So about 25 years ago I lived in a 5000sf loft space for $500/mo. The windows were falling out and the heat was splotchy but I was young and resilient and it was a great place to host parties with garage bands (NH post crack-war, pre-boom days, ahh nostalgia)… We had to build our own rooms which were more like little boxes inside of a big room so, fresh out of college I commenced to buying tools. One of my first buys was a Dewalt circular saw. I forget the model but it was simple, lightweight, trustworthy and I loved it. Due to the mercurial nature of our neighborhood, somebody broke into our loft and helped themselves to a five finger discount (they took my saw). Amongst my few tools, a circular saw was indispensable so I quickly replaced the stolen one with a new Dewalt model that they described as having a useful and modern update to the depth adjustment. This was the first saw with rear pivot depth and I don’t know why they still make it because it’s awkward and clunky and lacks the grace and simplicity of my other saw ; I've regretted buying that saw ever since. So rather than continue on resenting an inanimate object, and motivated by my ongoing house restoration, I recently decided to begin shopping for a new saw.
I quickly eliminated worm drive saws from my list of possibilities; they’re sexy and torquey and keep cutting no matter what you encounter but... I tend to lean over long cuts and do them single handedly…I’m not really into a 20lb saw. I also eliminated the possibility of a battery powered saw; I want more torque than they provide and I don’t use the tool often enough to justify keeping a battery charged. So one question remained; buy a typical right hand blade (blade on the right hand side of the saw, motor on the left) or left hand blade? Worm drive saws have a left hand blade and most helical drive saws (aka “sidewinders”, aka the-common-circular-saw-that-your-dad-used) have right hand blades. Milwaukee, Bosche and Porter Cable make left hand versions of sidewinders for left hand carpenters but right handers took to them and their sales have been very good. Right-hand blade advocates insist that the motor weight should be on the opposite side of waste when you cut. This argument falls apart if you clamp and cut from the opposite direction. Left-hand blade advocates insist that a left hand blade gives you good line of sight for your cut. I find this pretty convincing because I don’t like twisting my body to hang over the saw during a long cut.
Bosche CS5 - I love Bosche tools. Like all things German, solidly built (have you met Marcus?) I like most things about this saw except that the shoe is pressed metal with a rounded edge and since I often clamp with a thin stainless straight edge, I refuse to buy a saw that doesn’t have a thick stock shoe with a flat edge and sharp corners that won’t hop over my straight edge.
Porter Cable 743 – This doesn’t seem to be available anymore although of the bunch, the shoe looks the best and the exhaust looks sensible.
The Milwaukee 6391-21 – This has a unique feature allowing one to rotate the handle into a comfortably fixed position after adjusting the depth of cut. Nice shallow shoe with a sharp cornered edge, 50 degree bevel and 10 lbs. This is probably my choice of the bunch In my search for left handers.
The Straight Flush Saw - I came across this which prompted this post. Probably the most interesting as well as the most dangerous tool design I’ve ever seen. Not ready for market, the design has been taken through various levels of prototyping, but I would be very squeamish about using this unless they developed a guard for the top front of the blade.StraightFlushSaw