Hypoid Saw vs. Circular Saw: Which to Use?

Hypoid Saw vs. Circular Saw: Which to Use?

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If you are just getting into the world of woodworking, then one of the most important things that you need to be familiar with are what the different kinds of saws are and what they can do. Two extremely popular ones out there at this time are the circular saw and the hypoid saw.

What we are here to do right now is to figure out exactly what they are, as well as what kinds of similarities and differences they share between them. Let’s figure out which of these two tools you need for your specific situation.

Hypoid Saws and Circular Saws: The Basics

Before we can get into talking about the similarities and differences between circular saws and hypoid saws, let’s first figure out what both of them are. On a side note, this might get slightly confusing, because one of these saws is actually a general type of saw, whereas the other is a very specific type of saw. It’s like comparing Angus beef to cows in general. You will see what we mean in a minute.

What Is a Circular Saw?

Circular Saw The circular saw is perhaps one of the most popular and widely used types of saws in woodworking. This is why it is referred to as a utilitarian workhorse. This is a relatively small handheld type of saw that is generally small and lightweight enough to be used with a single hand.

A circular saw, as the name implies, features a circular blade with sharp teeth (or sometimes a cutting disc), that spins around an arbor in a circular motion. These blades spin at very high speeds. Depending on the type of blade in question, these tools can be used to cut many materials including wood, plastic, metal, and masonry.

Now, here is where some of the confusion may start. A circular saw generally comes in three different varieties. These include the direct-drive circular saw (also sometimes known as a sidewinder), worm drive circular saws, and yes, you guessed it, the hypoid saw. This is what we meant when we said that one is a general type of saw, whereas the other is a specific type.

We will touch on exactly what a hypoid saw is below, and moreover, we will also do our best to explain what makes it different from the other common types. The important thing for you to know from this point on is that when we say “circular saw,” we are referring to the most commonly used type, the direct drive or sidewinder circular saw.

So, our comparison today is really between sidewinder or direct drive circular saws and hypoid circular saws.

What Is a Hypoid Saw?

Hypoid Saw Alright, so as we now have established, a hypoid saw is a specific type of circular saw. Now, unlike your normal direct drive sidewinder, where the motor shaft and sawblade are facing the same direction and are directly connected (the turning motor is attached directly to the arbor that spins the blade), with a hypoid circular saw, the motor sits at a right angle to the blade, and is also positioned further back on the saw.

To be specific, the word hypoid refers to a specific gearing system that helps generate more power. Here, the motor and the spinning blade are not directly connected but are connected with a series of gears. Other than that, this is still a circular saw that features a round blade with teeth that spins at very high speeds.

Similarities of Hypoid Saws and Circular Saws

Now that we have covered the basics, let’s figure out what the similarities between these two tools are.

1. They’re Both Circular Saws

OK, so as we have established by now, a hypoid saw is a type of circular saw. There are three main types of circular saws, including sidewinders, worm drive, and hypoid.

2. They’re Both Fairly Portable and Lightweight

There are some differences in size and weight between the two, but generally speaking, both are fairly portable and lightweight, and can be used by a single hand. These are not huge table saws. These are both designed to be tools that you can easily take from one job site to the other.

3. They Serve the Same Essential Purposes

Of course, there are some differences in terms of overall functionality, but that said, both of these types of circular saws, the sidewinder and the hypoid saw, serve the same essential purposes. This essential purpose is cutting wood. Both have circular blades that are ideal for cutting wood. dDpending on the type of blade, both can also cut other materials such as plastics and metals, and even masonry too.

4. They May Both Use Either AC or DC Power

Because both of these types of circular saws are not very large, they tend to be battery-powered, although many are also corded.

Circular Saw at a Jobsite

Differences Between Hypoid Saws and Circular Saws

Now that we know what similarities these types of circular saws share, we can take a look at the differences between them.

1. Motor Position

The most fundamental difference here is that with a normal sidewinder circular saw, the motor shaft and blade face the same direction and are directly connected, plus the blade is on the right side of the motor. With a hypoid circular saw, the motor sits at a right angle to the blade, with the motor near the rear of the tool, and the blade being on the left side of the motor.

2. Size and Weight

Although both are relatively portable handheld tools, sidewinders are much smaller and lighter than hypoid circular saws. This does of course make sidewinders easier to use in certain situations.

3. Line of Sight

What does need to be said here is that because the sidewinder circular saw has the blade on the right side of the motor, if you are right-handed, it can be hard to see where the blade is cutting, and this makes cutting straight lines of it difficult. However, with a hypoid saw, if you are right-handed, then you can more easily see exactly where the blade is cutting because the blade is on the left side of the motor. Of course, this is all the exact opposite if you are left-handed.

4. Speed vs. Power

Really, the biggest fundamental difference between the two has to do with speed and power. When it comes down to it, a normal sidewinder circular saw has a blade that spins at very high speeds, but if it hits very hard material, it may slow down abruptly.

A hypoid saw, on the other hand, due to the way in which the gears are positioned, means that they have a lot more power and torque. This means that although they don’t spin as fast, they handle thick and heavy materials better than a normal sidewinder circular saw, and won’t slow down as easily either.

Hypoid Saw in Use

Hypoid Saw vs. Circular Saw: Which of the Two Should You Use?

If you need a really convenient and portable type of circular saw for cutting relatively thin and lightweight materials, then your normal sidewinder circular saw is going to be best. However, if you need something a bit heavier with a lot more torque, something that can handle relatively thick and dense stock, then it is a hypoid saw that you want to use.


There you have it folks, all of the main differences that you need to know about when it comes to sidewinder circular saws and hypoid circular saws. Now that you know, you can choose which one to use for specific circumstances.

How Do Circular Saws Compare with Other Tools?

See how circular saws compare with: angle grinders | bandsaws | jigsawsjigsaws and reciprocating saws | miter saws | plunge saws | reciprocating saws | rotary sawstable saws | track saws