What exactly is a worm drive circular saw?
A worm-drive circular saw is a cutting power tool that is relatively easy to use by professionals and handy home users alike. This saw is used to make straight cuts in wood and other materials, should have some important safety features and also some features to provide accurate results.
The name worm drive circular saw is given because these machines have the power of the motor transmitted to the rotating blade through a worm gear, which is a mechanism composed of a worm screw and a gear that can transfer rotation in a more smooth way with reduced vibration to the user. The worm gear drive units transfer motion in up to 90 degrees which gives the equipment precision and versatility.
Worm drive circular saw vs regular
Different from the straight drive circular saw, a worm drive saw is longer in length and the blade is on the left side of the body which enables the operator to better see the cut line while keeping the saw firm with one hand during the operation.
What should you look for in a worm drive circular saw?
When you decide to buy a worm drive saw, look for some important safety features. First, look for models that have a comfortable handle. The handle should fit snuggly in your hand to run the tool with confidence. It should also fit in your hand with an arm position that allows you to operate the machine in front of you, not from above so that you move you guide the machine forward to make the cut comfortably.
It is also important to have the operating button at the reach of your finger for the one hand operation. The saw should have a safety blade cover to protect it while transporting the tool and, at the same time, avoid hazardous accidents like touching the blade inadvertently. The blade cover should have an easy snap on the lock to facilitate operation.
Another important feature is the quality of the lock that adjusts the level of the blade. You always have to adjust the level of the blade according to the thickness of the material you are going to cut. The hint is that the blade should come about one-eighth of an inch below the material. The lock that adjusts the level should be easy and quick to use and, moreover, latch the table of the machine firmly during operation.
Look also for onboard storage of the adjusting wrench to have the adjusting wrench always available but, at the same time perfectly stored in the machine and not left on top of the material you are going to cut. During the operation, although the models come with a shield to protect the operator of splinters, always wear safety glasses.
Precision and versatility
Precision and versatility are key features of worm drive circular saws, so look for models with easy and good quality latches to adjust the angle between the saw and the material. There are models that allow you to make cuts with inclinations up to 65 degrees. The table of the saw should be made of hard metal, such as magnesium, for increased durability and precision as the table serves as a guide while cutting.
Some models come with a laser indicator to guide you through a straight cut, that is a recommended precision feature. Check also for models that allow you to quickly and easily replace the blade as most of the machines in the market come with blades that have 18 or 24 teeth, which are good numbers of teeth for the majority of the applications due to the high rotational speed, but you might want to have a blade with more teeth for precise, smooth cuts in finished surfaces.
The prices of a worm drive circular saw are usually double the price of a straight drive saw but many workers consider the difference well worth the investment because of the better results and easiness to use.
About the specifications, it is important to consider the size of the blade, as you might need a bigger machine to your needs. Seven inches one-fourth should be enough size for the majority of the home users whereas larger models more extra capability for professional users. Home users should also take into consideration the weight of the equipment for convenience.
Check out reviews of 6 best drive circular saws available in the market today to help you select which one fits best to your needs.
Cuz-D Industries – SFS85 Straight Flush Saw Multi-Function 8 1/2″ Worm Drive Circular and Undercut Saw
This worm drive saw is an excellent professional machine in what refers to power and precision. The 8 1/2-inch blade provides capacity easily to cut thick lumber in a single pass. The bevel can be adjusted from -5 to a maximum of 65 degrees for inclined cuts, which gives this model and incredible versatility.
You can precisely cut doors and windows, remove sub floors without damaging walls, makes cuts in corners and cut a full 360 degrees around a window from the inside. All the adjustment locks are high quality, easy and safe to operate. It has a lightweight magnesium body to reduce fatigue and increase durability. This machine allows you to make precise cuts in the vertical position.
As a professional equipment, the SFS85 increases the productivity through the torque and versatility. It is a lightweight machine, though, a bit too light for the professional user. It weighs 14.3 pounds and is priced much higher than other equipment that the home user can have. It also requires practice to use this machine due to the weight, power, and shape.
Also, the base is offset and so the blade wants to bind if you are not getting it right. Despite the high price of the equipment, the original blade can get early damaged if it hits a metal part, such as a nail in the wood.
Big Foot Tools – BF-UG 10-1/4-Inch Wormdrive Magnesium Circular Saw w/ Skil Motor
This a heavy machine for professional use. It weighs 23.2 pounds so you need a strong, athletic arm to hold it still. However, it is a very powerful saw that can cut for times wood materials in just one pass, allowing for a very high productivity in the construction site. It can go through hard cuts. Knots in the wood or hidden nails will not be obstacles for it.
You will probably see some sparks but the machine will go on cutting smoothly. It can even cut double wood at 45 degrees in only one pass. It comes with a 10 1/4 inch blade with the thin kerf for hard, efficient use on decks, porches, and fences. It can cut blocks such as roof, joist, and fire blocks.
On the negative side, in addition to the heavyweight, is that the machine can get hot during operation and the blade guard does not retract as easy as it should during the cutting operation. Some reviews even consider it a design problem because the guard should move out of the way as the machine cuts forward. Professionals also comment that the base shoe is too narrow for the size and weight of the equipment, which makes it difficult to make a square cut to the end of a beam. A machine in this level of price should not have this kind of report.
SKILSAW – SPT77WML-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight Worm Drive Circular Saw
The SPT77WML from Skilsaw has a 7 1/4 inch blade which is enough size for the majority of the home users. This saw has a very good cost to benefit relation with great versatility. The manufacturer claims this model to be the lightest worm drive saw in the market because of the magnesium construction.
It is easy to use and has quality adjustment locks for blade height and angle, which can go up to 53-degree bevel to allow many different angles of cutting. The body looks sturdy but it is made of rugged magnesium which is very strong while keeps the motor cool for increased performance. The lower blade guard moves easily and smoothly to allow easy operation. It is a good machine for applications such as decking, siding, framing, and ceilings. Works with soft, hard and engineered woods.
You should not expect this model to be as durable as a more expensive, professional saw. In addition, when you buy this machine check that the locks work perfectly and the lubricant tank has enough oil in it as there have been reports of some units to be delivered with the tank empty.
Makita – 5377MG Magnesium 7-1/4-Inch Hypoid Saw
The 7 1/4 inch blade on the Makita 5377MG gets rotates strongly thanks to a compact motor that provides incredible torque. The high torque allows a quieter, low noise operation. The magnesium components allow this saw to be lightweight with only 13.2 pounds. Rubberized locks and levers allow quick and easy adjustments with high-quality locking capacity.
The Makita informs that the gears are made of heat treated steel what makes them a lot more durable than traditional bronze-alloy gears and the oil bath technology has a built-in fan and sealed gear for less need of maintenance. It has a rubber grip for more comfortable and firm operation. Bevel allows for cuts up to 51.5 degrees and the blade wrench is conveniently attached to the body for fast blade change. It is an excellent machine of its price level. It is really smooth and sturdy, following the quality tradition of Makita.
Professional users, though, may consider this machine as not so sturdy for the construction sites because this model has several plastic components. The blade binds may get a bit loose over time making it difficult to cut straight.
DeWalt – DWS535 7 1/4-Inch Worm Drive Circular Saw
The DWS535 from DeWalt is made in China with the lightweight magnesium body. This model weighs 13.8 pounds which make it easy to handle and store. The table is also made of magnesium providing a solid cutting platform that is durable and precise to use it as a cutting guide. It uses a 7 1/4 inch blade with the bevel that allows operation in up to 53 degrees. It also saves adjustment time because it comes with indicators for 22.5 and 45-degree cuts.
The locks are fast to use and maintain accuracy during the operation. This is a sturdy machine that can cut granite countertops when equipped with a diamond blade. DeWalt promotes this model as user-friendly because of the spindle that is accessible from the top and makes blade changes easier and faster. It also has a patented system for jerk protection of the electrical cord. That is an important safety feature, mainly for home users.
This is a professional machine that can be conveniently used by the do-it-yourself man at home. It is loud, though. It makes more noise than other models available in the market and seems to get noisier with the use. The magnesium base may not resist occasional drops in the job site. The machine consumes more lubricant than other competitor´s models.
SKILSAW – SPT77W-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch
Just like its sister model described above, the SKILSAW SPT77W-01 is a job site sturdy machine with enough power and torque that professionals like for their difficult operations. This model has the aluminum body, aluminum guard, and steel footplate. This saw weighs 14.2 pounds, which is more than the weight of the sister model due to the material of the body. Aluminum weighs more than magnesium.
The original 7 1/4 inch blade has 24 teeth and counts on a bevel capacity of up to 51 degrees. The motor works smoothly, with reduced noise, ideal for applications such as heavy wood framing, stairwells, framing and concrete forming. This model comes with a wrench that is multi-function as the same wrench is used for blade changes, brush, and oil maintenance.
There are several good options when it comes to models of worm drive circular saws. Have clearly in mind the kind of work you are going to do with the saw now that you have learned about the specifications and have seen some good examples. As a general recommendation, let the blade do the work, do not force the blade through the wood.