Worm Drive Circular Saw vs Direct Drive: Which One’s Best for You?
Learn about the differences between a worm drive circular saw and a direct drive circular saw, and determine which one is best for you.
Worm Drive Circular Saw vs Direct Drive: Questions to Ask Yourself
What type of circular saw should you buy? It depends. Here are several factors that can influence your decision:
- What are you using the saw for?
- How much power do you need?
- Are you a righty or a lefty?
- How strong are you?
- How much experience do you have?
- What’s your budget?
Advantages of a Worm Drive Circular Saw
The centerline of the motor on a worm drive saw is parallel to the plane of the saw blade, giving the saw a narrow profile that allows users to get into more confined spaces. The longer distance between the handle and the blade extends your reach while making a cut, which is helpful for crosscutting sheet goods.
A worm drive also has larger gear teeth with more load-carrying capacity than a direct drive, which provides more power but also adds weight. The average worm drive saw weighs in at about 13-14 lbs. A pro-grade worm-drive saw costs about $150 to $200.
Advantages of a Direct Drive Circular Saw
The blade on a direct drive saw (often called a sidewinder) is next to the motor, creating a wider profile but shorter overall length. Because the handle is closer to the blade the reach is reduced, but this can provide more control for a less-experienced user. Direct drive saws are lighter (9-10 lbs.), making them ideal for less-demanding applications or a whole bunch of repetitive cutting. A pro-grade sidewinder costs between $125 and $150.
Righty vs. Lefty Circular Saws
Whether a user is right or left-handed does not confine him or her to one type of circular saw, but consider this: The blade on a worm-drive saw is on the left side, so it’s easier for a right-handed operator to see the cutline. The blade is on the right side of a direct-dive, making it easier to see the cutline for a lefty. Continue reading our circular saw buying guide to help inform you which tool is best for you.
Bottom Line About Worm Drive Circular Saws vs Direct Drive
One of the most important features of a saw is how it feels. When choosing a new tool, try it out whenever possible. Feeling comfortable and safe using a tool is more important than any spec sheet.
Meet the Expert
Gregg Mangialardi is a SKILSAW Product Manager with over 40 years of experience in the power tool industry. During his time at SKILSAW, he’s contributed to a variety of SKILSAW products. Most recently, he’s been a part of the development and launches, for the worm drive, sidewinder, metal and concrete saws. Gregg holds several patents spanning multiple products.