Bosch's Direct Connect cord system is an ingenious feature.

Credit: Photo: David Sharpe

Cords. I've always looked at the cords as an indication of overall quality: The best ones are tough but generous and give you a few extra feet of working range past the extension cord. In our test group, we have the standard, no problem 8-foot cord on the Skil HD77, Skil HD77M, DeWalt, and Craftsman; a generous 12-foot cord (with cool lighted plug end) on the Ridgid; and a thick-as-your-wrist 9-foot cord on the Milwaukee. Makita and the Bosch 1678 land right in the middle with a nice 10-foot cord.

And then you have the Bosch 1677MD: Instead of a cord, it has the "Direct Connect" feature that allows for an extension cord to be plugged directly into the unit. At first we didn't know what to think of the "cord-less" Bosch 1677MD, but working with it on site proved that this feature is a real plus. Not only can you avoid annoying snags and unpluggings that are typical when you knot an extension cord with a tool cord, but you also can lift and lower the Bosch by the cord because of its ingenious cord-locking channel connection to the saw.

Skyhooks. Professional framers added skyhooks to their wormdrives years before manufacturers did. We used to have machinists make up custom upper handles with a spike-like hook extending toward the front of the saw. Some of them looked like a weapon from a bad sci-fi movie, but they enabled us to hook our saws over a rafter or truss cord–something that goes way beyond being "convenient." It's always been money well spent.

Today you can buy good quality (if far less stylish) skyhooks from a specialty tool store, but what is even better is having the manufacturer provide one. Both Bosch saws, the DeWalt, and the Ridgid come with integrated skyhooks. All worked well and provide for a more complete, site-ready tool.

Sight Lines. If you guide your saw using the guide notches on the shoe, then they're difficult to see on the Makita because the arched bevel-adjustment handle obstructs it; however, you'll never notice if you watch the blade following the cut line. Sight lines to the guide notches on all the other saws were fine, and we could see the cut line in various positions just fine.