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I know there’s a marketing blitz behind this, but I can’t help but enjoy the idea of a tool that survives without major functional changes for most of a century. Think about it: Since 1937, mankind went from early aviation to jet flight to the moon. Certainly the Model 77 has seen a bit of innovation over the years in terms of motor and material technology, but it remains essentially the same in shape and function — and it’s still a pretty popular model, despite lots of heavy competition.

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I suppose a lot of this is due to the fact that the role the circular saw fills in the construction business isn’t as different as it might seem. We still build houses in much the same (basic) way we did 50+ years ago, at least in terms of framing. Most of the innovation seems to have come in materials or design, which has led to some significant improvements in blade technology. In the last few years we’ve seen significant improvements in circ saw blade design specifically, for a number of reasons: to handle the new materials, to increase battery life in cordless circs (since battery tech has finally caught up enough to make them somewhat feasible), and to improve life and performance. Note that the anniversary model 77 pictured above is loaded up with one of Skil’s titanium carbide blades.

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Of course, a lot of folks prefer the simpler, cheaper, and certainly lighter sidewinder design. Sean, for example, is a big proponent of sidewinders, and I have to admit that I see his point. Even a small weight reduction makes a difference when you pick up a saw hundreds of times a day. When I built the shelves I wrote about a while back, I used two different circs to cut the shelf notches, and even after cutting only 60 notches, I could tell that one was heavier than the other. Then I looked up the difference: less than a pound.

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We understand that the basic Model 77 still sells quite well. And if you happen to be in the market for one this year, Skil offers a “limited edition anniversary” model, which adds a custom black fleck paint finish, a chromed aluminum foot, a commemorative placard, and a commemorative blade. We found the anniversary model (the #MAG77-75 as opposed to the standard #SHD77M) for $190 online. Considering that the standard model sells for around $170, it might be worth a “what the hell” drop of a $20. I mean, you’re probably gonna be lookin’ at the thing for another 20-30 years, right?

One objection, though: despite creating a cool-looking custom product site and commissioning yet another corporate-themed chopper, we didn’t find much at all about the saw’s long history in the product literature. Skil, how ’bout a good story? We’re up for it!

Incidentally, what’s your favorite circ saw and why?

Skil 75th Anniversary Worm Drive [Custom Product Site/Skil]
Street Pricing [75th Anniversary Model]
Street Pricing [Standard 77]
Standard 77 Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

28 Responses to The Skilsaw 77 Turns 75

  1. jesse says:

    Have they ever updated the design to brushless motors?

  2. PutnamEco says:

    Wow, make me feel old, I still remember drooling over the 50th anniversary saw (1987), the one they did in gold with black trim. They did one in red white and blue as well (2002),It was the 77 anniversary edition, only 250 of them were made. I believe they auctioned them off for charity .Shame the 75th edition is NOT made in this country. Bosch also had a limited edition saw as well, it had chrome accents.

    My favorite saw would have to be Black & Deckers Super Sawcat. I really like the large shoe with the removable piece. It was the first saw that offered a blade brake and I would say it still has one of the best blade brakes offered. I believe this was the most ergonomic saw for me to use. My dream is to see a clone of this saw rendered in carbon fiber and titanium with a magnesium shoe.

    The latest saw that I really liked was the Milwaukee 6365, which was a drop foot saw. I always felt like it was a good solid dependable saw, although it could be a little problematic if seriously accurate depth of cut needed to be set.
    I feel the current crop of saws to be to be designed as disposable tools. Meant to have a limited life and then disposed of once they break.

    I use both type of saws often. There is a time and place for each. Sometimes the extra weight and style of the worm drive helps, Like when your not working with saw horses, or gang cutting plywood. I haven’t seen many swing tables made for sidewinders either.

    I am seriously disappointed that I can no longer buy a new American made circular saw.

    Check my Flickr feed for pics of my old Skil 77 and Sawcat.

    • fred says:

      I have a Super Sawcat with electronic brake – and have to second PutnamEco’s nomination. The saw was just super quality construction and the brake was great for blind plunge-cutting.

      I also think that the old Rockwell-Porter Cable 9314 Worm Gear 4-1/2 trim saw is a class act – as long as you don’t burn it out pushing it to do more than it was meant to do. Replacing the blade on this saw (and its younger cousins) with a Forrest WW04H407080
      thin kerf blade – makes a marked difference in performance. This saw is also good at field cutting plexiglass using a “reverse toothed” PC 12121 steel blade.

      Finally – the venerable Skil 77 that I have with a Big Foot – has done a lot of gang-cutting of sheet goods over the years – without much complaint.

      Now if I was into timber framing or did a lot of glue-lams – I hear that there is a 2-man Mafell saw that can be adapted to run on 3phase 440V

      • PutnamEco says:

        Porter-Cable did make a bunch of really good saws along with the 314 they had the 315 drop foot sidewinder and the 345 (Saw Boss) which is a 6″ blade left sidewinder. I know some big fans of the 345 who still use them daily.

        Those thin kerf blades do really make a difference in saws that were designed in the years B.C. (Before Carbide)

        • fred says:

          Carbide was a real game changer – no longer needing to buy and keep a box full of steel blades (I recall buying the Simonds Brand) just to replace ones as they dulled.

  3. Blair says:

    @PutnamEco,

    I have a 6563 that I bought years ago(it was still USA made then). I still use it all the time, and it’s my go-to saw for all framing work.

    I do agree on the depth adjustment, but for what I use it for, it is a set it, and forget it proposition, and I have never had it slip when properly tensioned.

    All in all a great saw for my needs.

  4. jay says:

    Where are these for sale at?

  5. Steve says:

    I don’t think any of the Skilsaws are made in the USA anymore. 🙁

    I love my Porter-Cable saw boss. It is a 6″ saw with the blade on the left. It is compact, lightweight, and has plenty of power for the size. It can still cut a 2×4 at 45 degrees.

  6. OhioHead says:

    I purchased my Mag77 in 2001 on clearance @ a HD in Cleveland, OH for $99.00 or $129.00 I think, was still made in the USA, knew the Bosch/Skil rep @ the time that serviced HD and remember him telling me that at that time the entry level Skils were made at a factory in Arkansas and Skil was able to still make saws in the USA because of how efficient they made the factory.

    Is the B & D “saw cat” the saw that had the pivot point in the front vs. the back, and the depth adjuster was a big “nurled round” piece of plastic? Won one, in a contest and gave to my dad, it was the DeWalt 364 (again still made in the USA), he still has it and uses it!

  7. tsander says:

    I love my plain old DeWalt circ saw. I “invested” in several top end blades for it and it performs excellent for the jobs I do.

  8. browndog77 says:

    I bought my Skil mod 857 almost 40 years ago, and it still runs strong! It is a 7 1/4″ drop-foot sidewinder, all white metal except for the plastic depth adjustment lock. I originally had a half table which made it great for cutting out doorway plates, but I replaced it with a full-width piece so I could cut against guides on either side. The depth adjustment is the best I ever saw on a circ saw!

    • kewx says:

      Yeah,.. I have 2 857s. I bought them in the early 70’s. It was a high end saw at the time. It was a gteat out of position saw and worked well for cutting rafters. The only problem is that Skil pretty much denies ever making this saw. You cannot find anything online for parts or even parts breakdown.

      • browndog77 says:

        Right now I have the guard off and only use it on my homemade siding jig. I still would frame a house or two, if need be. When the old axiom “they don’t make ’em like they used to” comes up, tools like this is what they are talking about!

  9. Bill from Maine says:

    First circular saw I ever purchased back in the early 80’s and still going strong. Never a problem.
    Best thing about it? A lefty can use it without removing desirable body parts. I can’t (without much fear and trepidation and crooked cuts) use a saw with the blade on the other side.

  10. Kevin says:

    I have the made in USA ol’ HD77 version of this anniversary saw. Back in 06 Skilsaw made a 30year (1976-2006) special Anniversary model for Whitecap construction, same black and red color scheme as the one pictured above.
    I didnt order the anniversary model specifically, at the time I thought I was just getting the standard old grey model so I was a little m surprised when I opened the box. I thought I had received an import version.

  11. PutnamEco says:

    OhioHead says:
    Is the B & D “saw cat” the saw that had the pivot point in the front vs. the back, and the depth adjuster was a big “nurled round” piece of plastic?

    There were many models of Sawcats. A few years after the Original Super and Builders Sawcat came out, like most manufacturers, they started to value engineer the Sawcat line. It started with replacing the motor housing with a plastic housing rather than the aluminum that they had started out with originally and ended with a completely different line of saws. The original Sawcats are rear pivot saw, however, they did have a small thumbscrew to set the depth. It wasn’t until B&D came out with their “Industrial” and “Professional”line of tools that they completely redesigned their saws. They included the one you mentioned , a drop foot saw and a more conventional front pivot saw. This line of saws are what they rolled over into Dewalt.

    • browndog77 says:

      Those early plastic housings came along in conjunction w/ the first non-grounded plugs on B&D tools, which soon spread through the industry and (it seems) started the home-owner/contractor divide in most lines.

      • PutnamEco says:

        Trivia time

        Porter Cable was the first to market a line of tools geared to the non professional in 1931 with their Guild line of tools. Black & Decker followed with their Home Utility branded tools. 1931 was also the first year for the double insulated drill (plastic case with an ungrounded plug) produced by a German manufacturer. In 1936 AEG brought out a double insulated drill in the style that we still use today.

        It is my belief that it was Makita that forced the US manufacturers hand, by offering a real quality tool that undercut the price of the US manufacturers offerings. I believe it was Rockwell that came out with the first of the really cheap DIY line of tools, sometime around 1971.It was B&D who eventually succeeded with marketing their line of low quality tools.

        • fred says:

          I also recall that Makita was at the head of the charge away from thinking that only USA-Made tools were up to tradesman standards. Back in the 60’s and ’70’s we had little mass marketing of professional tools (no HD or Internet outlets) – bought from industrial suppliers and warehouses and often paid top dollar if you were a small firm and could not buy in bulk. German brands (like Fein) were just not readily available – or if they were it was a less advertised option. Our first Makita tools were drywall screw guns we bought in the ’80’s – and while we lamented the cheap vinyl cords – the tool itself lasted pretty well

  12. ddt says:

    best saw ever.

  13. Pete in Elma WA says:

    Used my old 77 today in fact, with a cut off wheel to cut 1/8 inch steel. Have used it to cut concrete block, break down plywood, frame, ect. Mine must be over 30 years old my now, and as far is the best circ saw ever made. I do have a Makita sidewinder, and a older Potercable wide base as well and will use them in clean Environments. But the 77 is the “go to” saw.

  14. ShopMonger says:

    Still love the basic model Skill. i use a Freud Blade on it though…and my throw around is 50 year old BnD….with another Freud Blade.

    ShopMonger……….

  15. tomj says:

    Too bad the Skil HD77 isn’t made in the U.S. any longer and the quality just isn’t there in the current version. Maybe they will bring it back.

  16. bill says:

    I had a Chinese HD77 for a couple of weeks. It was a poor copy of the US made version. It was deficient in so many ways when compared to my old reliable US HD77. I took it back and found a US made one after a lot of looking.

    I do not understand how Skil let the Chinese make such a poor copy and marketed it under the Skil name.

  17. Terry Pieplow says:

    I am the proud owner of a model HD 77 Skilsaw Type 15 . The best saw made yesterday,today and in the future, said and done!

    • Ben Cano says:

      Do you have a good parts list? I am looking for a manual as well. Mine is still running good and strong. Thanks in advance if you do, and have a soft copy you can send.

  18. Gerhard says:

    Greetings from Amsterdam, Netherlands!
    Missed out on a new-in-box US-made gold 50th anniversary on Ebay a few weeks back. Still in the mood to pull out my hairs for that. The US-made 77’s are indeed getting rare and more sought after/expensive. I own a used and restored 77 on 220 Volts and it has indeed somewhat better torque than a sidewinder with the same motor power. I have a suspicion that is not so much due to the worm drive (which has more friction loss) but rather because of the special split pole motor field design. I’ ve never seen this layout in any other saw motor. In railway traction motors such field layout is used to channel pole magnetism more efficiently and optmise torque at severe load low rpm conditions. In Europe worm drive saws were never big sellers, probably because reputable tool brands picked up on the simpler and lighter Art Emmons design and its patents early on, and that’s what people got used to. So my main experience was also made with sidewinders and the large Holz Her friction cone driven model RKS2140S ring saw, which is my personal favorite. It features a 3000 Watts motor and 7in saw depth. I am also a tool collector and i think a machine made in its original country is the thing to go for. That’s what i will be looking out for, but this red and black livery looks so awesome that i’ll probably on of these as well.
    Happy & safe sawing!
    Gerhard

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