Left wing, right wing

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So, how many of you lean to the left, and how many of you lean to the right?

What, you thought I was getting into politics? Of course not. What do you think I am, a knucklehead? No, I’m talking about something more important that politics; I’m talking about saw blades.

I mentioned recently (“A rose by any other name,” March 28) that one of my current freelance assignments is to review eight cordless circular saws. The field is narrowed down to 18-volters, and there’s one each from all the companies who have one. My shop is a rainbow of red, green, black, orange, two shades of yellow and two shades of blue.

Every one of the saws has a left-mounted blade except one; the model from Ridgid – that’d be the orange one – has a right-mount blade. My testing is looking at several areas, and I have yet to pick a favorite. But I have to admit that I like my circular saw blade on the right side; always have.

You’ll hear many woodworkers say they prefer a left-mount blade on a handheld circular saw because it gives better visibility, but I like the fact that a saw with a right-mount blade has better support through the entire cut. I’ve never had a visibility problem with a right-blade circular saw, and the fact that a right-blade saw doesn’t suddenly lose all of its support the moment the offcut drops off strikes me as being a huge plus.

You’ll hear similar preferences, although for different reasons, from woodworkers regarding table saws. It’s generally agreed that a left-tilt table saw is intrinsically safer than a right-tilt machine. I agree with this wholeheartedly, but I’ll be the first to recommend that if you’ve used a right-tilt table saw all your life, stick with what you know – changing after a lifetime’s worth of right-tilt experience to something that feels strange and unnatural can introduce danger into something you’ve learned to use safely and use well.

So, let me ask you. When it comes to blades, where do you want yours, and why? For my table saw, I lean left every time. But when it comes to a handheld circular saw, I’m a right-winger.

Till next time,

A.J.

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