Skill Saw vs Circular Saw: Choosing the Right Tool for Your Project

This article will discuss the key differences between the Circular saw and the Skill saw. 

The two names are often used interchangeably for the same types of saws, but if this is confusing to you – don’t worry! Plenty of people are in the same boat. 

You may be familiar with the term ‘every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square’. The same thinking can be applied to conceptualizing the difference between these versatile tools. 

Every Skill saw is a Circular saw, but not every Circular saw is a Skill saw. This will be expanded on further shortly, along with some other key discussion points such as:

  • These powerful tools attributes
  • The different types of Circular saws
  • The benefits to using both Skill saws and Circular saws.

Let’s begin!

Skill Saw vs Circular Saw: The Key Differences

Circular Saws vs Skill Saws key difference
Skill Saw Circular Saw
Cutting PowerPowerful with high torqueVariable power, depending on the model
ErgonomicsLess ergonomic due to bulkMore compact and ergonomic
AccuracyAccurate with tough materialsAccurate for a range of materials
PortabilityPortable but cumbersomeMore portable and lightweight
WeightUsually 5 – 7 kgTypically lighter, around 4-5 kg
BudgetExpensive, $200 – $450Variable, typically more affordable

In the next section, we’ll go over the different types of circular saws. However, before we do that, let’s get into a more in-depth comparison between Skill saws (Worm drive circular saws) and other types of Circular saws!

To preface this: Worm drive circular saws or Skill saws are usually considered the heaviest and most powerful type of Circular saw, followed by the Hypoid circular saw, and then the Sidewinder circular saw.

In order to really differentiate between the different models, we’ll explore nine different categories where we’ll pitch each model against the other! Let’s get into it:

Cutting Power

Skill saw: Skill saws are powerful cutters. Their worm drive mechanism means the blade has a lower rate of revolutions per minute and more torque, making it extremely reliable for cutting through tough materials such as thick pieces of wood.

Hypoid circular saw: These types of saws are also considerably powerful, with low speeds and high torque.

Sidewinder circular saw: A less complex drive mechanism and a faster blade speed give the Sidewinder circular saw less torque, and therefore less cutting power when working with tougher materials. 

However, when working with less demanding materials such as plywood sheets, the Sidewinder circular saw is more than capable.

Winner: Tie between the Skill saw and Hypoid circular saw.


Skill saw: As the bulkier of the options, the Skill saw is also probably the least ergonomic.

Hypoid circular saw: With similar dimensions to the Skill saw, the Hypoid saw is also not as ergonomic as the lighter Sidewinder circular saw.

Sidewinder circular saw: The most ergonomic due to its lighter and smaller build.

Winner: Sidewinder circular saw.


Skill saw: Accurate with tougher materials.

Hypoid circular saw: Accurate with a range of materials.

Sidewinder circular saw: Accurate with lighter materials.

Winner: This depends on the job! Each will provide accurate, straight lines when used in the right context and with a straight edge.


Skill saw: Skill saws are portable, but more cumbersome than other circular saws.

Hypoid circular saw: The same applies to the Hypoid circular saw.

Sidewinder circular saw: This circular saw’s lightweight design makes it the most portable of the bunch!

Winner: Sidewinder circular saw.


Skill saw: Usually falls within a weight range of 5 – 7 kg.

Hypoid circular saw: In the same weight range as the Skill saw.

Sidewinder circular saw: Weighs in at around 4 kgs.

Winner: Sidewinder circular saw.


Skill saw: The priciest of the bunch. Expect to budget between $200 – $450.

Hypoid circular saw: Makita (the market leader in Hypoid saws) sells a few different models, ranging from $150 – $400.

Sidewinder circular saw: the cheapest of the bunch, expect to budget between $100 and $300.

Winner: Sidewinder circular saw.

Blade Size

Skill saw: Considering the Skill saw is on the larger end of the circular saw spectrum, it also has larger blades than the other Circular saws on the market (for example, Sidewinder circular saws). Commonly around 7 1/4 inches.

Hypoid circular saw: Similar size blades to Skill saws, commonly around 7 1/4 inches.

Sidewinder circular saw: Smaller blade size, commonly around 5 inches. This means a shallower cutting depth.

Winner: It depends on the job! As there are multiple blade types and sizes, it’s important to use the correct blade for the saw you are using. Your saw should specify the size/types of blades it uses.


Skill saw: Lots of variation in design due to multiple different manufacturers making them.

Hypoid circular saw: Less variation due to fewer models being on the market.

Like the Skill saw, lots of manufacturers make Sidewinder circular saws, meaning plenty of variation in design.

Winner: Tie between the Skill saw and Sidewinder circular saw.


This depends on the expertise of the person using the saw, and the context it’s being used in. 

Used correctly and with appropriate safety gear, each type of saw will work effectively and in a safe manner.

Winner: At the end of the day, safety is the winner no matter the tool being used!

The Three Types of Circular Saws

Types of Circular Saws

While the term Skill saw applies specifically to Worm drive saws, there is a wide range of Circular saw models on the market. The three main models are as follows:

Worm Drive

As you now know, this is the ‘Skill Saw’. However, many different brands manufacture Worm drive circular saws today.

This type of Circular saw is the most powerful thanks to its worm drive motor and offers further reach when making lots of different types of cuts. 

However, this means that they are heavier – which is definitely something to consider if you’re looking to purchase a Circular saw for personal use.

Sidewinder / Direct Drive saws

The main noticeable difference for Sidewinder circular saws is that they are lighter than the Worm drive model, but often to the detriment of power. 

This being said, given their weight, they are popular options for professional tradespeople worldwide as they can be used with ease over long periods of time.

Keep in mind that this type of Circular saw also has the shallowest blade depth, meaning it may not be as useful when dealing with thicker materials.

Hypoid Saws

Hypoid circular saws are similar to Worm drive circular saws, but they use conical gears instead of a worm drive. 

These types of Circular saws are usually considered the midway point between Worm Drive saws and Sidewinder saws in terms of weight and power. For this reason, Hypoid circular saws are popular with professionals.

This type of Circular saw is most commonly associated with the manufacturer Makita, known for its high-quality power tools.

Benefits of Circular Saws

Benefits of Skill Saws

As this could refer to Hypoid circular saws or sidewinder circular saws, the answer to this would be versatility.

Whether you’re a professional tradesperson looking to stock up their arsenal of handheld power tools or a weekend warrior looking to get stuck into some projects at home, there’s a circular saw for you.

The huge number of models on the market currently will leave you spoilt for choice!

Benefits of Skill Saws

As discussed in this article, the term Skill saw (or Skil saw) refers to a specific type of circular saw using a worm drive. This mechanism makes the Skill saw a highly powerful tool.

Therefore, if you’re after a heavy-duty tool with plenty of power to cut through a wide variety of materials, the amount of Skill saws on the market means there should be one within your budget!


I hope this article has enlightened you to the wonderful world of Circular saws and Skill saws! In just a short amount of time we have:

  • Discussed the key differences between the two (which confusingly have interchangeable names, for the most part) and how the history of the tool explains this identity crisis
  • Identified the three types of Circular saws (of which the Skill saw is one – specifically the Worm drive circular saw)
  • Compared each specific saw’s attributes across multiple different categories with the others
  • Touched on the benefits of each type of saw.

I hope this information has been useful, and that you will be able to use it going forward to properly inform and help with your cutting exploits – no matter how ambitious they may be!


What is the difference between a Skill saw and a Reciprocating saw?

Skill saws have circular blades, while Reciprocating saws have straight, pointed blades. Skill saws are generally used for accurately cutting through a wide range of materials, while Reciprocating saws are generally used for demolition purposes.

What protective gear should I wear when operating a Skill saw or Circular saw?

When operating a Skill saw or Circular saw, it is vital to use the proper safety gear just like with any other power tool. 

This includes primarily a pair of safety glasses and ear protection, as they can be incredibly loud – especially when you’re up close and personal! A dust mask may also be required depending on the type of material you are cutting through.

Can I use the same blades for both Skill saws and other Circular saws?

You can only use the same blades for Skill and other Circular saws if it is the same type of blade. Blades vary in many different ways, from size to material. Unless you know for certain that the blade can be used by both tools, you shouldn’t risk it.

What factors should I consider when selecting a corded vs. cordless circular saw?

You should consider the following factors:

Weight: Corded Circular saws are lighter in weight, as they do not need to house their own power supply (e.g. Lithium-ion batteries).

Where you will be using it: Cordless Circular saws don’t require a connection to a power source. This means they are easily maneuverable, unlike corded Circular saws, which need to stay in the same spot.

Price: Corded Circular saws usually start at a cheaper price point than their cordless counterparts.

Safety: When using a corded Circular saw, you must always be aware of where the cord is. On a busy worksite, it has the potential to be dangerous – posing a trip threat to other people! If you’re working in a confined, busy space, a cordless Circular saw may be a better option for you. 

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.