Skill Saw Vs Circular Saw – What’s the Difference?

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

Skill saw vs circular saw, are these two different products?

A skill saw and a circular saw are kind of the same thing. Generally, both terms refer to the power tool with a toothed wheel blade that is used for cutting sheets of wood and and other materials.

The term “skill saw” is a misspelling of Skilsaw, a brand of circular saws that is long-standing and so popular that it has become genericized — like the trade names “kleenex” and “band-aid”.

The brand Skilsaw was born in 1924, and with its birth came the first portable circular saw followed by other brands of circular saws.

Now that I have shed some light on the issue. I will go ahead and dig a little deeper to find out if there are any differences between Skilsaw circular saws and other brands of circular saws.

Our top pick for the skill saw roundup is the Skilsaw SPT77W-RT. This heavy-duty tool offers the best worm drive features for the toughest cutting jobs.
Now looking into circular saw brands other than Skil, we pick the Dewalt DCS570B. This direct drive tool offers you cordless convenience and unmatched performance in its class.

Skill Saw Vs Circular Saw: Some Reviews

ProductDetails
1. Skilsaw SPT77W-RT Saw

  • Blade diameter of 7-1/4-inch
  • Powerful 15-amp motor
  • Worm drive gears
  • 51° bevel for a wide variety of cuts
  • Ergonomic handle and controls
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2. Skilsaw SPT77W-01 Saw

  • Lightweight aluminum construction
  • 7-1/4-inch blade diameter
  • Worm drive gearing
  • 15-amp heavy-duty motor
  • Anti-snag lower guard
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3. Dewalt DCS570B Circular Saw

  • Brushless motor
  • 7-1/4-inch blade diameter
  • High strength aluminum shoe
  • Bevels of up to 57°
  • Heavy-duty battery
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4. Makita 5377MG Circular Saw

  • Heavy-duty 15-amp motor
  • Oil batch technology
  • Heat treated hypoid gears
  • Zero to fifty one degree bevel capacity
  • Magnesium components
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5. Craftsman CMES510 Circular Saw

  • Powerful 15-amp motor
  • Blade diameter of 7-1/4-inch
  • 55° tool-free bevel capacity
  • Contoured overmolded handle
  • Magnesium shoe design
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1. Skilsaw SPT77W-RT Saw — Best Overall

This is a reconditioned saw that guarantees the best cutting performance. At a pound lighter than its predecessor, the Skilsaw SPT77W-RT combines the power and durability you need.

Specs

  • Blade diameter of 7-1/4-inch
  • Powerful 15-amp motor
  • Worm drive gears
  • 51° bevel for a wide variety of cuts
  • Ergonomic handle and controls

This is a lightweight worm drive saw on the market, which means less wear and tear and less downtime for you when working on your projects.

This saw has a unique dual-field motor technology with the proven dual copper windings for superior balance of power and cooling.

The blade guard, foot plate, motor and gear housing are made of durable die-cast material, which means that the saw can endure years of jobsite and DIY use.

But the thing is, this is a reconditioned Skill saw. So, it may or may not come with all the necessary accessories.

Pros

  • Lightweight design reduces user fatigue
  • Worm drive gears deliver superior torque
  • Multi-function wrench is highly versatile
  • Easy to make a wide variety of cuts with 51° bevel
  • Handle and controls are ergonomically designed

Cons

  • May not come with important accessories
  • No storage bag or box is provided

Conclusion

The Skilsaw SPT77W-RT may be reconditioned, but it has proven to be the best of the best when commissioned for a jobsite or DIY cutting job.

Overall Rating – 4.9

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2. Skilsaw SPT77W-01 Saw — Best Value for Money

This legendary 7-1/4-inch saw will go through everything from OSB to the heaviest piece of engineered lumber. Not to mention that the cuts will stay true, time after time.

Specs

  • Lightweight aluminum construction
  • 7-1/4-inch blade diameter
  • Worm drive gearing
  • 15-amp heavy-duty motor
  • Anti-snag lower guard

This powerful saw comes with the brand’s flagship dual-field motor, which is great because it runs cooler to tackle the most difficult cutting jobs with ease.

I really appreciate the cut ready depth adjustment feature, considering how quick and easy adjustments are for different cutting depths.

What I particularly don’t like about this model is the lack of accessories. You will just receive a bare tool, which means you’ll have to incur additional costs for fixtures. 

Pros

  • Worm drive gears provide power and torque for rugged use
  • Aluminum body and guard reduce weight
  • Cut depth ready for effortless cutting depth adjustments
  • Dual-field motor is dependable for difficult cuts
  • Ergonomic handle allows for superior control of the unit

Cons

  • Comes as a bare tool, no accessories
  • May come without enough motor oil

Conclusion

Overall, I think the Skilsaw SPT77W-01 is equipped with some of the most rugged features you would want for a jobsite or a DIY cutting job.

Overall Rating – 4.8

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3. Dewalt DCS570B Circular Saw — Best Overall

The Dewalt DCS570B has been upgraded with a brushless motor, and it also comes with a blade brake. It is a great cordless saw for all your cutting needs.

Specs

  • Brushless motor
  • 7-1/4-inch blade diameter
  • High strength aluminum shoe
  • Bevels of up to 57°
  • Heavy-duty battery

This saw has a high strength aluminum shoe, which really stands out because it is very bright and the markings on it are very easy to read.

The bevel adjustment of this tool is very flexible with a stop at 22-1/2°, another stop at 45°, and a positive stop at the end of 57°.

But here is the thing guys, the battery and charger of this model are sold separately, and it doesn’t come with a hard case for storage.

Pros

  • Brushless motor runs efficiently at all time
  • Wide bevel angle adjustments for added versatility
  • Superior depth of cut for tackling difficult jobs
  • Delivers an impressive battery runtime
  • High strength aluminum shoe is highly versatile

Cons

  • Battery and charger not included
  • Doesn’t come with a hard storage case

Conclusion

The Dewalt DCS570B offers an impressive cordless operation for all your jobsite and DIY cuts.

Overall Rating – 4.8

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4. Makita 5377MG Circular Saw — Best Magnesium Design

Ideal for carpenters, roofers, and framers, the Makita 5377MG offers you industry leading features for superior performance, versatility, and durability.

Specs

  • Heavy-duty 15-amp motor
  • Oil batch technology
  • Heat treated hypoid gears
  • Zero to fifty one degree bevel capacity
  • Magnesium components

This saw features a 15-amp motor that is integrated with a sealed gear housing and oil batch technology for proven performance and less maintenance.

I really appreciate the magnesium components and greater clearance between the blade and the rear handle, which make the tool lightweight and ergonomic.

But I am slightly disappointed with Makita. How could they forget to include an electric brake on this great circular saw? It is a great safety feature to have. 

Pros

  • Magnesium construction is lightweight
  • Ergonomic hand grips minimize operator fatigue
  • Depth and bevel markings are clearly visible
  • Large cutting capacity for efficient operation
  • Very versatile for a range of applications

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with an electric brake
  • No flexible carry bag is included

Conclusion

The Makita 5377MG hypoid gears deliver superior torque, power, and speed you need at a jobsite or home shop. It offers good balance, easy sight lines, and impressive depth and bevel adjustments.

Overall Rating – 4.7

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5. Craftsman CMES510 Circular Saw — Best Value Design

With the Craftsman CMES510 by your side, you will tackle your cutting job with confidence. It has a powerful motor that’s best for aggressive fast cutting.

Specs

  • Powerful 15-amp motor
  • Blade diameter of 7-1/4-inch
  • 55° tool-free bevel capacity
  • Contoured overmolded handle
  • Magnesium shoe design

This model comes equipped with a strong 15-amp motor and a magnesium shoe, which is great because this combination gives you the power and durability needed.

Its lightweight and compact design with a contoured overmolded handle helps reduce fatigue and increase comfort when tackling tough projects.

It is unfortunate that Craftsman don’t provide this product with an edge guide or a convenient carry bag. You will need to dig deeper into your pockets to get the two items.

Pros

  • Motor runs at great speed for fast cutting
  • Bevel cut adjustments are tool-free
  • Metal upper and lower guard add durability
  • Spindle lock allows for click and easy blade change
  • Ergonomic handle improves comfort

Cons

  • No edge guide is provided
  • You don’t get a durable carry bag

Conclusion

The Craftsman CMES510 is a versatile corded circular saw that’s perfect for jobsite applications. Its performance is great and its ease of use is excellent.

Overall Rating – 4.7

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Circular Saw Vs Skill Saw (Skilsaw) — What to Look For

These two types of saws that look almost identical. So, the factors to consider when buying either of them are the same.

And they include:

Direct Drive or Worm Drive

You will come across two main styles of saws on the market: the direct drive and the worm drive gearing. Direct drive saws (circular saws) get their name from the fact that the motor is on the side of the blade.

Direct drive saws are available for both left and right handedness. You must choose a style that will provide you a clear line of sight to the blade as well as the cut line.

My personal favorite is the worm drive saw. In this style, the motor is in line with the blade. This saw is fitted with a worm gear, which transfers power to the saw arbor at ninety degrees.

The original skill saw was a worm drive machine and so are all the skill saws up to date. But circular saws are either direct drive or worm drives, depending on the brand.

The bottom line when choosing between the two styles is this, if you like a light saw, then look at a direct drive circular saw. But if you’re after power and torque, then settle for a worm drive machine, such as a skill saw.

Amp Rating

Amps are the standard unit for measuring the strength of an electric current. The amp rating of a skill saw or circular saw is normally found on its nameplate.

It is usually thought that higher amp ratings mean more power, and in most cases this is true. But don’t rely solely on amp ratings as the single deciding factor when comparing these power tools.

I have always found out that a low-grade saw often requires more current to perform the same job as a high quality, highly efficient saw.

Blade Depth Adjustment

Although each type of saw is similar in appearance, depth adjustment falls into one of two styles: pivot foot and drop foot.

For a pivot foot saw, you can adjust the blade depth by pivoting the base at a point at the saw front. On the other hand, a drop foot saw would require you to move the base up and down to adjust blade depth.

Safety

Whether you are planning to buy a skill saw or a circular saw, safety is extremely important. There are a few things that determine how safe a power saw is:

  • Electric Brake – This feature will stop the blade within seconds of releasing the trigger.
  • A Slip Clutch – This feature will prevent dangerous kickback and motor burnout.

Skilsaw/Skill Saw Vs Circular Saw — What Differentiates Them?

We will have to go back in time to understand what the names are all about. In 1924, the brand Skilsaw was founded, and so is the first portable circular saw.

The invention of this saw paved the way to a new product line of worm drive gearing circular saws, which were collectively referred to as skill saws because of the worm drive system that was first created by the Skilsaw brand. Technically, skill saw is just a simple misspell of Skilsaw.

But with the introduction of sidewinders or direct drive circular saws, other companies decided to use the names of their brands on their products. Nowadays, skill saws mainly refers to the circular saws manufactured by the Skilsaw brand.

Back in the day, any contractor or woodworker would prefer a Skilsaw worm drive circular because it was the dominant product in the market.

In our time, contractors and woodworkers will compare circular saws from Skilsaw, Dewalt, Makita, Craftsman, Tacklife, and Portable-Cable among others to pick the most versatile tool for their applications. 

Final Thoughts

Skilsaws are massive power tools that combine worm gear performance, torque, and durability with heavy-duty handle configuration.

We find them more durable than other brands of direct drive circular saws. Not to mention that they run cool and sustain power under load while providing maximum durability.

The Skilsaw SPT77W-RT Saw wins in power, torque, and versatility needed for large cutting jobs at the jobsite. Not to mention that it is one of the most durable choices. 

However, the brushless motor, large cutting capacity, and superior runtime of the Dewalt DCS570B Circular Saw win in efficiency and versatility at the jobsite.

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