Worm Drive Vs Sidewinder: Which Is Best For Your Needs?

Are you confused about whether you should buy a worm drive or a sidewinder? Then I must tell you that both of them are circular saws, and the most noticeable difference between them is their motor position. Both of these saws are pretty popular among the carpenters, and they use this tool for different applications. That’s why the Worm drive vs. sidewinder competition is going on for decades.

In the West and the Midwest part, the worm drive saw is popular on the contrary in East, sidewinders saw is the carpenter's choice. Besides their engine location, there is also some other difference available. So, are you interested to know more about the difference between these two? Then let's take a closer look.

Before jumping into a contrary about which type of circular saw is the best, lets first discuss about the difference and advantages and disadvantages of worm drive and sidewinders.

Difference between Worm drive saw and sidewinder saw

As I mentioned earlier, the main difference between them is the motor location. In the worm drive tool, the motor is located on the back of the tool through the blades are situated on the front. The motor transfer powers to the blade with the help of a pair of gears that are oriented at a 90-degree angle. Other than that, because of the motor position, the length of the saw increases so does the weight. It is much heavier than the sidewinder. The blade of the worm drive placed on the left side of the tool.

On the other hand, the sidewinders motor is located at the side of the blade and transmit the power without taking help of any gear. That's why the sidewinder is more compact and lightweight than the worm drive and its blade placed on the right side of the motor.

Advantages of worm drive saw

worm drive saw

First of all, the worm drive provides more torque than the other saws. That means you can smoothly cut any knotty wood with a 4500 RPM. Besides, its blade located on the left side of the saw, so the right-hand carpenters get a clear view of the cutting line and know exactly what they are cutting. It also doesn’t require much extra maintenance work, and you can even use it to cut concrete.

Disadvantages of worm drive saw

It is not compact and quite heavier too. So, it's become difficult to operate and it requires to add lubricant oil regularly to keep the engine running smoothly. Besides, it depends on additional gears to run the blade, so the maximum RPM is lower than the sidewinder saw. An average worm drive saw weights 14 to 16 pounds.

Advantage of Sidewinder Saw

Sidewinder Saw

In sidewinder saws, the blade and motor run side by side, so it doesn't rely on any additional gears. That means it is more efficient, and because of that, the blades can run up to 6,000 RPM as a result. Because of its compact design, it is lightweight and comes at an affordable price. It is easy to operate, and the carpenters can operate it in any position. An average sidewinder saw weights 8 to 9 pounds.

Disadvantages of Sidewinder

As we all know, every coin has two sides and the sidewinder also have some downsides. It produces less torque than the worm gear saw, so it becomes difficult to slice the harder woods. Besides, the blades are located on the right side of it, so it becomes challenging for a right-handed person to get a clear view while cutting.

A Quick Comparison Table: Worm drive vs. sidewinder


Worm Drive


Motor Type

Worm gear

Side winder

Motor Position

Behind the blade

Side of the blade



Lubricant oil







Average weight

14 to 16 pounds

8 to 9 pounds

Price tag



Which one is the best?

It's difficult to judge and declare which one is the best as both of them have some advantages and disadvantages. So, it will depend on your requirements, and you need to decide which one is more suitable for you. If you ever have the chance, you can check both of them first hand, then decide which one you should go for it.

If you still a bit confused, then allow me to give an example. Suppose, you are not a professional carpenter and looking for a lightweight, and compact circular saw, then sidewinder will be best for you. It is easy to operate and doesn't require much maintenance. But if you are searching for something sturdy and need a circular saw for professional works, then undoubtedly worm drive will be more suitable for you.

Frequently Ask Questions

What are the things I should consider before selecting a circular saw?

Answer: There are some key factors you should consider before finalizing any saw and those are
Design, motor power, torque, RPM, price tag, and so on.

Can I use Circular saw to cut concrete?

Answer: Yes, you can, but it will damage the blades. So, after using it, you will need to replace the blades.

Can I slice molding with a sidewinder saw?

Answer: I will suggest you not to do that. But if you are running out of options, then you might use sidewinders to cut moldings.

Can a sidewinder saw cut in a 45-degree angle?

Answer: Yes, you can adjust the angle to cut it at a 45-degree angle.

Final Words

A circular saw can be used for many purposes, and according to your requirement, you should select the saw. So, it’s quite tricky to declare a winner in worm drive vs. sidewinder competition. Both of the circular saws are king in their own kingdom, but when I bought my circular saw, I choose the worm drive saw. It may be tricky to operate, but I get a clear view of what I am cutting, and the motors are also sturdy. But sidewinders are not a bad option at all. It is lightweight and suitable for beginners.

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