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Tool Test: Worm Drive Saws, continued

Bosch 1677M

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Amps: 15

Weight: 14.0 pounds

Rpm: 4,400

Maximum bevel: 50 degrees

Maximum depth of cut at 90, 50, 45 degrees: 2 3/8", 1 13/16", 1 15/16"

Street price: $199

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Bosch and Skil are part of the same company, so it's no surprise that the 1677M resembles the Skil models. Skil's saws haven't changed in years, but the 1677M has a number of improved features. It weighs about the same as the Skil HD77M but is equipped with a more powerful 15-amp motor. It has a built-in rafter hook, comfortable rubber grip, and a maximum bevel of 50 degrees. The guard doesn't stick, and the magnesium base plate is reinforced with waffle-patterned ribs. The bevel adjustment worked well, but the depth adjustment mechanism began to stick after a few weeks of use.

Bosch 1678

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Amps: 15

Weight: 15.0 pounds

Rpm: 4,400

Maximum bevel: 50 degrees

Maximum depth of cut at 90, 50, 45 degrees:

2 3/8", 1 13/16", 1 15/16"

Street price: $179

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When I pulled this saw out of the box, the crew crowded around to try it. We're all dedicated wormdrive users and wanted to try this inline model that looks like a sidewinder. The 1678 has the same features as the 1677M — the only difference is that the handle is on top. After using it, we all agreed it was the most uncomfortable saw we ever tried. We're used to pushing from the back of the tool, and the top-mounted handle forced us to bend our wrists at what seemed like a very unnatural angle.

DeWalt DW378G

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Amps: 15

Weight: 13.0 pounds

Rpm: 4,600

Maximum bevel: 50 degrees

Maximum depth of cut at 90, 50, 45 degrees: 2 1/2", 1 13/16", 2"

Street price: $139

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The unusual configuration of the DW378 took some getting used to, but it soon became our favorite saw. It's stable, maneuverable, and, at 13 pounds, very easy to lift. The rear-mount handle is unusually short, and that makes for better balance. The guard works well; I don't recall it ever snagging during normal use. The DeWalt saw features a 50-degree bevel, 15-amp motor, and a built-in rafter hook. The base plate is Teflon coated and reinforced with waffle-patterned ribs.

Makita 5277NB

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Amps: 15

Weight: 15.0 pounds

Rpm: 4,300

Maximum bevel: 50 degrees

Maximum depth of cut at 90, 50, 45 degrees: 2 3/8", 1 9/16", 1 3/4"

Street price: $159

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We didn't know what to expect from this saw because none of us had ever seen inline Makita saws on local job sites. But once we started using it, this quickly became one of our favorites. The motor runs very smoothly and, unlike most of the other saws, reaches full speed as soon as you press the trigger. The 5277NB has a comfortable rubber grip, a bevel scale that's easy to read and adjust, and a well-designed guard that doesn't hang up on small cuts.

Makita 5277B

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Amps: 13

Weight: 15.0 pounds

Rpm: 4,300

Maximum bevel: 50 degrees

Maximum depth of cut at 90, 50, 45 degrees: 2 3/8", 1 9/16", 1 23/32"

Street price: $179

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This is the 13-amp predecessor to Makita's 15-amp 5277NB. The bevel and depth adjustments work smoothly, and the guard doesn't hang up on small cuts. It feels a little lighter than the 15-amp model, and the motor is definitely less powerful. Because of this, the 5277 was one of the saws that tended to stay in the truck.

Milwaukee 6377-6

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Amps: 15

Weight: 16.8 pounds

Rpm: 4,400

Maximum bevel: 45 degrees

Maximum depth of cut at 90, 50, 45 degrees: 2 3/8", n/a, 1 7/8"

Street price: $229

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Our first reaction to this saw was, What a beast! It weighs 16.8 pounds, and that's a real load. The added weight made it easier to keep the saw on the cut line when we ripped, but it made it hard to use the tool for anything that required finesse. The 15-amp motor is smooth and powerful, and the super-thick cord will probably last forever. On the other hand, the cord's so thick you can't knot it to the extension, so it's always coming unplugged.

Skil HD77

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Amps: 13

Weight: 16.0 pounds

Rpm: 4,400

Maximum bevel: 45 degrees

Maximum depth of cut at 90, 50, 45 degrees: 2 3/8", n/a, 1 15/16"

Street price: $165

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The HD77 is the benchmark for wormdrive saws; it's been around longer than most of the framers on our crew and has earned a reputation for running smooth and being durable. That said, there are a number of irritating things about this saw. The guard snags when you cut shims or trim 1/4 inch off the end of a board. It's inevitable that a saw will get dropped, and the depth adjustment on this one started to bind after a couple of falls.

Skil HD77M

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Amps: 13

Weight: 14.0 pounds

Rpm: 4,400

Maximum bevel: 45 degrees

Maximum depth of cut at 90, 50, 45 degrees: 2 3/8", n/a, 1 15/16"

Street price: $175

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This saw is nearly identical to the HD77 but is a couple of pounds lighter because the base plate and housing are magnesium. It cuts smoothly but shares the same irritations as the HD77. The guard tends to snag, and the depth adjustment binds after a couple of falls. The flat magnesium base plate is not very sturdy. The saw we had fell off the horses onto the ground, and the edge of the base got bent. I would expect even more damage if the saw ever took a big fall onto concrete.

Sources

Bosch Power Tool

877/267-2499

www.boschtools.com

DeWalt Industrial Tool

800/433-9258

www.dewalt.com

Makita USA 800/462-5488

www.makitatools.com

Milwaukee Electric Tool

877/729-3878

www.mil-electric-tool.comSkil

877/754-5999

www.skil.com