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.
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.
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.
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?