Tool Test Drive – Milwaukee M18 Fuel 7 1/4″ Cordless Circular Saw

There is nothing more infuriating than being knee deep in a project, then realizing you don’t have the correct material or tool. It stops you dead in your tracks and you’re left spending your Saturday at the hardware store instead of working.

For instance, we were working on the tabletop for Project Nelson. We had planed, measured and glued up the top, and were just about to square up the edges. See it’s a lot easier to do a rough cut to length of all your boards, glue them together then draw a nice square line and then cut the top to square. We were just ready to cut when we realized we didn’t have the tool we needed. The tabletop was built with 1 3/4″ pine, and our corded circular saw had given up the ghost on the last project. Our cordless circular saw was a 6 1/2″, and does not have the cut depth to cut through 1 3/4″. Womp womp.

Our current saw with a blade depth if 1 1/2". Not deep enough to cut through our project.
Our current saw with a blade depth if 1 1/2″. Not deep enough to cut through our project.


We were at a standstill. What to do? Our options were to buy, rent or borrow. I don’t like renting woodworking tools from the big box store. They tend to have terrible blades, and it’s not worth risking your project on. So that left us with buy or borrow. I hate rushing to buy a tool without doing my research first. Borrow it is.

We happen have made friends with our local tool rep; James. I actually call him Toolman James. (Get it, like Tim the Toolman Taylor?) I shot him out an email saying “Hey James! We’re in a pickle! Do you have a circular saw we could borrow?” He responded with “Actually I do! But you have to promise to give it back, it’s brand new.” Fair enough. I can be a tad bit delinquent with my tool returns.

James sent over the saw, we took one look at it, and were pretty darn happy to have Toolman James as a friend. He sent us over the brand spankin new Milwaukee M18 Fuel 7 1/4″ cordless circular saw. Holy cow. Now this is a saw. Where our 6 1/2″  saw maxed out at a 1 1/2″ cut depth, the Milwaukee cuts through 2 1/2″. This is exactly what we needed.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 7 1/4" Cordless Circular Saw
Milwaukee M18 Fuel 7 1/4″ Cordless Circular Saw

With saw in hand, we headed out to the workshop to do some test cuts. Cordless saws can often have a tough time of cutting thick lumber. They can burn and bind, and generally not have enough power. Our first cut was to put it to the test. We grabbed a scrap 2×12, drew a square line, and El Granto handheld the cut.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 7 1/4" Cordless Circular Saw
Making a test cut

The saw had no problems with the 2×12. It cut through it like butter. No sticking or burning, and the best part; little to no tear out (even with the 24 tooth framing blade). The cut was spectacular. I was also impressed with El Granto’s cut. For handheld it was immaculate. When I commented on his prowess, he deferred credit to the saw saying it was smooth, didn’t kick back, fight him or try to drift. The saw was also incredibly quiet for such a big & powerful saw. It also has a handy LED to light up your cut area and a hook on top so you can hang the saw while not in use which is very handy for a large saw like this.

Impressed, we got ready for our big cuts. We set up a fence, raised the blade height so it would cut through our lumber, but the motor wouldn’t get in the way of our fence, and made the first of two cuts.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 7 1/4" Cordless Circular Saw
Making the cut

Holy crap. The cut was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Even on the 30″ span, the brushless motor didn’t run out of power in the least. The cut was clean with no tear out, burning or blade wobble. The thin kerf blade didn’t produce a ton of sawdust, and the extended capacity M18 battery didn’t even register a drop on charge. It is hands down the most powerful circular saw I’ve ever used, and that’s corded or cordless. It has a heavy duty ridged metal base, a 50 degree miter swivel, and adjustable blade depth.

Milwaukee M18 Fuel 7 1/4" Cordless Circular Saw
Now that is a deep blade. Our lumber is 1 3/4″ thick, and the blade can cut even thicker, all the way up to 2 1/2″

A second hand hold makes it comfortable for two handed use, yet the saw is operable one handed. It’s powerful yet not heavy and unwieldy. I think the saw is perfect for job site use, yet still accessible to the amateur woodworker. Overall, I give the saw 4 1/2 hammers out of five.

five out of five
Milwaukee M18 Fuel 7 1/4" Cordless Circular Saw
Overall, an absolutely great saw.

Now, I need to think up some creative excuses for when Toolman James asks when I’m giving back his saw. “The dog ate it” really is not applicable in this situation.



Project Nelson

We have started a new project in the Storefront garage; Project Nelson. We are making a Modern Farmhouse table and matching benches for a gentleman named Nelson. The table will be pretty much exactly the same as Dan’s table. As such, I won’t be boring you all with another build how-to from start to finish. I will however be popping in to share a few tips and tricks with you guys along the way, and keeping you up to date on the progress.

Progress got started this past weekend. A Zipvan was rented. Can I mention again how fantastic this concept is? We can have access to a large fully loaded cargo van without having to well… store or pay for a large cargo van. Instead we can get one once a month when we absolutely need it, and pay $30 or so for an hour and a half. With said Zipvan, we headed to Downtown Lumber and picked up lumber. We are using Canadian kiln dried 2″ thick pine for this project. (Although for the record, Downtown Lumber also sells 2×12 oak at about $18/board foot.)

Zipvan Rental

With lumber in the garage and a fine fall day, we planed all the lumber. My goodness, its amazing when you have the right tool for the job.

Turning this:

Pine Before Planing

Into this:

Pine After Planing

Will save me hours sanding!

With all that lovely smooth pine, we cut everything to length, giving our new Milwaukee 12″ sliding compound miter saw a workout.

Milwaukee Miter Saw

Maaaaan, the last table we built with our old Mastercraft saw. Comparing that saw to the Milwaukee is night and day. The beast Milwaukee cut through that pine like butter, not burning, sticking or generally seeming like it had to try very hard at all. AND it is accurate. Our old saw liked to waiver. Slowly creeping out of true and making us perpetually need to square it up, and never being happy with the results. We did a test cut with the Milwaukee, checked it with a square, and BAM it was perfect. That makes my life ever so much easier.

With everything cut to length. We glued up the table top, added some back supports, and filled a few knots with epoxy. Is anyone interested in how to epoxy knot holes? If so, let me know, and I will give a how to. While the epoxy & glue were drying, we cut down the legs, and got started on stain samples for Nelson. A good days progress. We hope to have Nelsons table finished and ready for delivery in a month.

We also got a bit of work done on the powder room, and will have a progress update for you later in the week.