Skil wormdrives have been a west coast staple for decades. After recently rebranding itself as Skilsaw, the company introduced a beam saw they call Sawsquatch—a 10 1/4-inch blade left wormdrive (SPT70WM-22). Our crew has been using beam saws since 2002 so I really wanted to try this one out. Tools of the Trade contacted Skilsaw and they sent me a Sawsquatch.
Blade Left Beam Saws
Several companies make 10 1/4-inch blade right sidewinders. But as a west coast framer, I want a blade left wormdrive. In his Roof Cutter’s Secrets, Will Holladay mentions a few blade left beam saws that were available decades ago. Today we have fewer choices when it comes to that kind of tool. In 2002 we bought a Big Foot Tools adapter kit and turned an old Mag77 into a 10 1/4” beam saw.
The adapter kit worked well and continues to work well. We used the adapted saw so often we bought a second Big Foot in 2006. The second one wasn’t a kit; it was a Big Foot 10 ¼” saw on a Bosch body. It too works well.
How We Use Beam Saws
I particularly like the anti-snag guard, which is similar to the guards on the 7 1/4-inch Skilsaws I reviewed last year. The guards on those saws worked
We use two beam saws when framing walls. The person doing layout uses one for gang cutting wall plates. We gang cut them to insure they are exactly the same length. The other framer uses the second beam saw to gang cut trimmers, blocking or anything that can be cut more than one piece at a time.
Sawsquatch Features and Performance
Skilsaw’s 10 1/4-inch wormdrive has features the Big Foot does not, such as brass gearing, a magnesium motor housing, and a dual-field motor designed to stay cool while cutting large timbers and engineered beams. The blade runs true (no wobble), the guard works well, and the motor and gears feel and sound smooth (smoother than the ones on our Big Foot with a Bosch body).
well and this one does too.
Sawsquatch is equipped with a rafter hook and comes with a Diablo thin kerf blade, our preferred brand for framing. We’ve used these blades for years and they have proven to be durable. I like the handle that screws into the upper guard housing because it allows me to stabilize the saw with my left hand. On remodeling jobs we’ll mark new window openings on the outside of the building and plunge this saw in to cut through the existing sheathing and studs—finishing off with a recip saw. It’s faster and more accurate than using a recip saw for the whole thing.
The Bottom Line
I’ve read online comments from framers who wonder if it’s worth buying a 10 1/4-inch saw. A good friend, who held out against getting a larger saw finally bought a Big Foot adapter kit ad put it on an old Skil body. I asked what he thought and he said he wonders how he framed without it. Is $400-450 a lot to spend on a saw? Sure, but it’s worth it. As framers, we cut a lot of glulams and beams, and gang cut material to speed up production—tasks at which beam saws excel. Our Big Foots have been great, but if I was buying now I’d save up and get a Sawsquatch.
Skilsaw SPT70WM-22 Specs
Motor: 15 amps
Speed: 4,600 RPM
Max cut at 90 degrees: 3-11/16” Max cut at 45 degrees: 2-3/4”
Max cut at 51 degrees: 2 1/2”
Cord length: 8’
Weight: 16.5 pounds (w/o blade, cord, or wrench)
Supplied blade: Diablo; 40-tooth carbide
Country of origin: China
Street price: $400-450