Is there an advantage to worm-drive circular saw?

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Forum topic by Monte Pittman posted 01-23-2014 11:42 AM 9496 views 0 times favorited 44 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Monte Pittman

30071 posts in 2544 days

01-23-2014 11:42 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am shopping for new tools. Just wondering if there is an advantage to having a worm drive on a circular saw.

Thanks for reading

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

44 replies so far

View Silverhill's profile


101 posts in 1850 days

#1 posted 01-23-2014 12:04 PM

I don’t have one, but being geared(by worm drive) it would give you more power, torque, than a direct drive. Think standard shift vehicle, the power of the lower gears to high gear(direct drive). You come down to lower gears to take a load up a steep hill.

Good luck on the rebuild and recovery.

-- 1st Cor. 15:1-4

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3349 days

#2 posted 01-23-2014 12:18 PM

Silverhill hit it on the head. In my opinion, the extra torque comes at a high price- xtra weight, and a lot of it. For most of 30 yrs. I’ve used a Makita circular saw, and have never had any problems.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View mantwi's profile


312 posts in 2102 days

#3 posted 01-23-2014 12:35 PM

Having done residential carpentry for over 38 years I can name a few advantages that make it my preferred circular saw. Having the blade on the user side of the saw makes it more natural to see and follow a line if you are right handed. The angle of the handle on wormdrives is just more ergonomic, it’s like an extension of my arm due to the straight line it allows you to have from elbow to saw handle regardless of the blade depth. This is a major point if your an old dog, it prevents an aching wrist from being in the unnatural position you need to operate a sidewinder. The use of gears in the saw does give it a noticeable power advantage over most circular saws and they are very smooth. The cons are the weight, wormdrives are heavier than most saws by a pound or two, a point I’ve heard a lot of whining about over the years. That is sissy talk, you only have to lift it to the workpiece not suspend it in the air above it while cutting. You have to punch the diamond out of the sawblade to mount it on a wormdrive. A small price to pay for the advantage it has. That being said I still keep a sidewinder on hand for making the tread cut on the right hand stringer facing a staircase, I am addicted to being able to see the blade without craning my neck across a saw. I backed over my old wormdrive with my truck and just picked up the only Ridgid tool I have ever loved. Their wormdrive saw is a real gem and I’d recommend it. Once you get accustomed to one you will never look back.

View waho6o9's profile


8525 posts in 2783 days

#4 posted 01-23-2014 01:37 PM

I like a Makita hypoid saw better, except I’m still using my worm drive
Skill saw because it’s bullet proof.

It’s amazing how long a Skill saw can be used and abused.

View MJCD's profile


580 posts in 2577 days

#5 posted 01-23-2014 01:40 PM

I’ve had the Bosch wormdrive for 10 years, or more – rated at 15 amps, it will continue to draw power until the electrical breakers pop – an excellent investment, if you need the power.

The direct offset of bottomless power and torque is the size and weight: while professionals get used to the weight, and need the power, the real question is whether you need something this strong. Also. the 7 1/4” format is a direct and lingering need by rough (vs. Fine) carpenters for a 1 1/2” cut at a 45 degree miter – not something non-carpenters often need.

For most of my woodworking, I use a 9amp 6” Porter-Cable “SawBoss” – it’s lighter, smaller, powerful-enough for plywood rips and 1” hardwood crosscuts. I keep the Bosch for working my pressure-treated deck, and other “15 amp’ work.

For my money, get a high-quality sidewinder (normal)-style; along with 6” saw for the shop – or just the smaller saw, for now; and invest the remainder in other tools. Let your requirements drive your spending.

You Take Care.

View dhazelton's profile


2798 posts in 2502 days

#6 posted 01-23-2014 01:41 PM

I would say if you’re cutting rafters all day long go for the worm drive. For most everything else it’s probably overkill.

View Roger's profile


20952 posts in 3010 days

#7 posted 01-23-2014 01:41 PM

Craigs list is always worth a look.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View bbc557ci's profile


595 posts in 2280 days

#8 posted 01-23-2014 01:47 PM

All of the above. Like comparing a Unisaw to a job site table saw.

-- Bill, central where near the "big apple"

View b2rtch's profile


4868 posts in 3254 days

#9 posted 01-23-2014 01:47 PM

Better balance

-- Bert

View doubleDD's profile (online now)


7903 posts in 2249 days

#10 posted 01-23-2014 01:47 PM

I agree with mantwi totally. I also was a carpenter before retiring and would reach for the worm drive as my favorite. Yes it has extra weight, but the power, stability, and control is great. Test drive one before you decide, you will see a nice difference, especially when you cut into thicker lumber.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5290 posts in 1927 days

#11 posted 01-23-2014 02:02 PM

You can change the oil in a worm drive saw, if done every couple years can extend the life of the gearbox for a very long time. Grease lubricated parallel gears in over 99% of sidewinder saws are more efficient from a mechanical design standpoint and because the gears aren’t dragging through a heavy oil. They rely on a (very) thin film of oil from the grease. Over 99% of side winder saws have the drive pinion teeth cut into the armature shaft which has to be replaced when the gears become worn. Worm drive saws have a worm that is installed onto the armature shaft, in the unlikely event it requires replacement, the armature doesn’t have to be purchased as well. The worm gear (on the blade spindle) is brass which lends itself well to the sliding action of such a gear train. From a power standpoint the average horsepower supplied by a good worm drive saw will be close to that of a good sidewinder saw, the taller gear ratio in the worm drive saw offers more torque, which in many cases can be seen as an advantage over greater blade speed.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11079 posts in 3634 days

#12 posted 01-23-2014 02:03 PM

My Skil 77 is close to 30 years old and has never failed me. I love the fact that the motor is on the right of the blade. Probably not great for a lefty, though. As others have stated, plenty of power and damned near bullet proof.
Were I a framer, I don’t think I’d use it. It’s probably twice the weight of most other saws. Although, I’ve seen a lot in use on construction sites. Regardless, it’s a great saw for my shop.
My use is breaking down lumber and plywood. No problem ripping a 2 by.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2882 days

#13 posted 01-23-2014 02:10 PM

Look out folks…Monte’s on a spending spree! Ha!

I’d get one of each.

a 6” PC saw boss for plywood, soffit work
a 7 1/4” Skilsaw worm drive for framing and rafter angle cuts
a 7 1/4” Milwaukee or Makita sidewinder with 60 tooth blade strictly as a panel cutter with a guide

View waho6o9's profile


8525 posts in 2783 days

#14 posted 01-23-2014 02:15 PM

Hypoid gear above.

Here’s the worm gear:

Fascinating stuff.

View DocSavage45's profile


8726 posts in 3048 days

#15 posted 01-23-2014 02:36 PM


You look like a big guy. You operate chainsaws. I’m guessing your thinking about construction tools? To compensate for the weight my friends in construction would let the saw do the work. Gravity when possible like holding the piece to be cut on top of the work boot and cutting downward.

You also cut slabs for your furniture. The extra cutting power means less time cutting through the board.

If you can afford the tool, and it won’t be sitting on the shelf after one job, then I would spend the money.

It’s like deciding on what chainsaw to buy. The Poulan Pro is not a Husquavarna, but I’m not going to be doing what you do with lumbering and milling.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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