Skil 20V Brushless Circular Saw Review CR541301
In the quest for a good-quality affordable cordless circular saw, several brands stand out. Skil Tools recently revamped its entire lineup of tools with both brushed and brushless models. These new tools combine both power and value into some impressive packages. While Bosch all but relegated Skil into a lower-than-entry-level brand, under new management, Skil Tools now produces some great cordless power tools. One of their latest products, the Skil 20V brushless circular saw, positions itself as the topmost performer of three offerings. The Skil CR541302 kit prices out at around $186.98 with 4Ah battery and PWRJump charger. That’s less than you’ll pay for almost any other name brand cordless 18V or 20V saw kit.
What You Need to KnowThe Skilsaw 20V brushless circular saw has the price, power, and features to attract everyone from tradesmen to DIY enthusiasts. Its power and speed compete well against Craftsman, Kobalt Tools, and even Makita subcompact circular saws. Given the growing number of Skil tools, this brand is one to keep your eyes on. It could really fill some gaps for trades where you don’t exactly need beam-ripping power.
Skil 20V Brushless Circular Saw Features
Before even testing this new brushless circular saw, I took inventory of its key features. This blade-right 6.5-inch circular saw operates on the company’s 20V battery packs. It comes with the 6-amp PWRJump charger which charges a Skil battery to a usable level in just 5 minutes. The idea is to let you make those last several cuts without having to wait for an entire charge cycle. To fully charge the included 4.0 Ah battery pack, the PWRJump charger takes about 50 minutes.
Skilsaw economizes by using a stamped steel shoe. They do, however, provide an adjustment screw (not pictured) for getting the saw perfectly square to the bevel gauge.
Cutting Depth and Bevel
With the included 6.5-inch blade, you can get a 2-7/16-inch depth of cut at 90-degrees per our measurements. The Skil documentation drops that a tiny bit down to 2-13/32.
I was also able to get through a 2×6 at the max 50-degree bevel, leaving the cut piece dangling by just a sliver of wood. A quick flick of the finger and it fell to the ground.
Watch out for Low Riders
It’s important that, if you use a speed square as a straight edge, you put the lip of the square at the back edge of the cut. Cutting at the maximum 2-7/16” depth of cut the Skilsaw allows, the motor housing sits just above the shoe. Place the raised edge of the square at the front, and the motor will hit it before you complete a full-depth cut. Place it at the back, and your cut finishes perfectly. This is not an uncommon situation.
Skil adopted a soft-start on their brushless motor as well as a blade brake that stops the saw in less than a second. It’s not Saw Stop table saw quick, but it’s at least as fast as saws from Milwaukee, Makita, and Metabo HPT.
We clocked a no-load blade speed of 5700 rpm using our tachometer. That’s actually a little higher than the rated speed of 5400, but we were using a fresh 4 Ah battery pack. Notably, the speed dropped significantly—about 1000 rpm—when the battery was running down to one LED. Keep that in mind since the power management features of this saw could make your final cuts a bit more difficult if you don’t keep a fresh battery installed.
Skil used lots of plastic on this tool. Nothing broke during our testing, but I much prefer a metal lever mechanism for setting the depth of cut. In addition, like the Makita subcompact saw, the Skil brushless 20V uses a plastic blade guard and lever.
Using the Skil 20V Brushless Circular Saw
Testing the saw consisted of making lots of rips in both plywood and OSB. We also cross-cut a lot of dimensional lumber. The saw felt confident during cuts, but it needs to spin up fully before engaging the material. Most brushless saws will (correctly) stall out when you start the blade while it touches the workpiece. This functions as a safety mechanism against immediate kickback. The Skil might be a tad more sensitive than most in this area—so be sure to spin it up, then ease into the cut.
I didn’t experience the tool bogging down during any ripping. Power seemed adequate for any reasonable ripping and cross-cutting work. When doing a full-depth rip cut into non-pressure-treated lumber, the tool felt very confident. If you pushed it too hard, the motor would go into protection and stop the blade. If you maintained a reasonable pace, however, letting the blade do the cutting, the saw plowed through the cut.
We ran the same test with some Makita and Milwaukee saws, and I came away impressed by the consistency of the cutting speed and motor. Some saws will raise and lower RPMs almost erratically in order to keep the blade spinning. The Skil did a great job maintaining a more constant pace. It made for a more confident cut.
Dust Collection Woes
Skil provides a dust collection attachment for this 20V cordless circular saw. The only problem is they went with a 1-3/8-inch O.D. port. None of the dust extractors or vacuums we had in the shop could connect to it—inside or out. That list included DeWalt, Makita, Bosch, Ridgid, and Ryobi. Obviously, adapters exist, but moments like this reiterate our call for some form of standardization in this area.
I found it easy to raise and lower the depth of cut as well as adjust bevel. Bevel cuts were smooth and, as mentioned above, we got a full depth crosscut on 2X material at 50 degrees.
As it turns out, I really like the Skilsaw 20V brushless circular saw. The price, power, and features make for a great package. It makes for some great competition against the likes of Craftsman, Kobalt Tools, and even the Makita subcompact line. Battery life seemed good, and the amount of tools Skil brings to market seems to be increasing regularly. This tool clearly targets the home user, but I wonder if more and more Pros won’t start investigating Skil. This saw could really fill a gap and regularly take care of less-demanding tasks.
Skil 20V Cordless Circ Saw Specifications
- Arbor: 5/8 in. (16mm)
- LED light
- Weight (w/4Ah battery): 8.0 lbs.
- No load speed: 5,400 rpm
- Blade: 6-1/2 in. (165 mm)
- Cutting Depth (45 degrees): 1-11/16 in. (43 mm)
- Cutting Depth (90 degrees): 2-13/32 in. (61 mm)
- Charger: 6A PWRJump
- Charging time: 30 mins for 2.0Ah battery; 40 mins for 2.5Ah battery; 50 mins for 4.0Ah battery; 60 mins for 5.0Ah battery
- Includes: 4 Ah battery, PWRJump charger (CR541302) – $186.98
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