Best Worm Drive Saw For the Money – Comparisons & Reviews

While the standard or ‘sidewinder’ saw is what most people think of when they think of a circular saw, the worm drive saw is another handheld circular that’s a little larger and heavier, but delivers more power overall.

The internal gearing and location of the motor on a worm drive saw (behind the blade as opposed to on the side of it) allows them to deliver more torque directly to the sawblade, but the downside is that they’re heavier and more expensive than standard circular saws - a little less practical for the average DIY’er.

While most folks easily get by with their trusty, standard circular saw for most woodworking jobs, plenty of people out there prefer the extra power and balance (among other things) that a worm drive offers.

In this article, we’ve picked out a careful selection of the best worm drive saws based on a combination of performance, consumer feedback, price, and overall value.

You’ll see that these saws are a little more expensive than your typical sidewinder saw, but for the serious DIY’er looking to provide a major boost to his or her power tool collection, they’re a great investment.

Quick Look: Top Worm Drive Saw

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Product Summaries: Best Worm Drive Saw

Our #1 top pick for the best worm drive saw goes to the 7 ¼” Makita Magnesium. This is a lightweight, high-performing, contractor-grade saw that is exceptionally well-built and comfortable to use.

In terms of balance, comfort, and user-friendliness, the 15-amp SKILSAW 7 ¼” 77 is another great option that’s also a good value for the price.

SKILSAW has developed a reputation for being the go-to brand when it comes to circular saws, and this new magnesium ‘77’ model is advertised as the most lightweight worm drive on the market - definitely one the most comfortable, easy-to-use - and not to mention best performing - worm drives you’ll find.

And lastly, the 7 ¼” DeWalt DWS535 gets our nod for the most popular contractor-grade worm drive saw. It’s a bit more expensive than the Makita, but it is another pro-quality tool that’s truly built to last a lifetime.

And not to mention, the DWS535 is the most powerful (with 4,800 max RPM) of all of our top picks.

Reviews of the Best Worm Drive Saws

Last update on 2022-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Although functionality-wise these are worm drive saws, Makita markets them as hypoid saws because of the heat-treated hypoid steel gears that they use, as opposed to the bronze-alloy gears that are used in most other brand’s worm drives.

The hypoid gears, combined with Makita’s 100% oil bath gear coating, make this saw the most durable and maintenance-free on the market.

And, it doesn’t skimp on performance either. The powerful motor draws 15 amps and outputs a max RPM of 4,500, making it more than sufficient for just about any professional, contractor-grade jobs.

Also, the magnesium model is substantially lighter (about 13 lbs) than the standard Makita hypoid (although a bit more expensive), which is a big plus because worm drives are notorious for being heavy, bulky tools that can be difficult to handle for beginners.

One of the things people like most about this saw is the large, very well thought-out and well-placed rubberized levers, which make on-the-fly adjustments super quick and easy.

Things we liked

  • The hypoid gearing and oil bath technology make it probably the most dependable and durable worm drive in the industry, with hardly any maintenance required
  • Large, convenient adjustment levels
  • Ultra quiet compared to other large worm drives

Things we didn’t like

  • Does not come with a carrying/storage case
  • No dust-collection port
  • Starting torque is a little on the high end (can be tricky to do start/stop/start cutting)

Best User-Friendly Worm Drive Saw: 7 ¼” SKILSAW 77

Last update on 2023-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A lot of professionals of a certain generation will tell you that when it comes to circular saws (both standard and worm drive), there’s only one brand they’ll consider: SKILSAW.

We suppose that’s only natural, given the brand invented the tool way back in the 1920’s (when they were the Michel Electric Handsaw Company).

Nevertheless, the SKILSAW 77 has more or less set the golden standard in terms of performance for other brands like DeWalt, Makita, and Milwaukee to follow.

Like the Makita, this saw draws 15 amps, and the magnesium frame makes it the lightest - and definitely on the most well-engineered and user-friendly - worm drive saws out there.

Things we liked

  • The most lightweight worm drive on the market (11.6 lbs)

  • Rock solid SKILSAW reputation

  • Super deep 2 ⅜” depth of cut

Things we didn’t like

  • A little more expensive than the Makita (when compared to the Makita sale price, at least)

  • Made in China (used to be made in the U.S.)

Most Popular Contractor-Grade Worm Saw: DeWalt Magnesium 7 ¼” DWS535

Last update on 2022-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

In terms of brute strength and the ability to take an absolute beating, the DeWalt DWS535 worm drive is easily the best pick out there. Like we mentioned in the intro, if you were to somehow conduct a survey, we’d bet our bottom dollar this would be the most popular saw on professional job sites around the country.

It weighs just about the same as the Makita (13.8 lbs), but delivers just a tad more power with a max RPM of 4,800. This saw is a bit more bulky and not quite as user-friendly as the SKILSAW, so if you’ve never operated a worm drive circ saw before, it’ll likely take some getting used to.

Once you do get a feel for it, though, you’ll find that this thing is an absolute beast that’ll blow your sidewinder clear out of the water.

Things we liked

  • Most powerful of our top 3 picks
  • DeWalt’s solid 3-year warranty
  • Can rip wet lumber just as well as it can cut through concrete

Things we didn’t like

  • A bit more expensive than the SKILSAW
  • Heavier, bulkier, and generally more difficult to operate than the other saws until you get the hang of it

Things to Consider When Shopping for the Best Worm Drive Saw

If you’re wondering why standard circular saws are so much more popular than worm drives, there’s essentially three main reasons:

  • They’re cheaper
  • They’re lighter, more convenient, and easier to operate
  • They work great cordlessly (worm drives generally generate too much torque and power to run off a battery)

Also, one of the things that folks like best about worm drives is they say they’re much easier to visually follow your cut with the blade being on the left hand side, as opposed to the right (for right-handed people at least).

They also give you more reach with the blade being several inches in front of the motor and handle (as opposed to the side of the motor), so they’re much preferred over standard circular saws for cutting sheet goods.

And of course, the extra power they offer over sidewinders is the main reason that people choose to add them to their tool collection - they can do things that a standard circ saw simply can’t do, and are generally a lot more convenient than busting out the table saw.

Lastly, one final thing to keep in mind that we’ve already talked a bit about, is if you’ve never operated a worm drive before and if you’ve become accustomed to your standard sidewinder, make no mistake you’ll be in for a surprise the first time you use it -- they pack a serious torque-infused punch and can have some legitimate kickback.

That being said, then, one of the main things you want to consider when choosing the right one is usability. All three of the saws we selected deliver a similar amount of power and torque, and all three were selected at least in part due to their relative ‘user-friendliness’.

Just like with anything, you’ll get a feel for the saw and get the hang of it with practice, but it certainly helps when you’ve got a well thought-out, properly engineered tool under your hands.

Conclusion / Bottom Line

So all in all, our #1 recommendation for the best worm drive saw is, like we already mentioned, the Makita 7 ¼” Magnesium.

This saw isn’t quite as light as the SKILSAW, but its engineering, quietness - and not to mention its power - set it over the top as the best performing, best all-around worm drive in our book.

About Russ Thompson

Hey I'm Russ and I have been a contractor for over 20 years. I know what the cost of having the right tools and materials for the job. My passion for woodworking and helping others by workshops in my wood shop. I have beginner classes all the way up expert trade classes. Check out my bio for more.

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