As a framer, I prefer inline saws to sidewinders because they're more durable and less likely to bog down in heavy cutting. What distinguishes an inline saw from a conventional model is the orientation of the motor - it's parallel to the base, so special gears must be used to transfer power to the blade. This gearing is responsible for the high amount of torque that inline saws can generate. It's also responsible for the name "wormdrive," the term most carpenters use for this saw; traditionally, inline saws have been driven by worm gears, though some now contain hypoid gears.

Fifteen years ago, when I started out as a framer, Skil was the only real choice for carpenters looking for an inline saw. Since then, a lot more companies have started making these tools, and now there are quite a few to choose from. For this article my crew and I tested six 7 1/4-inch inline models by using them on site in the normal course of...

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