lot of bird houses and bird feeders. Looks like this saw would be perfect for all of the light cutting I do.

  8. Rockwell seems to be leading the pack when it comes to innovation. I’d be willing to try this saw for no other reason than the success I have had with their Sonic Crafter.

  9. Now that my husband (and ONLY my husband) is getting older, his shoulder has begun to bother him. This would certainly make things easier for him. thanks!

    • I’d have to say it screams just as loud as any conventional 7 1/4 circular saw. And when I was ripping heavier yellow pine stock, it really screamed like a banshee. It’s loud!


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