Worm Drive Vs. Sidewinder Circular Saws: Which One Is Better?

Worm Drive Vs. Sidewinder Circular Saws: Which One Is Better? 

While choosing a circular saw, many people get confused between the worm drive and sidewinder circular saws. Mostly, they can’t decide which type of circular saw is best for them. Usually, both the saws can perform the same functions, but there are some differences in their design, look, and motor & gear position. Therefore, choosing a saw out of these two saws is a completely personal decision as both of them offer different experiences during the operations. 

Most shops may contain both of them to get used according to the preferences of the carpenters working there. But if you want to use only one tool out of these two, then you must know the differences between these two. In this article, you can find the actual difference between worm drive and sidewinder circular saws and pick the right one for you.

Worm Drive Circular Saw

Worm drive circular saws have their motor at the back of the saw. It uses a worm drive to transfer power from the motor to the saw blade. Usually, the worm drive is a type of gear combination that contains a worm screw and worm wheel, which are arranged at a 90 degree. The worm screw is attached to the motor shaft, and the worm wheel is attached to the saw blade. Therefore, when the motor rotates, the power gets transferred to the blade through the worm gear combination. Because of this gear arrangement, the speed of the blade decreases to around 4500 RPM, and it offers high torque. Also, this type of motor position increases the weight and length of this saw. 

In a worm drive circular saw, the power transfers from the motor to the blade at a 90-degree angle, making it more powerful than a sidewinder circular saw. With a worm drive circular saw, you can cut lumber and knotted wood with ease. Because of the extra power, these saws can be used for heavier tasks. As these saws are longer than sidewinder circular saws, you can use it for making plunge cuts with ease. Therefore, worm drive circular saws are easy to make different shapes on the wood and offers high flexibility. These saws can be used for cutting harder materials, which is a considering factor while comparing it with sidewinder saws. 

The blade of a worm drive saw is placed on the left, which lets the right-handed people use it efficiently. As the blade is on the left, the weight of the saw falls on the right. Therefore, it becomes easier to handle a worm drive circular saw while cutting compared with a sidewinder saw. Because of its bulky design, it requires more lubrication compared with a sidewinder saw. If you use a worm drive circular saw, then you need to lubricate it at similar time intervals to ensure better functionality. As they are expensive than sidewinder saws, these saws are ideal for professional woodworkers. 

Who Should Use A Worm Drive Circular Saw? 

Worm drive circular saws come with a worm drive mechanism to reduce the speed and provide high torque. Because of this design, this circular saw is powerful and can be used with harder materials. But it is heavy and costs more than sidewinder circular saws. So it can be difficult to carry a worm drive circular saw with you. If you work with hardwood, then you can consider using a worm drive circular saw. Mostly, professional woodworkers prefer these saws for high efficiency. 

Sidewinder Circular Saw

Sidewinder circular saws have the motor at the side of the blade and transfer the power to the blade with direct drive. It has a spur gear design that lets the blade rotate faster. A sidewinder saw can offer a speed of around 6000 RPM. Unlike worm drive circular saws, sidewinder circular saws are lightweight and short. It is also called a direct drive saw because the motor drives the blade directly. But the motor position of this saw can be difficult to balance while cutting the materials. You may feel more weight on the motor side while making a finish cut on your workpiece. However, you can plan how to use this saw appropriately before starting the operation for better results. 

A sidewinder circular saw can be used for making crosscuts efficiently, while worm drive circular saws are used for making rip cuts. As these circular saws come with direct drive feature, it rotates the blade faster than worm drive circular saws. As they are lighter than worm drive circular saws, you can use them as an efficient hand-held circular saw for smaller projects. If you need to do sawing in some difficult situations, then a sidewinder circular saw ideal for you. But this circular saw has less torque compared with a worm drive circular saw. So, it can’t be used for cutting tougher materials like worm drive circular saws. 

A sidewinder circular saw has its blade on the right side so that left-handed people can use it effectively. Because of this design, the weight of the motor falls on the left of the saw. So, it can be difficult to handle a sidewinder circular saw during the operation as the cutline may not be visible. However, its lighter design allows you to use this saw for overhead cutting tasks. Also, a sidewinder circular saw is affordable compared with a worm drive saw. The downside of this saw is it offers less torque, which prevents it from cutting harder materials. Also, the blade position of this saw is suitable for left-handed people and can be uncomfortable for right-handed people. It makes this circular saw less efficient because the number of left-handed people in the world is less. 

Who Should Use A Sidewinder Circular Saw? 

Sidewinder circular saws use direct drive technology to offer high speed and less torque. It makes this saw ideal for smaller projects. The blade and motor position of a sidewinder saw may create imbalance while cutting in some situations. Moreover, it is an efficient tool for left-handed people. As it is lighter than worm drive circular saws, it is easy to carry and operate. Therefore, if you need a small size circular saw to carry out some small projects, then you can use a sidewinder circular saw for your projects. Those who are leftie and are looking for an easy-to-operate saw for them can consider using sidewinder circular saws for a better experience.

Also Read: Corded Vs. Cordless Circular Saw: Which One Is Better?


Usually, these two types of saws confuse many people with their design and features. But both saws can be used efficiently with the right users. As both saws are different in look and operations, it can be difficult to say that one saw is better than another. Also, each person has different choices that let them choose any saw out of these two options. Therefore, you can consider your applications and other requirements, and then decide whether a worm drive or a sidewinder circular saw is ideal for you.