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pinchvalve MegaDork
5/20/14 8:53 a.m.

My trusty old Craftsman Circular saw may have finally bit the dust. The motor shaft (and therefore the blade) has about a 1/4" of play. To me, that's a worn out motor and/or bearings and not something worth replacing. Plus, it gives me an excuse to put a shiny new tool on the shelf.

I figured about $100, and started looking. I know that a $300 worm-drive Skil Saw is more than I need. But I don't want a $25 el-cheapo either. While I don't use it often, when I do, I want it to work and work well. I kinda like this option, but have no experience with a Hypoid saw or Makita. I like the layout however and it gets good reviews.

If you occasionally built things and did home remodeling, what saw would you want?

cdowd Reader
5/20/14 8:55 a.m.

I have an old craftsman that works well. i have a porter cable compound miter saw that seem really well built. I might look at a porter cable or craftsman.

scardeal Dork
5/20/14 8:56 a.m.

I don't know for sure, but I know that having a track saw would be nice.

spitfirebill PowerDork
5/20/14 8:59 a.m.

I ahd an old Sears Craftsman for years. It worked fine if you kept a good blade on it, but it got to where I had a hard time cutting a straight line. That may entirely be me. I finally gave it to my son when I got a Milwakee circular saw for my 20 year anniversary gift where I work. I was really pissed when I saw it was made in China. I haven't even used it, but my son-in-law did and it seemed to work fine.

If I had to buy one, I would probably go with a Makita, but I'm not sure I would spring for a worm drive.

Toyman01 GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
5/20/14 9:03 a.m.

I'm using a Skil Saw similar to this.

It spent it's life cutting mostly aluminum. I haven't killed it yet. It was probably $40.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 SuperDork
5/20/14 9:05 a.m.

Funny thing about worm drive vs direct drive- my dad is a lifelong construction worker- from the west coast, and only uses worm drive. Sidewinders are for amateurs according to him. Every construction worker I've seen on the east coast uses sidewinders. Weird.

Anyway, if you want a saw that won't stall, you want the worm drive. I have makita tools (lots of them) that simply won't die, but my dad uses only skil brand worm drives- aluminum is good, magnesium housing better. He had two in 35 years of construction, and he only got the second one because he gave his old one to my older brother (and bro did the right thing and bought him the new one). For homeowner use, I just got a milwaukee sidewinder- I had a cheapo skil sidewinder that was a POS- I think it's a case of the "store brand" skil, and the "professional brand" skil like Lincoln did with its Home Depot welders. The milwaukee works just fine- get a decent blade and you won't have any problems.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/20/14 9:08 a.m.

I generally like DeWalt power tools, but my circular saw is a Porter Cable. The body of the saw is magnesium, so it's nice and light. They are also available in left and right handed models.

DaveEstey UberDork
5/20/14 9:26 a.m.

My family (Dad is in construction) uses all Makita sidewinders. Mine is currently a decade old and has had a hard life - still works awesome.

Appleseed MegaDork
5/20/14 9:27 a.m.

Sidewinders (direct drive) are adequate for most DIY jobs. Worm gears are heavy bastards.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
5/20/14 9:34 a.m.

toolking.com or tylertool.com

buy a quality refurb

16vCorey PowerDork
5/20/14 9:53 a.m.

I've got a newer Skil and my dad's ancient Black and Decker, and they both cut just fine. The footplate on the old B&D is pretty beat up, so if I need to be as accurate as possible I use the Skil. If it doesn't matter much, I grab which ever one is closer.

KyAllroad New Reader
5/20/14 10:18 a.m.
Woody wrote: I generally like DeWalt power tools, but my circular saw is a Porter Cable. The body of the saw is magnesium, so it's nice and light. They are also available in left and right handed models.

This was going to be my advice but Woody beat me to it. Hands down the way to go in the circular saw area.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
5/20/14 10:33 a.m.

Years ago, I asked my friend who is a construction worker. He said that there were two types, those with bearings and those with bushings. A saw with bushings would last 1 house, then you had to pitch it. One with bearings would last years.

I like Makita products. I'm not a Black and Decker fan. I buy B&D products that are super cheap and I consider totally disposable. I'm still pissed over a $100 (in 1986 dollars, ~$300 in 2014 dollars) moto-tool. After 1 year, the collet broke. They discontinued them and other collets don't fit, so for lack of a ten cent item, I have a $300 paperweight today.

SVreX MegaDork
5/20/14 10:39 a.m.

I own about 2 dozen circular saws, including the Makita hypoid you showed.

Everyone hates a worm drive when they first use it. The blade is on the "wrong" side, and they are heavy.

Having said that, it is my weapon of choice.

The blade on the left means I have a direct line of sight to the cut, instead of leaning over the saw (I am right handed).

The weight keeps the saw planted better, and improves the cutting accuracy. It is also useful when you learn how to use it (like cutting downhill, to let gravity help you).

Additionally, the handle on the back of the body increases my reach by 6-8". If you watch someone using a direct drive saw, they will look very awkward when cutting across a 4x8 sheet of plywood. I make the complete cut in one smooth pass with a worm drive.

They are more powerful, but honestly this shouldn't matter for the average homeowner. If you keep a good blade in it, direct drive saws are plenty powerful enough for most cuts. If you are timber framing, you need the power.

I carry both on my truck. They bevel in opposite directions, so they are useful for different types of cuts. I generally pickup the direct drive for a quick cut, but always the worm drive for a long day of cutting, or very accurate cuts.

The Makita has a very smooth and quiet motor. It's a joy to use (although most of my worm drives are Skil Mag Saws).

For a homeowner, there is no point to a worm drive saw. Most direct drives are quite competent these days.

Dusterbd13 Dork
5/20/14 10:39 a.m.
Woody wrote: I generally like DeWalt power tools, but my circular saw is a Porter Cable. The body of the saw is magnesium, so it's nice and light. They are also available in left and right handed models.

This. This is what I bought in your situation and a craigslist miter saw. I love the porter cable and it does everything a good circular saw should do.

SVreX MegaDork
5/20/14 10:41 a.m.

Note: if you settle on a direct drive, the. Makita is my choice.

There are also some good options in battery powered direct drives now, for light duty work.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
5/20/14 10:58 a.m.

Another vote for the Makita. I bought one myself a couple of years ago to replace a cheapo Skilsaw I'd had since college. I actually bought a table saw a while back because I was so frustrated that I couldn't cut a straight line with my circular saw...turns out that was a problem with the saw more than anything else! I now use the Makita a lot more than the table saw. I still have the skilsaw, use it where accuracy isn't needed, like ripping up chunks of whatever for stakes and whatnot.

I was irritated that the Makita was China-made, but I couldn't find a saw in my price range (<$150) that wasn't. The quality seems very good though- I've heard Makita takes a more hands-on approach with their manufacturing ops than other makes.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker MegaDork
5/20/14 11:21 a.m.

I have three $35 Makita angle grinders (1 loaded w/ cutoff wheel, 1 with grinder, 1 with wire wheel).

They have been completely abused for years and years of fabricating things and none have ever even shown signs of deteriorating. I'd buy that saw in heartbeat based on that alone.

dj06482 GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/20/14 11:31 a.m.

I have a Milwaukee circular saw and love it:


wlkelley3 SuperDork
5/20/14 11:33 a.m.
Toyman01 wrote: I'm using a Skil Saw similar to this. It spent it's life cutting mostly aluminum. I haven't killed it yet. It was probably $40.

I've had one of these for over 25 years and still going strong.

patgizz PowerDork
5/20/14 11:49 a.m.

i use a ridgid $130 or so direct drive saw daily as part of my profession.

other than the blade being on the wrong side - ie when saw is in my right hand the blade is facing right - it's a very nice saw. i prefer "left handed" saws where i can cut with my right hand and have the blade be on the left - directly in my view - but i was in a pinch and had to pick it up immediately. there is a big difference between a 15 amp $100+ saw and a $35 one. it's not just the extra power, it's the smooth operation, sturdier parts, etc. mine has 1/8" thick solid aluminum where cheaper saws have whatever thin gauge stamped sheet steel parts.

i almost bought a milwaukee worm drive last week but thought better as my saw has been working fine for the last 10 years.

dewalt's freefall in quality over the last 15 years has me sad and could never recommend their stuff anymore.

can you get a $35 saw that would last 20 years of homeowner use? probably. from someone that uses their tools every day to make their living, it's not what i would do but i can see the market for them.

Mitchell UltraDork
5/20/14 12:01 p.m.

How competent are battery-powered saws? Good for occasional use?

yamaha UltimaDork
5/20/14 12:17 p.m.

Skil worm drive here, haven't managed to kill it yet.

foxtrapper PowerDork
5/20/14 12:39 p.m.

If you like the saw you have, I'd at least take it apart to see if it really can be fixed with $20 set of bearings.

92dxman Dork
5/20/14 12:58 p.m.

I have both a Dewalt battery powered and a corded Skil. Of the two, I use the corded Skil more. I bought it for work a few years ago. It wasn't anymore than $50-$60 and the darn thing will go through anything. Pretty bombproof imho.

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