It really a matter of preference. A "worm drive" motor is at the rear of the saw, and its power is transferred to the blade with a pair of gears that are oriented at a 90 degree angle. This gear setup reduces the speed of the blade, typically in the neighborhood of 4,500 RPM, but increases torque. Obviously, this motor position leads to a longer saw, but it’s also significantly heavier.
The other type of saw, commonly referred to as a "sidewinder" saw, it uses a motor with what’s technically called a spur-gear. By nature of this gear, the motor must be in line with the spinning blade, and this means the blade spins fast, in the neighborhood of 6,000 rpm, the motor position allows for a fairly compact lightweight saw.
There are exceptions, a sidewinder will have the blade on the right and a worm drive will have the blade on the left. Depending on whether you are righty or lefty, this will affect sight lines and working habits.
Assuming you are Right-Handed, with a sidewinder, the blade is on the right side and the weight of the tool is on the left. This design keeps the weight of the tool on the solid part of the board rather than the cutoff. The trade off is that it’s more difficult to see the cut line. Typically cuts are made on sawhorses or right on the stack of lumber.However, the lightweight of a sidewinder makes it a good choice for working overhead. Some will also argue that the blade position helps ensure that both hands are kept a safe distance from the cut. In use, the compact lightweight sidewinder is much easier to handle
With a worm drive, the blade is on the left side, leaving the majority of the weight on the right. This design changes the way the blade is installed. It also makes it super easy to follow a cut line, but can be dicey if you’re used to working on sawhorses. Many worm drive users either cut right on the stack of lumber, or take advantage of the tool’s weight by cutting boards in a handheld position. The extra length of the tool also makes it handy for gang cutting wide stacks of lumber or long sheet goods. Its shape also makes plunge cuts easier.
Bottom line, this is one of the most argued tool topics in modern construction. The truth is that one saw isn’t better than the other, it just depends on how you prefer to work. Luckily, The Home Depot carries both types in stock for you to hold in your hand and check the weight & feel, so that means the decision is all yours.
Date published: 2017-02-17