May 27, 2013

Skil MAG77LT 15-Amp Magnesium Worm Drive - Review

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Circular saws generally come in two flavors; sidewinders and worm drives. Sidewinders are what you generally associate with the tool. They're the classic, small-bodied saws with the direct drive motors. Worm drives are quite a bit larger and heavier because they're geared down, exchanging some of that motor speed for more torque.

Over the years I've slowly evolved into a worm drive person. Even though they're heavier than sidewinders, I like them for their never-ending strength and solid handling. Years ago, they were predominantly a west coast thing, but I've been seeing more and more of them here on the east coast. Now with the magical interweb being able to ship whatever where ever, the two saw styles are in the process of fully mingling.

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That trend is likely to be accelerated with the release of Skil's new MAG77LT, the lightest worm drive on the market. The saw tips in at 13.2 pounds, which is 4 pounds lighter than the previous Skil saw. DeWalt's worm drive, which I reviewed here, weighs 13.8-pounds.

On the jobsite I've had the DeWalt, the Bosch, and the Skil wormdrives all going at one another, head to head to head. I've been getting a lot of opinions from the guys and, to a man, the Skil is the preferred tool. Not only is it the lightest, but it's loaded with good features.

The weight reduction is due, at least in part, by converting some of the components (the shoe) to magnesium and crunching up the body a little. I saw an interview with someone from Skil, and they eluded to internal components being altered as well.

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Chief among the nice features is the on-board wrench storage. Why this isn't standard is beyond me. The Skil wrench can be used to change the blade, put in new brushes, change the oil (is there anyone out there who actually does this?), and to correct the blade angle adjustment if it ever gets out of whack.

The other stand-out feature is the depth adjustment gauge. Skil removed all of the markings that you don't need which left them all kinds of room for the ones you do need. They were also smart about it because the stamped measurement refers to what you're cutting as opposed to the actual blade depth. So if you set the blade to the 3/4-inch mark, the blade is actually a little deeper than that, perfect for cutting 3/4-inch material. Your days of getting the depth close and trying to tap the blade a little deeper are over.

The saw also has a nice rafter hook and a 53 degree bevel, with a solid detent at 45.

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The tool still has the same body as the other Skil worm drives which was very important to our resident worm drive expert. To him, the most important parts of the tool (aside from the power) are the size of the secondary handle (he likes this thin, not beefy like the Bosch and DeWalt) and the little hood over the motor. This second part is interesting. According to him, the little hood needs to be just so because a lot of the time he grabs the secondary handle with his left hand, but wraps the tips of his fingers over the edge of the little hood. We tried it and it gives a really high level of control over the tool. It's also essential if you're cutting a vertical surface or something over your head like trimming rafter tails.

The worm drive guru has been using this style of saw for decades and said that the MAG77LT was by far the best one he's ever used. He was really impressed with it. Honestly, I'd keep talking, but his recommendation is good enough for me and if you ever met him, it would be good enough for you too.

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Amazon has the tool for $219. It's a little pricier than the rest of the bunch which all fall in the $150-$180 range. Our opinion is that if you're in the market for a worm drive, that extra cost is going to be worth it. This is a very nice tool.

At Amazon

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at May 27, 2013 11:58 PM

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Recent Comments

oops meant i think worms are more accurate


Posted by: david at September 22, 2013 5:11 PM

surprised you guys care about the case, I threw my makita sidewinder case out the first day. They usually don't hold spare blades, take up a ton of space, and the saw is tough enough that you can just toss it into the truck or box and be done with it. I do prefer sidewinders and find them to be more accurate for things like stringers. this saw is on now my buy list since I don't own a worm yet.


Posted by: david at September 22, 2013 5:09 PM

bummer, yeah no dice with me on the case either. I think I got mine 4 years ago or so and at the time thought it was strange it didnt come with a case. I've seen 25 dollar saws come with a case, kinda surprised their 200 dollar flagship model still doesnt have plastic molded case standard.
I've spied a skil branded plastic case online a handful of times,very rare, never seen them in stores. Right now a awp bag will have to do until I find a milwaukee steel case or maybe a large L-Boxx.


Posted by: Kevin at June 3, 2013 11:07 PM

Yeah, that might be the model that they're referring to when they say that this one is 4-pounds lighter than previous Skil wormdrives. But nope, no case...just the cardboard box it came in. Did the HD77 come with one? Now that I think about it, I don't think I've ever seen a wormdrive in a case...


Posted by: Tool Snob at June 2, 2013 8:48 PM

looks like they made some nice refinements & additions to this old classic. I grabbed a special edition HD77 a few years back, last of the u.s. made models. Little heavy for certain tasks, but overall a great great saw.
Did this saw come with a storage box?


Posted by: Kevin at June 2, 2013 8:39 PM
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