Why Is a Skill Saw Called a Skill Saw?

Published on: August 3, 2022
Written by David Rowan / Fact-checked by Eric Devin

Whether you are a new professional carpenter interested in learning more about the history of the nomenclature of the tools that you use every day or a carpentry enthusiast/DIYer, we always welcome your curiosity.

We can trace back the emergence of saws, among other tools of significance, over 4000 years back. (Britannica and McGeough)

During this time, we observe a remarkable path of progression of tools and gadgets through many interesting and revolutionary inventions – especially the one that we are going to discuss here today. In the year 1923, Edmond Michel patented a new and more compact form of circular saw that runs on electricity, yet is lightweight enough for portability. Today date skill saw gets the classification of a worm drive circular saw. 

why is a skill saw called a skill saw

For the production purposes of his invention, Michel, along with Joseph Sullivan, created a company – which was later on renamed SKILLSAW. Understandably, other companies created their rendition of the product.

But since SKILLSAW’s sensational device gained massive popularity in the market under its modern features and advanced usability, people started calling the product skill saw, even the duplicate ones made by other companies. The consumers’ familiarity with the name of this company is the reason why we call skill saws (worm drive circular saws), skill saws.

For a technician of any degree (you are still a technician if the woodwork is just a hobby, you tend to do on the weekends, at least in our eyes, learning about the history and intricacy of these devices can be eye-opening. So let’s dive in further.

What Is a Skill Saw?

Skill saw is nothing but a classification of the circular saw. There happen to be three different kinds of circular saws. Skill saw is just one of them.

Circular saws are saws that are made with a circular blade meant to cut wood, masonry, plastic, or metal that are either hand-held or mounted to a machine(“Circular saw”). 

Saws can come in different shapes and sizes, with varied efficiency and usability. These kinds of saws fall into the heavy machinery side of things. The circular blades often come with sharp teeth attached to them. 

The blade aims to rotate at high speed as the saw cuts right through the wood, stone, or metal. Although some ancient people like to refer to any hand-held circular saws as a skill saw, what sets the skill saw apart is that it runs on electricity. There is no use of any sliding horizontal arm. In the case of skill saws, the electric motor finds its home at the back of the circular blade. This makes the saw more condensed and sturdy.

What’s a Skill Saw Used for?

Precise Straight Cuts

It is the job of skill saws to chop through logs, heavy timbers, and metals. The interesting architecture and mechanism of the machine allow you to get a certain precise angular cut which can be crucial in carpentry. Your skilled saw can rip straight through lumber at a 90-degree angle.


Skill saws have a significantly long diameter. This feature, when combined with whetted teeth, becomes useful in biting through bronze, steel, and such. A higher number of teeth contribute to minimizing the splintering.


Skill saw can be of good use in cross-cutting since the cutting process of a skill saw minimizes loss of grain quality, as it does not deviate from the direction of the grain while cutting.

What Are Some of the Features of a Skill Saw?

A skill saw typically has the following features:

  • Motor: provides power to the blade
  • Blade: can be adjusted for depth and angle
  • Guard: covers the blade and helps to prevent accidents
  • Table: provides a stable surface to support the material being cut
  • Bevel adjustment: allows the blade to be tilted at different angles
  • Dust blower: helps to clear debris from the cutting line
  • Laser guide: helps to align the blade with the cutting line
  • Variable speed: allows the user to adjust the speed of the blade for different materials or tasks.

What Is the Difference Between a Skill Saw and a Jigsaw?

Before letting you know more about this unique tool, let us give you some background stories. Did you know the jigsaw came into existence by accident? The inventor of this ‘master of all arts’ tool ( it can do almost everything a circular saw can do), an Austrian engineer, namely Albert Kaufmann, put a blade in the place of the needle of the family sewing machine. And thus, the tool was born.

  • Jigsaws are saws that can make non-uniform, diverse, and angular cuts on wood, metals, stones, and other such materials to curve out unique shapes. Whenever you need to execute complicated cuts while dealing with carpentry, a jigsaw can help you out. They are easy to use and not spacious. So, even if you are a newbie, you can try your hand at it.
  • As mentioned before, a skill saw is a type of circular saw. Saws like this one are only good for making straight cuts on materials in a short amount of time.
  • But let us not underestimate the prowess of skill saws. When we are trying to manipulate materials to devise new formations out of them by using saws, the MVP is always the blades. Skill saws have sturdy, durable blades that can slash through heavy wood and even stones without enduring much damage. 
  • The blades that come with jigsaws, on the other hand, are feeble compared to that of skill saws.
  • If damage is endured by a skilled saw blade, conducting a replacement will take away some considerable big bucks out of your pocket. 
  • The blades attached to the jigsaw can be frail, but pretty inexpensive to replace.

Who Invented the Skill Saw?

Edmond Michel, a French immigrant who had settled in New Orleans, invented the first portable and electric circular saw. He used to observe the sugar farmers using machetes to cut through the canes. So, he thought of a better alternative. (“Edmond Michel”)

After having invented his hand-held circular saw, he teamed up with a farmland owner to gather more knowledge of the industry. Together, they refined the piece of the invention and proceeded forward by developing The Michel Electric Handsaw Company. They later renamed it SKILL SAW.

What Is the Difference Between a Miter Saw and a Skill Saw?

A Miter saw is a mighty tool that serves the purpose of making angular cuts. This kind of saw is much known for bevel cuts, wherein the board is cut at an angle, making it unparalleled with the edges. The thought behind this is to prevent accidents caused by sharp edges. In some cases it can act as a replacement for a skill saw, but not always.

  • You can place the miter saw at a preferable place in your workshop, or onto a miter saw stand, and cut the wood with it by dragging it downwards.
  • Skill saws are to be held with your hands as it proceeds through the wood.
  • When it comes to prices, skill saws are cheaper than miter saws.
  • Their compact structure makes it easier to transfer them from one place to another in comparison to miter saws, which can be heavier.
  • A miter saw can be more accurate than a skill saw since you are operating skill saws while carrying them in your hands.
  • It is safer to use miter saws.
  • The only thing a miter saw can do for you is executed cross-cuts. Skill saws like other circular saws can cut wood boards along their length in addition to making cross-cuts.


While Working With My Skill Saw, When I Can’t Get an Even Finish as the End Roughly Breaks. Is There Something Wrong With the Saw? I Am Fairly New to This.

Check if the sole and the teeth are undamaged and intact or not. We would advise you not to use it until you have confirmed this.

Do Skill Saws Need Oiling? What Sort of Oil Should One Use?

Skill saws do not need oiling. But we understand that ‘skill saw’ is a broadly used term. If you are using a hybrid-type saw, GL-4 gear oil will do well.

How Many Classifications of Circular Saws Are There

Primarily there are three types of circular saws- Sidewinder, Worm Driver, and Hypoid.

What Kind of Saw is a Skill Saw?

A Skil saw is a type of circular saw, which is a powerful tool that uses a spinning circular blade to make cuts in wood and other materials. The brand name “Skil” is often used generically to refer to this type of saw. It is a powerful handheld saw that is commonly used for construction, home improvement projects, and woodworking. It’s known for its versatility, portability, and precision.

Wrapping Up a Conclusion

For dedicated professionals, hobbyists, and enthusiasts, learning more about the nitty-gritty aspects of the industry can be fascinating. It takes you closer to your work. Even though smooth conduction of woodwork and carpentry will never require your knowledge of why a skill saw is called a skill saw.

Regardless, what you do need to know before buying yourself a circular saw according to your needs and experience is this:

In case you are a first-timer at this, buy a sidewinder saw. Its lightweight feature along with less requirement for power will allow you to hone your skills in operating with a circular saw. Practice makes perfect.

If there’s not a lot of space allotted for the work and you require a comparatively powerful tool, do get yourself a skill saw. It will aid in conducting intense cutting projects as well. 1

But skill saws are hand-held machines. If there is any issue in either of your arms that can worsen from holding a machine for long hours, a hypoid saw will be the better option for you to pick.

Featured image credit: Amazon.com

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About This Writer

david rowan author

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

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