Skilsaw Sidewinder SPT67WL-01: The Diamond in the Magnesium
If you’re like me, you believe in buying quality tools so you only have to buy them once. It also means you’re willing to spend some extra dough, so you need to know what you’re committing to before you buy. If you’re a pro and you know the difference in circ saw motor mounting then skip the next two paragraphs, if not read on for a brief overview of the two types of circular saws that Skilsaw prides themselves in.
Sidewinder – This is a direct drive system where the motor is mounted directly beside the blade. The pros include higher RPMs to cut faster on low stress applications. They’re light weight and better for overhead work. In most cases, the blade is on the right side of the motor above the wide side of the footplate adding stability to cuts without a sawhorse. The trade off is less torque and visibility on the cut line. As the title suggests, the subject of this review is the Skilsaw Sidewinder SPT67WL-01.
Worm Drive – This drive system employs a 90 degree gear linkage just like a rear wheel drive car. Manufacturers use differential gear ratios to step up torque output perfect for higher stress applications. Blades are typically mounted to the left of the tool so it’s easy to follow the cut line and manipulate the blade guard to make plunge cuts. The extra length and weight also make it better for gang cutting lumber and ripping plywood sheets. The trade off here is added weight, a slower blade, and maintenance of greasing the gear housing.
Skilsaw Sidewinder SPT67WL-01 Features and Performance
I think appearance is important. For the most part, you should be able tell a good tool when you see one. That’s what helps sell it. With Skilsaw’s rebrand, it was critical they get it right. The Skilsaw Sidewinder SPT67WL-01’s new magnesium blade guard and footplate stand out in a crowd, but it’s more than skin deep.
The adjustments for bevel and depth settings are marked up with high production work in mind. The Skilsaw Sidewinder SPT67WL-01 has identical markings to the SPT67WM-22 that Mike Hurta reviewed earlier this year. I couldn’t say it any better than him, so I won’t try. The only thing I’ll add is that I would appreciate the integration of a standard measurement scale for the depth setting. When I need to make a dado cut, I’d rather have a calibrated depth setting on the saw than have to rely on a tape measure.
The Skilsaw Sidewinder SPT67WL-01 is the lightest weight saw in this class at just 8.6 lbs. This is credited to its resin housing and magnesium footplate. Skilsaw is marketing this saw as having best in class torque due to worm drive inspired technology paired with their 15 amp dual-field motor. The motor is purpose designed just for saws and Skil says it will increase cooling along with extending tool life.
To test the torque I replicated some 1.5” dado cuts in PT pine that I had made a few weeks back using a lower grade circ saw. The Skilsaw Sidewinder SPT67WL-01 was a vast improvement over my prior cuts. This saw was happy to make the cuts – I just applied forward pressure and let the blade do the work. The cutting action was smooth and confident. I even clipped off a couple #9 deck screws with nothing but a few sparks to remind me they were there.
Speaking of the blade, Skilsaw products can often be found paired with Diablo blades – a fellow member of the Bosch family. The Skilsaw Sidewinder SPT67WL-01 comes with a 24 tooth carbide blade, but it does not wear Diablo red. How do you know what you’re getting? The -01 models come with a blade from Skilsaw while the -22 models come with a Diablo blade. In most cases, each model has both options. While I normally go for a Diablo blade whenever I can, the Skilsaw blade was quite capable.
Among the other features on the saw is a built in dust blower that clears the line of cut for increased accuracy. The longest cross cuts I made were on 1 x 12’s and I had no problem seeing the lines. There’s also a blade lock and wrench for changing blades integrated into the footplate so you don’t have to go hunting for tools when you need to change out.
Skilsaw Sidewinder SPT67WL-01 Specifications
- Motor: Dual-Field, 15 Amps
- Blade Size: 7-1/4″
- No Load Speed: 5300 RPM
- Bevel Capacity: 56 Degrees
- Weight: 8.6 pounds
- Price: $99.99
- Warranty: 1 Year
Rebranding for the Professional
Some brand names are so ingrained in us we say them when referring to the product without even thinking about it. Think Advil, Kleenex, Sawzall, and since inventing the tool in 1924, the Skilsaw circular saw. Over the years we’ve witnessed several tool brands make a steady decline away from the pro market, choosing instead to focus their designs and features on the weekend warrior. Regrettably, Skil has been on the list, and even the most loyal pros have been forced to consider other options…until recently.
It’s not often that a company goes under new management and then focuses on moving backwards. In 2013, when former TTI executive Roger Amrol took the helm as President of SKIL North America, that’s precisely what he set out to do.
“We spent a considerable amount of time in the field talking with professionals to learn more about what drives them and how to improve our brand and products to better meet their needs,” said Roger Amrol, president, SKILSAW Power Tools. “The over-arching message was that tradesmen are passionate about the work they do, and they rely on their SKILSAWs to help them meet challenges on the job. Ultimately, there’s a need among trades for a line of saws that are as hard-working and reliable as our legendary worm drives.”
Roger Amrol, Skil North America President
Unspoken, but conspicuous in its absence from this statement is that the Skil brand has not been meeting the pro level mark. After doing their homework, earlier this year they rolled out Skilsaw, a new brand, with new saws, and even a new website.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so Skilsaw took this seriously and stamped their name on the all new magnesium clad SPT67 family of sidewinder saws. Leaving the Skil brand intact to continue service to do-it-yourselfers, Skilsaw is aimed squarely at professionals. A new logo reminiscent of the “diamond knockout” from a worm drive saw blade comes with a new line: “Stay True.” This throwback is not an accident. It symbolizes Skilsaw’s commitment to get back to its roots of pro grade tools. So as I said, Skilsaw went backwards, but in a good way. The way you long for when saying, “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.”
When Skilaw says they went out and talked to pros I believe them. This saw is purpose built and near as I can tell they got it right. They used the right materials to reduce weight without sacrificing durability, gave it the power you need to do work, and built a motor designed to keep it running for many years. I’m still trying to work out why you’d avoid the Diablo blade, but I really don’t think you can go wrong either way. The Skilsaw Sidewinder SPT67WL-01 is an excellent saw and a great return to the pro market for an iconic brand.
It seems like Skilsaw really wants you to give this new pro grade line a shot on your next job site, and I can’t see why you wouldn’t. They make it risk-free by offering their Stay True Guarantee. Use the saw for 6 months (yep that says months) – if you don’t like it, go get your money back.