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Thread: Worm drive vs. "regular" circular saw

  1. #1

    Worm drive vs. "regular" circular saw

    What are the pros/cons of a worm drive saw vs a regular circular saw? I have always used my B&D circa 1971 and never used a worm drive. I am getting ready to replace my circular saw with something less than 40 years old.


    I am not a pro, just a dedicated weekend warrior that has no fear tackling just about anything from framing to landscaping to deck building.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Blog Entries
    A worm drive typically has the blade on the left side where it belongs I also prefer the balance of a worm drive. In addition to a skillsaw I now have a Festool TS75 and the hardest thing for me with it, is that I can't see the blade cutting the line. Fortunately the saw is accurate enough that I don't need to. I'd go with the worm drive for its versatility IMHO.
    What you listen to is your business....what you hear is ours.

  3. #3
    Rob Will Guest
    I have a Milwaukee worm drive and various "regular" saws. It seems that the left blade worm drive comes in handy on occasion but we do 99% of our work with the more compact regular saws.

    One point to remember is that worm drive saws generally tilt forward to adjust depth. When you are set shallow for cutting sheet goods, the forward tilt makes your reach more difficult.

    Before you buy any saw look at a rear tilt conventional saw and think of yourself reaching across a sheet of plywood.

    Here's one example:

    Good luck with your decision
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
    Worm drives are heavier and more powerful than regular circular saws.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Gulfport MS
    I sometimes use a homemade guide for cutting sheet goods, I like a wormdrive saw for this as the motor does not hang over the guide affecting the depth of cut.

    We are here on Earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don't know.

    W. H. Auden

  6. #6

    Worm drive

    Hi -

    I have one of each. As stated, the worm drive is larger & more powerful. That, in itself, kind of gives you the pros & cons.

    When I can use either, I prefer the smaller, lighter "regular" saw. But, when cutting panels along a strait edge in the shop, the heavy, powerful stability of the worm drive is welcome.

    If choosing one, I'd get the smallest & lightest I could that would do 90% of what I use it for. Easier to transport, etc. I've seen & used $30 & $40 saws that are great. By comparison, my worm drive was almost $200.

    Ashtabula, Ohio in the Snowbelt

  7. #7
    I like the worm drive for longer board cuts. It tends to cut straighter, and like the above poster said, the blade is on the left side where it belongs! Easier to see when cutting for me. HD 77 comes to mind. Skill saw.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    SE Michigan
    I went throught this process myself a few years back and I ended up with a WD saw. I was doing a lot of home renovating at the time and wanted the extra power. But the way it lets me split panels quickly and accurately is an unexpected bonus.

    As the gentlemen before me said, it is heavier and produces more torque than a sidewinder. As with everything, there are trade offs to be had.

    Good luck with your decision!


  9. #9
    I have a Skill Worm ( the heavier one they mis-named with that silly euphemism "professional" that everyone it seems like to mis-use).

    I find that it is a very heavy tool. Take weight into consideration. It is however, absolutely unstoppable.

    I had a millers falls 10" hand held circular saw before that and I really liked the thing.

    I have considered getting another circular saw that is lighter than the Skillsaw for those jobs where I don't need all that torque, power, and weight of the Sklillsaw.

  10. #10
    Rob Will Guest
    Has anyone here tried a "rear-tilt" saw - something like the one in my previous post?
    Just wondering because I really like mine..... It has a good feel.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Many years back when I was shopping for a circular saw, my father said to spend the dough on worm-drive so I picked up a Skil Magnesium one (slightly lighter than the arm-busting one they sell) because he said they will LAST LONGER than a conventional circular saw. I've had mine for 10 years now and it gets good use but check back with me in another 10-20 years to see if what my father claims is true.
    Wood: a fickle medium....

    Did you know SMC is user supported? Please help.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Lewiston, Idaho
    30 years ago a neighbor hired me to work part-time for him. He was a building contractor. He took me to a local lumberyard and outfitted me with everything a carpenter (wanna-be in my case) would need...including a worm-drive Skill saw. Be cause of the added weight and the way it's distributed and the shape of the worm drive saws, they take a little ...not a lot....of practice to get comfortable using. But once you have used one, you will love them.

    I replaced my worn out regular Skill saw a few years ago. I'm not the same strong man now that I used to be. I bought a regular left-bladed PC circular saw.....just because of it's lighter weight. Left-bladed as I'm right handed and enjoy being able to see the blade and the cut-line.

  13. #13

    This Conversation Always Makes Me Smile

    So many people always think that a worm drive saw is simply a left side blade saw - Yes it is and it isn't - "Worm Drive" refers to the gear that runs the saw - It is a worm drive gear - If you ever open one up you will see how it works - All other circular saws are direct drive - The blade shaft is running right out of the motor - A Worm drive saw has the motor mounted to the side and rear - The motor shaft turns a gear which transmits power to the blade - This setup make it almost impossible to stop the blade due to minor binding - It creates a transfer of power to the blade that can handle much harder use then a conventional direct drive saw - I worked as a carpenter for 20 years before I became a Contractor then a Custom Door and Sash Builder - I have seen a lot of direct drive saws end up in the dumpster while that heavy worm drive just kept humming along - The other reason the blade is on the left side is it is how we layout in the field - We pull our tapes from the left to the right and can cut to the line in a more effective manner - If you are going to own just one circular saw for the purpose of framing and decking I would strongly recommend the Worm Drive - Skil make the most popular - Bosch makes a good one too - Just don't buy the one with the cord that can be disconnected at the saw - If you are working overhead cutting rafter tails while doing the "Batman" thing off a ladder and your cord falls off the back of your saw you will know what being really ticked off is when you make that trip down and up the ladder for the 4th or 5th time - lol - Hoped this helped

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Kanasas City, MO
    Another owner of the venerable Skil #77. Love it & honestly I don't complain about the weight (although cutting the cement board siding when residing my house... it was heavy by the end of a LONG day, like 12 hours). I find the wieght a good thing as these are pretty good for a little torque twist when ya fire it up. I use mine for the usual jobs of decking, framing, demo (they cut through nails effortlessly ) etc etc.... another reason I opted for the non-magnesium version is durability. I know you should tether tools on ladders etc, but when the tools does find mother earth from an elevation, the magnesium housed ones are much more brittle. Some tools just are destined for a hard knocked life I guess...
    For easier butting of sheet goods I use my V28 cordless Milwaukee, it's much more of a real circ caw than many of the little panel cutters with 4 1/2" blades as the MKE has a 6 1/4" blade and as much power as a corded direct drive. It's a feather compared to the #77 and has the blade in the "right" spot on the left side (err correct side for a righty anyway). Another thing I really like about the cordless Milwaukee is the brake on the motor. I can't get over the "umph" the 28V has (I've ripped sopping wet 2X10 pressure treated with it and it didn't flinch ).


  15. #15

    Good stuff here...

    Sounds like it is time for a "wormy".
    I think I will get the Skil MAG77 and a little later pick up a Milwaukee cordless 28V for the quick jobs.

    I may be 40+ now but I still remember my dad saying spend your money on the right saw, it does all the work.

    Thanks folks


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