Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw Kit 2730-22
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw Kit 2730-22
Article written and photos by Ethan Bickford
My main experience with cordless saws has been with my brother in law’s old 18 volt trim saw that was barely capable of cutting 3/4-inch strapping and trim stock much less cutting framing lumber or ripping sheathing. That tool is still kicking but its descendants are a far cry from its underpowered, low run-time performance.
Cordless circular saws have come a long way. The introduction of lithium ion 4.0 amp hour (Ah) batteries has drastically improved run-time, and now brush-less technology has arrived on the scene improving power and run-time even further. When combined, you’ve got a cordless 18v saw that can perform repetitive and heavy cutting tasks in a way that was not possible a few years ago.
Out of the box
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw Kit comes with a combination charger that can charge a 12 volt or 18 volt battery. Additionally it comes with two 4.0 Ah XC batteries and a kit bag. The first thing I noticed on this tool was the easy to read; depth of cut, bevel, and width-of-cut scales. The scales for width of cut and bevel are machined from steel and then attached to the magnesium base-plate. It’s as if they took a cleanly stamped ruler from a combination square and screwed it to the base-plate.
At 8 lbs, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw Kit is much lighter than my corded worm drive saw. Adjustment levers and knobs are hand-friendly and easy to turn. The magnesium base-plate is completely flat on the bottom and quite smooth. To keep strength up and weight down Milwaukee incorporated a magnesium blade guard, and this is a nice contrast to a lot of competitors who have moved to plastic for this part. In general, the saw has a nice feel to it, with good balance and a well-formed handle that fits the hand very well.
In our testing we repeatedly cut ½” rips off of ¾” Advantech sub-flooring, we also cut stringers from #2 Douglas Fir, 2×12 framing stock and finally we performed 1/2″ thick rips in a, 1-7/8″, eight foot long LVL. Cutting the sub-flooring was a straight-up endurance test. We cut the ¾” stock, non-stop until the battery died to test battery life and overall performance under demanding continuous use conditions. The battery got warm but not hot and the Fuel cut an impressive 204 linear feet of Advantech (that’s 25.5 rips in 8 foot sheets).
We used stringer cutting to test ease of use and performance in one of the more difficult cutting applications performed on the job-site. Even when trying to bind the saw up (within reason) it wouldn’t bind or stall. In other words, this saw is very unlikely to bind up or stall during normal use.
In the LVL test the Fuel ripped 48 lineal feet, or 6 rips of 8 feet of 1-7/8″ LVL. That is seriously impressive for a cordless saw.
4.0 Ah batteries and brush-less technology make for a huge jump in performance. The Fuel has excellent run time and power for a cordless circular saw. The Fuel is a real deal, practical tool that can make a surprisingly large number of cuts in plywood or framing lumber before needing a charge. On smaller framing jobs you could get away with using just this saw. My corded saws are going to see a lot more downtime now.
If you’ve shied away from cordless saws this is the time to take another look at the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw Kit.
The scale for depth of cut, bevel angle, and cut width, are etched, high contrast, and very easy to read. The depth setting lever is plastic but feels solid and is easy to use, not requiring too much force to lock or release. The depth of cut scale faces the back of the saw, which is a feature I haven’t seen on many other cordless saws.
This makes for an unobstructed view of the depth scale for easier adjustments, rather than having to sight the gauge through the handle of the saw. The scale has notches every half inch and a red stripe which makes for faster rough depth settings.
Bevel range is from 0-50 degrees. The bevel gauge was spot-on and the lines are narrow enough that you know you’re very close to your desired cut angle.
When zeroed out, the blade was completely square to the base-plate. The bevel locks solidly with a twist of the knob but doesn’t fight you when you need to loosen it. There are no detents or stops other than 0 degrees so you’ve got to double-check your bevel for critical cuts, but the scale is accurate enough for any framing tasks you’d put it to.
Blade changes were pretty straightforward with an easy-to-access arbor lock in the usual spot between blade housing and handle. The included Allen wrench has on-board storage. However, the wrench was a little loose in its molded slot right out of the box so I’m pretty sure that wrench won’t stick around long.
The arbor bolt is both Allen and hex so you can always fall back on a box wrench or even an adjustable wrench for your blade changing needs.
The 4.0 Ah batteries charged in 82 minutes. The battery gauge is easily visible from the back of the saw and lights up with a push of a button. When mounted in the saw, the battery does have some play.
Not only is the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw an excellent performer in run-time and power, but it has a lot of useful features as well. These features really add to the ease-of-use of the Fuel and make it stand apart from the crowd.
Here are a few:
Dust Blower: There’s a port that directs air from the motor fan and out a nozzle at the front of the blade housing. This blower is aimed at the cut lines for zero and forty five degrees on the front of the baseplate. We made an awful lot of sawdust during our testing so I had ample opportunity to see how this feature worked and I found that the blower did a pretty good job clearing dust away from your cut lines.
LED Light: Next to the blower is an LED that lights up the darker side of the cut on the motor side of the blade. The LED is quite bright and this kind of feature is a huge help to re-modelers or anyone working in lower light situations. When moving from the sunny side of a building to the shaded side, the light can make the difference when your eyes haven’t adjusted to the shade.
Rafter Hook: Not many 18 volt saws have rafter hooks but the Fuel does. The rafter hook on this saw is well placed on top of the saw, with a large enough opening to grab 2x framing with no problem. When you don’t need it, the hook easily folds out of the way, nesting securely into the top of the handle of the saw.
Room for improvement
Blade Wrench: On-board wrench storage is a nice thing to have but only if it works well. The Allen wrench started shifting around just during our initial preparation of the saws for testing, which involved checking accuracy and putting in batteries and blades. With a little wear I’m pretty certain that the wrench will fall right out. On the up side, the arbor bolt is machined for both an Allen key and a wrench so there shouldn’t be any problem finding a way to change blades even after the included Allen key is long gone.
Sight Lines: Sight lines could be better. The saw guard and blower make for a slightly cramped front end of this saw and make for an obstructed view where the blade meets the wood from the motor side of the blade housing. But from the outside the sight lines are excellent. Since this is a blade left saw most “righties” should be happy with their sight lines on this saw.
With top-notch power and run-time, along with some really useful features and excellent ergonomics, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw Kit is really raising the bar on cordless saws. The days of the get-it-in-the-huge-cordless-kit-and-forget-it cordless circular saw are coming to an end.
The Milwaukee Fuel circular saw is amazingly powerful for an 18 volt saw. I can already tell that unless I’m setting up to cut down a pallet full of 2x’s, the Fuel is going to be my go-to saw. Which stands to reason, since the Milwaukee Fuel is arguably the best designed, feature laden and best performing 18v saw out there.
- 18 volt
- No load speed 5,000 RPM
- Blade Diameter 6-½”, (165mm)
- Bevel Capacity 50 degrees
- Arbor size ⅝”
- Depth of cut at 45 degrees 1-⅝”
- Depth of cut at 90 degrees 2-3/16”
- Tool weight 8.0 lbs
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Circular Saw Kit
- (1) M18 FUEL™ 6-1/2″ Circular Saw (2730-20)
- (2) M18™ REDLITHIUM™ XC 4.0 Extended Capacity Battery Pack (48-11-1840)
- (1) M18™ & M12™ Multi-Voltage Charger (48-59-1812)
- (1) Blade
- (1) Blade Wrench
- (1) Contractor Bag
Also available as a bare tool or with a single battery.