Worm Drive vs Sidewinder Circular Saw

Confused whether to go with a left-hand or right-hand circular saw? Well, there are some critical differences in features between the two. No need for panic, though. This detailed guide on left-hand circular saws vs. right-hand circular saws will help you cut through the confusion.

Of the two types of handheld circular saws, the two most popular variants are sidewinders and worm drivers. Now, a sidewinder has a right-side blade and a straightforward design. It’s suitable for sawing wooden shelves, lightweight metal, and plastic sheets.

On the other hand, a worm drive has a left-side blade and a motor that protrudes from its rear section. The motor power is intentionally toned down so that the saw has substantial torque.

In our opinion, a left-handed circular saw is fit for both DIY carpentry and heavy-duty applications. A 20V worm drive has an impressive blade capacity, comfortable sightlines, more torque, and accuracy.

From today’s detailed comparison guide, you can closely compare the two and pick a suitable circular saw for yourself. Enjoy!

Worm Drive Circular Saw/Left-Hand Circular Saw

A worm drive saw has a motor located at the rear part of its body. It protrudes out of the blade zone – without looking virtually integrated into the saw blade compartment.

These saws are comparatively slower than sidewinders, but they make up for this lacking with fantastic torque levels.

Advantages of Left-Hand Circular Saw

You can consider a left-handed circular saw an all-purpose saw for furniture-making, repairing, and remodeling. Here’s why!

Clear Sightlines

If you’re using a worm drive with your right hand, you’ll have no issue seeing the cut line.

But when it’s the other way around, that is, if you’re left-handed, following the guide marks takes a bit of getting used to. Unfortunately, with this one, you can’t have it both ways! Depending on your preferred arm, one of the two saws will be a bit uncomfortable to use.

Increased Torque

You’ll find it surprising that a worm drive saw costs so much more than a sidewinder. Even with relatively lower speed levels and a chunkier layout, a worm drive will have you pay nearly twice the amount.

It’s because a worm drive (a suitable saw for right-handed people, if you may) offers generous torque levels. And it makes the power tool ideal for sawing easy-to-tough materials with neat edges.

For example, an ordinary 7-½-inch saw blade can cut through a couple of inches of plywood. Other than a high-voltage battery, generally higher torque figures give worm drives an edge over DIY woodworking.

Suitable for Heavier Applications

Worm drivers, or left-handed circular saws, are available in a wide range of voltage ratings. But if you take one worm driver and one sidewinder with the same voltage battery, you’re going to love the worm driver for its remarkable sawing performance.

Unless you have some serious overhead work engagements ahead, worm drivers’ extra weight shouldn’t tip the scales!

Sidewinder Circular Saw/Right-Hand Circular Saw

Now, sidewinder saws are sometimes called right-handed circular saws because the blade is on the right.

Don’t get the wrong idea and think that these saws are tailor-made for the right-handed people only.

In fact, a sidewinder is much more suitable for a left-handed person due to its blade-right layout. The weight distribution feels more comfortable. If you’re new to circular saws, the stability sure comes in handy!

Advantages of Right-Hand Circular Saw

The pros of a right-hand circular saw are pretty impressive for the price. They have high-speed settings, multi-surface compatibility, and many more features stacked in a tiny package.

More Speed

A sidewinder comes with a spur-gear motor- featuring naturally high RPM levels with the help of its simple and straightforward layout.

We recommend that you choose a high-powered brushless motor for getting an extended service life out of this teensy power tool. It should be backed up with an impressive battery capacity for going the extra mile.

Safer Operation

With the help of guide marks, offset blocks, bevel stops, power brakes, and a dependable saw foot, a wandering saw blade rarely happens!

A blade-right circular saw is a delight for beginners and experienced woodworkers alike. Finally, all else being equal, you might actually learn the ropes of sidewinder saws faster than you think.

Lightweight Construction

A higher voltage almost always means a heavier motor for cordless power tools. The same goes for left-handed and right-handed circular saws. However, sidewinders are compact power tools run by electricity or an air compressor.

You can easily pick a powerful 28-volt sidewinder, also known as a direct drive saw. You won’t even feel the extra weight!

What to Consider Before Buying a Circular Saw

Circular saws are versatile power tools that pack a lot of speed and power for ripping wood, shaping workpieces, and cutting metal sheets. They can make both straight and bevel cuts across wood, metal, plastic, concrete, and masonry.

Worm drive and direct drive are the two most common circular saws, and people have a hard time choosing between the two. Depending on the factors stated below, you can finally pick a circular saw that works for you!

Blade Orientation

All sidewinder saws have a motor that is perfectly in line with the saw blade. This way, the motor housing sits at the top of the blade, and the saw harnesses the motor’s full power. Scientifically, it helps the blade spin faster and allows manufacturers to produce more compact circular saws.

On the other hand, the blade of a worm driver saw is positioned on the left side. This type of circular saw leaves most of its weight on the right side- making it easier for right-handed people to work with it.

Motor Quality

A worm drive has a right-angled gear setup. Instead of being directly applied to the blade, the motor power is transferred to the gear first.

Consequently, it decreases the overall speed of the worm drive saw. We’re looking at two-thirds of a sidewinder’s speed, which averages around 6,000 RPM.

Level of Torque

Torque is the force your power tool will apply on the workpiece as the blade moves forward the guide mark. When you’re sawing tough materials such as plywood and metal, a more significant amount of torque helps the sawblade approach the cut-line with better force.

That said, low torque and high-speed level are a terrible combination for circular saws. It would be best to remember that a speedy saw with average torque isn’t as impressive as it sounds.

Voltage Rating

Battery-powered worm drives and sidewinders have an amp-hour and voltage rating. A high voltage rating translates to more power, as you might already know. Similarly, a high amp-hour rating ensures more extended duty.

You can get anything between 4 to 9 hours of service with a pretty good amperage depending on your motor type and battery capacity.

Since worm drivers are mechanically heavier than sidewinders (no thanks to the 90° gear setup), an 18-volt worm driver can weigh up to 10lbs.

It’s something you should consider before deciding because it might limit your workspace to floors and walls. Sawing in overhead joists and shelves is off the table!

Ease of Use

Major power tool brands like Black & Decker, Makita, and Dewalt offer cordless circular saws in both categories. However, the lightweight build and fast speed levels keep the sidewinder ahead in popularity.

Most DIY woodworkers, regardless of their hand dominance, will settle for a sidewinder for its ease of use.

Bottom Line

Our debate on a left-hand circular saw vs. a right-hand circular saw ends here. Personally, we feel that worm drive saws have the upper hand- only if you’re ready to step out of your comfort zone.

They help you rip through wide lumber stacks and make flawless plunge cuts on any surface. At the end of the day, you can speed down a blade-left saw, but you can’t get more torque than what it offers!

Worm drives or Sidewinders? Better power and low-end torque or greater speed? Read about left-hand circular saws vs. right-hand circular saws and pick yours!

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