Steel vs aluminum vs magnesium circular saw base plate shoes what are the differences pros cons

Steel vs aluminum vs magnesium circular saw base plate shoes: what are the differences & pros & cons

Depending on the material they are made of, parts of the circular saw can offer more or less endurance. The circular saw base plate is one of the materials that can be made out of different materials. A base plate shoe is a sheet of metal that can be made out of:

  • Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Magnesium

Each of them has both pros and cons, and even though they look very similar, there are lots of differences between them.

A steel base plate is the cheapest and heaviest. A steel base plate can be more easily bent if dropped but can be easily repaired. An aluminum base plate is usually lighter and thicker than a steel base plate. It will not bend but can crack. A magnesium base plate is the best as it is the lightest and strongest of the three types.

Here are my top picks for each base plate type:

What does the best type of base plate look like?

When buying a new circular saw, you should definitively pay attention to the base plate. Why?

Related: Best circular saws under $50

Because the accuracy of the cuts mostly depends on the base plate, it is extremely important to find a quality one.

Don’t go for the cheapest one, as you will need to replace it very soon.

Believe it or not, the base plate shoe is the part of the saw that is most likely to broke. In order to prevent that, you will have to find a thick plate, with square edges.

Steel vs aluminum vs magnesium circular base plate shoes

In this section, you will learn the basics of each type of base plate, what makes them different and what are the pros and cons of each one.

Related: What is a circular saw base plate shoe?

Steel base plate

The cheapest way to make a base plate is using a steel. This type of base plate is the most flimsy and can bend easily if you drop the saw.

Then, I won’t drop the saw. I guess that is what most of you think right now. But no matter how careful you are, your circular saw will fall off your hand at one point. And regardless of the height, you drop it, the base plate would bend.

If it is a minor damage, you can repair it, but you need to be sure that the surface is completely flat, which is pretty difficult from my point of view. So, it is better to buy a new base plate as soon as possible. However, don’t even think of cutting with damaged base plate shoe, as you will end up with very poor cuts.

For example, if you have a rolled edge on your base plate and you are using a thin straightedge as a saw guide, the circular saw may slip over guide which will result with an inaccurate cut.

Pros Cons
cheapest heavy
can be repaired can bend

Aluminum base plate

This type of base plate is much better than the steel one. It is thicker, softer, and way more resistant to damage. Plus, the aluminum is a metal that weighs less than steel, so your saw will weigh less as well.

Most of the aluminum base plates are cast, and you should be happy to end up with one of these. However, some of them may be pressed just like the steel ones.

Aluminum base plates are more expensive, which is quite normal since they are better. They have crisp edges and one big downside – they cannot bend, but they can crack.

Pros Cons
thicker, softer more expensive
resistant to damage can crack

Magnesium base plate

This type of base plate is the strongest and the lightest. If you ask anyone who works with a circular saw for a while, this would be the recommendation of a base plate shoe.

However, you will need to pay more for it, as it is the most expensive base plate. It has another disadvantage, as just as the aluminum one, it can crack too. Once the base plate is cracked, there is no other solution than buying a new base plate.

Pros Cons
strongest the most expensive
lightest can crack

Bonus: fiber-reinforced plastic base plate

The fiber-reinforced plastic base plate is said to be the toughest and thickest of all plates. They are much more flexible, so they need to be really stiff in order to work as they should. However, I won’t include it in the comparison since almost every power tool manufacturer sticks to the metal ones.

Top Circular saw picks

Steel base plate, aluminum or magnesium – considering the comparison from above, the choice is yours. To make it easier for you, here are the best picks for each category.

Related: Best circular saw under $100

Evolution EVOSAW180HD

Ideal for cutting steel plate, square tube, round pipe and so on. It cuts much faster compared to other similar machines and doesn’t leave any burrs or sparks.

The Evolution EVOSAW180HD a circular saw with a steel base plate shoe

The Evolution EVOSAW180HD a circular saw with a steel base plate shoe

You can adjust it to cut on different depth, and its base plate is perfect for bevel cuts. Since this is a circular saw with a steel base plate, it comes for a reasonable price.

Already interested? You can get it with a 3-year warranty.

Buy the Evolution EVOSAW180HD here on Amazon.


  • industrial performance
  • adjustable depth
  • up to 45 degrees bevel adjustment


Another great circular saw with extra thin and sharp blade. It can be used for a wide range of applications and this one comes with a very durable aluminum base plate shoe.

The DeWALT DW364K a circular saw with an aluminum shoe base plate

The DeWALT DW364K a circular saw with an aluminum shoe base plate

It has a 50-degrees bevel capacity, an option to make depth adjustments while your hand remains behind the tool, and an electric brake for productivity and safety.

All in all, one of the greatest tools you can find for that price. Very powerful and efficient saw that deserves a place in your garage.

Buy the DeWALT DW364K here on Amazon.


  • 15 Amps motor
  • electric brake
  • rear pivot depth of cut adjustment
  • 50-degrees bevel capacity

Related: Best circular saw under $200

Skilsaw SPT77WM

Skil constantly produces great-quality power tools, and this one is not an exception. It is an electric, worm-drive circular saw, that definitively deserves your attention.

The Skilsaw SPT77WM with a magnesium base plate shoe

The Skilsaw SPT77WM with a magnesium base plate shoe

It has a Dual-Field motor with an increased cooling system, an amazing 53-degrees bevel adjustment and multi-functional wrench for a variety of uses.

On top of all that, it comes with a durable die-cast magnesium base plate shoe for easy cuts at different angles.

Buy the Skilsaw SPT77WM here on Amazon.


  • Dual-Field motor
  • durable magnesium base plate shoe
  • 53-degrees bevel adjustment
  • multi-functional wrench

Related: what is the difference between a Skilsaw and a circular saw


To conclude, every base plate type has its pros and cons. They are all different in quality and price, so it is up to you and your budget to find your favorite. Use this article as a guide and you won’t make a mistake.

What kind of base plate do you prefer? Steel, aluminum, or magnesium one? Share your opinions in the comment section below and don’t forget to share this article.

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