Sidewinder vs. Worm Drive Circular Saws

Sidewinder saws and Worm Drive saws are two types of circular saws. Although they might seem similar, they certainly are not!

They have many differences, the most apparent of which is the position of the blade. 

In this article, we will tackle their slight similarities, their differences, pros, and cons. 

Short Answer: 

Sidewinder is your go-to if you are going to cut softwood or make cross-cuts. It is also a great circular saw if you care about RPM more than power. 

On the other hand, if power is your priority, get a Wind Drive. It is also more suited for cutting sturdy material.

Sidewinder vs. Worm Drive Circular Saws – Full Comparison

Motor Positioning

The place of the motor of a Sidewinder is different than that of a Worm Drive.

A Sidewinder has its motor next to its blade, which gives the saw a short and wide profile. 

Moreover, the central location of the motor makes the Sidewinder light and more comfortable to maneuver.  

This is to say that a Sidewinder is more suitable for first-time users and hobbyists than a Worm Drive. It is also more ideal for overhead tasks.

On the other hand, a Worm Drive has its motor directly behind its blade, which gives it a longer and narrower profile. 

Also, this design adds to its weight, so it is not as easily maneuvered as a Sidewinder. 

However, this extra weight will come in handy if you use the saw to make cuts by hand.

Blade Positioning 

The difference between the place of the blades of a Sidewinder and a Worm Drive needs no expert to notice. 

A Sidewinder has its blade on the right side; whereas, a Worm Drive has its blade on the left side. 

Does this make any difference regarding their usability and performance? Oh yeah!

One of the essential aspects to consider when you are searching for a power tool to buy is cutting line visibility. 

You can’t cut something when you cannot see; therefore, you should understand and memorize the following. 

A blade on the right-hand side for a right-handed user will block his/her vision.

So, if you are right-handed, get a Worm Drive because its blade is on the left side, and if you are a left-handed person, get a Sidewinder for its blade is on the right side.

Motor Torque

Torque is the rotating force of the blade of saws. The greater the torque, the tougher the materials that the saw can handle. 

In our case, a Worm Drive saw has higher torque than a Sidewinder thanks to the larger teeth of the Worm Drive’s gears. These larger teeth enable more load-carrying capacity.

When the motor is in line with the blade, the blade spins faster. So, unfortunately, the position of the motor and the large teeth of the gear cause lower RPM. 

Blade Speed

The thing that determines the speed of the blade is its position in relation to the motor that subsequently dictates its turning mechanism. 

The speed of the blade is totally separate from the torque on the motor. 

So, despite that a Worm Drive saw has higher torque, a Sidewinder has faster blades – around 5.500 RPM – because the motor sits directly in line with the blade, which results in the use of a spur-gear.

On the other hand, the blade of a Worm Drive makes around 4.500 RPM because its motor is located behind the blade. So, to transfer power to the blade, it uses a gear system that lowers the blade speed. 

Read Also : How to Sharpen Circular Saw Blades

Corded and Cordless Preference

Whether it is better to get a corded or a cordless power tool is a whole other debate; however, your need dictates the answer. 

If you are more of a cordless person, Sidewinders do have corded models that are almost as excellent and as powerful as corded ones. However, they are reasonably pricey. 

On the other hand, It is true that there are cordless Worm Drive saws on the market nowadays, but they are not relatively as good as corded ones because they do not use a worm gear motor. Instead, they get their power from batteries and direct drive system. 

However, they still have the rear handle, left side blade, and torque. 

Motor Type

Sidewinder: Spur gear 

Worm Drive: Worm Drive

Handle Position

Sidewinder: On top

Worm Drive: Rear


Sidewinder: 10 Ibs

Worm Drive: 16 Ibs

What We Like and Do Not Like About Sidewinder and Worm Drive Circular saws: 



  • Easily maneuvered
  • Portable
  • Faster blades
  • Excellent cordless models
  • Suitable for cutting softwood and cross-cutting
  • Less expensive 


  • Lower torque 
  • Cannot handle sturdy materials

Worm Drive:


  • More powerful 
  • Higher torque 
  • Ideal for cutting hardwood and long rip cuts
  • Produce more accurate cuts


  • Corded models do not use worm gear motors
  • Lower RPM 
  • Heavier 

Bottom Line

Choosing between the two is not easy since they are very attractive. 

However, when you feel lost between the two, try answering these questions:

What are you going to cut? If you are going to cut simple stuff, then go for a Sidewinder.

How much are you willing to pay? If money is an issue, then a Sidewinder is your only choice. 

Is power a priority? Since a Worm Drive saw is more powerful, the get it. 

Is RPM more critical than power ? Go for a Sidewinder.

Go on composing questions and answering them, and you will eventually determine the saw that suits you best. 

Good luck!

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