The Takeaway: We test a lot of circular saws at Popular Mechanics, and Bosch’s battery-powered GKS18V-25GC comes as close to the tool’s perfect form as any we’ve seen. It’s a nimble cutter. But the good news gets better when you slide it along its aluminum accessory track. You don’t need any special shoe or mounting hardware. Lay the track on the board or plywood, and slide the GKS18V-25GC down it like a locomotive chugging along the rails. The resulting rip or crosscut is table saw-accurate. Really. We’re talking almost glue-line accuracy, and that with the factory 24-tooth blade with which the saw is equipped.
- Blade: 7.25 in.
- Battery: 8-Ah
- Weight: 11.6 lb
Some track saws are dedicated plunge types. That is, they’re designed to work only on a track, and won’t cut until you press down on a spring-loaded mechanism and slide them forward. Since the GKS18V-25GC is designed to work by itself and with a Bosch track (and several saw tracks from other manufacturers, the company says), it needs a conventional means to increase or decrease its depth of cut, which varies from 0 to 2.5 inches.
To control cutting depth, the GKS18V-25GC has a thumb latch right above the trigger. Move the latch forward and press down and the saw’s shoe drops. To fine-tune the shoe’s position, simply hold it with one hand while pressing down on the latch. When the shoe is where you want it, release the latch. And the amount of blade exposure below the shoe is right where you want it, too.
Several other features position this saw firmly as a tool for this digital age. An “Eco” setting reduces power for light cutting while conserving battery life. The GKS18V-25GC has six speed settings to suit the material: Select a low one to make cut after cut in thin plywood, or go at full bore (and blade depth) to cut construction lumber. A battery life readout tells you how much charge you have left.
Bosch claims that this battery-powered saw has the same oomph as a corded model. In some respects, that’s true. You’ll certainly find that the GKS18V-25GC compares very favorably when cutting plywood. We cut everything with it from paint-grade birch plywood to OSB and 1⁄2-inch CDX. The saw sailed through. The story became a bit more nuanced when we made cuts in framing lumber. We did extensive testing crosscutting and even ripping Douglas fir (our standard test material). We found the Bosch to be nimble and quite powerful. Still, it does have a thermal shutoff to protect the battery and the saw’s circuitry. If you really press the saw as hard as we did, it will shut off. Bottom line: You’re unlikely to (need or want to) use this saw to frame a house, and it’s a heck of a lot more versatile than your typical 15-amp corded sidewinder (with the motor to the side of the blade) circular saw.
Down The Track
This Bosch shines beautifully when you mount it on its saw track. The one that the company sent for our testing is 5 feet, 3.5 inches long and slightly less than 6 inches wide. The track has a rubber flap on one side that you slice off when you make the first cut. Thereafter, the saw blade fits so closely to the edge of the rubber flap that it cuts without leaving a splintered surface (in woodworking, this is known as zero-clearance). Two non-slip rubber ribs allow you to simply lay the track down on the plywood and run the saw down the track. Bosch sells a number of accessories to trick out this setup, such as clamps designed to hold the track to the workpiece while not interfering with the cut, and also the means to join two tracks end to end.
With its ease of use and versatility, the GKS18V-25GC is enough saw for most people. But is it as powerful as a corded saw in all circumstances? No. And we’re okay with that. It’s still among the best we’ve tested.
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