Laser Cutting Guide
We're not big fans of lasers. The Craftsman and Ryobi saws include lasers, and we experimented using them as an aid for lining up the saw and following a line. If you're not an experienced carpenter, you may find this feature helpful. But we wouldn't factor this into the decision when considering one saw over another.
Onboard Blade Wrench
When it comes time to change your saw blade, it's nice to have the wrench handy. The Black & Decker, DeWalt, Kobalt, Makita, Ridgid, Ryobi and Skil saws have wrenches or Allen wrenches stored on the saw or attached to the cord. We like saws that also allow you to use an Allen wrench to change the blade. Allen wrenches engage better, reducing skinned knuckles from a blade wrench that slips. With the exception of the Black & Decker, all the saws include a spindle lock to prevent the motor shaft from rotating while you loosen the blade nut—an essential feature, in our book.
Best Overall: Makita 5007MG
Cost: $150 Weight: 10.3 lbs.
When we tested the saws, we ranked each one in several categories including bevel and height adjustments, comfort, quality of cut and so on. This saw was the hands-down winner. From its ingenious bevel stop setting to its work light, the saw includes every feature you could want. The handle and levers are large and comfortable. The bevel detents are perfect, and the depth-of-cut scale is easy to read. Of course it's also the most expensive saw in the group. But if you can afford it, you can't go wrong with this saw.