Left Side vs Right Side Circular Saw Blade
Circular saws have traditionally fallen into the two distinct yet similarly serpentine-sounding categories of sidewinder and worm drive. The categories generally differ in motor orientation and design, weight, torque, RPMs, and perhaps most significantly, a worm drive’s left side blade and a sidewinder’s right side blade. But manufacturers today are producing saws that blur the blade orientation distinction and so, of course, we have to talk about it! So when it comes to the left side vs right side circular saw blade debate, which side are you on?
Our Pros will tell you that it’s all about what you get used to and are comfortable with – and most have both types of saws for different applications – but there are a few things to consider that aren’t immediately evident in the left side vs right side circular saw blade conversation. The right hand/left hand language is easy to confuse in this discussion because some are talking about the blade orientation while others are talking about the user’s hand dominance, so we’ll simplify the categories with the terms blade-left and blade-right.
Thank Goodness It’s Not A Political Discussion
It’s helpful to consider the pros and cons of blade-left and blade-right orientations through four filters: the sight/cut line, one- or two-handed operation, the balance of the saw on the waste edge, and orientation of the blade to the body. We’ll look at each of those ideas through the perspective of left-handed users and right-handed users.
Blade-Left for the Right Hander
Blade-left for the right-handed user makes the sight/cut line readily visible with common one-handed operation. Many tradesmen will hold or stabilize the material with the left hand while operating the saw with the right hand. However, for two-handed operation, grabbing the pommel handle with the left hand not only obscures the sight/cut line window, but it makes the left arm/wrist cross over the blade.
Of course, the saw should have an adequate and functional blade guard to prevent injury, but it’s a good practice to keep blade orientation away from the body, which this posture does not. Furthermore, the weight of the saw is likely over the portion of the material the user wants to keep, making it easier to stabilize the saw during and just after the cut.
Blade-Right for the Right Hander
Blade-Right for the right-handed user presents a bit of a challenge as you have to look past your right shoulder to see the sight/cut line window, regardless of one- or two-handed operation. On the upside, no hand or wrist crosses over the blade, keeping the user out of harm’s way. Additionally, the saw’s motor weight will likely be over the waste edge, meaning that the saw is cutting off its own support. Most users have no trouble holding the saw steady, but this can result in bind-ups.
Blade-Left for the Left Hander
This is a mirror image of the situation of blade-right for right-handers. In this case, the sight/cut line window is somewhat obscured and the user must look over his left shoulder to see it clearly. But no hand or wrist crosses over the blade in a two-handed operating posture, so there’s less chance of injury in that respect. In this case, the weight of the motor is probably over the waste edge, possibly resulting in slightly less stability during—and just after—the cut.
Blade-Right for the Left Hander
Finally, this is the mirror image of the blade-left for the right-hander. It’s easy for the user to see the sight/cut line window with standard one-handed operation, but the window is obscured with the two-handed operation that also means the hand is crossing over the blade. The weight of the saw is likely over the portion of the material that isn’t waste, making the saw—and the cut—more stable.
Left Side vs Right Side Circular Saw Blade – The Debate Continues
These illustrations about blade-left and blade-right are just a few things to consider. If you don’t like the way you’re coming at the cut, you might have the ability to start from the other side of the board. Some Pros take the trajectory of sawdust spray into account, but it seems to be less of an issue since most shoot it down and away. Of course, the saw matters – we’ve seen both blade-left and blade-right circular saws with horrible sight lines!
In the cordless realm, the general consensus is to go with blade-right on 7-1/4-inch saws and blade-left on 6-1/2-inch models. Depending on what battery platform you run, you may not have a choice!