Circular saw blades come in various sizes, ranging from 4 ½ inches to 8 ½ inches. For general purpose tasks though, the most common are 6 ½ inch and 7 ¼ inch blades. In fact, most circular saws will have either of the two latter blade sizes.
This brings us to the question of today, which blade size is right for you between the two? Well, it largely depends on your needs. Both blade sizes have their pros and cons, and by looking at both, you can deduce which is right for you.
Let’s have a look at what these two standard blade sizes have to offer, and where they excel over the other.
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The 6 ½ inch blade is, of course, smaller than the 7 ¼ inch blade. This translates to less torque being required to spin the 6 ½ inch blade. As such, the 6 ½ inch blade is compatible with saws with smaller motors.
Also, saws with a 6 ½ inch blade are also lightweight. This makes them an ideal option for light tasks around the house. Also, the 6 ½ inch blade is common in cordless saws. The 7 ¼ inch blade requires a little bit more torque.
Therefore, you need a little bit more powerful motor to spin the larger 7 ¼ inch blade. Thus in regards to power efficiency and portability, the 6 ½ inch blade takes the day.
Depth of cut
Depth of cut is how deep a circular saw can cut. The 7 ¼ inch blade offers a deeper cut depth than the smaller 6 ½ inch blade. Most 6 ½ inch saws are incapable of cutting through 1.5-inch thick lumber at a 45-degree angle.
When set to 45 degrees, most 7 ¼ inches can cut up to a maximum depth of 1-⅞ inches. And at 90 degrees, you can cut up to a depth of 2-7/16 inches. Clearly the 7 ¼ inch blade is the undisputed king of the depth of cut between the two.
Circular saws are used to cut a wide variety of materials from wood to metal. However, the type of blade used to cut wood is not the same that cuts metal. This means you need to swap out the blades when you need to cut a different material other than wood.
As such, you need to have several different blades. So how do our two blade sizes fair when it comes to cutting through other materials? In terms of availability, 6 ½ inch metal cutting blades are harder to find than 7 ¼ inch blades.
Therefore, you can easily get 7 ¼ inch blades for cutting a wider variety of materials than 6 ½ inch blades.
While the 6 ½ inch blade is power efficient, saws with this blade tend to be less powerful. More power is required to spin the larger 7 ¼ inch blade. As such, 7 ¼ inch circular saws tend to be more powerful.
This is one of the reasons why you get a deeper max cut depth with a 7 ¼ inch circular saw. Thus if you need power, then go for the 7 ¼ inch blade circular saw.
Cordless vs. corded
Battery-powered cordless circular saws mostly feature the smaller 6 ½ inch blade. On the other hand, corded models predominantly feature the larger 7 ¼ inch blade. While there are 7 ¼ inch cordless models, they are usually bulky.
Cordless 7 ¼ inch needs more battery power, which translates to a bigger battery or two batteries. This additional weight is a disadvantage. However, as already explained 7 ¼ inch circular saws offer more power.
Thus it will depend on what you need. For light-duty tasks, a heavy and powerful saw may be an unnecessary addition to your tools collection. However, when you want to handle more demanding tasks, a corded 7 ¼ inch saw is recommended.
With limited options, if you want to go cordless, you have very few options other than opting for a 6 ½ inch saw.
6 ½ inch circular saw blade pros
- Smaller size translating to improved portability
- Due to the blade being small does not require a lot of power and is thus power efficient
- Most 6 ½ inch saws are cordless, which also helps with portability
- 6 ½ inch circular saws are usually lightweight compared to 7 ¼ inch saws
6 ½ inch circular saw blade cons
- Limited variety in that there are fewer 6 ½ inch blade options
- Will struggle to cut through any wood over 1 inch thick
7 ¼ inch circular saw pros
- Offers a better cut depth and can cut 2×4 with ease compared to a 6 ½ inch blade
- 7 ¼ inch circular saws tend to have more power and can thus hand more demanding tasks
- Most blades on the market are 7 ¼ inches. Therefore, it is easy to find a replacement blade or even a specialized blade e.g., for cutting metal
- Can handle the cutting of certain hardwoods better than 6 ½ inch blade
7 ¼ inch circular saw blade cons
- Larger blade sometimes translates to a heavier saw
- Most 7 ¼ inch saws are corded, which limits portability.
So which blade size should you opt for? Well, it depends on what you want to do with the saw. On the one hand, the 6 ½ inch blade is ideal for light-duty tasks around the house. Also, due to its smaller size, you perform cutting jobs in tight spaces with ease.
The 7 ¼ inch blade is an all-round blade. It is for this reason that most circular saws come with this blade size. It has a better maximum cut depth and can handle more demanding tasks. Thus if you want a saw for performing a diverse range of functions, go for a 7 ¼ inch blade size.
In terms of an outright winner between the two, we would have to go with the 7 ¼ inches. For the simple reason that it is a more complete and available blade size.