How to choose between worm-drive and sidewinder circular saws

When it comes to circular saws, many carpenters have both worm-drive and sidewinders for different applications. So, what is the difference between these two styles of saw? Fine Homebuilding’s Justin Fink explains – it’s all in how you prefer to work!


dene8989 says:

one advantage that no one seems to mention, is that a worm drive saw is more powerful, and will last longer when cutting through difficult material, like lumber that has not been dried and cured properly and is still green an wet, or pine which contains lots of sap, when the high rpms of a sidewinder saw bogs down in this type of lumber it damages the saw quickly, where as the low RMP high torque worm drive saw will keep plowing through without problems, this is a main reason for the design, -to create more torque, -it has less to do with the placement of the blade

HOWEVER….the only time you will really cut enough lumber to appreciate a worm drive, and witness sidewinders burning up from constant use, is if you are building an entire house, a good setup is to consider your worm drive a “stationary” tool, and have one guy doing the hard cuts all day in one place, then a few another sidewinders that are “mobile” and doing light cuts in other areas a needed

Pia Fedora says:


Iginio Romero says:

Leftside hand and rightside look are good, rightside hand and rightside look are not good
Rightside and leftside are better and easy silksaw framing saw, my dewalt framing saw and dewalt cordless saw with rightside hand and leftside look, thank you, Iginio Romero

LivInAwe says:

Thank you for this video. My Home Depot training didn’t go to this depth. I’m left handed and can see how a Worm Drive can help overcome a few problems.

erik j says:

Skil saws last a lifetime. Can’t beat a worm drive

Shillier says:

How does having gears increase the torque?

joenation1000 says:

Wish they would sell worm drive in uk . A lot of carpenters would love them here

B Moon says:

Great informative video.

Chris Landers says:

exactly the reasons I use my worm drive 7 1/4 and 10 1/4 for all work below my head and a sidewinder, or just a freaking 20v 6 1/4 above my head. I prefer the worm drive, but know when it’s not the best tool to use. Now I can show my asshat buddies why I have more than one kind of saw.

Jester3 says:

I’ve always preferred wormsaws. you are correct about preferences according to geography.

SceneOne4teen says:

Mag 77 is my baby

robertb6964 says:

Wow that was a great video!

Anita Harless says:

Well done. Thanks for a clear explanation.

Tim Cole says:

I’m 42 years old. I started with a sidewinder and came across a worm drive saw in my early 20s. Soooooooo heavy and difficult to use. I have yet to read or watch a video that adequately makes an arguement for the worm saw. “They cut long distances better and straiter ” -use a table saw. Don’t have a table saw? use a strait edge guide. Don’t have a strait edge guide? Go buy one for $10 rather than spending double on a worm drive and dealing with an ancient mess. I’ll listen if someone has a viable arguement.

PussMag says:

there are lighter weight WD now, but still heavier than CS

Roger Tunnell says:

The argument about weight distribution over the cut end is fallacious. Just cut from the other end of the saw horse. Problem solved.

MadeAUsername says:

Wow thank you for this video! Extremely clear.

J Fr55man says:

they make both left and right handed versions of these saws…

rbrtoavl1 says:
1873Winchester says:

I wish we had worm drives in europe.

silvertip185 says:

Great video, thank you for the help.

salome Gonzalez says:

subtítulos en español. porfavor

jwbrenna says:

i wish every carpentry question i asked had an answer this thorough and precise, very well done!

Brian Sanner says:

As a framing carpenter on the West Coast for 8 years worm drive is all I ever saw or used. My dad left me his tools when he passed which included a Makita sidewinder. The thing is unusable. this video really downplayed the difficulty in seeing your cut line. It is impossible to see unless you can look straight down on it from above, or cross your body with the saw to crane your head around to the far side. It is also so loud it sounds like you’re cutting through sheet metal even when you’re not cutting anything. Any weight or balance advantage is offset by the complete inability to hold a straight line. The blade is also only secured by friction, as you don’t need to punch out the diamond and only the pressure of the nut holds it in place. I’ve had the blade slip on multiple occasions while cutting plywood. I cannot think of a single application where a sidewinder would be superior to a worm drive. Which is why I was amazed that they are no where to be found in hardware stores in the Midwest or East coast.

C Leh says:

Very informative.

Rich Barber says:

can someone explain why you cant just have a sidewinder with the motor on the right and the blade on the left?

LivInAwe says:

I no longer work for the Home Depot. However, I have a large summer project. I think I’ll go the Rigid worm-drive. It has a great warranty. Not to dismiss the quality of the Skil worm-saw.

MrPottymouth122 says:

Great vid! Got straight to the point, answered all my questions & taught me a little more on top of that!
And NO dance music!

Mark Miller says:

You mentioned the increased torque, but I don’t know that you really did the worm-drive justice. When cutting harder woods or to rip dimensional lumber a worm-drive will destroy a sidewinder. Also, the durability factor. I have seen mag 77s dropped from 8+ feet onto concrete by framers w/no damage. They are by far the most durable saws out there.

jbarthol says:

New model sidewinders you don’t need to worry about oil. If you get (or in my case have) an old Skilsaw 574 for instance that requires a few drops of SAE 20 once in a while.

Dennam Irwin says:

I will get this out right off the bat. A worm drive has a lot of torque. It can kick back easier than a regular circular saw and the weight and longer handle make it harder to control when it does. That being said, They last longer and if you are ripping alot of material, this is the saw you want. The size of the smaller base plate make them less accurate than a regular drive saw and don’t even bother putting one on the roof with you as they are heavy as hell, but for cutting truss over hangs walking the top of the wall, they are the BOSS. The blade is where it should be for this if you are right handed and the with the extra weight, about all you have to do is line it up right and let it fall. It would be nice if on both types of circular saws, it they would put a button near the trigger to hold the guard open until the cut is started. So, After a few years as an independent Framing and Trim Contractor, I keep one worm drive for every two of the regular ones on average. If one of the tool companies was to ever get bold and make a worm drive Compound mitre saw, that would be AWESOME! I am sick of replacing them every other year or two.

dave m says:

I have mostly worm drives (Skil 77s and a couple of Milwaukee 8 1/4s) but admit that it is not a bad idea to keep a good quality sidewinder in you arsenal too because you just might need it in certain tight or overhead cuts.  

poptya says:

The weight difference is alot more than this video makes it seem.. A worm drive is 3-4 TIMES heavier than a sidewinder.

slantedview says:

Really nice overview

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