You might want to read the review of worm drive saws here:
(click on on corded tools, then tool tests)
It's a few years old, but has lots of good info about the pros/cons.
Nothing to do with which is better, but I recently read that on t he west
coast the work drive is more popular while on the east coast the direct
drive is. Probably more of a case of what they learned to use early on and
the tradition remains.
Never used a worm drive so I have no preference. Being left handed, any
circular saw is a PITA to use. One of these day I'll get a left handed
Simply as an aside, not any of real value to most.
Many years ago, when I was doing HVAC installs, we had the 'opportunity' to
work with a certain framing crew. All of our installers were warned not to
let them borrow anyone's circular saw. This framing crew would go to a tool
outlet and purchase a reconditioned saw. This recon saw might last through
half the framing job on a 1500 square foot house. Almost invariably, the
recon saw would conk out not long after they boss would leave with the truck
to look at the next job and the framers would try to borrow a saw. (this
was long before cell phones) The boss would come back and scream
obscenities at the crew at the top of his lungs that nothing had been done
for 2 to 4 hours. The boss would haul a** to the tool outlet and buy
*another* recon saw. Then it would start all over again. I had a chance to
look in the back of the bosses truck once and saw about 10-12 burned out
They never bout a new saw, much less a worm drive saw.
This has everything to do with the question. It is easy to burn out
those cheap saws. A good, heavy duty saw will last decades through all
kinds of abuse.
(Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
First I'll say that I'm partial to left blade saws as I can see the
line better without leaning over the saw. I have an old Skil worm
drive that I've used for over 20 years and it's a real work horse.
I'll use it 90% of the time as opposed to standard circular saws. Last
year I bought a Porter Cable 743K and I now find myself grabbing it
for all but the heaviest jobs. It has plenty of power, is relatively
light weight, has a left handed blade and if you need to use a guide
you can just measure 1 1/2" off center in one direction or 5" off
center in the other and the blade will run right down the line. I'm
sure there are others just as good or maybe better but I've sure been
pleased with it.
As long as you're committed to spending money on tools, you should consider
a good compound miter saw, and/or radial arm saw. In the long run you'll
have much more versatility.
Miter saws, and/or radial arm saws are much more versatile? Good for trim
and finish work, but I have always found them a little cumbersome when
trying to follow a caulk line on a roof or on a deck when trimming off the
ends. Maybe I'm not holding them right?
I guess I wasn't very clear with my response. I didn't mean 'instead of' -
rather 'in addition to'. When I built my own deck, my miter saw/roller
support helped make the cuts much more accurate. I don't really have a
preference with circular saws.
Hey flattracker,,,what are you running? Im running an ATK
600 on the quarter mile dirt ovals, not bad for age 64 no?
Saw wize I have almost a dozen. including a 16" makita miter
saw, and porter cable side wider I built a large blade guard
onto so it takes a 12" blade. Thats handy.
and a chinese 12" compound sliding miter saw.. 200 bucks..it
will come in handy one of these days.
I have both types, but would recommend for the novice, a cheap sidewinder
with a superior carbide blade. IMHO, good blades make the best of the saw
Unless you have built yourself a set of carpenter forearms, you're correct
the worm drive may not be for you.
The Makita sidewider is nice, but I have one complaint about it. If you do
any guide work on sheet goods, the shoe being flat, likes to slip under the
guide work. The cheap model saws with a steel shoe, have a curve on them
which prevent the shoe from slipping under guide work.
Yup. After a circular saw, for general construction a (sliding)
compound miter or the more expensive radial arm saw is very handy.
While this may be heretical, I'm quite happy with my #90891 from Harbor
Freight (regularly comes on sale for $99, and is almost identical to a
previous model Makita). Best $100 tool bargain I've purchased. Might
not hold up or satisfy a professional, but it performs well.
Wanted: Omnibook 800 & accessories, cheap, working or not
sdbuse1 on mailhost bigfoot.com
If you choose to buy a less expensive circular saw, be careful. An aluminum
table bevel arm, and depth arm can easily bend. Very difficult to
straighten correctly without dismantling the table entirely. The blade may
head in one direction, and the table edge may slighly off-direction in case
of aluminum tables on some less expensive circular saws. I built a one car
garage/workshop with such a circular saw. Ignored the table edge and
followed the line with the saw blade instead.
Critical bevel cuts, like in fascia, I used a miter/drop saw. Mass-produced
common rafters with the same miter saw as well, with an 8' table on either
side of the miter saw. A miter saw won't try to walk off a cross-cut line,
like some circular saws do. Miter saws are not influenced by cupping or
minor surface defects in the wood.
Worm-drive saws are heavy in weight compared to the less expensive circular
saws. I doubt if you can bend their tables by typical bumps and short drops
to the earth. They tend to have more amperage to cut with, generally do a
good line cut without much user guidance.
Right now, after finishing the garage, painting a house interior, trenching
mostly rock for water pipe and conduit to the house and garage, am suffering
from strained tendons in my right elbow area. Doc is treating me with
localized cortisone shots. If I had been using a worm drive saw on that
garage, suspect I would be hurting a bit more. You're right, ergonomics is
I have a super light craftsman 5" side wider for a lot of
work...very handy. doesnt wear you out..but its slower than a
bigger saw. It cuts a 2x4 narrow with in one cut, straight
but not beveled of course..and its great for overhead work.
Its half the wt of a larger saw.
The worm drives are better build and have more torque. The Skill 77 , IIRC,
is the standard here. Bosch has a good worm drive with a top mount handle. I
own it and like it fine. I also own a Porter cable sidewinder which is also
great. The PC saw took a 1 1/2 story fall off a roof a couple of weeks ago
and is still going strong!
The Worm drives the blade is installed backwards and also require a blade
with a knockout. Not a problem really, they are everywhere. Only problem is
once the knockout is punched you cant use the blade on a sidewinder. Also,
the cheapie blades do not have the knockout. Not sure if the Skill uses the
knockout blades. The Bosch does.
Here is a link to my Bosch worm drive saw (with top handle like a
Now - Put the circ saw discussion aside. For your project I would rather use
a SCMS with a stand.
There I use a Makita ls1013 with a TrackRack. IMO a miter saw has about 10x
more utility with a good stand.
Disclaimer - I am not affiliated in anyway with the above mentioned products
Wtf are you talking about, backwards? Also you're wrong about not being
able to use the blade on a sidewinder. Save the knockout and just put
the knockout back in the blade and it can be used on the other type of
saw. Tighten the nut and oila! Are you sure you own either of those saws?
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