Pros:Excellent design - an industry leader
Cons:Weight and cost
The Bottom Line: For portable wood cutting where electricity is available you can't do better than Skilsaw, the beginning of portable saws.
I first saw a Skilsaw in the early 1960s. It had been around essentially unchanged since it was first introduced in 1924. In fact the company was founded around that first “portable electric hand saw” and still makes it today. The saw, then and now, used a worm drive so that the motor is in line with the blade. The housing, then and now, was cast aluminum and they have added an even lighter magnesium housing. Other than a motor with increased power and a change from aluminum to plastic handles, it is still the same. I was gifted with one three Christmases ago.
Recommend this product?
Skil SHD77M 7 1/4" Mag Worm Drive Saw.
My first thought on opening the present was how heavy it was. I had mostly used “sidewinder” saws before. The second thing I noticed was that it had red plastic handles. My memory was of aluminum handles, but still the same shape. On first use it became clear why it would be hard to find a building work site without one of these saws present.
Many have seen the Skil name on the shelves of big box stores and hardware stores as a cheap competitor to names like Black and Decker. This is not even in the same league as those other Skil tools. This is the saw that every manufacturer of quality portable tools has imitated. Skil is now owned by Bosch, but the ownership change has not changed the quality of the Skilsaw. With several years of experience with Bosch tools I can say their warranty service is excellent. The warranty on the Skilsaw is a standard one year limited warranty.
The Skilsaw with either an aluminum or magnesium housing has the same specifications.
The motor draws 15 amps which has been increased from the earlier 13 amp motor.
This magnesium version weighs in at 14 pounds compared to the 16 pounds of its aluminum brother.
The cord is 8 feet long and uses a 20 amp switch to provide power to the motor.
Depth of cut at 90 degrees is 2 3/8 inches and 1 15/16 inches at 45 degrees.
Maximum tilt is 51 degrees with a stop at 45 degrees which must be released for maximum tilt.
It runs no-load at 4600 rpm.
The foot plate is large and sturdy. Bevel angles can be calibrated for better accuracy. The plastic handles give a smooth grip. The switch is convenient yet protected from accidental engagement. The Skilsaw uses ball bearings at the points needed for long life and smooth operation, 6 in all. The saw comes with a 24 tooth carbide combination blade. The carbide is toughened to make it less brittle and susceptible to cracking or crazing under stress. The blade uses a diamond opening to make installation easier and sturdier. The outer flange of the blade assembly is engineered to act as a clutch to reduce kickback or sudden motor stoppage. It has a blade lock for changing blades. The blade guard is designed to minimize snags when making narrow cuts. Oil level is easy to check and easy to fill. The magnesium housing reduces the weight.
The first thing noticed is how heavy this saw is. The second thing is that it so well balanced that it is easy to control with either two hands or one hand. For a right hander the sight line is excellent. The cutouts for cut alignment on the front of the foot plate make starting the cut easy and the edge of the blade is easily seen throughout the cut. So far I have found nothing I cut that even significantly slows the blade. It can be pushed through the material faster for more work efficiency. I have made plunge cuts with the saw. The blade guard retracts easily for this operation and the saw weight also makes the plunge operation easier. All of my cutting so far has been horizontal with the work supported and supporting the saw as it cuts. If using the saw in construction where the saw is cutting vertical or angled pieces, the user will need to have some wrist strength to use it very often. I really like this Skilsaw as do many professional carpenters. Compared to my past sidewinder saws it seems more solid and is easier to guide, even with the added weight.
The invention of the Skilsaw was so successful that it spawned an industry. Many folk still refer to any portable circular saw as a Skilsaw. It became the generic name for the tools just as Kleenex did. Not many things were so well designed that they have been able to remain essentially unchanged for nearly ninety years. Like professional carpenters, I fully endorse this saw for any serious user. With reasonable care it can be passed on to the next generation. Many of the earlier Skilsaws are seeing the third generation of use. Parts and repair service is easily obtainable. It’s just common sense.