Conventional Circular Saw vs. Worm Drive - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 9 Old 11-23-2011, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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Conventional Circular Saw vs. Worm Drive

I was wondering about the advantages/disadvantages between a regular 7 1/4" circular saw and a worm drive saw. I understand the worm drive saws are generally used for framing and have also seen that they are not considered to be as safe as a standard saw.

School me here, guys.

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post #2 of 9 Old 11-23-2011, 10:05 PM
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If you have big construction jobs to do, or lots of plywood to cut, you might consider a worm-drive saw for more power and faster cutting. With the motor mounted behind the blade, worm-drive and hypoid circular saws use oiled gears that make them more powerful than sidewinders. Worm-drive saws need regular oil changes, but the newer hypoid saws have permanent oil, with no changes ever needed.

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post #3 of 9 Old 11-23-2011, 10:30 PM
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Maybe this will help.

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post #4 of 9 Old 11-23-2011, 10:31 PM
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It seems that the Eastern US goes with sidewinders while the Western US goes with worm drive. I don't know why, it just seems that way.

I have a worm drive, probably 25-30 years old that I would not trade for anything. (B & D or Skill, can't remember which.) During the remodel of our house, one of the carpenters used it because of a problem with his. He offered me $275 for it, right there on the spot. When I refused, he informed me that if I ever sell the worm drive, he has first right of refusal.

The only thing that I have ever noticed as a difference between a sidewinder and worm drive was the starting torque. The side winder torque tends to work on your wrist while the starting torque of a worm drive tends to twist your elbow. IMHO it seems that the elbow twist is easier to handle.

I wish that I could be more helpful. All that I can say is that I like the worm drive better than the side winder. But that's opinion and not fact.

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post #5 of 9 Old 11-23-2011, 10:57 PM
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my experience

Worm drive = brute force, high torque, narrower and heavy, better for ripping. Can be used with one hand outstretched...if you're Tarzan or the Hulk.
Sidewinder, much lighter, even magnesium, mostly blades on the right and therefore harder to see over the motor to see the line, reasonable power. better for cross cutting. Can be used with one hand outstretched by "normal" woodworkers/carpenters. bill

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specfic. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo
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post #6 of 9 Old 11-24-2011, 07:20 AM
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Mine is a approx. 20 y.o Skil 77. Great saw! But believe me, use it for long and you soon learn how to make gravity your friend.
It's now used mainly to breakdown sheet goods.

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post #7 of 9 Old 11-24-2011, 07:35 AM
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I don't have a problem with the "one hand" cuts. The problem is I may not be able to let go. After all the years of hand held routers, circular saws, and belt sanders, I have a pretty good feel for controlling the weight. It was also the cause of tendonitis. My fingers may not release when I ask them to.

But, between the two, the worm drive is heavier and longer, but has a lower center of gravity. Blades are usually on the left side. If you use a straight edge, you don't need to see the blade anyway. Sidewinders can come left or right blade, and some are very light. They are usually less expensive.

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post #8 of 9 Old 11-24-2011, 11:02 AM Thread Starter
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Good information, everyone. I hadn't realized how much heavier a worm drive is over a sidewinder - about 50% heavier in some cases. I also didn't know that they had oil that had to be changed.

I have a decent 13A Craftsman sidewinder (decent meaning not the best saw, but one of the better Craftsman models). My primary use for it seems to be breaking down sheet goods. It has a stamped bottom plate which I'm not too fond of, vs. the aluminum plate that some saws have.

The Ridgid worm drive looks like a mighty nice saw for the money and I was wondering if it might be better for my purposes. Being able to see the blade is a nice plus, too. (Or am I just having a craving for one more cool tool!?).

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post #9 of 9 Old 11-24-2011, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by rrich View Post
It seems that the Eastern US goes with sidewinders while the Western US goes with worm drive. I don't know why, it just seems that way.

And being from the Midwest, I have one of each! What I find myself doing is if I have a lot of dimensional lumber to cut, or lumber that is wet like treated usually is, I reach for my worm drive. I generally use one of my sidewinders if I'm cutting sheet goods or 3/4 lumber. But this is by no means a hard and fast rule with me. The sidewinders are a little lighter.
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