worm drive saw

Best Worm Drive Saw Reviews and Buying Guide

Best Worm Drive Saw Reviews 2019

If you made it to this list, then you have some serious, heavy-duty cutting to do and a standard circular saw simply will not work. A worm drive saw might be a bit to handle, but it will provide all the cutting power you could ask for and more. That is why we have brought you the 5 best worm drive saw reviews. While Dewalt and Skilsaw were our top options, there are better values on the list–but you have to keep reading to find out what they are.

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Dewalt DWS535B 7-1/4″, Worm Drive Circular Saw with Brake – Best Seller

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Dewalt has long been one of the more trusted brands in the power saw market, though they did have to recently rebrand due to sliding quality. Still, Dewalt caught itself before falling off of a cliff and has come back stronger than ever, this time capturing the best seller spot on our list. While this Dewalt worm drive saw does have some minor flaws, it makes sure to provide a little bit of everything so anyone can get solid use from their product. That said, this Dewalt does not really blow you away with any special or superior feature but instead offers a solid performance at a more reasonable price making it the best all-around value for any setting.

Solid Cuts
Easily one of the best things of this Dewalt worm drive saw has to do with its cutting power which, while not necessarily the best on our list is still one of the more solid and consistent performers. With a 15 amp motor powered by a corded connection and a maximum cutting speed of up to 4800 RPMs, this Dewalt worm drive is more than capable of switching out the saw blade to cut through stone if need be. You can also use this Dewalt to make bevel cuts with a maximum capacity of 53-degrees and positive stops of 45 and 22 ½-degrees.

Mixed Convenience
While the overall cutting power of this worm drive saw is on par with its price, the same cannot always be said for the overall convenience of this product. For example, this is actually one of the heavier worm drive saws we reviewed which will increase the amount of fatigue you feel from using it. On top of that, this saw does not always come pre-oiled which can lead you to wear out the tool’s gears rather quickly if you do not oil it up beforehand. However, this Dewalt is one of the few worm drive saws we reviewed which comes with an electric brake that stops the blade in its tracks when you let go of the trigger.

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  • Has a 53-degree maximum bevel
  • Made of aluminum and magnesium
  • Has a maximum cutting speed of 4800 RPMs
  • Has an electric brake
  • Has a 15 amp motor
  • Is a corded worm drive saw


  • Is a heavier worm drive saw
  • Does not come oiled

SKILSAW SPT77WML-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight Worm Drive Circular Saw – Top Pick

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Skilsaw is a company that has gone through a number of different internal reorganizations, but the once professional-grade brand now squarely sits in the cusp of the high-end consumer-grade tier while occasionally flirting with the mid-grade tier. Regardless, this does at least present you with a solid value, and in the worm drive saw market, that can be a bit difficult to find. However, it is important to note that the Skilsaw worm drive saw was not designed to be used for professional-grade jobs, despite its historic reputation. Of course, as long as you are not using the Skilsaw to frame a house or some other massive endeavor, it is our top pick.

Surprising Cuts
One thing that definitely surprises when looking at the Skilsaw is just how much cutting power the company was able to put into their product. This worm drive saw uses pretty much the same 15 amp motor that most corded worm drive saws do but is able to achieve the second-fastest cutting speeds on our list at 5300 RPMs which is more than enough to cut through even medium-hardness stone with the right blade. It doubles up on the surprising cutting power with a wide maximum bevel of 53-degrees and the deepest bevel cut on our list at nearly 2” deep. All of this also comes in at a much lower cost than some of the other worm drive saws reviewed.

Mixed Construction
Unfortunately, all costs must be paid in some fashion and the Skilsaw has the ignoble distinction of being the least durable product on our list. What makes this a bit more difficult is that it comes both externally and internally. First, the Skilsaw shares the annoying inconvenience of coming unoiled which can cause damage to the gears if used before oiled. Second, the Skilsaw seems to have gone a bit overboard with the lightness of their base plate as it is known to bend and flex while in use. That said, the Skilsaw is definitely the lightest saw on our list while still generally being durable due to the magnesium construction.

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  • A less expensive worm drive saw
  • Is the lightest worm drive saw reviewed
  • Has the deepest bevel cut
  • Has a 53-degree maximum bevel
  • Has a maximum cutting speed of 5300 RPMs
  • Is made of magnesium


  • The baseplate may bend or flex
  • Does not come oiled

Makita 5477NB 15 Amp 7-1/4″ Hypoid Saw – Best Value

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For those of you familiar with the power tool market, it will likely come as a bit of a surprise to find a Makita product in the best value spot, but the company has moved away from some of the more specialized products in favor of focusing their innovation towards products with broader use and appeal. While this does leave their worm drive saw a bit behind the times in terms of modern specs, Makita is at least good enough to lower the price of an older outdated product that is still superior to its competitors in a number of important ways. However, the Makita does have some flexibility limitations to counteract its incredibly low price.

Value Defined
While being the least expensive worm drive saw on our list is one thing, the fact that it is close to 50-percent less expensive than the next lowest price is even more impressive. However, Makita went many steps further by also making this one of the most durable worm drive saws we reviewed, both inside and out. On the outside, the Makita features an incredibly thin base plate that provides a great sightline without bending or flexing. Internally, the Makita worm drive saw features the more durable hypoid gears in a sealed oil bath for maximum longevity.

More Specialized
While many worm drive saws are expanding their cutting power capabilities to increase their saw’s versatility, the Makita chose to focus on the largest user base for worm drive saws in the first place: framers. As such, the Makita can only get to speeds of 4500 RPMs which is fine for concrete or brick but will struggle with harder stone, regardless of the blade. On the other hand, the cutting power combined with the reduced vibrations generated and a more ergonomic design than most make this perfect for cutting through thick pieces of lumber while framing. Even more impressive, this is one of the few worm drive saws we came across that does not struggle even a little bit when cutting a bevel.

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  • The least expensive worm drive saw reviewed
  • Is more durable than most
  • Has hypoid gear works
  • Has a sealed oil-bath
  • Is ergonomically designed
  • Is easy to use


  • Is a heavier worm drive saw
  • Has a slower cutting speed

DEWALT DCS577B Flexvolt 60V Max 7-1/4” Worm Drive Framing Saw – Runners Up

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Dewalt appears once again on our list, this time in a runner up position, but that is more a matter of the approach than the execution. Basically, this is the only cordless worm drive saw on our list and one of the few decent cordless worm drive saws on the market. This is both the Dewalt’s best feature as well as its biggest weakness as the cordless design offers additional features otherwise not available at the expense of power. Thankfully, Dewalt did their best to alleviate this concern, though it does come at a pretty steep price.

Impressive Cuts
It may come as a surprise, but the best maximum cutting power achieved on our list is by a cordless worm drive saw. Granted, this will definitely change once the saw begins to cut into anything, especially if it is cutting an especially dense or hard material. But the Dewalt Flexvolt worm drive saw still provides the fastest cutting speed on our list at 5800 RPMs which can easily slice through even dense stone with the right blade. On top of that, the Flexvolt is also one of a new lineup of battery-powered motors to hit the markets with three to six times the power of traditional cordless power tools.

Steep Costs
While the Flexvolt may offer the convenience of a cordless with the power of a corded worm drive saw, it is easily one of the more expensive models that we saw. On top of that, the newer technology is expensive enough on its own as this saw does not include the 60V battery which will further increase the total cost for this product. This also makes the weight a bit deceptive as the total weight with the battery included will be higher than the one reported. Finally, even though the 60V motor can deliver more power with a full battery, it too will slow down as the battery begins to lose power like with the older models of cordless power tools.

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  • Has the deepest cutting depth reviewed
  • Is a lighter worm drive saw
  • Has the fastest cutting speed reviewed at 5800 RPMs
  • Is a cordless worm drive saw
  • Has a 60V motor
  • Has a larger cutting capacity


  • A more expensive worm drive saw
  • Does not come with a battery

Milwaukee 6577-20 7-1/4-Inch Worm Drive Circular Saw – Also Consider

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Milwaukee is another brand that those familiar with the power tool industry will immediately recognize as one of the best and most reputable manufacturers of professional-grade power tools in the world. The fact that the Milwaukee is so far down on our list should not dissuade you of that previous statement at all as this is still one of the better professional-grade worm drive saws on our list. However, the Milwaukee also features some older, more specialized, features that no longer match up as well value-wise when competing with more modern competitors.

Solid Spes
If you are looking for a worm drive saw for primarily framing jobs, there are few which can truly compete with the Milwaukee. While its maximum cutting speed of 4400 is a bit low these days, it is still more than enough almost any kind of wood you can find, no matter how exotic. On top of that, the Milwaukee is one of the few companies to use hardened steel gear works which provides additional cutting power through torque as well as extend the lifespan of the motor. Finally, the Milwaukee has the deepest maximum cutting depth on our list and the widest cutting capacity that we found. The electric brake is just icing on the cake to help prevent any workplace accidents.

Top Heavy
Though the Milwaukee lags behind in some areas which limit its versatility, the biggest hurdle you have to get over is the price. This is the most expensive worm drive saw that we reviewed which is made all the worse as a similar competing professional-grade product costs less than half the price of the Milwaukee. On top of that, the magnesium construction does not prevent this from being the heaviest worm drive saw that we reviewed which will make it less maneuverable and increase the amount of fatigue felt after using it for an extended period of time. Thankfully, it was at least designed to provide an excellent sightline so that professionals used to the labor will not have to struggle.

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  • Has the deepest cutting depth reviewed
  • Has a larger cutting capacity
  • Is made of magnesium
  • Has hardened-steel gear works
  • Has an electric brake
  • Has excellent visibility


  • The most expensive worm drive saw reviewed
  • The heaviest word drive saw reviewed

Best Worm Drive Saw Buying Guide 2019

Cutting Power

When judging a worm drive saw, the cutting power is definitely more important than for most other power saws–and cutting power is generally one of the more important qualities regardless. However, a worm drive saw inherently sacrifices control and convenience by situated the motor behind the blade just to eke out a little bit more torque. While this makes worm drive saws excellent for cutting the toughest pieces of lumber, it also places a premium on the raw cutting power the saw can generate.

One thing to consider in this regard is the power source, which will be electric but may come from either a corded direct feed or from a portable battery pack. While the battery pack obviously offers maneuverability that the corded model cannot match, it will also have a bit more difficulty maintaining its cutting power without numerous battery packs and potentially a way to recharge them. That said, battery-powered motors have come a long way in the last couple of decades and 40V+ models can provide nearly as much power as a corded model when fully charged.

Cutting Speed

For worm drive saws, the cutting speed is not necessarily as important as for other types of power saw which may be used to cut a much wider variety of materials than a worm drive saw is expected to. That said, there is one instance when you would want to look for a faster cutting worm drive saw, even if it costs a bit more than other comparable saws, and that is when cutting stone. This is because stone is often much harder and denser than most hardwoods and requires a special blade spinning significantly faster to properly cut.

In this instance, you will want to look for a worm drive saw that has a maximum cutting speed hovering around 5000 RPMs. Keep in mind, cutting stone will require the use of a specialized blade, and you may be able to fudge the numbers a bit one way or the other if you get a high-quality stone cutting blade. On the plus side, there are few worm drive saws made that do not provide the cutting speed necessary to tackle traditional wood framing with hardwoods.


While many power tools require good materials to handle the rigors and abuse they are put through, worm drive saws may need a bit more durability than most. This is because the increased cutting power necessary to cut through dense materials combined with the rear-positioned motor makes controlling the worm drive saw more difficult than most. While this is trouble enough keeping a straight cut, it can also make things more difficult for the various components as well. However, the worm drive saw must strike a balance between durability and weight or else they would be over 20 lbs.


This is by far the strongest material commonly used for a worm drive saw outside of a few rare materials not often used. Steel is able to withstand more continuous stress as well as harder impacts than either aluminum or magnesium. However, steel is also significantly heavier than either of the other two materials, though this may be a trade worth making when talking about the gear works. Still, a steel base plate will often be one of the heavier components of a heavy worm drive saw. Though it is heavy if used in abundance, steel is generally less expensive than the other metals used for worm drive saws.


Aluminum strikes a balance between magnesium and steel in terms of durability and weight, though it is just as often alloyed with those materials. As such, any use of aluminum should have an asterisk next to it until you can determine the alloy as they are not all equal. Still, aluminum itself offers a good mix of a lightweight structure with solid durability, though it is a bit more expensive than steel unless heavily alloyed with it. It is worth noting that aluminum provides its own natural water and corrosion resistance, though the alloy will heavily impact this too.


Magnesium, and the lesser used tungsten, form the newest materials used with worm drive saws and are by far the lightest materials in use. That said, much like aluminum, magnesium is often alloyed with the other materials with the alloy determining how much of the magnesium’s traits shine through. In this instance, the ability to provide a decent amount of durability in the lightest structure used is the main strength. It is worth noting that magnesium base plates may be fairly flexible if they do not have a solid base metal alloyed with it. On top of that, this generally tends to be the more expensive material due to how much more expensive the ingredients are.


Because of the nature of a worm drive saw’s job, quite often the weight of the machine will play an important role in breaking a tie. This is because worm drive saws are used for heavy-duty cutting which in turn is often difficult on the person doing it. With stronger motors and more vibration, not to mention a design that is inherently more difficult to control, the worm drive saw can easily tire out a professional contractor after only a couple hours. Of course, most of this fatigue is caused by having to steady such a powerful and unwieldy tool.

Even small changes to the power saw’s weight can have big impacts over the course of a day or even weeks. If you are a professional framer and expect to use the worm drive saw hours on end throughout the day, a lighter worm drive saw that can still make every necessary cut will be much easier on the user. The biggest way that manufacturers reduce their worm drive saw’s weight is by using lighter materials, but this too must strike a balance with the product’s durability.


Ergonomics relates to how something feels to use by a person and includes weight but goes much further than that. Worm drive saws are in a bit of a pickle in this regard as there are not too terribly many things manufacturers can do make it a less bumpy ride. One thing that can help is a padded hand grip that not only provides support for steadying the cut but also will not rub on the skin and cause blisters. Some worm drive saws will also use a moisture wicking foam so that your hands do not lose grip while sweating.
Outside of the hand grips, the positioning of the trigger and handholds are important too. While all worm drive saws will include a rear and side handle, some will angle the handles so that they more naturally fit the way a person will have to hold the tool. On top of that, some manufacturers are more mindful than others when it comes to the placement of the trigger as this can lead to accidental starts. Unfortunately, the worm drive saw is not really one that has many options for reducing the vibration generated by the increased torque.

Ease of Use

In terms of cutting, worm drive saws are generally one of the easier to use with a point and pull approach. However, because the worm drive saw cuts so much more torque than most power saws, the blade needs to be more firmly seated and fixed in the arbor. To achieve this, pretty much every worm drive saw is forced to use a keyed blade change to loosen the bolt. Still, some manufacturers are able to make this an easier process with various catches and releases that make access the bolt quicker and easier.

Outside of that, the other important consideration is the cutting adjustment levers both in terms of the material itself as well as the ease of engagement. No one wants to have to struggle to change the depth of cut or angle of bevel, but neither should you be willing to trade the ease of a weaker catch for the decrease in durability and, ultimately, precision. As such, it is important to make sure that the adjustment levers are made out of some kind of metal, if only the lightest type, while being machined precisely for easy engagement.


Which Handheld Circular Saw?

If you look around for powerful handheld saws, you will like come down to a choice between two types of circular saw: the worm drive and the sidewinder. The sidewinder circular saw is the more common of the two and features the blade sitting next to the motor while the worm drive has the blade positioned in front of the motor. This difference in design actually has a huge impact on how each saw performs and what it is best suited for.

The sidewinder design gives up a little bit in torque with a direct drive transmission so that it can provide a better center of balance. The compact profile of the sidewinder circular saw allows you to make cuts with much better precision and control. On the flip side, the additional torque generated by the worm drive’s rear-positioned motor allows it to more easily cut large pieces of lumber and even cut through stone.

If you will regularly be making cuts on thick, dense pieces of lumber or occasionally need to cut through concrete or brick, the worm drive is a much have. The circular saw cannot come close to competing in terms of cutting stone and will get bogged down with lumber a worm drive tears through. However, if you need to make more refined and precise cuts, especially if those cuts need to shift, a sidewinder provides the kind of precision and control that the worm drive saw lacks.

How to choose a worm drive circular saw

Once you definitely know that you need a worm drive saw and a sidewinder circular saw will not do, the next step is to figure out what types of jobs you expect to encounter. If you will only use the worm drive saw to cut larger pieces of lumber, then you do not need to worry as much about its maximum cutting speed. On the other hand, if you expect to use the worm drive saw to occasionally cut brick or stone, you will likely want to get a model with a faster cutting speed.

Similarly, if you are more of your average woodworker or a DIYer that only occasionally needs to use a worm drive saw, then you will probably want to get one that is incredibly durable. On top of that, you may want to opt for features which make using the product easier since you are unlikely to use it all that often in the first place. For instance, while the electric brake will provide more benefit to a professional, a novice homeowner will likely want to make sure their saw has that feature for protection.

Using a worm drive saw to cut stone

If you do get a worm drive saw to cut various types of comparatively softer stone material, it is important to understand how this differs from cutting wood. First and foremost, a cutting stone requires the use of a special saw blade, generally diamond-tipped, that does not have any teeth. Of course, that actual saw blade selected will have some impact on the technique, but one thing that remains the same regardless the blade used is a lack of actual cutting.

More often than not, ‘cutting’ stone with a worm drive saw if more of a modified digging action. As such, when cutting into stone you will use a pulling motion with far less pressure applied than you would for cutting into wood. Not only that, but you will also want to use more of a small biting approach rather than consistent pressure to provide the blade opportunity to kick out the pulverized stone. If you try to cut stone too quickly with a worm drive saw, you are liable to burn the stone face, dull the blade, or even cause the saw to kickback.


While every worm drive saw is going to be able to take on the toughest woods, you may want a model that can go above and beyond. The Dewalt DWS535B provides all the cutting power you could ask for at a reasonable price. On top of that, it comes with an electric brake to help keep you safe and does not have any real major flaw. Of course, if you do not expect to use your worm drive saw to cut stone, then the Makita offers the best value that we could find. Finally, the Dewalt DCS577B does deserve an honorable mention as the only cordless worm drive saw to make our list.