April 24, 2013 at 7:17 pm #22587
Recently, I had the opportunity to test the Skil MAG77LT, 7 1/4” worm drive circular saw. ( http://www.skiltools.com/mag77lt/Pages/INDEX.aspx ) Some of you may have seen the advertisement on BTP. I can’t say that I had high expectations due to past experiences with Skil brand tools, but after testing this saw, it became obvious that Skil is changing, and now it’s time for me to “eat some crow.” I have to admit that I really like this saw, and here’s why….
Skil emphasizes this saw is 4 lbs lighter than one of their other versions. I weighed the saw, and came up with an unofficial weight of 13 lbs. That’s a lot of weight to handle all day long if you compare it to a standard circular saw, but the saw felt very comfortable, balanced, and the weight never became too cumbersome. If you dislike the unsteady movements of a standard circular saw when cutting a straight line, then you’ll appreciate the stability and smoothness offered from the Skil MAG77LT.
The motor is rated at 15 amps, so there’s plenty of power for those marathon rips, and I had the perfect job for it. I attached the factory equipped saw blade, which was a 24 tooth carbide tipped blade, and put them both to the test. I had four 2X6’s, totaling 86 linear feet and each board required a 45 degree bevel rip. About 40 feet into the rip, a circuit breaker was thrown. The factory blade didn’t take long to overheat and bind, so I reset the circuit breaker and purposely pushed it through to keep the amps high (this is what ruins most saws). After tripping the circuit breaker for a second and third time, I was finally 80 feet into the rips and the saw had literally began to smoke. I reset the circuit breaker and finished the remaining 6 ft rip. The motor performed like a champ, plain and simple, and it still does, even after a good smoking. With the task of rip cutting, the factory blade did not perform so well, but it still crosscuts just fine.
The oil, brushes, and bearings are serviceable. For extended tool life, I believe this is a necessity when abuse (like the smoking I gave it) is inevitable. Also, there is an adjustment to ensure the blade is 90 degrees to the base. The check I made showed the blade was only out 1/16”, which is perfectly acceptable for it’s intended use, but I decided to adjust the blade anyway.
This saw has a feature called “Vari-Torque Clutch,” It’s basically a kickback clutch which allows the shaft to turn while the blade remains motionless in a bind. This is something I find hard to manage with 2X material. The clutching action works as intended, and a couple of times I never knew the blade was in a bind, because it only felt like the blade guard was hanging. Admittedly, I finally had to tighten the blade and bypass the clutch to keep cutting bevels, but the Vari-Torque Clutch later redeemed itself with crosscut and plywood pinching.
The 53 degree bevel is great, and it’s better than the comparable 51 degrees or less that you get with other models. You can never have enough bevel.
The multi-function blade wrench is stored on the base, below the handle, and is locked into place by a detent spring. It is hard to grasp and remove with the saw set to full depth, but at least it won’t fall out.
The two position saw hook is a major plus. Consider it piece of mind when you can hang your saw on a ladder, joist, or even a low pitch rafter without it falling off. You can also protect the cord by climbing with the saw hanging from your tool belt.
I think other than the blade wrench storage location, the only other needed improvement would be the depth bracket gauge. The depth bracket is grooved with some of your most common blade depth settings. On one side, you have markings for plywood depths of 1/4”, 1/2”, and 3/4”, and on the other side you have two lumber depths labeled as 1X and 2X.. It’s by no means a deal breaker, but more depths in between and outside of those provided would better suit a wider range of materials. Also, the actual cutting depths are 1/4” deeper than what is stated on the depth gauge. In most situations the blade is set to penetrate your material, but it really helps to quickly and accurately adjust to an exact depth setting, where the individual can make allowances for penetration depth based on needs.
That’s it in a nutshell. I believe the Skil MAG77LT, 7 1/4” worm drive circular saw, is a formidable opponent in the worm drive market. If you like or need power and stability, this saw delivers both.
Attachments:April 24, 2013 at 7:23 pm #22596
cranbrook2ProBelgrave, Ontario , Canada
That is a great review and a very nice saw .I like some of the skil tools they have and this would be nice to add to my collection .www.extremebirdhouse.comApril 24, 2013 at 7:58 pm #22616
its definitely redesigned.. its no longer the actually skil design from what ive read from others whove used it. its actually much closer to the bosch designApril 24, 2013 at 8:17 pm #22622
Jeff, you’re right. It didn’t stray too far from the Bosh design. I’d be curious to know the real differences between the two.April 25, 2013 at 7:07 am #22653
I have seen that ad on BTP and thought about checking that one out, thanks for the review and great write up Mark.April 25, 2013 at 7:58 am #22665
Great review Mark, thanks! I found that the vari-torque clutch works well on my Bosch 18V circ saw and I’m assuming that it’s the same setup on this saw. It kept the saw from kicking back when the blade bound up, it really is a great idea.DanApril 25, 2013 at 8:35 am #22674
How is the guard action, Mark? Does it get out of the way on it’s own, on narrow rips (1/8″)?Mark E. Los Gatos, CA www.creative-redwood-designs.com
Member since Jan 22, 2013April 25, 2013 at 9:42 am #22691
I am most surprised that you found the weight to be manageable. 13 lbs still seems like a log (but I am not used to worm drive circ saws)… But great reviewJohn SApril 25, 2013 at 2:19 pm #22739
mark. ridgid just came out with their updated wormdrive as well. it has bits and peices from the old model as well as from the bosch.. apparently they bought the mold for the bosch saws handleApril 25, 2013 at 4:32 pm #22795
Do you guys have some examples of situations where you would use a wormdrive and examples of times you would use a regular circ saw? I’ve never used a wormdrive so I’m curious what some situation examples might be.DanApril 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm #22815
dan, wormdrive saws are much better suited for framing. the extra weight of them allows you to use the weight of the saw to make the cut as oppposed to pushing it through the material.. its also easier to steer when cutting sheathing. cutting overhead is too hard to do thoughApril 25, 2013 at 6:00 pm #22819
Well…maybe for girlie men it is lol. We used to do the dumb contests about holding the worm drive straight out from your body to see who could hold it up the longest.
I still have a few american made tanks around here. They were used and abused, but still work great.
It’s a long story, but I have not been too thrilled with the Bosch acquisition of Skil and the worm drive. I went through a good half dozen worm drives in about 2 month from poor quality. Most notable when the saw kicked back, the gears inside would warp. I finally went with the Bosch version and was sickened to see a plastic guard lever.
I hope that it was a short lived black time in the history of Bosch, because I think they are better than that. For the most part, they make really nice, high quality tools.April 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm #22837
Great review Mark. I’ve always been a big fan of sklii
Since I can remember . I totally lost faith in them in event years.
But I see they are coming back in full force.April 25, 2013 at 6:45 pm #22845
Thanks for the feedback guys. Here’s a short 1 minute 17 second video I made for the saw. I tried to throw a little humor in there…April 25, 2013 at 6:50 pm #22847
The vari-torque clutch did work well with 1/2″ – 3/4″ material. When cutting the 2X materials, I constantly get into different moisture levels and/or cutting into souther yellow pine for one board then fir for something else. It makes the clutch work great on one board but not the next. I’d rather tighen it once and cut away.
The only added benefit of a worm drive is just like Jeff stated. It’s all about stability in the cut from the added weight of the saw. The worm drive saw doesn’t have the tendency to teeter left and right like a sidewinder will. It comes down more to preference than anything. I know a lot of people that used them years ago, but now you couldn’t give them one and expect them to open the box.April 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm #22849
The guard action was impressive. I could shave the blade width off of a board, or shave an additional 1/8″, cutting on the left or right side of the board, and the guard never hung. I wished I had thought of mentioning that in the review.April 26, 2013 at 7:26 am #22883
I guess that would be why I’ve never gotten into a wormdrive saw, I don’t do much framing or sheathing cutting. Most times when I use a circ saw it needs to be a finish quality cut.DanApril 26, 2013 at 7:57 am #22892
I really learned to respect the worm drive when we did a massive commercial framing job.
The weight and balance of the saw and being able to see the blade when cutting helped.
There is NO comparison to the way it worked.April 26, 2013 at 10:44 am #22908
Kent, i too would not be impressed to find too many plastic parts on any power tool. Some one with a trained eye would spot these easily and in some cases will understand how and why it may impact the quality and durability of the tool. Others may just grab the cheapest one off the shelf and chances are that’s the reason some manufacturers skimp in certain areas i imagine.April 26, 2013 at 10:46 am #22909
Oh and Kent, how long could you hold the saw for and what was the highest time?
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