If I could only have one saw in my tool box for timber framing, it would be the best 10 ¼ inch Circular 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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27 thoughts on “What Is The Best 10 1/4 inch Circular Saw”
I am glad to see Skil saw back in the 10 1/4 saw market.I do have the super sawsquatch and am very impressed .I doubt my Makita and Ryobi 16s will see the light of day again.As for the Milwaukee 10 1/4 I have had several and found they do not hold up very well under heavy use.Same for the Makitas although I have the older steel case models.I would stick with the worm drive the best saw design ever made.
I agree the worm drill is more durable in the long run than a direct drive, we have a review coming out soon on both models of the Sawsquatch saws.
As a master commercial carpenter 35 years ,im the carpenter that’s caled upon when no one els has the Balls to take on big jobs ,,with experience in timber framing and concrete forming , we have used worm drive skill saws. ,in every type of enviorement , rain ,mud snow sub Zero and extream temps , mostly 7&1/4. This is a hi quality tool ,that is reliable and gets the job done ,
These worm drive saws , were used on projects I ran , Freedom Tower foundation , World Trade Center Memorial Pools , billion dollar projects ,
I do not work for Skill but this is the saw of my choice , I stake my reputation on these saws ,,, thanks Skill 👍👍🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
Thanks for your thoughts Paul!
Excellent review of 10-1/4 inch circular saws.
Like other professional carpenters, Skil has owned my heart as well. I completely agree with what Paul said here. And I would love to try their new products at any time.
To say that Skil is for the DIY crowd is like saying that my grandma drives a Peterbilt. Skil is the original and still the best when it comes to worm drive saws of any sort. If it was good enough for Larry Huan then it’s good enough for me.
Cold Spring NY
Would have loved to see my grandmother drive a Peterbilt! Thanks for your thoughts!
I bought the Big Foot saw recently because I was convinced by this article. Before now I had done most of my cutting with a company owned Makita 5104 and loved it but was convinced by this article that the Big Foot was a better saw. So far I have been very disappointed. It is obvious to me that this is just a kit put on a Skil spt77 motor, not a ground up designed 10 1/4 saw like the 5104. For example, the motor casing is wider than the table on this saw, so when doing rip cuts with a guide any taller than 3/8″ the motor will bind on the guide and you will burn your wood or bind your blade. Further, there is no saw dust port on the blade casing. The dust blows out on the pistol grip side of the saw and directly into the motor housing. If you cut resinous wood like I do, this will adhere to the magneto over time and cause overheating and motor failure. Overall it is a poor design. There is no noticeable real-world difference in RPMs or torque despite the numbers used in this review. The Makita feels like a precision cutting tool while the Big Foot feels more like chainsaw. Moreover, this article downplays the ‘frill’ features of the 5104 such as the dust exhaust port, electric brake, LED light, additional carrying handle etc. These are GREAT features that I miss now that I have a Big Foot. Especially the dust exhaust port. That is huge for blade visibility and dust management. AND the Big Foot is more expensive than the Makita! Don’t waste your money
Simon, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Always good to get another point of view.
Which one would you go with Brice?
I like the Bigfoot and the Makita. Depends on what side you want the blade on.
sounds good! If you were in the market for one saw, would you go ahead and spend the extra for the 16″ sassquach or get a 10 1/4 big foot?
If I could only have one saw it would be a 10″.
Looking at replacement blades for my 10 1/4 and it seems like everyone is offering narrow kerf blades. I am worried about blade deflection in tough cuts with the thin kerf. Any input? And any recommendations?
I have never had a problem with the narrow kerf blades. Always have cut true. I have the Bigfoot and have always reordered their blades. Let us know what you go with.
I’m a landscape contractor in Oregon. I most commonly use a framing saw for sopping wet PT. I had always used skill 77 saws until someone gave me a Makita hypoid and found it to be a better tool for wet corrosive lumber. I’ve have never completed killed a skill saw but I have a number of them I have retired mostly due to deteriorating hardware on the foot and bevel settings.
Thanks for the heads up on what is working in the field.
The narrow kerf stock blade and commonly available replacements are not that good when cutting green timbers – they tend to bind up. I also have seen some pretty amazing resonance deflection in the Bigfoot’s blade when spinning full speed and not in contact with wood. Kind of scary actually, to see how much these blades will bend at high RPMs.
I recently bought a Milwaukee 6470 for my own projects including a 24×24 timber frame structure I’ll be starting soon. During the 4+ years I was doing TF work professionally from 1997-2001 I had a number of 10″ saws. After using the 6470 on a recent project I wish I would have had this one back then. Very solid base that reminds me of the custom bases the one TF firm produced for the Makita 16″ saws.
I’ve had a Milwaukee circular that a contractor threw in the garbage in 1989 that I had a shop replace the brushes and cord on then for a miniscule amount. Have finished a basement and rebuilt a house with it as well as a lot of 8 x 8’s. The cord is again going bad so I guess its time to finally buy a new one!
Thanks for your thoughts Robert.
Don’t buy the Milwaukee. I had one. Built one timber house with it and the motor bearings disintegrated. The Certified repair shop told me that Milwaukee does not make them anymore and has no parts in stock – unrepairable. Not impressed.
Here’s an update on the big foot a year after my purchase and initial review.
The positive stop holding the table at 90 to the blade wore out. I now have to check the blade and adjust to 90 every few cuts.
I’ve also discovered that on cuts longer than 12” a noticeable amount of heat is generated where the casing joints the motor. If you make more than three or more of these cuts in 15 min or so the casing is too hot to touch. I haven’t determined what is causing the heat, Oil is topped up, whatever it is something is not functioning as it should.
Another issue is the guard spring. The spring is so stiff that unless the guard is pulled back before starting each cut the guard will hinder the start of your cut. This is especially true on any cut off 90 degrees. As a result I have developed the bad habit of retracting the guard before every cut which raises the question why have a guard at all?
Aesthetically it fails as well, as the appealing red paint has peeled off in some places for no apparent reason.
There are two good things. It has lots of torque thanks to the worm drive and the left blade gives great visibility while cutting. The levers for blade adjustment are easy to use but that is expected on any such saw.
Unfortunately I have to use this saw nearly everyday, and everyday it frustrates me. When I can afford it I will buy a makita 5104 and the Bigfoot will be reserved for roughing out timbers or cutting firewood.
Thanks for the insight on the Bigfoot!
My grandmother drove a kw.
Saying Skil is geared towards DIYers is like saying Peterbilt’s target demographic is old ladies. They make their saws lighter because we have to use them for hours at a time.
I get that, but we are talking about cutting timbers, not a 2x. They are not that much more expensive and your comment verifies the quality of the tool.