The terms’ skill saw’ and ‘circular saw’ has caused quite confusion, especially among new people in woodworking and DIYing. It is not fair how people mix up the two and go with it as if it is meant to be this way.
In this article, we will discuss skill saw vs. circular saw and see why they are the same thing, and especially why they are not. It is understandable why many people tend to interchange the two terms.
The difference between the two tools is very vague, and that’s why so many people get confused. If you are one of them, then you are in for a treat. Because after today, you will not be wondering about the question.
But first, some background story is required.
In this post we'll cover:
The History Of Circular Saw
The history of the circular saw goes way back, all the way up to the 1700s. Though those saws didn’t resemble the circular saw that you and I are used to seeing, the concept was there.
Those saws were big and bulky and were mostly stationary. Over time, the device evolved a lot. Back then, circular saws weren’t limited to electricity only as for power.
It was common to run a circular saw with gas pressure as well as fossil fuel. Okay, they are not so limited nowadays either, but for the most part, they are. Yes, the odd ones may still use gas pressure or gasoline, but they are the odd ones; we don’t talk about them.
The story of modern and portable circular saw started somewhere around the early 20th century. Around that time, along with the rest of the civilization, circular saws also became reliant on electricity and shaped off a lot in size and weight.
The Initialization Of The Skill Saw
Skill saw is relatively a newcomer in the market. In all honesty, even at that time, the skill saw was inspired by the usual circular saw, if not evolved from it. But it didn’t take them long to take the market by storm. Boy! Did they make a revolution!
Edmond Michel and Joseph Sullivan revamped the whole circular saw and upgraded almost every aspect of the tool, starting from size, weight, performance, and gave it a completely new form, which they called the ‘Skilsaw.’
The most dramatic change was that the new device was significantly lightweight, simpler to use, and it was powered by electricity; thus, was completely portable and could be operated held by the user.
People loved the new models so much, and the brand became so popular that it basically became a thing on its own. Of course, other people started to follow them and make cheaper tools on the same blueprint, but that only went so far.
Funnily enough, people who were using a similar tool, most likely from another company, would oftentimes refer to their device as ‘Skilsaw.’ Later on, the word ‘Skilsaw’ turned into ‘Skill saw,’ and that is where all the confusion began.
Skill Saw Vs. Circular Saw
In summary, the word ‘circular saw’ refers to the type of the tool, whereas the word ‘skill saw’ refers to a brand/company that produced the very first modern circular saw.
They have a product line by the same name, but they also produce other tools and accessories such as drills, table saws (check some top ones here), benchtop saws, blades, and much more. You won’t be mistaken if you call the skill saw a circular saw.
However, you will be wrong if you say the other way around. Because there are plenty more brands and models available, that are a circular saw, but not produced by the company’ skill saw’.
Back then, things were simpler. Skill saw was basically the only big fish in the pond, but it’s not the case anymore.
So, where does all the confusion come from?
That’s because skill saw as a company, may not be the only big fish anymore. But they are still one of the most renowned companies, if not the most. What makes a skill saw stand out? Let’s find out…
Granted that there are hundreds of other options to choose from, if not thousand. For the sake of simplicity, we will be comparing the skill saw with an average circular saw in the market. Here’s how they differ…
The skill saw is most renowned for the quality of the product they produce. Compared to an average skill saw circular saw is lighter as well as more comfortable to carry and operate. You can work with a skill saw for a long time before getting fatigued.
A skill saw will almost always last much longer than most other saws in the market. You can rely on your device for much longer before worrying about getting a new one because the products are made from better quality materials.
This also stands true for other products from the company, such as blades, routers, and other tools.
Your skill saw is still a circular saw. Thus, it will be just as useful as other top-notch circular saw like Makita SH01ZW mini circular saw, Rockwell RK3441K multifunctional circular saw, DeWalt, and others. You can expect the same performance from your tool, if not more. Dozens of other companies produce the tool other than Makita or DeWalt.
However, there are a couple of things that go against skill saw as well. Things like…
An average skill saw costs slightly higher than an average circular saw. This is true, but it comes with all the benefits that your uncle Joe’s circular saw won’t provide. Good things come at a price. In this case, It’s literally price.
If you choose a circular saw, not limiting yourself to a skill saw, you will have a ton of options to choose from. Granted, that skill saw has dozens of options for you, but at the end of the day, it is still just one company. And when you start looking beyond the limitations of a company, you will have hundreds of devices to choose from.
You might end up finding one which suits your situation better.
All in all, a skill saw is another brand of the circular saw. It is neither a separate tool nor something dramatically different. However, it is not just another circular saw either. It is more of a quality product.
If you want to ensure the best value for your bucks, you are almost always better off going for a skill saw. You cannot go wrong with a skill saw.
However, if you want to explore and try other things or may have specific criteria to meet, feel free to explore outside skill saw. Just beware of the situation and do explore enough before settling down.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.