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Q.I have a Skil 559 7 1/4-inch saw, which I have a tough time making accurate cuts with. The saw was given to me, and I suspect it’s a lower-end product. I realize that it’s a poor workman who blames his tools, and I figured I’d get the hang of it after a while, but straight cuts right along the line have been pretty elusive. Could I eliminate these problems with a higher end saw?

A. Tool editor Dave Crosby responds: I have no firsthand experience with the particular model of saw you refer to, but I have certainly seen the problem you describe. While your reluctance to blame the tool is commendable, your assessment of "lower-end products" is well-founded. Not long ago, I had an apprentice show up on the site with a new Skil that he paid about $45 for at the local lumberyard. After a day of the same difficulty you describe, he finally came to me and asked what he was doing wrong. After noting that the overall construction of the saw was probably not the best I’d ever seen, I checked the end-play on the arbor shaft, which was way too much to be accurate, and advised him to take the saw back, get his money back, and buy a pro-duty saw. He showed up the next day with a professional quality saw, and has been happily doing good work ever since. For more information on sidewinder and wormdrive saws, take a look at the April ‘99 and June ‘99 issues of JLC.