Shop tested worm-drive circular saws

Our pro testers take a look at the power behind the worm-drive circular saw

By Steve Maxwell

Photo by Roger Yip

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Whether you’re building a deck or you just need compact cutting power in your workshop, a circular saw is the tool of choice. It boasts versatility and efficiency both indoors and out.

And while many workshoppers turn to cordless tools for their new purchases, it may be a mistake to ignore the great value offered by corded power. That’s why we decided to compare a selection of corded 71?4" circular saws, both sidewinder and worm-drive styles.

Click here for the overall results of the circular saw test, both sidewinder and worm-drive styles

Meet our expert testers:

Canadian Home Workshop turned to three of our pros to test these corded circular saws: Steve Maxwell, our technical editor, who also produced the test by setting the parameters for this review; plus, long-time contributing editors Ryan Shervill and Gary Walchuk.

Each tool was tested on the following criteria:

  • Cutting power: a smooth and powerful cut will make or break the utility of these tools.
  • Blade change: arbor lock operation and wrench access can make this a convenient or painful process.
  • Blade guard: testers looked at how well the blade guard retracts on its own and with the thumb lever.
  • Sawdust control: how well a saw directs dust away from you makes a surprising difference.
  • Shoe quality: the material, size, shape and angle graduations were tested to find their pros and cons.
  • Following a line: how easily you can see a pencil line as you cut is key to a circ saw.
  • Handling quality: the weight and balance of each tool was rated for cutting comfort.
  • Cord: length, feel and durability was compared across all models.


Milwaukee 6477-20

Price $200

This worm-drive workhorse provides great power and a design that makes it easy to follow a line precisely. As with the other worm-drive saws, the Milwaukee has an easy-to-guide left-side blade. Another feature that aids in cutting a line is the large notches at the front and back of the composite, swivelling shoe.

This tool has very good balance when held with the front handle, just as you want with a worm-drive saw. A steel rafter hook swivels easily and clicks into three positions for quick handling and storage.

Testers weren’t overly pleased with Milwaukee’s dust control. Like all the other worm-drive saws in the test group, there was no port, which caused dust to fly around a great deal.

The blade guard has good retraction action, and the plastic handle is straight and easy to push with your thumb.

Skilsaw SHD77M

Price $220

Our testers found this to be an excellent heavy-duty saw, just behind the Ridgid for the top worm-drive saw.

The Skilsaw provides loads of power and it’s easy for righthanders to follow a cut line. Large notches on the inside edge of the shoe opening provide an obvious visual reference for aligning the blade with the cut line–a simple but useful feature.

Similar to the Milwaukee, the Skilsaw has great balance on the front handle and a swivelling hook at the rear. Also like the Milwaukee, the Skilsaw lacks a dust port.

The blade guard has good retraction, with a cushioned stop when the spring pulls the guard back into a closed position.

The shoe matches this saw’s heavy-duty design–strong, pressed steel. It has all-metal locking levers for depth-of-cut and bevel settings.



Ridgid R3210

Price $220

The Ridgid is the top-rated worm-drive saw in our test.As with the other worm drives, this saw has great cutting power with lower blade revolutions than sidewinder saws translating into more torque. And this saw also provides a bevy of well-designed features to boot.

When changing blades, the Ridgid has a long, on-board Allen key and front-located arbor lock that is easy to push and it locks in 1?4 of a rotation.

Testers found the blade guard has good retraction action in most cutting situations.

When following a line, this saw has excellent visibility. Also, a large, dark mark across the entire nose of the shoe makes it easy to align the saw with a pencil mark.

The shoe plate swivels well and has fine bevel-angle graduations. Also, the depth of cut is easy to adjust. Large, plastic-covered metal locking levers offer a lot of surface area.

The Ridgid is comfortable and lightweight compared with other worm drives, with excellent balance.

The only drawback of this saw, as with the other worm-drive saws, is the absence of a directional dust port. Sawdust flies all over the place.


If you are in the market for a jobsite saw that can stand up to a great deal of use and abuse, it may be worth investing more in a worm drive. The clear winner out of our small test group was the Ridgid R3210, which had high marks in every category, including performance and comfort.


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