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Tool question on WORM DRIVE saws

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Tool question on WORM DRIVE saws

Old 11-02-2011, 02:43 PM
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Default Tool question on WORM DRIVE saws

I wear out circular saws in about 5 years. This past three months, a complete renovation saw two of the saws give up the ghost, leaving only the cordless saw (thank goodness only minimal cutting remains to be done).

Now I see worm drive saws on eBay and wonder whether they're the toughest saws out there?

What's the reason I'd want to get a worm drive instead of the normal kind?
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:07 PM
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Dam Bama, what are ya cutting, railroad ties?

I've had a Makita for 10 years. I look at the worm drives, but they're bulky and heavy.

Frankly, can't beat a chop saw for framing. I'd rather frame with a chop saw and extension table, and rip plywood with a skilsaw.
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:14 PM
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I've never even held a worm drive saw, but if they're heavier than normal ones, then that's not the best situation when throwing around a skilsaw and one-handed cuts are the norm.

My 12" chop saw does most of the work if I can get the board to the table. The ShopSmith does the ripping, and circular saws are for use when taking the saw to the board is just easier to do.

A good bit of what I cut is treated lumber. That seems to stress blades and results in more friction for the saw to overcome.

What would be a typical scene for using a worm drive saw....home renovations being the target job.
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:32 PM
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You dont want a worm drive! They weight like 30lbs!
Oh, and they're bass akwards, too.
What brand saw are you using now? Sounds like you might want to try a different blade.
My Makita Mag has never even given me a hint of trouble, with anything.
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:36 PM
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Well, I'm not a framer anymore, but I used to be after my first couple of years out of college. We only used Skil brand worm-drive saws for cutting (except for larger jobs where we had a saw table set up with a giant DeWalt).

I thought they were more accurate than standard circular saws because of the better viewing angle.

When I moved on to union jobs in a management position we supplied the same Skil worm-drive saws because that's what the foremen requested.

I haven't been in that line of work for more than 25 years, but that's what we used back then.

As an aside: my friend asked his wife for a worm-drive saw for Christmas one year. She forgot what he called it and so she asked the salesman at the hardware saw for a "bug" saw for her husband. He finally figured out what she meant after several minutes of head-scratching.
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:44 PM
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Treated lumber shouldn't be any worse, except it is all southern pine, which is harder than the other stuff. I also use a thin kerf blade, which takes out alot less wood on the cut.

(Quit buying blades at Harbor Freight....)

What fails on the saws?
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:45 PM
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So I am one of those dudes who is worm drive only....for a number of reasons. Better balance, more power, ability to cut without measuring (plate on saw is 1 1/2" to left of blade, 3 1/2" to right-which is useful for all manner of notching jobs like gable end studs).

Buy the Ridgid worm drive from Depot. Has a 12' lighted end cord, measurements written on plate for notch depths, onboard wrench storage, over 50 degree bevel angle, and is several pounds lighter than a skil saw. Ive had mine for 4 years now with no issues.

Ive converted three other carpenters who have worked with me over the years and who wont convert back to sidewinders....
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:09 PM
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Funny, nostalgic thread for me.. My uncle (god rest him) gave me a worm drive saw that he had thats sooo old... Like trying to cut wielding a windlass from a headboat... Used it about twice, and still on a shelf in the shop..
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:15 PM
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Theres a big difference in weight btw the old skil wormdrives and the newer bosch and ridgid versions. I usually grab one of the old steel skil wormdrives for cheap and just mount a diamond blade to it full time, it excels at cutting concrete or flagstone, etc.


A wormdrive allows you to push the saw with your arm strength and wrist in a straight line behind the saw. A sidewinder by definition you are bending your wrist in a weird ( to me) angle to go through the cut. Sort of hard to explain. I have bought and used the Porter cable and Dewalt sidewinders over the years. Now they only get used on certain rafters that need beveling the other way from a worm drive.
Dewalt has sort of a hybrid saw thats pretty cool too, my buddy swears by it.
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:24 PM
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A commercial construction superintendent I know made a costly mistake.
Being use to the typical saw with the blade on the right, was home in his garage and needed to make a cut. He picked up his worm saw, held a 2x4, made a nice quick clean cut through the 2x as well as his fingers that were holding the bottom the 2x.
If you have used the typical saw for years, and do get the worm drive, there may be a learning curve for a little while.
Be careful. If you have a mishap, it will also affect you typing speed.

Here is an article I found on saws.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/reviews/4205480

A quote:
THE WORM-DRIVE MYSTIQUE
Saws with the motor parallel to the blade transfer power through a 90-degree turn. Most of these use a worm drive -- a gear design that reduces blade speed and increases torque. (Makita uses hypoid gears.) Worm drives are known for unstoppable power, but the tradeoff is a heavier, unbalanced tool with a higher price. If you know a carpenter who uses a worm drive, don't argue with him -- he's probably stronger than you are.


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Old 11-02-2011, 04:39 PM
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I think this a east coast - west coast thing. I didn't know there was any other hand held circular saw other than a worm drive until a picked up a copy of fine home building. The mag case worm drives are pretty light.
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:55 PM
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The Bosch or the Mag. 14 lb. 15 amp I have had both, but what do I know I'm from the left coast also. And a home builder for 25 years.
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:56 PM
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Mag 77 worm drive - the only framing saw. Why would you want a swa you have to "look over" to see your line?

All the pros out here use them. Lots of oumph!
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:03 PM
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Worm drive saws are very durable for commercial use. Say you were sorting through a warehouse full of questionable 2"x10"x 10' planks and had to cut down and resort the lot of them. You would do best to use a worm drive saw. They dont over heat, dont bog down easily, heavy enough to plant itself as it does the cut reducing any kick baacks. The down side is cost, weight. If you are going to be stationary you could install a yo-yo over the work space to reduce user fatigue. If you are just going to make a few cuts the regular old circular saw is the way to go.
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:04 PM
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Festool TS 55 or TS 75. Have had one for 6 months and worth every penny.
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:15 PM
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I love my Dewalt worm drive, blade on the "correct" side, lighter and more powerful than the mag 77. It's been a few years since I bought mine so I bet they're getting lighter.
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:37 PM
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I see blades advertised as "worm drive", blades. Is there a difference between regular and worm drive blades?

I'm now leaning toward a Milwaukee 6477 that weighs 14 pounds. I like the sight line on the left and also like the handle grip over the top. At $150 it's about 3x the price that I usually paid, but would be nice to have a nuclear attack when I need it to cut wood without hearing the RPM drop like I have been when cutting old lumber or treated stock.

Thoughts about that Mil 6477?
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:49 PM
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I use many saws ...Killed 2 Worm drives I am on my 3rd ...

Like the other poster said be careful they have a peculiar kick back !

For every day stuff I like a Miter saw and the Highest amp 7 1/4 that's in new condition at the local pawn shop ;-)
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:49 PM
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No difference in blades
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by skibum View Post
No difference in blades
...then buying consumables isn't going to be a problem, so that's good.

When I think about getting the other saws to sit down on certain cuts, that extra 6 pounds on the worm drive...and a stouter baseplate...ought to make sense.


OK, I have a buy on a Mil 6477 (refurbished, but like new) at $150, delivered. Anybody have a better idea for a 14 pound worm drive saw?

Is the Hypoid vs. Worm Drive thing worth thinking about, or is it more a Ford/Chevy question?

Last edited by bamaboy473; 11-02-2011 at 07:12 PM.
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