Graphical Construction Glossary >> Woodwork. >> Power Tools >> Power Saw

Power Saw
Any one of a few different types powered saws, but in particular a common term for a hand held electric saw with a circular blade used for cutting wood.
Sidewinder Saw
In the US a term used for a hand held saw that has the blade fixed directly to the electric motor shaft.
Hypoid Saw
Also known as a Worm Drive Saw. A hand held powered saw that has the blade at right angles to the main shaft of the electric motor. The power is transferred through Hypoid gears.

In spite of the fact that the saw below looks antiquated and should be on the scrap heap after many years of hard work (tell me about it :-) it will be good enough to illustrate what a sidewinder type of saw is. It is fitted with a TCT blade that is used for general cross-cutting.

A small Makita power saw
One of my 160mm power saws

I must have had quite a few of these saws in my time but the four remaining (two 160mm and two 225mm) have more than paid for themselves. The fact that they are still in good condition after catching heaps of abuse and misuse is a testament to modern power tools manufacturers. So... if I was in the market for another saw like the one above then these are the sort of specs that I might see. (From Makita website)

Blade Diameter 160mm
Max. Cutting Capacity - at 90 degrees 55mm
Max. Cutting Capacity - at 45 Degrees 36mm
Continuous Rating Input 950W
No Load Speed 4,700rpm
Overall Length 268mm
Net Weight 3.1kg
Blade Diameter 235mm
Max. Cutting Capacity - at 90 degrees 85mm
Max. Cutting Capacity - at 45 degrees 60mm
Max. Cutting Capacity - at 50 degrees 53mm
Continuous Rating Input 2,000W
No Load Speed 4,100rpm
Overall Length 380mm
Net Weight 7.0kg

So a couple of facts to take away from the above stats:-

  • The small saw is just about half the weight of the larger one, and it can still cut through 50mm. This is why when I got older and wiser I used this size of saw, one handed, for work on scaffolding, ladders and planks for jobs like sawing off rafter ends. It cuts well if it is sharp and with one hand use it leaves one hand free to steady myself. In many cases "bigger is not better"
  • The larger saw has more power, 2000w to 950w and it needs it to cut deeper. It is heavier and most of the time it will be used two handed

These saws particularly in the 225mm size can give quite a kickback if they jam, so they are mostly held with both hands.

small power saw
Base height adjustment for depth of cut.

The base of all of these power saws can be adjusted to control the depth of cut. At the front is a pivot point and at the rear is a wing-nut which grips on a curved slide. By lifting the base up and down the depth of the blade showing can be measured.

Here is one of my smaller saws and below is a shot of another saw set-up in a similar way. It is cutting through a 20mm piece of material. For best running I recommend that the the saw blade should cut through and have about 10 or 15mm showing below the cut.

A saw side on
A power saw side on
Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons, User: US navy

So at the back of the baseplate there is the curved support that allows for depth of cut adjustment. At the front of the base is another curved support that allows the angle that the blade makes with the blade to be adjusted. The saw shown here all all set to making square or right angle cuts, but it is possible with all these saws to cut at least 45 degrees and sometimes up to 50 degrees. The photo above does not show the angle adjustment at the front really well, but look at the last photo below on the right and you will see it clearly.

The automatic lifting of the blade guard
The automatic lifting of the blade guard
Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons, User: US navy

One of the most important items on these power saws is the blade guard. It is spring loaded and it should always return to closed as soon as it is taken away from the work. It is common to give it a few flicks with the handle before the machine is used for the first time to check that it is running freely. In the photo above the saw is just being started in the cut and the blade guard is pushing against the edge of the work. As the saw advances it will move upwards.

A hypoid saw seen side on
A hypoid saw seen side on
Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons, User: US navy

Above is a photo of a Hypoid Saw. It is claimed that they are more convenient and easy to use than the sidewinder and that they deliver more power. In the photo you can see that the grip is behind the saw and all the thrust is in the direction of the cut. With a sidewinder the grip is more above the saw with part of the thrust being downwards.

I used to own a Makita Hypoid for about a year I guess until it got stolen off a work site. In the time I owned it, it got plenty of work and I would say that for working on a bench sawing up sheets of ply etc. it was very good, did an excellent job. For working on a roof, sawing roof battens and rafters I found that the handle was too far back and it was just a lot harder to use single handed. When to saw got stolen I didn't bother to replace it.

Sketch of a crown wheel and pinion using curved hypoid gears A Hypoid saw seen from the front
Sketch of a crown wheel and pinion using curved hypoid gears
Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons, User: US navy
A Hypoid power saw seen from the front
Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons, User: Hapesoft

Hypoid Bevel Gears are made on a curved line and they mesh over a longer distance giving a stronger joining surface than a straight gear. This leads to longer life.

At the right is the front view and as mentioned earlier it clearly shows the wing nut and curved support for altering the base/blade angle.

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Please Note! The information on this site is offered as a guide only!  When we are talking about areas where building regulations or safety regulations could exist,the information here could be wrong for your area.  It could be out of date!  Regulations breed faster than rabbits!
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