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Worm Drive vs Sidewinder Circular Saw: What’s the Difference?

By: David S. Miles | Last Updated: January 20, 2024

Makita 5477NB: Worm Drive vs Sidewinder Circular SawIn my long woodworking career, I have seen peoples getting confused whenever asked about worm drive vs sidewinder and which one they prefer. It’s somewhat surprising to see even expert artisans know little that both kinds of the saw are circular saw.

And the ignorance often leads them to choose the wrong one and regret later. So, today I am going to describe the details about worm drive, and sidewinder circular saw along with their usefulness. I will also discuss the positivity and negativity of these two saws under specific working conditions.

So, are you up for it?

Worm Drive Vs Sidewinder: An in-depth discussion

To know the effectivity of word drive circular saw and sidewinder, we must understand their ins and outs. So, here we go.

Specifications Sidewinder Saw Worm Drive Saw
Style Sidewinder motor Worm gear motor
Location of the motor Sideways Behind
RPM 5000-6000 4000-4500
Torque Low High
Maintenance Needs regular lubrication Occasional

What Is A Worm Drive Circular Saw?

worm drive vs sidewinder circular saw

A worm drive circular saw comes with a worm gear modeled motor, and it is located behind the saw blade. The saw takes its name from the motor type. A worm drive is more cumbersome but can perform tough cutting jobs crisply.

The worm drive saw is suitable for working in a congested place with its low profile.


  • Higher torque generation: Of all kinds of circular saws available in the market, worm drive saws have the highest torque generation capacity. The comprehensive torque capacity incorporates brilliantly with the 4500 RPM to accomplish the most demanding cutting jobs at ease. So, you get advantages for the big projects with this saw.
  • Easy to operate: In a worm drive circular saw, the blade is positioned at the left side of the motor. This increased visibility of the right-handed persons for the workpiece. Since the majority of people are right-hand operator, so most people find it easy to work with the worm drive saw.
  • Less maintenance: The biggest advantage of the worm drive circular saw is its ability to work with less to zero maintenance. So, it reduces yours after sales expenses.
  • Concrete cutting: A worm drive circular saw is even capable of cutting concrete surfaces and blocks that make it one of the most versatile saws at present.


  • Bulky: A worm drive circular saw in all cases is a heavier saw and also has a bulky outlook. These saws weight ranges between 14-16 pounds, which is higher than the sidewinder circular saws. So, you will not be able to move freely with the worm drive saw.
  • Lower RPM: With extra gears added, the worm drive circular saw has the highest 4500 RPM. It is not suitable for smooth cuts and also, you may need more time to finish the jobs.

What is a Sidewinder Circular Saw?

Just as the saw name suggests, a sidewinder saw works with a sidewinder motor. The motor is located parallelly with the sideways of the saw blade. A sidewinder is often more potent than the worm drive circular saw with around 6000 RPM capacity.

Hence, it already gets an edge when it comes to sidewinder vs worm drive saw. But before you make any decision, let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of the sidewinder saw.


  • No extra gears: Since the blade and motor run sideways, the saw can house both gears without any added space. That makes the saw quick and also less weighty.
  • Higher RPM: The efficient sidewinder circular saw can generate up to 6000 RPM, which is one of the highest in the industry at present. So, you will love working with the saw, thanks to its smooth finish and fast cutting capacity.
  • Compact and portable: A sidewinder circular saw weighs 8-10 pounds, and so, you can carry t with the handheld option. That works brilliantly for compatibility of the saw if you need to move frequently.
  • Affordable: Sidewinder saws are more affordable than any kind of saw in the industry. So, if you are in a tight budget, this is going to be your lucky charm.


  • Less torque: Since it produces less torque, the saw isn’t suitable for piercing through hard and large logs. It is a significant disadvantage of the saw.
  • Difficulty in use: The blades are positioned on the right side that obstructs your visibility at work. Also, right-handed people will find it challenging to work with the saw due to its blade placement.

Which is the best?

Now, we have to decide which saw is better for what purpose. The sidewinder saw will be most suitable for beginners due to its affordability and lightweight design. Also, those who won’t need to work with hardwood should go for the sidewinder.

On the contrary, professionals should go with a worm drive circular saw because of its sturdy construction. Also, it is ideal for cutting large lumbers.


The age-old fight between worm drive vs sidewinder is not going to end soon. The only recommendation we can put is that both are unique and specializes in a particular work. So, you should choose accordingly.

Nonetheless, feel free to contact us if you are still doubtful.

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