Craftsman Professional 5.5-inch Circular Saw, 320.281.91 - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 1 Old 11-28-2008, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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Craftsman Professional 5.5-inch Circular Saw, 320.281.91

I have a Skil Mag-77 worm-drive saw for heavy-duty cutting. It is a bit elephantine for smaller-scale work, so I recently purchased this Craftsman 5.5-inch "trim" saw to fill out my saw collection. While listed as a Craftsman "Professional" tool, and while the build quality is terrific, it still seems a tad lightweight to be considered a pro-class tool.

The motor on this small saw is an 8-amp job, the rotational speed is 4,000 rpm, the cutting depth at 90 degrees is 1 5/8 inches (just enough for broad-side cutting a 2×4), and the bevel guide goes out to 48 degrees. The thing weighs a fraction of what the Mag-77 comes in at, but it cuts strong and true, and like the Mag-77 it is a left-blade design that makes it easier to see the guide line when cutting right handed.

However, it also comes with a laser, which kind of negates the need to see the blade all that accurately during cuts. While I have been skeptical of laser guides in the past, this one works quite well even in non-direct-sunlit daylight, although for the last inch or two of the cut the laser does not hit the wood. Then, you need to see the blade itself, and the left-blade design comes into its own. (This is one thing I also like about my Mag-77.) Anyway, a laser is a good idea, although for really staight cuts I will still clamp on a portable frence.

The only qualifier with this saw is the odd blade size. The arbor will not handle the kind of standard trim-saw blade that will fit battery-powered versions in this size class, and so you have to go through the Sears Parts Department (not the store and not even Catalog Sales) to get replacements and those seem to come in only one style. The blade is technically considered a “part” of the saw and not just an accessory like a typical blade. Well, it is a carpenter’s trim saw, and so what they offer is more than good enough. I did see a plywood blade in the correct size at the Sears store a while back and I think it would fit the saw. I might get one of those.

Blade issues notwithstanding, this is a good and useful saw if you do not need to make particularly deep cuts. It is actually rather cute and is sure easier to swing around than my Mag-77.

Howard Ferstler
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