Porter Cable 7 1/4" Heavy Duty Circular Saw

The C15TCSM is a solid tool with all the basic features you need

portercable_C15TCSM_lead

Porter Cable 7 1/4" Heavy Duty Circular Saw



As with most sidewinder saws, the new Porter Cable C15TCSM circular saw has a 15 amp motor, which in this case spins at 5,600 RPM. Equipped with a sharp blade, this gives you sufficient power to easily cut through sheet goods and 2-by lumber of any width. And, like all circ saws, it's darn loud (101.6 decibels, no load). At 9.5 pounds, this saw is somewhat lighter than other comparable models I've looked at. Plastic, aluminum and magnesium likely account for the lighter weight.

The motor housing and all the handles are made of some kind of high impact ABS plastic, the shoe is made of cast magnesium and the rest is aluminum, with the occasional bit of steel here and there. The main handle is, as expected, covered with a rubber over-mold. It's large enough to hold comfortably, even when you have work gloves on. The front handle is much too small for my liking, tapering from 2-1/2" wide at the top to 3" at the bottom. The right side is open, and when you grip the handle, the rim digs into the hand. On the plus side, the front handle is slightly angled, and this makes it a bit easier to grab onto, while keeping your hand away from the sight line.


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Typically padded handle
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Front handle is squat and the open rin digs into hand
The placement of the main handle makes this a very well balanced tool. It doesn't take a lot of effort to push it into cuts, and I found that it didn't put much of a strain on my wrist. The levers for the lower guard, bevel tilt and height adjustment, are nice and large, though I would have preferred metal levers. 


 
I like long, flexible, power cords, and this one, at 10', is close to what I consider the ideal length, namely 12'. It means I can easily work around a full sheet of ply without having to find an extension cord. The C15TCSM also has a large plug, that looks a lot more durable than the piddly plugs that you so often find on power tools.


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The shoe is flatter than a pancake; edges are radiused
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All locking handles are large and easy to grasp
The 6-1/2" x 11-3/8" shoe is flat and smooth, and has radiused corners that are less likely to get caught when sliding the saw along rough stock. The opening for the blade and guard is 2-5/8" wide. All the scales on this saw (except the bevel scale) are stamped, and reasonably easy to read. However, they would be easier to see if the markings were coloured black or red. The bevel scale, is indecipherable, though at least it has positive stops at 22.5° and 45°. A nice feature is the set screw under under the bevel gauge that you can use to set the shoe at a perfect 90° to the saw body if it gets out of alignment. The kerf indicators on the front of the saw are well defined, and work well. The cut capacity on most circular saws is fairly similar. On the C15TCSM you get a 2-3/8" maximum depth of cut at 90° and 1-13/16" at 45°.

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Set screw to quickly adjust the blade square to the shoe
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A rubber grommet limits lower guard travel
The locking knobs all work well, and are quick to adjust. The spring loaded lower guard moves up and down smoothly, and a small rubber grommet both limits the guard travel and absorbs the irksome 'thwack' when you release the guard. The integrated dust blower that Porter Cable has built into the design of the PC15TCSM works quite well, helping to keep dust away from the cut line. On the back of the upper guard is also a chip diverter that helps direct chips to the back of the saw.
 

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Front scale and kerf indicators are easy to see

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Easy to read height adjustment scale
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Bevel scale is barely legible
Blade changing is very quick. The spindle lock button is easily accessible, and you can depress the spindle lock button while holding the blade guard lever with one hand, and then remove the blade nut with your other hand. Unfortunately Porter Cable forgot about on-board wrench storage. So, it means tying or taping the wrench to the power cord. The thin kerf 24 tooth carbide tipped framing blade that comes with the saw is pretty standard; it's a good blade that gives a reasonably smooth cut on softwood, plywood and MDF.

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Rear directed chip diverter
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Basic rip fence and wrench
A basic rip fence is supplied with the C15TCSM. It can only be installed on the left side of the saw, and doesn't have a scale marked on it. The face, at 7/8" x 4-3/4", is average in size. I prefer a larger face, and fortunately the fence is pre-drilled so you can easily attach a wooden sub-fence. The locking knob does a good job of holding it firmly in position. At its closest position to the blade, the fence will provide a 4-1/8" width of cut; the maximum width of cut is 7-7/8". 


 
For just under $100, the C15TCSM offers very good value in a 7-1/4" circ saw. It's a solid tool, with all the basic features you need.
 
KEY FEATURES:
 
  • 15 amp motor
  • 5600 RPM 
  • 7-1/4" blade diameter
  • 2-3/8" cut capacity: 90°
  • 1-13/16" cut capacity: 45°
  • 55° bevel capacity with stops at 22.5° and 45°
  • Cast magnesium shoe
  • 10' power cord
  • 9.5 pound weight
  • 5 year warranty
  • Includes: 24T blade, rip fence, wrench 
MANUFACTURER:Porter Cable
AVAILABLE AT:Tool and equipment suppliers nationwide
RETAIL PRICE:$99.00
MADE IN:China
Carl Duguay, March 2011  
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