Last spring Skil and Bosch introduced three new wormdrive saws. As with every new inline saw that has come out in the last dozen years, Tools of the Trade (or JLC) sent them to me for testing. The new Skil models are the SHD77-02 and SHD77M-02. Together with the Mag77LT (that I reviewed last year) they make up the Skil family of wormdrives. The idea behind offering more than one model is to give tradesmen a choice in terms of weight, capabilities, and cost. So this story will cover all three Skil models, even though only two of them are new. It will also cover the CSW41, a new model from Bosch—which owns Skil.

All three Skil models and the Bosch have certain features in common. They share the same rafter hook (wide enough for 2-by dimensional lumber), anti-snag guard, and multi-purpose blade wrench that stores in the base plate. The blade wrench stores in the base plate, has a diamond knockout tool, and can also be used to change the brushes.

Using the Saws
It can be difficult to compare saws, so we always put two saws at our saw horses, one we’d have on a bevel (for cutting rake wall studs) and one set square. This allowed us to make A/B comparisons and the differences in weight stand out. We noticed this with the MAG77LT and CSW41, both of which feel lighter than the other models tested.

According to Skil, the SHD77M-02 and SHD77-02 are slightly more powerful than the MAG77LT. That may be true, but I couldn’t tell by using them and we used them to cut 2x12 Douglas Fir rafters. All four wormdrives (3 Skils and the Bosch) had plenty of power.

I’ve used these saws for several months and like them a lot, though there are a few minor irritations. All of the saws tested (the three new models plus the MAG77LT) suffer from a problem common to every Skil we have ever used; the depth adjustment become sticky after the saw has taken a few falls. It’s inconvenient when this happens because when our crew cuts rafter tails we like to leave the depth lock loose and plunge with the baseplate on the rafter (which saves dumping fees by leaving a single large piece of scrap that someone will scavenge for firewood). When these saws are used in the conventional manner the stickiness of the depth adjustment is less of an issue.

The depth lock lever on the SHD77M-02 broke while we were using it. It did not take a fall; it just broke—which in 20 years of carpentry I’ve never seen happen. All I can think is the metal in that part is more brittle than in years past.

Recommendations

As a framer, I would go with Skil’s MAG77LT or Bosch’s CSW41. The MAG77LT is very light and easy to handle—which matters to us because we do a lot of repetitive cutting. The CSW41 has a particularly comfortable grip and feels as light as the MAG77LT. The specs say it’s not but that’s probably because Skil weighs their saws without blade, cord, or wrench. Bosch lists “working weight” which suggests they weighed their tool with those parts in place.

There is nothing wrong with the SHD77-02 and SHD77M-02; I just prefer to go with lighter tool. These models are supposedly more powerful than the MAG77LT but I was unable to detect any difference in power when using them.

SkilSHD77-02 Specs
Motor: 15 amps
Arbor: diamond
Max bevel: 51 degrees
Blade diameter: 7 1/4”
Cord length: 8’
Depth of cut at 45/90: 1-31/32”; 2-13/32”
Base plate: steel
Weight: 14.1 pounds (w/o blade, cord, or wrench)
Country of origin: China
Web price: $159

Comments: This saw is about a pound lighter than the preceding (SHD77) model. In the press release Skil describes the SHD77-02 as being well-suited to masons and formwork carpenters because it’s slightly more powerful than the MAG77LT and has a steel base plate that slides more easily over grit than the magnesium bases on the other tools. Heavier than the other models in this story, weight is thought to be less of an issue for the concrete and masonry trades.

Skil SHD77M-02 Specs
Motor: 15 amps
Arbor: diamond
Max bevel: 53 degrees
Blade diameter: 7 1/4”
Cord length: 8’
Depth of cut at 45/90: 1-31/32”; 2-3/8”
Base plate: magnesium
Weight: 12.5 pounds (w/o blade, cord, or wrench)
Country of origin: China
Web price: $199

Comments: The SHD77M-02 is an upgraded version of the SHD77-02. The “M” model has greater bevel range and is about a pound and a half lighter. If it weren’t for their differing color schemes these saws would appear to be much the same tool. Skil pitches the SHD77M-02 towards GCs and remodelers on the strength of its power and lower weight.

Skil MAG77LT Specs
Motor: 15 amps
Arbor: diamond
Max bevel: 53 degrees
Blade diameter: 7 1/4”
Cord length: 8’
Depth of cut at 45/90: 1-15/16”; 2-3/8”
Base plate: magnesium
Weight: 11.6 pounds (w/o blade, cord, or wrench)
Country of origin: China
Web price: $199

Comments: The MAG77LT has been out for about a year and a half. As the name implies the base plate and other parts of the tool are made from magnesium. As a result, it is exceptionally light for a wormdrive. Skil pitches this saw to framers, who cut all day long and tend to become fatigued if they have to handle a heavy saw.

Bosch CSW41 Specs
Motor: 15 amps
Arbor: diamond
Max bevel: 53 degrees
Blade diameter: 7 1/4”
Cord length: 8’
Depth of cut at 45/90: 1-15/16”; 2-3/8”
Base plate: magnesium
Weight: 13.2 pounds (working weight)
Country of origin: China
Web price: $219
Comments: The Bosch color scheme can’t obscure the fact that CSW41 is closely related to the Skil MAG77LT—which comes as no surprise because Bosch owns Skil. According to the specs the CSW41 is heavier, but I’m not sure that’s true. Bosch uses “working weight” and Skil weighs their saws without blade, cord, or wrench. The saws feel close in weight and perform the same. I particularly like the rubberized grip of this saw because it’s comfortable to handle.