Circular saws are typically divided into two types: worm drive or direct drive (sidewinder). Worm drive circular saws are more popular for professional and experienced users because of their slimmer profile, making them ideal for handling long pieces and fitting into narrow spaces.
So, what are the best worm-drive circular saws on the market today? I’ve reviewed a couple of these units below to give you an idea – including their features, specs, pros, and cons. This will help you decide which one to buy for yourself.
My top pick for a corded circular saw is the Makita 5377MG 7-1/4-Inch Magnesium Hypoid Saw, which is powered by a 15-amp motor with a speed of up to 4,500 RPM. It has a weight of 13.2 pounds, which is about average for a worm drive saw. As for the parts, magnesium is used to keep it durable and stable enough for jobsite use.
Because it has sealed gear housing and oil surface coating, it requires little maintenance. Moreover, it will run cooler due to the built-in fan design, making it further suitable for jobsite tasks. Aside from that, it has heat-treated hypoid steel gears that will be able to handle some wear and tear.
To help with storage, it has a retractable hook. Aside from that, it has a rubberized grip on the handle to keep you comfortable and decrease user fatigue. Another plus point for usability is the set of rubberized levers that are easy to tweak using one hand.
When it comes to cutting capacity, it will cut up to 2-3/8 at 90 degrees and it also has a couple of positive stops (22.5, 45, and 51.5 degrees) with a 51.5-degree bevel capacity. This allows you to quickly and seamlessly work on repetitive jobs, which saves time.
Things I Like About This Product: The saw has easy adjustment features, durable magnesium housing, and a good cutting capacity.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The weight is a little on the heavy side compared to most worm drive circular saws.
If you want to know about my top pick for a cordless unit, the Milwaukee 2830-20 Circular Saw with Rear Handle is the one. Weighing 12.74 pounds, it is notably lighter despite being a cordless model (with a battery).
With a speed of up to 5,800 RPM, this circular saw is powered by a brushless motor, allowing it to run cooler and more efficiently for tough jobs. It also uses REDLINK PLUS Intelligence that keeps the saw from overloading and other battery problems. If you have any M18-compatible tools from Milwaukee, you can just simply interchange batteries between tools.
I like that it has an LED work light for easily viewing your workspace in dim areas. What’s more, the electric blade brake is a safety feature for both the user and the motor, as it saves the motor from wearing out quickly. Since it has a magnesium build for its shoe and guards, it will be quite durable for long-term use and difficult tasks.
Storing the circular saw is also a breeze due to the multi-sized rafter hook. Aside from that, the saw has special gears that don’t require you to oil them, resulting in less maintenance and more productivity. Each full battery charge will make up to 570 cuts.
Things I Like About This Product: The LED light is a great plus point that’s useful for dark or dim jobsites.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: A small little hiccup is the miter table release lever, which could be more stable.
With a no-load speed of 5,300 RPM, the Bosch CSW41 7-1/4-Inch Worm Drive Circular Saw provides powerful torque with its 15-amp motor. The tool weighs 13.2 pounds and has a magnesium construction for added durability.
I like that it has an onboard wrench that makes the brushes and the blade easy to change. This will be useful on a busy jobsite. It also has easy-adjust levers to simplify use and a blade diamond knockout. For storing the unit, it has a built-in tool hook.
To prevent constant snag (which is very inconvenient when you’re trying to meet deadlines), it has a well-designed lowered guard so it won’t be a hassle if you are handling small workpieces. Aside from that, it has a comfortable soft-grip handle to reduce user fatigue, especially helpful if your project is an all-day affair.
With an 8-foot power cord, this circular saw has a bevel capacity of 53 degrees and a 45-degree positive stop for quick settings during crucial moments. Running its worm drive motor is a set of gears and five ball bearings. It is backed by a 1-year warranty.
For more information, read my detailed CSW41 review.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a high no-load speed, allowing you to work faster, especially with difficult pieces. It also has on-board tools for convenient blade and brush changes when you need it.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Unfortunately, the tool doesn’t have a work light, so it can’t be used on its own in dim areas.
For people who just want to have a worm drive saw at home or for DIY and casual use, the Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 Lightweight Worm Drive Circular Saw is for you. This 11.5-pound saw is lightweight compared to most of its class, which makes it easier to handle for casual users.
Even with that low weight, it is made with rugged and durable magnesium housing. With its 15-amp motor, it will handle most jobs due to its cut-ready depth-of-cut system that minimizes downtime when adjusting your material and the saw. This adjustment level has automatic settings for 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 ply, and 2x.
Furthermore, it has a 53-degree bevel capacity for handling different kinds of cuts. To help with small cut-off workpieces, there is an anti-snag lower guard to save you from headaches. With a positive stop at 0 to 45 degrees, it has a max cutting capacity of 2-3/8 inches at 90 degrees.
To help with user comfort, it has two handles: the main handle and an auxiliary handle. As with most power tools, it has a saw hook to store it properly in a garage or on the jobsite.
Things I Like About This Product: This saw is very lightweight, so it’s ideal for casual users and won’t wear you out quickly.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: While it’s not exactly a con, you do need to lubricate the gear at first use, unlike with most other circular saws.
For professional use, I recommend the Skilsaw SPT70WM-01 SAWSQUATCH Worm Drive Circular Saw, which will handle up to four times the material in a single pass, making it ideal for tough jobs and big projects. When it comes to usability, the saw has a 51-degree bevel for simplifying repeated tasks. What’s more, small cut-off pieces won’t be a problem due to the anti-snag lower guard design.
This circular saw is powered by a 15-amp dual field motor and it has a speed of 4,600 RPM so it is best suited for jobsite use. This dual-field design helps the motor run cooler for tough applications while also preserving the motor’s lifespan.
For durability, it has a magnesium construction so it won’t be very prone to wear and tear as compared to other circular saws. Among the different materials that it will handle include PSL (parallel-strand lumber), pine, glulam (glue-laminated timber), and LVL (laminated veneer lumber).
I like that it has a 10-1/4-inch saw length, which makes it applicable for large operations. The machine weighs 16 pounds, which makes sense since it is a large circular saw. It is backed by a 1-year warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a good length and packs a lot of power due to the ability to handle up to four times material and its dual-field motor design.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The circular saw is quite heavy to use for casual jobs so you’ll need a strong operator for it.
A lightweight saw that’s worth mentioning in my list of picks is the Skil SPT77WML-22 7-1/4-Inch Magnesium Worm Drive Circular Saw. With a weight of 11.5 pounds, it is one of the lightest saws on the market, with a 15-amp motor that has a dual-field design and a dual copper coil setup. This allows it to run cooler even when using it in high-torque settings.
It has the capacity of cutting up to 2-inch lumber due to its 2-3/8-inch cutting depth at 90 degrees. With a max bevel capacity of 53 degrees, it has depth stops at 0 to 45 degrees for convenience. Like most worm drive circular saws, it has an 8-foot cord for mobility around the jobsite or garage.
Magnesium is used to make its shoe and housing durable for tough jobs. What’s unique about this circular saw is the included 24-tooth carbide Diablo blade for superb precision. It also has a rafter hook for convenient storage.
Changing the blade is also a simple process, thanks to the included multi-function wrench, which is stored directly on the tool for easy access. Moreover, it has a spindle lock for convenient circular saw blade changing without having to wait for the blade to stop spinning.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a lightweight design while bearing a magnesium build, so it’s durable for jobsite use.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It doesn’t come with a case and it doesn’t have an electric motor brake.
Yet another powerful unit to consider is the Milwaukee 6477-20 7-1/4-Inch Worm Drive Circular Saw, which has a 15-amp motor that runs up to 4,400 RPM. When it comes to maintenance, I like that it has an oil sight glass that lets you see when the saw needs to be oiled.
Since it is made with a magnesium construction, it has good durability. Other than that, it has a composite shoe that will help keep its structure stable. It has a depth of cut of up to 2-7/16 inches at 90 degrees so it is significantly longer than with most worm drive circular saws.
What’s more, since it has a spindle lock, you will find it easier to change the blade without having to worry about waiting for the excess spin for safety purposes. It has a max bevel capacity of 51.5 degrees and a weight of 15 pounds. Bearing a diamond arbor and a 2-wire cord type, this heavy-duty circular saw is backed by a 5-year warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: There is a glass window that lets you see whether or not you need to oil the worm drive circular saw. This will help ease your maintenance problems. It also has a spindle lock that simplifies blade changes.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The tool is on the heavy side so it’s not ideal for all-day use and is more suitable for intensive jobsite labor and a strong operator.
Equipped with an electronic brake, the DeWalt DCS577B 60V MAX Circular Saw for Framing is a great choice for workers who want to make repetitive jobs and quickly shift between blades. That’s because the brake almost instantly stops the blade, allowing you to make replacements right away.
Since it has a brushless motor, this worm drive circular saw is not just powerful but also cool-running, which is particularly useful in the summer and for labor-intensive tasks. Additionally, its parts are made from high-grade magnesium for a quality and durable build.
Because it has an integrated dust blower, you’ll keep your work debris to a minimum, especially since sawdust is a common problem with woodworkers. Moreover, it clears the line of sight for you to easily see what you’re working on without sacrificing accuracy.
When you want to keep the worm drive circular saw out of the way after a job, simply hang it up with its rafter hook. It has a no-load speed of 5,800 RPM and weighs 10.9 pounds, which is lightweight compared to most circular saws out there.
Aside from that, it has a good cutting capacity of up to 2-7/16 inches for 90 degrees. It is backed by a 3-year limited warranty.
For more information, read my detailed DCS577 review.
Things I Like About This Product: The tool is lightweight and ideal for repetitive jobs due to its electronic brake and brushless motor.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The front shoe nut could be better designed for additional stability.
If your constant problem is accidental cord jerking, the DeWalt DWS535B 7-1/4-Inch Worm Drive Circular Saw is for you due to its TOUGHCORD protection system. It also has an electric brake which lengthens the lifespan of your motor. The combination of magnesium and aluminum makes it easier to carry than most other worm drive circular saws out there.
Powered by a 15-amp motor, this circular saw has a bevel capacity of 53 degrees and has a speed of 4,800 RPM. There are also detents at 22.5 and 45 degrees for an easy setting when tackling doing repetitive jobs. The wrench was also built to have a better angle in removing the blade for safety needs and usability.
What I like the most about this circular saw is that the wide saw hook design will handle up to 2-3/4 inches of material length, which is considerably longer than with most units of the same class. It also has a blade-changing wrench to simplify operations when you want to work with different materials. As well, it is backed by a 3-year limited warranty.
For more information, read my detailed DWS535 review.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a good cutting capacity that’s much longer than most other worm drive circular saws on the market.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Unfortunately, the wrench doesn’t have a holder on the saw, so you have to carry it separately.
The Methodology: What I Considered When Picking the Worm Drive Circular Saws Featured Above
If you want to know how I came up with the worm drive circular saws that I mentioned above, here are some criteria I kept in mind (and you should, too):
Corded vs. Cordless
The reason why I’ve picked both cordless and corded options to review is that everyone has their own unique working conditions. Weekend warriors may prefer a cordless tool, since it will be easy to fit into small spaces and doesn’t require cord extensions when used outside.
On the other hand, if you are looking for extra power, corded units are more advisable, especially if you are cutting brittle or industrial wood. Light jobs are doable with cordless units but for additional power, a corded model is a better option. In the end, you decide which type of worm drive circular saw is best for you.
As a worm drive circular saw is typically quite heavy due to its motor design (more on that later), usability is important. Consider getting a circular saw with a comfortable handle to reduce user fatigue when working on a task that takes a long time.
Additionally, the ease of tweaking the settings of the circular saw will save time, such as when adjusting the depth stop and the bevel capacity for various kinds of cuts on your wood material. You should look for a circular saw that features convenience for the user and simplifies the job.
Usually, you’ll find a worm drive saw at a length of 7-1/4 inches, but some will be 10-1/4-inches, which makes them more ideal for large jobs. The length of 7-1/4 inches will be sufficient for most jobs such as DIY repairs and the like.
Your choice of circular saw depends on your project – if you need to work on longer pieces of wood and need to get them finished in no time, then I suggest getting the longer saw length.
Depth Stops and Bevel Capacity
Having at least two to three depth stops will help to speed up the process of cutting your wood to the correct angle. Most worm drive circular saws have presets of commonly-used angles for you to work on. However, what also matters is whether or not they are easy to set up.
Aside from that, a wider bevel capacity will result in better flexibility for your saw, especially if you are a serious woodworker. The typical bevel capacity of a worm drive circular saw is around 53 degrees.
Blade Changes and Electric Brakes
Changing the blade should not be difficult with your worm drive circular saw. Most of the units I mentioned above have an onboard tool, which allows you to make changes quickly. Having a storage area on the tool for your blade-changing wrench decreases the chances of losing or misplacing it.
Additionally, having a spindle lock will almost immediately stop the blade from spinning, so you can safely detach it and replace it with another blade. This will save you time and effort in the long run, especially if your circular saw runs at a higher speed.
An electric brake is also a plus point for a circular saw. Electric brakes help preserve the motor so that it comes to a full stop with little to no excess spins. This not only makes the circular saw safer to handle, but also reduces the stress on the motor.
A better cutting depth means you will have a longer reach and therefore, you will finish the job faster. Typically, a worm drive circular saw has a cutting depth of 2-7/16 inches, but some units have even longer cutting depths of 2-3/4 inches.
Whichever depth is more convenient for you is okay, so long as it does the job well. For casual woodworkers or household projects, I suggest simply getting a regular cutting depth of 2-7/16 inches. If you are handling larger materials, go for longer cutting depths of 2-3/4 inches so that to increase jobsite productivity.
Magnesium construction is often seen in circular saws, especially worm drive types. That’s because magnesium makes the tool durable without being too heavy to carry around. Some circular saw manufacturers also use a magnesium-aluminum alloy to make their parts.
The shoe of a circular saw is a key part to check for good durability, and those made with magnesium help to keep it more stable. This causes fewer errors when operating the saw, especially for beginners or casual users.
The typical weight of a worm drive circular saw is somewhere between 10 and 16 pounds. The weight depends on its internal and external components, the circular saw blade size, and the machine parts. If you want a lightweight saw, consider getting a unit that weighs around 11 pounds.
A brushless motor circular saw is useful for long tasks because it runs cooler. It also requires less maintenance, since you don’t need to replace carbon brushes. Despite coming with a slightly higher price tag, a circular saw equipped with a brushless motor is a good investment for jobsite use.
You should know the warranty period of the circular saw. Manufacturers offer different warranty periods, from 1 to 3 years, and some even have 90-day money-back guarantees. Knowing the locations of the service center of the tool will also put your mind at ease should any problem arise.
Overall, my top pick for a corded worm drive circular saw is the Makita 5377MG 7-1/4-Inch Magnesium Hypoid Saw, due to its good number of depth stops, easy adjustments, and durable housing. If you’re looking for the best cordless unit, the Milwaukee 2830-20 Circular Saw with Rear Handle is my ideal choice due to its included LED work light.
My honorable mention is the Bosch CSW41 7-1/4-Inch Worm Drive Circular Saw, which has a high no-load speed of 5,300 RPM and has an onboard blade change wrench. If you are on a tight budget, the Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 Lightweight Worm Drive Circular Saw is a great choice, especially for weekend warriors. For professional use, however, I recommend the Skilsaw SPT70WM-01 SAWSQUATCH Worm Drive Circular Saw.
If you are looking for a lightweight unit, the Skil SPT77WML-22 7-1/4-Inch Magnesium Worm Drive Circular Saw and the DeWalt DCS577B 60V MAX Circular Saw for Framing are great choices for you.
A low-maintenance saw is the Milwaukee 6477-20 7-1/4-Inch Worm Drive Circular Saw, which allows you to see the oil levels. If you want a long cutting capacity, the DeWalt DWS535B 7-1/4-Inch Worm Drive Circular Saw is worth buying.