Porter-Cable 743 Circular Saw Review

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PC743 I have a DeWALT 364 that I have used and abused for a number of years. It is a great saw. Best circular saw I had ever owned. But I am building a panel saw and the DeWALT just did not fit right with its extra large shoe. Thus, I planned to use an inexpensive Skil. However, my local Porter-Cable outlet store had the 743 for $100.00 and I just could not pass it up. I was completely surprised by the quality, feel, and general usability of this saw. Since, we received a Festool ATF 55E from Festool and have pretty much ignored the DeWALT and PC743, except for cutting construction lumber.

Cost: $100 at PC Outlet $125 at Home-Depot
Manufacturer: Porter-Cable

What I Like About the Porter-Cable 743 Circular Saw

  • Just about everything. It feels right. It is easy to handle. Compared to the DeWALT, it is easier to follow a mark line with the PC743 because of the left-mounted blade.

  • The left-mounted blade is a boon for right-handers. Can't believe I didn't buy one of these sooner. My excellent DeWALT 364 seems a bit awkward to use now.

  • Very light weight. It feels at least 2 pounds lighter than my DeWALT 364.

  • Magnesium Shoe does not flex or bend.

  • The left edge of the shoe is exactly 1-1/2" from blade and the right edge of the shoe is exactly 5" from blade. Thus you can place a straight-edge at those two settings with no other thought or measurement.

  • The shoe is notched to follow a marked line, and it works!

  • Excellent power. I would say the DeWALT has more power, but it's hard to say.

  • Blade is excellent. Blade wrench is stored in the handle.

  • Majority of dust makes it way through the dust-chute. You can remove the dust-chute and close the opening with the spring-loaded trap door.

  • Porter-Cable reliability and reputation plus a one year warranty.

  • Brushes are easily removed and readily available.

  • All ball-bearing/roller bearing construction.

  • I prefer the pivot direction and action of the PC743 to the DeWALT 364 because it is easier for me to adjust the PC743 shoe/blade to a precise height. Many like the DeWALT pivot because it keeps the hand low and to the rear (actually, the handle stays put). In reality, you cannot fault either design.

What I Don't Like About the Porter-Cable 743 Circular Saw

  • No electric brake, though other PC models have it.

  • The bracket that attaches the shoe to the body and allows the height adjustment is flimsy.

  • The increments of the angle and depth scales are large. Finer increments would make the scales more worthwhile. Furthermore, the height scale is difficult to see because of its physical location.

  • I saved $25.00 by buying a refurbished unit. Should have bought it new at Home Depot!

  • Where was this saw when I purchased the DeWALT 364!

Comparison: Porter-Cable 743 vs DeWALT 364

Characteristic PC 743 DW 364 Comments
Feel X   The PC 743 is lighter, better balanced, and the left-mounted blade is great for right-handers. The DW364 is heavy and is not balanced particularly well. However, the design of the DW364 pivot keeps the handle in the same location (low and to the rear) through out the height adjustment. The PC743 handle moves up and forward as the blade is raised.
Power X X Both machines have more than adequate power, though I believe the DeWALT has slightly more. Interesting, the PC743 is rated at 15 amps and my early model DW364 is rated at 13 amps. The current DW364 is rated at 15 amps.
Value X   The PC 743 is considerably less expensive for similar or better performance in several key areas.
Reliability X X Both saws are well manufactured. Brushes are easily accessible. Parts readily available.
Electric Brake   X The DW364 has a brake, the PC734 does not.
Blade X X Both come with good blades.
Blade Lock X X Both come with blade locks, though the DeWALT is easier to access. The PC743 lock is an odd lever nestled down in the recesses of the saw. The DeWalt uses a "push-button" near the top of the blade guard.
On board storage for arbor wrench X   DW364 arbor wrench is rattling around in the truck somewhere. PC743 wrench is in its handle.
Shoe X   PC743 shoe is light yet strong and is designed so that its edges are spaced 1-1/2" and 5" from the blade. DW364 shoe is huge and made from aluminum. The distance between the edges of the DW364 shoe and the blade don't fall on an even measurement. However, the DW364 shoe bracket/pivot is a trick ball joint mechanism that is stronger and has less flex than its PC743 counterpart.
Dust Collection X   PC743 dust collection works pretty well. DW364 has none.
Height Scale   X The DW364 scale is easy to read and has fine increments. The PC743 scale is difficult to read and the increments are too large to be totally useful. For instance, no 3/4" mark.
Angle Scale   X Again, the DW364 scale is easy to read and has fine increments. It is a cast item that is made very well. The stamped PC743 scale is easy enough to read, but does not have the range nor granularity of the DeWALT.

The Bottom Line

I own or have owned a number of circular saws including a Craftsman, a Skil 5170, a DeWALT 364, the PC 743, and more recently, the Festool ATF. I can recommend the PC 743 without hesitation as a framing and general purpose saw. Compared to the DeWALT 364, the PC743 is lighter and the left-mounted blade is easier to use than standard right-mounted blade saws (for a right hander). No more bending over, looking over the blade guard to see the cut line.

With that said, the DW364 is constructed very well. Compared to the PC743, it has a better constructed pivot mechanism and bracket, better height/angle scales, and a larger shoe. We have been using the DW364 with my panel cutting system, and thus actually use it more than the PC743. With my panel guides, I cut from the right side so the left/right orientation is not a big deal. However, the Festool ATF beats both saws with its dust collection, guide system, ergonomics, light weight and balance, and finer cut.

As a general purpose or framing saw, you can't go wrong with either the DeWALT 364 or the PC743. On the basis that it is lighter and has the left-mounted blade, I do better free-hand work with the PC743. But don't get me wrong, the DW364 is a great circular saw, and most anyone would be more than happy with it, especially left-handers. If you're looking for the best circular saw for cabinetmaking, finish carpentry, cabinet / floor installation, the Festool ATF is my choice.

Rating: out of 5!

Build Your Own Panel / Sheet Goods Cutting Table

My version of the Panel Cutting Table described in an article from Fine WoodWorking, Issue #143, titled "A Circular Saw in the Furniture Shop?" Panel Cutting Table.

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