This spring Skil released the Mag­77LT, an upgraded wormdrive saw that the company says is 4 pounds lighter than the very popular SHD77. Tools of the Trade had one sent to me so I could test it. When I pulled the saw out of the box, I could tell it was lighter than other wormdrives — though it’s not the lightest inline model around. The Mag77LT is listed at 13.2 pounds, the same weight as Makita’s hypoid model (5377MG). It’s 2 pounds lighter than the Mag77, the last Skil I owned and the first from that company with magnesium components. The manufacturer shaved weight off this saw by shortening the motor and using more magnesium and less aluminum than before.

I use inline saws every day and have tested every model now on the market. I’m particularly familiar with Skil because I learned on an SHD77 and switched to the lighter Mag77 when it came out in the late 1990s. My current saw is a DeWalt (DW535), though my crew and I also use other brands.

Though very much a Skil saw, the Mag 77LT has a number of features that distinguish it from previous models. Upgrades include a 53-degree bevel capacity (the Mag77 topped out at 51.5 degrees), a rubberized grip and top handle, and a storage spot on the baseplate for the blade wrench. The wrench is designed to change blades, adjust the bevel nut, access the brush cap, fit the oil plug, and remove diamond arbor knockouts. The new saw is very compact, about an inch shorter than my DeWalt.

The saw arrived while we were framing a house, and the first thing we used it for was cutting birdsmouths and rafter tails on about 50 rafters. We immediately noticed how much lighter it felt than most other models. The saw’s 15-amp motor has plenty of torque and didn’t bog down when we cut LVL.

I like almost everything about this saw, but I do have a complaint about the depth-adjustment mechanism. Once you’ve dropped the saw (and sooner or later you will), the depth adjustment gets sticky and you have to tap the base with a hammer to get it to move. This has been a problem with every Skil wormdrive I’ve used. It’s a nitpicky concern but one that has annoyed me for 20 years. By way of comparison, our DeWalt has taken a number of falls, and after three years of use the depth mechanism sticks only slightly.

Bottom line

I like this saw a lot. It does the job, is comfortable to use, and has a nice folding rafter hook. I’ve seen it online for $219. That’s a bit steep for a wormdrive, but prices usually come down after a tool has been out for a while.

Blade: 71/4 inches; diamond arbor

Weight: 13.2 pounds

Motor: 15 amps

Cord length: 8 feet

Maximum bevel: 53 degrees

Shoe: cast magnesium

Depth of cut at 45 degrees: 115/16 inches

Depth of cut at 90 degrees: 23/8 inches

Country of origin: China

Warranty: 1 year limited

Price: $219