If I could only have one saw in my tool box for timber framing, it would be a 10 1/4-inch saw. They can can typically cut 8x timbers in 2 cuts and 4x material in a single pass, which allows you to cut 90 percent of the timbers that will come through a typical shop. If you are cutting a lot of 6x material then getting a 16" saw may be something to consider, but I would still have one of these saws in my quiver.
With all of these saws, what we’re talking about is a commercial-grade tool. We can expect them to perform well, and they are meant to handle the hard work of cutting a timber frame. No matter which one you choose, you will have a solid partner for years to come.
45 Cut Depth
90 Cut Depth
3.7 out of 5
3.7 out of 5
3.9 out of 5
4.2 out of 5
· Power: Don’t confuse a tool’s AMPs with its power. A saw’s power comes from horsepower and torque. In other words, the ability to handle dense or wet material without binding up.
· Style: There are two basic styles of circular saws — Sidewinders and Worms. Sidewinders have motors directly to the right of the blade and are designed to generate higher RPM. Worms have the motors set back and generally produce lower RPM but higher torque. Worms also have a clearer sight-line by design and are my pick in this line-up with the Big Foot pictured below.
The motto of this Big Foot is: “Made by a framer for framers.” That says it all. The Big Foot is a serious worm saw created to perfectly cut timbers and things such as 4x posts and gang cutting 2x4's. It has a 3 ¾-inch depth at 90 degrees, has tremendous sight lines for precision use, and the front handle also adjusts to suit righties or lefties. That makes it a one-shot cutting tool that eliminates the need to use finishing tools.
The worm design gives it major torque strength to handle wet material and long rip cuts. When working with timber, Big Foot hardly takes notice of knots or impediments. The one negative to be thoughtful of is that the shoe can be a tad narrow. There are no significant bells and whistles such as lights and dust blowers. The Big Foot has the no frills look of a tool that is all about getting down to business. It’s clearly a top pick dream in terms of speed, power, and ability. A DIY homeowner may take a liking to it as well. At about 20 pounds, Big Foot is an awe-inspiring two-handed, get-it-done saw.
I have always enjoyed my Big Foot Saw. It is on the upper end as far as cost and it has a narrow base, but it has always been a joy to use.
This large cutting capacity sidewinder can reach depths of 3 ¾ inches at 90 degrees, which allows users to easily cut into some timbers. At 45 degrees, the Makita 5104 has a cutting capacity of 2 ¾ inches. This 18-plus pound, heavy duty saw sports 3,800 RPM and delivers enough power to handle being in the professional framer's quiver. The ball and needle bearing manufacturing is designed to reduce friction and stress. The two handles follow the standard, straight line that you expect from most sidewinders.
It only uses 14 AMPs but has a reputation for large capacity cutting. Safety features include an electric brake, a locking button and a substantial ejection point to discard dust. Its shaft-locking feature stops the blade from moving when removed from material.
This Makita can be handled by beginners and veteran timber framers alike. This sidewinder gets high marks from online user reviews. It is a high-quality product utilizing strong components that are meant to last. The true value of this tool may be its blend of power and durability.
The Milwaukee 6470 model produces a high 5,200 RPM at 15 AMPs with a top-end horsepower of 3.1. It reaches a nice 3 13/16 inches cutting capacity at 90 degrees. That comes in slightly deeper than some other tools in its class. At 45 degrees, this big capacity saw also manages 2 3/4 inches and is relatively light weight for a 10 1/4-inch sidewinder at just under 18 pounds.
This Milwaukee enjoys some of the perks such as an electric brake, aluminum shoe and 12-foot double-insulated power cord. Both commercial workers and DIY folks like the safety that the electric brake provides. It stops the blade within seconds of taking your finger off the trigger.
Beyond safety and frills, this tool shows excellent power when cutting through timbers and is a job site darling because of its relative light weight. At under 18 pounds, you may not spend an hour doing overhead work, but a few cuts can be manageable. Users find the saw’s ability to push through tough or wet material notable. Also, its large shoe and wide front handle work together for excellent stability.
Overall, this Milwaukee gets high marks for its power and smart design. It’s a tool that both professional framers and DIY homeowners can productively utilize.
Nicknamed “Sasquatch,” this worm gets up to 4,600 RPM and has a cutting capacity of 3 11/16 inches at 90 degrees and 2 3/4 inches at 45 degrees. These numbers are a tad lower than Big Foot, also a worm drive, and the Milwaukee 6470 sidewinder. The depth pushes the practical limits of its usefulness in terms of two-cutting an 8x timber.
This lightweight worm can tackle 4x cleanly and is easy to move around at only 16.5 pounds. It employs a magnesium-housed, 15 AMP, dual field motor designed to be long lasting and durable. The motor keeps an eye toward cooling ability, which can reduce the chances of the tool getting hot from continued use. The overall design tends to be well-balanced and sleek. It enjoys excellent worm-design sight lines but has a standard right-handed front handle. It also has a relatively slim shoe.
The product and nickname appear to be making a run at Big Foot. The difference between Sasquatch and Big Foot may be that this Skilsaw model angles toward the DIY crowd more than pro framers with its lightweight and slightly lower cutting capacity. Also, watch out for the short cord length - at 8' it will give you some problems from time to time. I would buy a long cord and replace it right off the bat.
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