Best Worm Drive Saws of 2020

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Categories Saws
The best worm drive saws for price, power, and accuracy.

We all want the best tools for the job. It makes life easier, and we get better results. When it comes to power tools, worm drive circular saws are among the best. But that doesn’t mean they are all created equal.

We look at the best worm drive saws to see what makes them so different.

Table of Contents

    What are Worm Drive Saws Used For?

    Worm drive saws are used in construction and woodworking. They have a narrower profile because the centerline of the motor is parallel to the plane of the saw blade. This means they are better for working in confined spaces.

    They also have larger gear teeth, which gives them greater load-carrying capacity. This delivers higher power and torque, so they are the tool of choice for heavy use.

    Advantages of a Worm Drive Saw

    There are several reasons why you should buy a worm drive saw over a traditional sidewinder, direct-drive saw.

    Quiet and Smooth

    Worm drive motors are quieter and run smoother. This makes for a better experience when using one. Also, the motor takes less punishment and requires minimal maintenance.

    Longer Reach

    The distance between the saw blade and the handle is longer, which means you have an extended range when making cuts. This is useful when cutting substantial sheet material that requires additional reach.

    More Power

    The gear system on a worm drive saw means that it takes a higher capacity, thanks to bigger teeth. This means that tougher saw jobs like concrete or even sheet metal are deliverable.

    Better for Right-Handed People

    The blade on a worm drive circular saw is on the left side, making it easier for right-handed people to get a clear sightline when they cut. A direct-drive saw has the blade on the right, so it benefits the minority of left-handed people.

    The US has the second highest percentage of left-handed people in the world, at just over 13 percent (1). So, while a sidewinder saw will benefit the left-handed community, a worm drive saw is going to be more compatible with the significantly larger right-handed population.

    Benefits Professionals

    If you are a pro woodworker, a worm drive system is better because it has the torque and cutting power to deal with most tasks. These saws are heavier by a few pounds, so they might not be suitable for most DIY enthusiasts as it may cause hand fatigue.

    The average sidewinder or direct drive saw weighs nine or ten pounds. A worm drive circular saw typically weighs 13 to 15 pounds.

    Longer Life

    Because the gears are larger, worm drive systems last the distance. In many cases, they can last a lifetime with proper care. Direct drive saws wear out much faster and require more maintenance.

    Why Is It Called a Worm Drive?

    It’s called a worm drive because of the two elements that make up the gear system. They are called the worm screw and worm wheel. The worm (the screw) meshes with the worm wheel which is a gear similar to a standard spur gear.

    This system produces higher load capacity and torque but may reduce the rotational speed of the blade.

    The electric motor provides rotational power to the worm, and that engages with the wheel, causing it to turn. The wheel then pushes against the load.

    What Is the Difference Between a Hypoid Saw and a Worm Drive Saw?

    The best way to describe the difference between the two gear systems is to use your car as an example. A worm drive gear system is like your car steering and works in a similar way. The worm screw engages with the worm wheel to turn the gear and create rotation.

    A hypoid gear is a hybrid of the two, because hypoid systems use spiral bevel gears whose axis is not in line with the meshing gear. In other words, the two gears do not intersect. This gives greater configuration possibilities and can accommodate a wider shaft.

    Who Makes the Best Worm Drive Saw?

    We think of famous name brands when we choose our power tools. Even for those who aren’t DIY enthusiasts, the brand names that count still stand out.

    Milwaukee

    Milwaukee can trace their history all the way back to the end of the first world war. Henry Ford needed a portable, lightweight power drill for his production line, and a young Wisconsin man named A.H. Peterson rose to the challenge.

    After joining with business partner Albert F. Seibert, the A.H.Peterson Company was founded. Tragically, it closed a year later but was reinvented by Seibert as the Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation in 1924 (2).

    Since then, they have dedicated themselves to producing high quality, industry-strength power tools.

    DeWALT

    As long ago as 1922, Raymond E. DeWALT invented the first radial arm power saw (3). He was the superintendent of a sawmill and wanted to increase productivity without adding to the labor force costs.

    From there, DeWALT grew and expanded to become one of America’s most trusted brands. They are known for innovation and cutting edge design, and are responsible for many power tools we see in workshops and construction sites today.

    Skilsaw

    It seems the 1920s was a good decade for power tool manufacturing. In 1924, Skilsaw was founded, with the invention of the first circular saw (4). Very apt, considering the company features so heavily in this review.

    It was this invention by Edmond Michel that fuelled the development of worm drive gears.The company recognized the growing DIY market and started making power tools for the masses as well as the professionals.

    Fun Fact

    When it comes to circular saws, Skilsaw remains one of the benchmarks for others to beat.

    Makita

    Makita was founded in Nagoya, Japan in 1915. It started life as an electric motor sales and repair business but gradually moved towards manufacturing. It wasn’t until 1958 that Makita produced its first power tool, the electric planer (5).

    From there, the company has grown into one of the biggest names in power tools globally. With the longest history and Japanese ingenuity, Makita is an industry leader.

    How to Choose the Best Worm Drive Saws

    With so many things to consider, what are the main features you should look for when choosing a worm drive circular saw?

    Motor

    Choosing a worm drive saw with an underpowered motor is going to bring a heap of issues down the line. Most motors are 15 amps, and capable of producing 4,500 to 5,000 RPM. This is more than enough power to handle the toughest jobs.

    Cutting Depth

    Knowing your saws cutting depth at 45 and 90 degrees is crucial if you want the saw to cut specific materials. Too little depth could mean the saw won’t cut some sheet material.

    Bevel Capacity

    Knowing your saws bevel capacity dictates the type of cuts you can perform. The higher the capacity, the more versatile the saw is. Also, remember to look out for preset bevel stops to make life easier.

    Weight

    Weight might seem unimportant, but when you are using your worm drive saw for eight hours a day, hand fatigue can set in fairly quickly. Most worm drive circular saws are a few pounds heavier than their direct drive cousins, weighing in at 13 to 15 pounds.

    Remember

    This additional weight is a trade-off because worm drive motors are quieter and smoother, so you should suffer less vibration as a result. So, don’t let the extra weight put you off if you need a worm drive saw.

    Dust Blower

    Maintaining a clear line of sight is vital if you want accurate cuts. A dust blower keeps the debris off the cutting line and improves your visibility.

    Blade Changing

    Blades dull over time and need replacing. Having a saw with a quick-change system to remove the blade by one simple lock is a lifesaver, especially if your saw gets a lot of use.

    Saw Housing

    Saw housing adds to the weight, which affects the way it’s handled. The lightest and most robust option is magnesium because it is very strong. Avoid anything with a plastic housing.

    Warranty

    While the hope is that you never need the warranty, occasionally, things go wrong. Expect anything from one to five years, depending on the manufacturer.


    The Best Worm Drive Saws of 2020

    Narrowing down the best worm drive saws was a challenge because there are so many types available. We looked in detail at 20 different makes and models, but finally settled on the best seven we could find in the allotted categories.

    1. DeWALT DWS535S Worm Drive Saw

    Best Quality Worm Drive Saw

    DEWALT 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw, 15-Amp, Worm Drive (DWS535B)
    Check Price

    This DeWALT worm drive circular saw is the ultimate in quality and durability. It has a durable, lightweight magnesium footplate and a mixture of aluminum and magnesium construction.

    That said, this saw is solid and weighs 13.8 pounds, so it is robust enough to tackle most tasks. For one, there is an electric brake that stops the blade in an emergency. Plus, the cord is four times stronger, meaning that it is harder to slice through, as well as tougher to jerk.

    Why We Love It

    Great Brand Name

    DeWALT is one of those brand names that America and the world loves. It is known for precision, reliability, and above all, quality. It’s why we chose it as our top quality pick.

    Magnesium Construction

    Magnesium is one third less dense than aluminum and 75 percent lighter than steel, and yet it is more robust. It makes the perfect construction material for power tools because being lightweight and durable are staples of a quality saw.

    Great Price

    You would expect to pay far more for this product. Surprisingly, though, it is affordable when compared to other models available.

    Keep In Mind

    Weight

    While we accept this tool is lightweight, thanks to its magnesium elements, it could be a lot lighter. It weighs a full three pounds more than the Skilsaw we chose as the lightweight option.

    Additional Specs

    Weight13.8 pounds
    Blade size7.25 inches
    Depth cut1.88 inches at 45 degrees and 2.43 inches at 90 degrees
    HousingMagnesium and aluminum
    Motor15 amp/4,800 RPM

    2. Makita 5477NB Hypoid Saw

    Best Budget Worm Drive Saw

    Makita 5477NB 7-1/4' Hypoid Saw
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    Makita is a proud Japanese manufacturer of power tools, and this model is no exception. Best of all is the price because this worm drive saw is over four times cheaper than our premium pick.

    So what has it got? It has heat-treated hypoid gears, which are an amalgamation of worm drive gears and bevel gears to give a higher performance and load capacity. It also has a push-button spindle lock for swift blade changes.

    Why We Love It

    Hypoid Gears

    This hybrid of a worm drive and conical bevel gears produces a greater load capacity and higher configuration settings.

    The Price

    The price is what attracted us in the first place. It is a fraction of the cost when compared to others in its class. That makes it a great entry-level worm drive saw.

    Keep In Mind

    Steel Housing

    This is a budget product; something has to give to deliver a saw at such a great price. Significant savings are made using cheaper and heavier materials.

    Weight

    Without the benefits of magnesium and aluminum, this saw is heavy. It weighs 14.3 pounds, which is heavier than the DeWALT.

    Additional Specs

    Weight13.9 pounds
    Blade size7.25 inches
    Depth cut1.75 inches at 45 degrees and 2.38 inches at 90 degrees
    HousingRust-proof steel
    Motor15 amp/ 4,500 RPM

    3. Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 Worm Drive Saw

    Best Lightweight Worm Drive Saw

    SKILSAW SPT77WML-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight Worm Drive Circular Saw
    Check Price

    Without Skilsaw, there would be no circular saw. They invented it. And without Skilsaw, there would probably be no worm drive gears either.

    This model is an excellent example of a lightweight worm drive saw that takes advantage of magnesium housing and construction to shave those pounds. It weighs just 11.5 pounds, so it is marginally heavier than direct drive circular saws.

    It even has a 180-day, try it for free money-back guarantee. If you aren’t satisfied, Skilsaw will refund your money.

    Why We Love It

    Great Brand Name

    Skilsaw is the original and still among the best. It is another American institution and rightly deserves a place on our list.

    Dual-Field Motor

    Most other saw motors use single copper windings. However, Skilsaw motors utilize dual copper windings to increase the copper surface area by 40 percent, which keeps the motor cool.

    Lightweight

    This saw is one of the lightest available, weighing just 11.5 pounds. That means it is almost as light as the direct-drive models.

    Keep In Mind

    Build Quality Issues

    Skilsaw has invested so much into reducing the weight of this saw that some elements, like the mag plate, may be weaker than on other models. Some have reported it flexing during use.

    Additional Specs

    Weight11.5 pounds
    Blade size7.25 inches
    Depth cut2.38 inches at 90 degrees (depth not stated at 45 degrees)
    HousingMagnesium
    Motor15 amp dual-field

    4. Skilsaw SPT70V -11 Super Sawsquatch Worm Drive Saw

    Best Premium Worm Drive Saw

    SKILSAW SPT70V-11Super Sawsquatch 16-5/16' Worm Drive Circular Saw
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    This Skilsaw is a beast. It has a magnesium housing and footplate to increase durability but decrease the weight. This saw is not light, weighing over 27 pounds, which means that it is not likely to be top of the shopping list for DIY enthusiasts.

    Having said that, the weight is evenly distributed, making this saw balanced and surprisingly easy to handle.

    If you are in the trade and want a saw that can rip through 6.25-inch thick lumber, then this is the saw for you. It also benefits from the same dual-field motor that runs cooler than other similar competitors saws.

    Skilsaw is the saw that built America, and this model is more than capable of living up to the expectations of American tradespeople.

    Why We Love It

    Large Cutting Capacity

    With a 16-inch blade, this saw can rip through lumber up to 6.25 inches in thickness. That means a faster working rate because you can make light work of bulk jobs.

    Magnesium Construction

    The all-magnesium construction means that this saw is as lightweight as possible without compromising on the durability. Magnesium is less dense than aluminum, but more durable than steel.

    Powerful Motor

    The motor is 15 amps and generates 1,800 watts of power. Couple that with the high-torque, and you have a relentless cutting machine that will keep going until the job ends.

    Keep In Mind

    Weight

    Skilsaw has branded this model as lightweight and portable. Sure, it’s compact, but there is no way it is lightweight. It weighs over 27 pounds, twice the weight of other worm drive saws.

    The Price

    There is no escaping the fact that this saw costs three times as much as the DeWALT saw. It is a premium product, but be prepared to dig deep to buy it.

    Additional Specs

    Weight27.3 pounds
    Blade size16 inches
    Depth cut4.31 inches at 45 degrees and 6.25 inches at 90 degrees
    HousingMagnesium
    Motor15 amp dual-field

    5. Skilsaw SPTH77M-11 Cordless Worm Drive Saw

    Best Cordless Worm Drive Saw

    SKILSAW SPTH77M-11 48V 7-1/4 In. TRUEHVL Cordless Worm Drive Saw Kit With 1 TRUEHVL Battery
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    Say hello to the third Skilsaw to make the list. This cordless version runs all day on a fully charged battery and takes an hour to charge when flat. The batteries are Lithium-ion and have a built-in management system that monitors and optimizes each cell.

    This innovative battery design evenly spreads the heat to ensure a longer runtime, and because it is cordless, it can go anywhere. This saw is lightweight too, weighing 11.69 pounds, making it the second lightest saw on the list.

    Why We Love It

    Cordless

    This saw has a battery management system that delivers 425 cuts per charge. It means that on a full charge, you can keep going all day. And it only takes an hour to charge up again.

    Lightweight

    Of all the models featured, this saw is the most portable. It requires no power source, so that it can operate anywhere. It weighs half of the Sawsquatch model, at 11.69 pounds.

    True Worm Drive Saw

    Unlike the DeWALT cordless saw, this is a worm drive saw. It looks, feels, and handles the same as the cord version, just without the need to find a power source.

    Keep In Mind

    The Cost

    If you want this cordless model, you are going to pay more than the plug-in version. All this extra convenience comes at a price.

    Lithium Limitations

    Lithium-ion batteries hold their power and recharge quickly, but they don’t like cold weather. They can be temperamental and lose performance if the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. They also struggle above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Additional Specs

    Weight11.69 pounds
    Blade size7.25 inches
    Depth cut1.94 inches at 45 degrees and 2.25 inches at 90 degrees
    HousingMagnesium
    Motor15 amp dual-field

    6. Hitachi C7WDM Worm Drive Circular Saw

    Best Worm Drive Saw for Power

    Hitachi C7WDM 7 1/4' 15-Amp Worm Drive Circular Saw
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    This Hitachi saw produces a no-load RPM of 5,000. This is unusual for worm drive saws because typically, they provide a lower RPM but a higher torque, meaning you lose none of the power.

    This saw has a 45 degrees cutting capacity of 1.75 inches and 2.38 inches at 90 degrees. It also has a steel bevel and depth adjustment levers for better control and convenience.

    Why We Love It

    Price

    Compared to similar saws, this one is cheap. It almost topped our budget list but lost to the Makita.

    RPM

    To get 5,000 RPM from a worm drive saw is incredible. It means you can cut through tougher material.

    Warranty

    This saw has a five-year warranty, rivaling the Milwaukee. It means you have worry-free sawing for years to come.

    Keep In Mind

    Weight

    Because the purchase price is lower, Hitachi has had to cut costs, and that means you get no magnesium housing or construction. This makes the saw heavier at 14.7 pounds.

    Additional Specs

    Weight14.7 pounds
    Blade size7.25 inches
    Depth cut1.75 inches at 45 degrees and 2.38 inches at 90 degrees
    HousingSteel
    Motor15 amp/5,000 RPM

    7. Milwaukee 6477-20 Worm Drive Saw

    Best Worm Drive Saw for Warranty

    Milwaukee 6477-20 7-1/4-inch Worm Drive Circular Saw
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    Milwaukee is another brand name that has stood the test of time. This saw is constructed of magnesium for durability as well as for weight reasons. It has a 15 amp motor that produces 4,400 RPM, so you can cut the hardest materials without the worry of the saw blade bogging down.

    This saw has an oil sight glass so you can keep an eye on the oil reserves and top them up when necessary. This saw has an industry-leading five-year warranty, rivaling the Hitachi but beating the other saws on the list.

    Why We Love It

    Warranty

    When you purchase a new power tool, you hope it will last the distance, but should something go wrong, Milwaukee has your back. This saw has a five-year warranty for peace of mind.

    Heavy-Duty Shoe

    The heavy-duty composite shoe won’t warp, bend, or kick up a burr.

    Torque

    The 15 amp motor generates 4,400 RPM and maximum torque for the hardest materials. This saw is unlikely to bog down, even under heavy loads.

    Keep In Mind

    Not American-Made

    Milwaukee is an all-American brand, but unfortunately, this saw is manufactured in China to keep costs low. This is good for the consumer if you don’t care where your power tools come from, but if you want American-made, look elsewhere.

    Weight

    While this saw has magnesium housing designed to decrease the weight, this saw weighs 15 pounds, which is almost four pounds heavier than the Skilsaw option.

    Additional Specs

    Weight15 pounds
    Blade size7.25 inches
    Depth cut1.78 inches at 45 degrees and 2.43 inches at 90 degrees
    HousingMagnesium
    Motor15 amp/4,400 RPM

    Worm Drive Saw Comparison Chart

    ProductBestWeightBlade sizeDepth cut (45:90 deg)HousingMotor
    DeWALT DWS535S Worm Drive SawQuality13.8 lbs7.25″1.88″:2.43″Magnesium & aluminum15 amp/4,800 RPM
    Makita 5477NB Hypoid SawBudget13.9 lbs7.25″1.75″:2.38″Rust-proof steel15 amp/ 4,500 RPM
    Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 Worm Drive SawLightweight11.5 lbs7.25″0:2.38″Magnesium15 amp dual-field
    Skilsaw SPT70V -11 SawsquatchPremium27.3 lbs16″4.31″:6.25″Magnesium15 amp dual-field
    Skilsaw SPTH77M-11 Cordless11.69 lbs7.25″1.94″:2.25″Magnesium15 amp dual-field
    Hitachi C7WDM Worm DrivePower14.7 lbs7.25″1.75″:2.38″Steel15 amp/5,000 RPM
    Milwaukee 6477-20 Worm Drive SawWarranty15 lbs7.25″1.78″:2.43″Magnesium15 amp/4,400 RPM
    Jump to the Full Worm Drive Saw Reviews

    The Choice Is Yours

    If you want a circular saw that is quieter, easier to handle, and has more torque, choose a worm drive saw. If you are an experienced woodworker and you want the very best for your dollars, choose a worm drive saw.

    Comparing a worm drive saw with a sidewinder saw, or a direct drive variety is a bit like comparing a car of today with a vehicle from the 1970s. The technology has moved so far that while the two saws look the same, there is a world of difference between them.

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    About the Author

    Mark Weir

    Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.
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