Ridgid 18v 6½” Circular Saw Review

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Ridgid 18v 6½” Circular Saw (model R8656B)

Ridgid 18V SubCompact Brushless Cordless 6 1/2 in. Circular Saw

4/5
Manufacturer: Ridgid
Model number: R8656B
Price: $149.00
Power source: Lithium Ion battery
Motor size: 18v
Weight: 7.5 lbs

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I never owned a 6 ½” cordless circular saw until I received the Ridgid 18v 6½” Circular Saw to review.  My work partner Ed and I were skeptical of the saw, particularly because Ed had previous experiences with 6 ½” cordless circular saws that were underwhelming.  The smaller saw with a smaller blade and smaller batteries translated into smaller performance.  Thankfully, this new Ridgid 6 ½” saw was different.

Overview

The Ridgid 18v 6½” Circular Saw follows a similar layout and design to other 6 ½” cordless circular saws I have handled in the past, with a left-blade configuration that is extremely common for the blade size.  Personally, I love left-bladed circular saws because they offer a nice sight-line to the blade for right-handed users.  The base plate on the saw is a full 5” wide and plenty long enough to engage the work surface.  The over-molded top handle feels comfortable and substantial, and the levers to change blade height and bevel are easy to access and adjust.  There’s even a rafter hook for slinging the tool onto the side of a sawhorse or nearby 2x framing member.

Features and Benefits

The Ridgid 18v 6½” Circular Saw is packed with all sorts of features that you might find in a larger 7 ¼” sidewinder circular saw.  Ridgid advertises the following on its website:

  • Lightweight Design. Heavyweight Performance.
  • Pair with MAX Output batteries for maximum power
  • 5,000 RPM
  • 30% Lighter Weight when compared to RIDGID’s R8657 Brushless 7-1/4 in. Circular Saw
  • 27% More Compact when compared to the R8657 Brushless 7-1/4 in. Circular Saw
  • 50° Bevel Capacity cuts the most common angles
  • 2-1/4 in. Depth of Cut
  • Lightweight and Durable Magnesium Guard stands up to the toughest job sites
  • LED Light for improved visibility in low-light situations
  • Accepts 1-3/4 in. and 1-1/4 in. vacuum hose attachments

The Ridgid Subcompact Circular Saw has some impressive stats for its size.  They are as follows:

Maximum Cut Depth @ 90 Deg.2-1/4 in
Product Height (in.)7.56 in
Product Depth (in.)12.91 in
Product Width (in.)8.86 in
Bevel Capacity50 °
Product Weight (lb.)7.5 lb
Maximum Cut Depth @ 45 Deg.1-5/8 in
Blade Diameter (in.)6-1/2 in
Power Tool FeaturesDepth Adjustment, LED Light, Variable Speed
Maximum Speed (rpm)5000

 

On The Job

I quickly found that the Ridgid 18v 6½” Circular Saw was a welcome addition to the job site. The first job I used the subcompact saw on was framing a garage.  What better place to test a circular saw than a framing site.  The compact design was light and nimble.   …so light that it could hang off a toolbelt while walking around the job.  The OEM blade from Ridgid was somewhat underwhelming, so after only about a dozen or so cuts through 2×6 lumber I decided to swap the blade for a new Diablo from Freud.  This definitely improved cut quality.

When paired with a Ridgid 18-volt, 4 Ah lithium battery, the saw has decent power and runtime. I managed to make 55 crosscuts on 2×6 SPF framing lumber with one battery.  I think this is respectable considering the size of the saw and the battery.  The Ridgid circular saw had no problem cutting “tough” building materials such as pressure-treated sill plates and ¾” OSB sheathing.

After the framing was complete on the garage, I started to see where this subcompact saw really shines – making quick cuts at different places around the job site.  I loved grabbing this subcompact saw for pre-cutting long lengths of trim lumber to bring them to a miter saw station, cutting small furring strips for our rain screen, and even breaking down waste to better fit in a burn pile or dump trailer.

Room For Improvement

I don’t have too many gripes about the Ridgid 18v 6½” Circular Saw. None of my gripes are deal breakers, nor do they prevent me from grabbing the saw when I need or want it.

The blade guard and its handle feel light-duty to me, but after a ton of use it has held up with no issues. I honestly thought it would break, but it hasn’t.  The base plate of the saw is a bit thin, so running the plate against a speed square as a fence requires the user to handle the saw with a little more diligence.  The dust port is oriented directly facing the user.  At times, depending on what I’m cutting, this results in a ton of sawdust ending up in my tool belt.  The blade depth indicator is a little tough to read as it is a relatively small arrow on an already narrow piece of steel.  Positive stops for bevel adjustment would be nice but are really only a convenience when making repetitive adjustments between 0 degrees and 45 degrees.

Final Thoughts

The Ridgid 18v 6½” Circular Saw is great.  I use the saw all the time, as does my new apprentice.  While this saw probably doesn’t have a full-time position on a framing site, I would darn near consider it a “must have” for a remodeler, general contractor, DIYer, or homeowner.  Compact.  Light.  Easy to use.  What else can you ask for?

 

 

About the author

Jeremy Kassel

Kassel Construction was formed in 2005 in Jeremy’s hometown of Syracuse, NY, and has been a vibrant business since. Jeremy moved to the Albany, New York area in 2010, and quickly gained traction as a Capital District contractor. Although he loves new construction, Jeremy’s primary work is residential remodeling, with a customer-centric approach to job site management and problem-solving. He excels at building relationships with vendors, suppliers, and fellow tradespeople. Jeremy also enjoys writing for the Journal of Light Construction and Fine Homebuilding as well as teaching and presenting at JLC Live. He resides outside Albany, New York with his wife and 2 daughters.

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