Worm Drive VS Side Drive Circular Saws
Is this guide helpful?
Many people who are new to tools as well as veterans sometimes question us on the difference between Worm Drives and Side Drives when it comes to circular saws. This guide will serve as a comparison between the two and will hopefully allow you, the customer, make a more informed decision.
What is a worm drive circular saw?
Worm drive circular saws get their name from the worm gear (a spiral thread on a shaft) that runs at right angles to the blade shaft. A sidewinder circular saw typically has the saw blade shaft in line with the shaft of the motor for the saw.
What are the differences physically?
Worm drive circular saws look somewhat different than standard side drive circular saws. The foot on a worm drive is on the opposite side of the blade than a side drive. Many people claim that this makes it easier to see the cut that is currently being made. There aren't many left handed circular saws on the market anymore so many people value this small physical difference. The worm drive is also longer due to the added length of the handle.
What are the differences in relation to performance?
Many people argue that worm drives are much more powerful than side drives. Although the blade turns slower (approx. 4400 RPMS vs 5500-5800 RPMS) the worm drive's design and in-line gears make for easier and smoother cuts. Worm drives are the saw of choice when cutting heavier woods such as oak because the cuts are very smooth. This extra power does come at a price however. Worm drive circular saws cost anywhere from $75 - $150 more, depending on the brand, and they do weigh about 6 pounds more than a standard side drive circular saw (about 12 pounds vs 18 pounds). Although the cut is easier to see with the foot on the other side, you do have to wear good eye protection to prevent the increased chips from injuring your eyes.
Which saw is the right saw for me?
The bottom line here is that you get what you pay for with worm drives. The worm drive circular saw is more saw for the money. The gears are designed to provide smooth, hassle free cuts through very tough woods that would normally cause a builder problems with a standard side drive circular saw. If you are building something out of a more expensive, dense wood or are making hundreds of cuts a day through 2x4's all the way up to 2x10's, the extra money spent on the worm drive will pay for itself quickly in time saved and raw power. If you are someone who is not going to use their saw that heavily and, when you do use it, are going to cut basic materials, then it's a matter of how much you want to spend on your saw. There also is the question of the added weight of the worm drive. If you are going to be making many uphill or overhead cuts, the weight could become an issue.
There are many things to consider when you are chosing your circular saw. It is most often the bread and butter of any carpentry job or project. Hopefully this guide has given you some idea of the comparison between the two and helped in your purchase decision. We have a pretty good saw selection here on ebay in our store "Texas Tool Online Store". Thank you for taking time to read our guide. We hope you have a great day!