Worm Drive Saw vs Circular Saw – Is There a Difference?

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

Worm Drive Saw vs Circular Saw — aren’t they the same thing, really? Well, they are related.

A worm drive saw is a type of circular saw. So you can say that all worm drive saws are circular saws, but not all circular saws are worm drive saws.

Circular saws come in two basic styles. One is a worm drive saw with the blade in the front of the motor, and the other one is the regular circular saw or a sidewinder with the blade in the side.

A sidewinder circular saw usually (though not always) has the blade on the right side of the motor so you’ve got a clear view of the right side of the cut. While in a worm drive saw, your clear view would be on the left side.

Framers, carpenters, and other woodworkers would prefer one type over the other, depending on their handedness and working style.

Our top worm drive saw pick is Skilsaw SPT77W-01. This saw combines jobsite-proven corded power and torque, superior cutting capacity, and versatility.
Our top sidewinder saw pick is the Dewalt DCS570B. The brushless motor boasts excellent runtime and performance for cutting 2x material as well as ripping sheet goods.

Worm Drive Circular Saw vs Regular Circular Saw Reviews

ProductDetails
1. Skilsaw SPT77W-01 Worm Drive Saw

  • Electric corded design
  • Features a dual-field motor
  • Lighter construction
  • 51-degree bevel capacity
  • Anti-snag lower guard
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2. Dewalt DWS535B Worm Drive Saw

  • 15-amp motor
  • 7-1/4-inch blade size
  • Tough cord protection
  • Extra bevel options
  • Electric brake stop
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3. Bosch CSW41 Worm Drive Saw

  • Magnesium construction
  • Side blade design
  • 5300 no-load rpm
  • Onboard accessories provided
  • Anti-snag lower guard
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4. Dewalt DCS570B Circular Saw

  • Powerful brushless motor
  • 7-1/4-inch blade capacity
  • Bevel capacity of up to 57 degrees
  • 2-9/16-inch depth of cut
  • Electric brake
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5. Craftsman CMES510 Circular Saw

  • High performance motor
  • Durable magnesium shoe
  • Tool-free beveling shoe pivots
  • Contoured overmolded handle
  • Metal upper and lower guard
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6. Skil 5280-01 Circular Saw

  • Powerful 15-amp motor
  • 7-1/4-inch carbide tip blade
  • Integrated dust blower
  • Bevel capacity of 51 degrees
  • Spindle lock
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1. Skilsaw SPT77W-01 Worm Drive Saw – Overall Best

The Skilsaw SPT77W-01 Worm Drive Saw is a jobsite workhorse that delivers the superior power and torque you need for rugged applications.

Specs

  • Electric corded design
  • Features a dual-field motor
  • Lighter construction
  • 51-degree bevel capacity
  • Anti-snag lower guard

This saw has a front to back rotor axis, which is great because it offers a gyroscopic effect that allows you to cut long straight lines with ease.

Another good feature is the great position of the blade, which improves blade visibility and enables you to stop a bad cut before you ruin your workpiece.

The saw; however, doesn’t come with any accessories and it is a little bit heavier compared to other models.

Pros

  • Front to back rotor axis improves performance
  • Thick aluminum shoe plate is durable
  • Superior blade and cut line visibility
  • Blade guard operates smoothly
  • Oil reservoir is properly filled

Cons

  • No accessories are provided
  • May be heavier for some users

Conclusion

The Skilsaw SPT77W-01 is a complete cutting masterpiece that will last a long while before you think of another model.

Overall Rating – 4.8

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2. Dewalt DWS535B Worm Drive Saw – Best Tough Cord Protection

If you are looking for a powerful worm drive saw that has extra bevel options, look no further than the Dewalt DWS535B.

Specs

  • 15-amp motor
  • 7-1/4-inch blade size
  • Tough cord protection
  • Extra bevel options
  • Electric brake stop

The saw has a 15-amp motor, which when combined with the worm drive gearing and 7-1/4-inch blade, it generates superior cutting power and torque.

In addition to optimum user handling, strength, and comfort, it comes with an electric brake, which is great because it stops the blade almost instantly.

But the manufacturer’s claims about this unit being lightweight aren’t entirely true because it packs a little bit of weight.

Pros

  • Generates superior power and torque
  • Built-in electric brake prevents kickback
  • Made of durable material
  • Superior cord jerk protection
  • Front and rear handle improve control

Cons

  • A little bit heavier than advertised
  • No wrench holder on the saw

Conclusion

If you can overlook the weight factor, the Dewalt DWS535B packs the features you need at the jobsite.

Overall Rating – 4.7

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3. Bosch CSW41 Worm Drive Saw – Best Soft Grip Handle

The Bosch CSW41 may not give you the portability you want, but it gives you the power, torque, and speed you need for tough applications.

Specs

  • Magnesium construction
  • Side blade design
  • 5300 no-load rpm
  • Onboard accessories provided
  • Anti-snag lower guard

This saw has an all-magnesium housing, which is great because it makes the saw lightweight and easy to manipulate and work with.

I really appreciate the fact that the blade is on the left side of the motor housing because I can easily and comfortably see the blade.

What I don’t like, though, is the lack of power cord jerk protection, which means the cord durability is limited.

Pros

  • All-magnesium construction is lightweight
  • Makes superior bevel cuts up to 53 degrees
  • Line guides on the foot improves accuracy
  • Blade and cut line are highly visible
  • Soft hand grip improve comfort

Cons

  • Lacks power cord jerk protection
  • May not be the ideal model for left handed users

Conclusion

With the Bosch CSW41, you get a lightweight saw that delivers superior accuracy, torque, convenience, and comfort.

Overall Rating – 4.6

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4. Dewalt DCS570B Circular Saw – Overall Best

The Dewalt DCS570B features advanced electronics for extended runtime and faster application speeds for extreme performance.

Specs

  • Powerful brushless motor
  • 7-1/4-inch blade capacity
  • Bevel capacity of up to 57 degrees
  • 2-9/16-inch depth of cut
  • Electric brake

The Dewalt DCS570B has a powerful battery, which is great because it has a long runtime for a considerable number of trigger pulls and cutting applications.

Another awesome feature is the electric brake, which turns the blade off immediately within moments of releasing the trigger.

My only biggest concern is the blade stability. It is possible to receive a model with a blade that moves side to side.

Pros

  • Cordless convenience improves maneuverability
  • Maintains speed under load effectively
  • Delivers one of the fastest rotational speed
  • Uniquely designed bottom plate improves blade visibility
  • Good choice for plunge cuts

Cons

  • Terrible side to side play in the blade
  • Could be better with a magnesium base plate

Conclusion

The Dewalt DCS570B has plenty of torque and an almost instantaneous electric brake, which is exactly what you need at a jobsite.

Overall Rating – 4.8 

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5. Craftsman CMES510 Circular Saw – Best Magnesium Shoe

The Craftsman CMES510 Circular Saw is suitable for trimming sheet wood, creating long straight cuts, or making quick and accurate crosscuts.

Specs

  • High performance motor
  • Durable magnesium shoe
  • Tool-free beveling shoe pivots
  • Contoured overmolded handle
  • Metal upper and lower guard

This saw has a 7-1/4-inch 18T carbide tip blade, which is great because it provides superb cutting quality across a variety of wood materials.

You can set the bevel cutting angle between 0 and 55 degrees, allowing you to carry out a wide range of applications.

But the thing is, you may receive the Craftsman CMES510 without an edge guide as well as a carrying bag.

Pros

  • Motor generates super-fast cutting speed
  • Very durable and lightweight magnesium shoe
  • Tool-free bevel angle adjustments
  • Carbide tipped blade will last up to 20 times longer
  • Overmolded handle adds comfort

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with an edge guide
  • No carrying bag is provided

Conclusion

The Craftsman CMES510 is a good circular saw for the money. The easy adjustments and superior versatility make it great for DIY home projects.

Overall Rating – 4.7

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6. Skil 5280-01 Circular Saw – Best Beam Laser Guide

If you are looking for a quality circular saw that comes with advanced features, reliable performance, and versatility, look no further than the Skil 5280-01.

Specs

  • Powerful 15-amp motor
  • 7-1/4-inch carbide tip blade
  • Integrated dust blower
  • Bevel capacity of 51 degrees
  • Spindle lock

Embedded with a heavy-duty 15-amp motor, the Skil 5280-01 has the power, speed, and performance you would need for cutting sheet goods or lumber.

Another good feature is the beam laser guide, which will help you make straight cuts while the large bevel capacity allows you to make a wide variety of bevel cuts.

My only problem with this model is the lack of an electric brake, which would stop the blade within seconds.

Pros

  • Easy to make straight cuts with laser guide
  • Smooth blade guard operation
  • Carbide tipped blade significantly decreased chip waste
  • Dust blower keeps the cut line sawdust free
  • Anti-snag lower guard allow for easy narrow cut-offs

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with an electric brake
  • Possible for the blade to jam

Conclusion

The Skil 5280-01 is a lightweight and versatile circular saw that’s ideal for DIYs and professionals.

Overall Rating – 4.6

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How To Pick The Right Tool

Between a worm drive circular saw vs regular sidewinder saw, which one should you choose? The choice is pretty simple as long as you know the features to look for, which include:

Blade Capacity

Whether you choose a worm drive or a regular circular saw. The first important thing you need to consider is the blade capacity of the saw, which helps determine the cutting capacity of the saw.

The larger the blade diameter, the greater the cutting capacity. Saws that take blades in the size range of 5-1/2-inch to 6-1/2-inch are lightweight and perfect for small to medium cutting jobs.

If you want a saw that will be suitable for a wider range of applications, look for one that takes 6-1/2-inch blades or higher. Circular saws with 7-1/4-inch blades are the typical size, nowadays.

Depth Of Cut

Regardless of which type you choose, make sure it provides a large depth of cut at 45 and 90 degrees. This will allow you to make clean cuts on your workpiece.

Bevel Capacity

The best saw should have a bevel scale with reliable positive stops that will prevent the saw from swinging beyond the front edge of the workpiece.

The most versatile saw will have stops at 22-1/2 degrees, 45 degrees, and 57 degrees. This provides for aggressive bevel cuts, while allowing you to quickly locate common angles.

Cutting Speed

The operating speed of these saws can range from 600 to 7000 revolutions per minute. The speed mainly depends on the size of the saw and whether the saw is a worm drive or a sidewinder.

The smaller the blade diameter, the higher the rpm and vice versa. Also, sidewinders tend to have higher speed than worm drives. 

Worm Saw Vs Circular Saw (Sidewinder) — Making The Choice

The worm drive saw vs circular saw battle should be called the worm drive vs sidewinder battle. is a big one, especially with the increasing number of both worm drive and sidewinder/direct drive saw brands.

I will help you determine the better option by taking into account the following factors:

Motor Orientation

With a worm drive saw, the motor sits in front of the blade, providing you with a narrow and long profile for getting into confined spaces.

A sidewinder circular saw has the blade located beside the motor. The profile of a sidewinder seems easier to control, but it is heavier on the motor side.

Weight

The next point of comparison in this battle is weight. Worm drive circular saws are heavier because they have larger gear teeth and longer profile.

So, these may not be the most ideal choice for novice users to handle. An average worm drive model would weigh approximately thirteen to fourteen pounds.

A regular sidwinder circular saw; on the other hand, weighs less because of the more compact direct drive design, as well as its lightweight parts. Most of the weight comes from the motor. An average sidewinder would weigh about eight to nine pounds.

Torque and Speed

The other consideration in the worm drive vs circular saw comparison is torque and speed. Worm drive saws have larger gear teeth, which means they have more load-carrying capacity compared to regular circular saws. But slower in speed.

This automatically means worm drive models have higher torque, since they can handle shock loads at higher levels. This makes them perfect for plunge cuts and any other demanding job.

Sidewinders are also equipped to offer good torque performance, but not as good as worm drives. But sidewinders offer the highest rpms on the market.

Final Thoughts

Worm drives deliver superior power and torque you need for the toughest cutting jobs. But they are considerably heavier in weight.

Regular circular saws (sidewinders/direct drives) are lightweight and have higher rpms, making them ideal for the less demanding applications.

The Skilsaw SPT77W-01 Worm Drive Circular Saw wins hand in superior power and torque, which are needed for tougher cutting jobs.

However, the lightweight design and efficient motor and speed of the Dewalt DCS570B Circular Saw win in providing you with a portable and efficient unit for small to medium applications.

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