Readers have been asking us about dual-blade circular saws, so we decided to put the Craftsman 25574 Twin Cutter Saw to the test. Craftsman came out with its first version of a dual-blade saw early in the last decade, so the technology has been around for a while, but the 25574 model is the latest and largest version. It features a 6.8-amp motor and 6-1/8-inch 36-tooth carbide blades that cut 1-7/8 inches deep at 4,600 rpm.

Between various remodeling jobs and shop work, the tool got a workout on a variety of materials. It has two counter-rotating blades: The one on the right cuts upward, like a standard circ saw, while the one on the left cuts downward. Because the cutting teeth are contacting the work from both directions, there is none of the jerking or kickback that can happen with circular saws and grinders. This makes the Twin Cutter well-behaved enough to cut forward and backward and to plunge cut without pulling or binding in the cut. The tool cuts so smoothly it feels as if it's melting through the material.

The Twin Cutter is designed to cut freehand – similar to using a cutoff wheel on a grinder – and that took some getting used to. Because it must be held in both hands with your right hand holding the slide switch and your left hand holding open the spring-loaded guard, some materials need to be secured with a clamp or vise. As with a grinder, you never have a hand free to hold your work. We found that when we used the saw as a cutoff tool to slice through tubing or pipe, the operation felt natural; but when we cut on the flat through sheet metal or plywood, we wished for a saw shoe to help regulate the depth and squareness of cut. It felt odd to "float" the saw a certain distance above the material to hold a cut depth by hand, especially while balancing the tool to avoid tilting the blade in the kerf. We didn't experience any real problems with this freehand cutting, but a removable shoe would make some cuts easier and more accurate.

Before taking the saw to the job, we envisioned several uses for it. Mostly we were hoping it would be an improvement over the tools we use for certain tricky jobs. One such task was making sink cutouts through laminate countertops when the cut is too close to the backsplash for the foot of a jigsaw to fit. Tilting the Twin Cutter can get its blade flush to a vertical surface, so tight clearance is no problem. The tool did a great job with the laminate, but you still have to cut the curved corners with a jigsaw. Similar plunge cutting through plywood subflooring for heat ducts was a breeze, but as with other circular blades, either you end up with overcut corners or you have to finish with a straight-bladed saw to make them square. Other saws could do this job as easily.

On the roof, the saw cut right through asphalt shingles and roof sheathing, but the melted asphalt really gummed up the works. You would be better off using a circ saw or recip saw with a throwaway blade than wear out the $50 blade set of the Twin Cutter on ceramic granules and fiberglass.

The tool is great for metal cutting. It comes with lubricating sticks and a built-in stick feeder for use with certain types of metal. And though the blades are rated to cut up to 1/8-inch steel, the smooth cutting of the opposing saw blades gave unparalleled results on the most delicate metals, like thin aluminum downspouts and gutters. After the difficult part of clamping these flimsy materials down, the blades zipped right through without grabbing and tearing the way other toothed blades can.

The Twin Cutter also shows great promise for wood sculpting.

The Verdict

The Twin Cutter cuts well through a wide variety of materials, but it doesn't do any one job well enough to replace a tool already in the truck. Although we might take it to jobs for certain demolition or metal-cutting tasks, this saw probably wouldn't make it into regular rotation for building and remodeling work.

In our opinion, including a removable shoe plate would increase its utility for many tasks.

Richard Mahlerwein contributed to this test. He owns American Construction Specialist in Hamilton, Ohio.