Skill Saw vs Circular Saw: What’s the Difference?

Circular saws are used widely by professionals and do-it-yourself fanatics right across the world, and some people refer to them as skill saws, but this creates some confusion between different groups of people, and a lot of people ask the same question: ‘What is the difference between a Skill saw and circular saw?

Circular Saws and Skill Saws refer to the same type of saw. The first handheld circular saw was named the Skilsaw, and the name became synonymous with circular saw. Any differences between a SkilSaw and other circular saws are minor manufacturing differences.

The design of handle spacing in circular saws came from an era where circular saw manufacturers like Skil wanted to have different options for professionals and household users. It was during this time that the skill saw was born. In this post, there will be a comparison of a circular saw from Skil(Skill saw) and another similar brand.

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Red Skilsaw

The Differences Between A Skill Saw And A Circular Saw

Manufacturers of circular saws compete with each other by putting similar products into the market; seeing that this post is about the differences, here is a table comparing a Skill saw with a Dewalt offering to show the differences :

Comparison CriteriaSkill saw SPT77WML-01Dewalt DWS535B
Power SourceElectricalElectrical
Voltage120 Volts120 Volts
Amperes15 Amps15 Amps
Dimensions8.75-in X 7.75-in X 20.5-in8.88-in X 8.63-in X 21.81-in
Length of Blade4 inches4 inches
Style of machineWorm driven circular sawWorm driven circular saw
Standard blade7-1/4 inch blade7-1/4 inch blade
Bevel functionYesYes
Degree of bevel function53 degree53 degree
Cross cuts with guidanceYesYes
Angled cuts with guidanceYesYes
Bevel cutsYesYes
Construction MaterialMagnesium and AluminiumMagnesium and Aluminium

As we can see from the comparison in the table above, the differences to the machines are not in the type of machine but the design characteristics of the manufacturer. Other than that, there is no major difference. It further establishes that a Skill saw is a circular saw.

Professional Skillsaw And Home Circular Saw Differences

A commonly known fact about power tools is that tools for professional use are sold at a higher price than tools designed for home use; this is because professionals have different needs to that of a person using a tool a few times per year, are there other differences besides cost though?

Design of Home Circular Saw Vs. Professional Skill Saw

The design of a Professional Circular saw, like the skill saw, is slightly different when it comes to the handle and grip. A professional circular saw has a handle and grip that sits further away from the body of the machine. It gives the user more space to guide the machine through the workpiece accurately.

Size of Home Circular Saw Vs. Professional Skill Saw

The professional machines are also bigger in size than the average circular saw you will find in most homes. Professionals use circular saws a lot more, and because of that, the size of the motor needs to be bigger and more reliable.

Historical Difference Between Skill Saw And Circular Saw

The true difference between a circular saw and a skill saw lies in history. These days they are the same thing, but that is not the case if we look further back in history.

Before the handheld electrical saw became available for everyday use in 1923, the circular saws that you could find were huge commercial machines used for milling. Here is more information about the historical differences between a circular saw and a skill saw.

Circular Saws

Before electrical saws were developed for private use, the first circular saws were created in the 1800s. The historical origins of these huge machines are said to have been inspired by a woman named Tabitha Babbit. She was inspired by her spinning wheel but never patented her invention as she said it was against her religious beliefs.

That invention inspired the first commercial circular saws. They were big machines that were used for lumber milling. These milling machines have been in use since the early 1800s, and it is because of machines like this, modern mills are so effective. It would stay this way until the invention of the skill saw in 1923.

Skill Saw

The first electrical hand saw was developed by Edmond Michel in 1923. After that, Michel teamed up with Joseph W. Sullivan, and together they made improvements. Joseph W. Sullivan was a farmland developer. Together they started The Michel Electric Handsaw Company.

It was during this time that the skill saw got its name “Skil Saw,” and it has been synonymous with circular saws ever since. In 1926 Edmond Michel left his company to pursue other opportunities and inventions. That was the year the company was renamed SKILSAW Incorporated to suit the name of their famous skill saw.

It was in 1924 that The Skill saw was first marketed under the original company name, The Michel Electrical Hand Saw Company. That changed when Edmond left the company. After 1926 SKILSAW Incorporated marketed their handheld circular saws. So what started as a single handheld machine changed the lives of modern professionals, carpenters, and do-it-yourself fanatics forever.


Even though the electrical handheld saw known as the Skill saw and a circular saw are exactly the same type of machine, the difference lies in history when circular saws were big commercial machines that they used for milling. People started calling circular saws Skill saws after 1924 when the first-hand model circular saw was made called the SKILSAW.

In 1926 the company that marketed the SKILSAW changed its name to Skilsaw, and even though more manufacturers started making the same type of machine, people still call it a Skill saw. Modern circular saws and the SKILSAWS of today have some size and design differences. Other than that, there is absolutely no difference.

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