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.



Essential Tools for the DIY Beginner

Recently I was fortunate enough to receive an invite to a DIY 101 seminar put on in conjunction with Rambling Renovators and Home Depot. It was a super fun event where we got to learn about gardening, tools and spray painting with the Home Depot pros. I learned a ton of new things (especially in the gardening area, as I totally have a black thumb!) Check out this excellent recap by Jen at Rambling Renovators (and you can even spy my mug trying out the cordless brad nailer!)

Sylvan teaching us how to not murder our plans.
Sylvan teaching us how to not murder our plans (we ended up making our own herb gardens to take home!)
Rick the tool guy giving us the down low on the coolest new tools
Rick the tool guy giving us the down low on the coolest new tools

The seminar on tools got me thinking. El Granto and I have been very lucky and have received a lot of our DIY tools as presents from family. Some hand me downs, and some Christmas and birthday gifts. I still have the hammer my dad gave me when he dropped me off at my first apartment in college. He left me with a small array of tools; hammer, screw drivers, and a little tin full of misc screws and nails. He didn’t want me to be the girl hanging pictures and assembling Ikea furniture with a butter knife. Thanks Dad!

We now have quite the tool arsenal, but if you’re just starting out on the path to DIY getting your needed tools can be an expensive and overwhelming experience. So to help you out, I have devised a list of the best items to purchase to get you started on most tasks.

Essential Tools for the DIY Beginner

Miter saw. This workhouse will have you making precise, clean cuts for everything from trim and moldings, to framing and furniture. To start out, all you need is a basic 10″ single bevel compound miter. If you outgrow this down the line, corded tools hold their value well, and you’ll be able to resell on Kijiji or Craigslist.

Ryobi Saw
Ryobi 10 In. Compound Mitre Saw With Laser $99.00

Good quality tape measure (or two!) You will literally use this non stop. Measure twice really is a motto to live by. Purchase a good quality tape. One that is sturdy, accurate and has a good extension. We currently have FIVE!

DeWALT 25' tape with 13 foot stand out (great for measuring things by yourself) $25.99
DeWALT 25′ tape with 13 foot stand out (great for measuring things by yourself) $25.99

Level. Not only is a level great for well, making things level, but I often use mine as a straight edge and saw guide. Invest in a level, as this is a tool that you will have for years to come.

DeWALT 28" box level. (has rubber shock end caps so if you drop it accidentally its not the end of the world!) $69.99
DeWALT 28″ box level. This fella has rubber shock resistant end caps so if you drop it accidentally (like I am oft to do) you wont be running to the store for a replacement. $69.99

Cordless drill. This is the tool that will probably get the most use in your workshop. From assembling furniture to making short work of little projects, a good drill is essential. Make sure to choose a cordless drill wisely. Choose one that has a good battery life, quick charging time, is lightweight but powerful. This is a tool to invest in. Purchase one with a 1/2″ chuck (3/8 is just too small). Also consider your other battery powered tools, and purchasing a line of products that you can interchange the batteries. It means less chargers, and having backup batteries ready when you need them. I am scoping out a new drill (El Granto’s is a bit too big and heavy for me). This Ryobi drill + impact set I have my eyes on.

Ryobi One+ 18V Lithium Drill and Impact Driver Kit $149
Ryobi One+ 18V Lithium Drill and Impact Driver Kit $149

Hammer. A well balanced comfortable hammer will make short work of your task. Choose one that is lightweight but powerful to reduce fatigue.

DeWALT 15oz high velocity hammer $79.97
DeWALT 15oz high velocity hammer $79.97

Pencils. This may sound like a “DUH” item, but when you need one, you can never seem to find one. Buy a few good quality ones and keep them sharp and handy. (Don’t forget a sharpener too!)

Carpenters pencil $0.49
Carpenters pencil $0.49

It also doesn’t hurt to splurge on a fancy tool or two. After trying out this puppy at the Home Depot DIY 101 seminar I am in LOVE. This cordless brad nailer has me wanting to tackle another trim project like our guest room board & batten. Heart <3 …

Ryobi 18V ONE+ 18ga Cordless 2 Inches Brad Nailer $199
Ryobi 18V ONE+ 18ga Cordless 2 Inches Brad Nailer $199


  • Home Depot will rip down large lumber for you such as plywood (for a small fee). For big projects, bring your cut list with you and have them cut it for you. A table saw is a big purchase, and unless you’ll be using it a ton, you really don’t need one!
  • You don’t need a truck to get big lumber home! We don’t have a car, and (as you know) build a lot of stuff. We walk home with what we can, but for larger purchases we rent the Home Depot take it home van. For $25 you get 90 minutes rental time, which is plenty of time to get everything home and unloaded.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re unsure on a project, do research and ask for help before getting started. It’s much better to plan and research and get it right the first time than to do a poor job and waste expensive materials. Don’t forget to read the instructions! Packages can often tell you exactly how to get things done. Use resources like sales people at the hardware store, and free in store workshops to help you get the knowledge you need.

*I was not paid in any way for this post. All opinions are my own!

The Guy with the Tools

Everyone has a friend with a truck. He’s the guy you call on moving day, or when you bought a new sofa. Our (awesome) friend with a truck helped us carry home several loads of bricks for our patio earlier in the spring. The guy with the truck must have so many “owe you one’s” accumulated that he could call in a favor a day for a year. (Shout out to Michael!) Continue reading “The Guy with the Tools”

Tool Wish List

If I asked most of my female friends what is on their birthday or Christmas wish list, most would say clothes, jewelry, shoes, books etc. You know, normal girl things. Don’t get me wrong, my most prized possession is my wedding Louboutin’s, but my wish list is full of things such as a table saw, Kreg jig and paint gun. Yes that’s right, if anyone was to knock at my door right now with a paint gun wrapped with a bow, I would jump up and down like a kid who got a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.

When did my priorities change? When did I start spending my spare money on lumber instead of clothes? I guess it’s just that I love doing projects around the house. I have tremendous pride in myself when I have completed a project. I even said to El Granto the other day, that wouldn’t it be awesome if I had a job that was just doing DIY’s!? Figuring out problems, sourcing materials, and building. I would be in heaven. (but then probably nothing would get done around my own house!)

So here’s my wish list, whats on yours?

DeWALT 12″ Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw
California Air Tools Gravity Fed Paint Gun
DeWALT Portable Table Saw
Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
Milwaukee BodyGrip Router