When purchasing a circular saw, consider the two types: worm drive and sidewinder. Depending on the application, you’ll prefer one over the other. Geography certainly plays a role in popularity of either saw. The worm drive is most popular in the west and Midwest, while the sidewinder is more popular in the east. However, in either region, it’s not uncommon to own both.
The body of the worm drive circular saw is narrower than the sidewinder. It’s heavier and has a thicker, sturdier shoe. The motor of the worm drive is built toward the rear of the tool and the power is transferred to the blade by a pair of gears situated at a 90-degree angle of each other. The gear setup reduces the speed of the blade to about 4500 RPM. However this increases its torque. Because the motor is positioned in the rear, you have a much longer saw. The length of the saw comes in handy when cutting wider stacks of lumber. The blade on the worm drive is on the left part of the tool, so most of the motor weight is on the right. This makes it easier to follow a cut line. The shape of the worm drive also makes plunge cutting easier. One downside of a worm drive saw is that because there are additional gears, you will need to maintain the oil levels.
The sidewinder saw has a motor in line with the spinning blade. This brings the speed of the blade around 6000 RPM. The motor position allows for a lightweight, compact saw. The lighter weight makes the sidewinder ideal for overhead projects. Another benefit of having the blade on the right is the weight of the motor rests on the solid part of the board, rather than the cutoff. A downside is that it’s difficult for the carpenter to see the cutline while cutting. Three benefits of owning a sidewinder are that you have the option of going cordless, they are less expensive and they don’t require oil.
Once you decide which type is best for you, visit toolbarn.com and pick one for yourself. We also have blades, extension cords and other tools for the job.
Check out this video that explains the difference between worm drive and sidewinder circular saws: