Stanley FatMax 7 1/4" Circular Saw

A well built saw with a bevy of good features.

stanley_FME305K_slider

Stanley FatMax 7 1/4" Circular Saw



Sidewinder saws (so called because the motor is positioned on one side of the saw - usually on the left) are the most common style of circular saw on the market, with the corded, 7-1/4", 15-amp version the most widely used, by both DIYers and professionals. When purchasing a new saw there are four major things that I look for - heft and balance of the saw; how quickly I can make accurate blade height and bevel adjustments; how accurately I can cut stock with the saw; and, how easy it is to switch blades. There are a range of other features to consider as well, including power cord length, guard retraction, chip ejection, ability to adjust the blade perpendicular to the base plate, warranty, and, of course, price.



Stanley's new line of FatMax corded power tools consists of a 3/8" drill, 1/2" hammer drill, orbital jig saw, reciprocating saw, oscillating tool, hand planer, heat gun, chop saw, 4-1/4" angle grinder, and 7-1/4" Circular Saw (FME305K), which we're looking at here.



At just under 10 pounds the FME305K is a tad lighter than other circular saws I've reviewed, likely due to the use of impact resistant ABS plastic for the motor housing and handle, and aluminum for the guards. If I was only using a circ saw ocassionally, weight wouldn't be much of a concern, but when using a saw for long periods of time throughout the work day or having to tote it around a work site, weight would be a more important consideration.



The handles are covered with a rubber overmold, and generously sized for larger hands, while the trigger is easy to reach with a forefinger. The placement of the main handle makes the FME305 a well balanced tool, and I found it easy to push the saw through cuts without putting much of a strain on my wrist.
 

FM_1
(A) Chip diverter (B) Blade guard lever (C) Rubber grommet
 
A diverter at the back of the upper guard helps to channel dust and wood chips to the back of the saw, though, as with virtually all circ saws most of the debris falls though the mouth of the base plate.
 


The lower spring loaded blade guard moves up and down smoothly via a large plastic lever, and a small rubber grommet both limits the guard travel and absorbs the irksome 'thwack' when you release the guard.
 

FM_2
(A) Depth adjustment lever and (B) depth cut scale
 
On the FME305K you get a 2-7/16" maximum depth of cut at 90°, which means you can easily cut through S1S dimensional or rough lumber. The plastic depth adjustment lever is easy to move, and when pushed all the way towards the base plate locks firmly in position. 



The depth scale is marked in 1/4" increments so you can quickly set the correct cutting depth - however the stamped scale would be much more readable if the registration lines were coloured black or red.
 

FM_3
Bevel adjustment mechanism
 
The FME305K has a wide bevel range of 0 to 57°. At 45° you can make a 1-15/16" deep cut. As with the depth adjustment, the adjustment level is easy to manipulate, and there is no slop when tilting the head to make a bevel cut. There is a scale stamped in the front of the shoe - it's convenient to have, but somewhat difficult to read except in ideal lighting conditions.
 

FM_4
Bevel scale could be easier to read
 
The bevel scale isn't overly easy to read, so if you want precise angles, it's probably best to use a bevel protractor. I was glad to see that there are two bevel stops, at 22.5° and 45°.
 

FM_5
Kerf indicators (A) for 90° cuts (B) for 45° cuts
 
There are two kerf indicator notches at the front of the shoe that make it easy to align the blade with a cut line. The smaller notch is for aligning 90° cuts, and the larger one is for 45° cuts. I found that these kerf indicators were well defined and worked well.
 

FM_6
A large shoe provides more stability
 
The 6-1/2" x 11-3/8" shoe is made of cast magnesium, which provides a very tough, lightweight, and rigid cutting platform. Right out of the box the shoe was perfectly square to the blade.
 

FM_7
Set screw (A) to adjust shoe to blade
FM_8
Shoe is beveled at the front
Fortunately, adjusting the shoe square to the blade is very easy via a set screw that you access from the underside of the shoe.



I particularly like the gently radiused corners and the beveled front of the shoe, which makes the shoe plate less likely to get caught when sliding the saw along rough stock.


FM_9
Framing saw blade included
 
The FME305K comes with a 24T carbide framing blade. It's a reasonably good blade for use on dimensional lumber, plywood and MDF. Changing the blade takes about one minute. 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. I would have liked on-board wrench storage.
 

FM_10
Large, multi-pocket storage bag
 
I prefer hard shell cases, but at this price point you get a canvas storage bag. It has two medium sized pockets on each end of the bag, a metal measuring tape holder, six small loops, and two large loops in which you can hang various tools.
 

FM_11
Rip fence and blade removal wrench
 
The FME304K comes with the aforementioned wrench to remove the blade nut, and a rip fence, which can only be installed on the left side of the saw. The fence is pre-drilled so you can easily attach a wooden sub-fence. A locking knob holds the fence firmly in position. At its maximum distance from the blade the fence enables you to make an 8-1/4" cut. 



The FME304K also comes with a 10 power cord - which means I can usually use the saw without an extension cord.
 

FM_12

The FME305K lacks a blade brake, which I feel is an important safety feature particularly if the blade guard doesn't close properly as you set the saw down. It's also a feature you'll appreciate if you make a lot of quick repetitive cuts.



It doesn't have an LED work light or a laser guide - which I can live without. However, I would have liked to see a safety lock on the saw. This is good safety feature that minimizes the chance of accidentally starting the saw when toting it around a worksite, or up and down a ladder or scaffolding. At $99 the FME305K will likely appeal to DIYers, woodworkers who use a circ saw occasionally for processing rough lumber, and renovators who want an economically priced saw that offers all the basic features.

The saw with a 3-year warranty, and a 90-day return policy. However, I don't think many people will want to return the saw once they've given it a try.
 
It's well built; has good cutting capacity; easy height and bevel adjustments; spindle lock for quick blade change over; accurate kerf indicator; tough magnesium shoe; long power cord; and isn't overly heavy. In use I found it well balanced, and the motor ran smoothly.
 
KEY FEATURES:
 
  • 15 Amps 
  • 5,600 RPM 
  • 7-1/4" blade capacity 
  • 2-7/16" max cut at 90° 
  • 1-15/16" max cut at 45° 
  • 1-11/16" max cut at 51° 
  • 0° to 57° bevel adjustment 
  • Positive stops at 22.5° and 45° 
  • Shaft lock 
  • Anti-snag lower guard 
  • 6-1/2" x 11-3/8" cast magnesium shoe 
  • Rear view depth adjustment scale 
  • 10' power cord 
  • 9.5 pound weight 
  • 3 yr warranty

COMPANY:Stanley Black & Decker
MODEL:FME305K
PRICE:$99
MADE IN:China
SOURCE:Rona Canada
Carl Duguay, September 2012
Discover more great woodworking reviews!
Subscribe Now and get instance online access to our library filled with exciting woodworking information.
Continue to stay connected to the latest tool reviews with our bi-monthly woodworking magazines!