Worm Drive Saw vs SideWinder Saw

Susan Fernandez November 11 2021

Many people don’t give a second thought about circular saws, as long as these have blades and are available in corded and cordless options. The main thing to know is that some of the circular saws are worm-driven, whereas others are known to be sidewinders. When we look at worm drive vs sidewinder, we wonder what makes them different and which one is the right option for us.

What is a Worm Drive Saw?

This one is a powerful saw with its motor mounted at the back, whereas its power is driven through the two gears set at 90 degrees. When you have this setup, it means that the motor produces more torque and less RPM, which is around 4500. 

The lower RPM is great for larger saw blades with high torque, but it does mean that the motor is running more slowly. This comes into effect when you are working with the saw at higher speeds, as they tend to be inaccurate and jerky.

It is also worth mentioning that worm drive circular saws come with large bases, so there is more stability, which means you will get more accurate cuts. You can adjust the depth of the cut through a separate set of levers located at the front of this tool.

The worm drive saw is much longer and bulkier because of the way its motor is fitted. It is excellent for cutting the stacks of lumber, and it can also be converted to cut the concrete. It is worth noting that torque is crucial if you want to saw through any dense material.

Features of worm drive saw

Worm drive saws are fitted with a brake, which can be disengaged once you turn off the power. This contributes to the safety of the equipment and that of its user as well. It is also possible for this type of circular saw to have laser marks on its plate so it is easier for one to follow during cutting operations.

The worm drive circular saw does not pivot, meaning that it is difficult to slide under the jamb or fit between studs. You will need an extended shoe if you want to perform these types of cuts, but keep in mind that they are very different from each other.

Advantages of a worm drive saw

This type of circular saw is easy to control and operate, so it is ideal for those who lack sufficient skills or have poor coordination. Even if you’re using both hands, the results will be the same as when you use one hand with a sidewinder saw. So there aren’t many differences in mobility and balance. Also, this type of saw is excellent for any cutting operation that involves dense materials because its motor has high torque.

All in all, the worm drive circular saw excels at smooth cuts through dense material because it has a powerful motor and a long blade which means less vibration too.

What is a Sidewinder Saw?

In a sidewinder saw, the motor is mounted on the side, and this helps it drive the circular saw blade without requiring additional gears. This is known as 'direct drive,' and this is the main reason why the sidewinder saw is also known as the direct-drive saw. 

The primary benefit of no gears is that you get increased speed, and at most, it produces 6,000 RPM. The sidewinder is ideal for smaller projects and not the bulkier ones, and because of its lighter weight, it can better operate in an awkward situation.

If your work involves crosscutting only, sidewinders may just be perfect for you. It is lighter and more compact than a worm drive saw, and it also pivots for better convenience when doing crosscuts or bevels cuts.

Having sidewinders means that your circular saw does not have the power and torque of a worm drive one, but this usually presents no problem as long as we are talking about softwood materials. If you cut through hardwoods with the sidewinder setup, then chances are that its blade will overheat and burn out quickly. This can lead to poor results as well as danger for you as a person operating such equipment.

The sidewinder has just two speeds: high and low, whereas most other types of circular saws have three options: slow, medium, and high-speed levels.

Features of sidewinder saw

It does not have a break, so you will need to turn off your saw manually or disengage the power cord. This is the main reason why sidewinders are less safe than worm drive ones. The blade can also wobble because of its flimsy base plate, but this is why it allows for better mobility compared to other circular saws.

The sidewinder saw usually uses t-style slots so that an exchangeable dado blade can be used if needed. The usual limitation of this setup comes from the height of tools as well as sharpening them, so you end up with no space left behind your saw table’s fence for long moulding pieces.

Advantages of sidewinder saw

Its lightweight makes it easy to handle. The sidewinder propulsion system is simple, so you get the benefit of lower initial cost too. This type of saw will work well for small projects because there are no gears that can wear down over time. If your project involves making crosscuts or bevel cuts only, then you should consider getting a sidewinder setup for your circular saw instead of other types available on the market today.

What are the differences?

When we compare worm drive vs sidewinder, there are a lot of differences between both the saws.

  • Motor position

The motor of the worm drive lies behind the blade or the center point of the blade. On the other hand, the sidewinder saw's motor lies in line with the blade's center.

  • Weight

The worm drive engages the blade and works, and a shaft has a spiral thread engaging a toothed wheel; therefore, the worm drive is a much heavier option. It indeed is heavier than the sidewinder that weighs almost half of the worm drive.

  • Power, torque, and speed

As compared to the sidewinder, the worm drive indeed offers more torque in its true nature. There is an inverse relationship between the torque and speed; it obviously means that the sidewinder has a higher blade speed.

  • Maintenance

One has to add oil in the majority of the worm drives because they need lubrication, although some worm drives come with a closed system and don't require any lubricants. The sidewinders have already closed systems and don't require any lubrication or maintenance.

Verdict on a worm drive saw vs sidewinder

It is essential to understand that different tools are more suitable for different needs. For example, if you plan on doing bulk wood cutting, then the worm drive saw is definitely your tool of choice. However, if you do crosscutting or bevels cut most of the time then it might be better if you choose sidewinders.

There are also other types of circular saws, but they are usually used by professionals in their workshops for heavy tasks. If you plan on getting a circular saw, whether corded or cordless one, keep in mind whether the worm-driven type or sidewinders is best suited for your work so you have exactly what will bring satisfaction when using it every day at work.

Final Thoughts

There is a big difference between both the worm drive and the sidewinder saw, but you will also find some similarities. When comparing worm drive vs sidewinder, the most important thing is to understand each drive system and figure out the type of work you will be doing and which of these can suit you the best. It can never be a good idea to settle and think that both the saws are the same because they are entirely different from each other.