Cordless Circular Saw Shootout News & Opinion

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 driveThe categories generally differ in motor orientation and design, weight, torque, and RPMs. Perhaps most significantly, a worm drive saw was traditionally left-side blade and a sidewinder positioned itself with a right-side blade. Today, manufacturers produce saws that blur the blade orientation distinction. Of course, that means 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?

Here’s a hint—it’s not by accident that manufacturers don’t call these “right-handed” and “left-handed” saws.

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.

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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. You have the sight/cut line, one- or two-handed operation, the balance of the saw on the waste edge, and the orientation of the blade to your body. We’ll look at each of those ideas through the perspective of left-handed users and right-handed users. We also considered each situation as if your cut was ripping across the length of a piece of 3/4-inch plywood.

Blade-Left for the Right-Hander

Blade-left for the right-handed user makes the sight/cut line readily visible with the typical 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. Traditionally, all worm drive saws operated in a blade-left orientation.

Furthermore, this orientation likely places the weight of the saw over the portion of the material the user wants to keep, making it easier to stabilize the saw during the cut.

  • Example: Right-hander using a worm drive.
Makita 18V X2 Brushless Rear-Handle Circular Saw Review

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. More or less all corded sidewinder saws operated with a blade-right configuration. Using the saw this way will place the motor weight over the waste edge when you cut from the end-side of a board or sheet. This means the saw eventually cuts off its own support. Most users have no trouble holding the saw steady, but this can result in bind-ups.

  • Example: Right-hander using a traditional corded sidewinder saw.

If you don’t understand what we’re talking about, imagine cutting a thin strip off a sheet of plywood with a blade right saw. Unless you go into contortions, the saw motor will be facing you, its weight over the very piece about to fall away from the sheet. With cross-cuts, you can flip directions and stand on the opposite side of the board. Not so much with a piece of plywood or OSB.

DeWalt FlexVolt 60V Max Circular Saw Review

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. In this case, the weight of the motor is probably over the waste edge, possibly resulting in slightly less stability during the cut.

  • Example: Left-hander using a worm drive.
Best Cordless Circular Saw Shootout

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 the typical one-handed operation, but the window is obscured with the two-handed operation where your hand crosses over the blade guard. 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.

  • Example: Left-hander using a traditional corded sidewinder saw.
Best Cordless Circular Saw Shootout

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 also take the trajectory of sawdust spray into account. Blade left will cover a right-handed user with sawdust on a rip cut. Of course, the saw itself matters. We’ve seen both blade-left and blade-right circular saws with horrible sight lines!

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In the cordless realm, manufacturers traditionally went with blade-right on 7-1/4-inch saws and blade-left on 6-1/2-inch models. That seems to be changing, and you can often find both now from major tool brands. Depending on what battery platform you run, however, your saw size and style may make the choice for you!

We hope you’ve found this discussion valuable. If you’re a Pro and you have some circular saw tips, add them in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

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Baldwin Creative

I’m Left Handed, but have been cutting with a Right Handed Blade orientation for 20 years or so. Recently picked up a Left Hand Blade DeWalt 7 1/4″ 20V Max. I like the saw, but do not like the LHBlade configuration. I usually set up a straight edge to use as a guide for my cuts, and now it seems I am always doing it backwards. In my shop I have fans set to blow the dust away from me with RHB saw, but with LHB it comes right back into my face. Now I could change my setup, sure… Read more »

donald burrows

I’m right-handed, I’ve been cutting with corded (right-side blade) for 4 decades. I view the blade cutting the wood, holding blade guard with left hand. I guess I just liked being really close to the blade making the cut on the wood. Now, with cordless 6 1/2 inch, I returned it to store, didn’t like the view. But, I’m looking for a cordless Makita with blade-right design

Gary

Saw on the right side for right handers is inherently much safer. Being using it this way for 35 years.

Randall Baggs

Good article but I wish it would have addressed the problems of cutting beveled cuts for a right hander using a ‘left side’ mounted blade. When facing your work the waste side is to the right, which keeps the weight of the saw balanced properly.

Yoshitake Okagami

Left side blade for right handed for decades with Dewalt 36v and warm drive.
Better visibility. More importantly my arm to the blade is more in line than the right side blade so I get way better control. Period.
Waiting to see the new Dewalt flexvolt framing saw!