The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














John's Tool Crib
byJohn Cupp

Does It really Need A Battery?
The New Skil 18 Volt Full Sized Circular Saw

If any of my readers get an empty feeling when they pick up some of the new high capacity battery operated circular saws that are on the market today don’t worry. I share the same feeling with those diminutive saws and their equally diminutive depth of cut. When Skil sent me two boxes of saws when I only wanted to test a Mag 77 Skil, I did not complain. Inside the second box were two new Skil Saw models and to my great surprise there before me was a full sized battery operated 18 volt circular saw.

I unpacked it and put the new battery on the one hour charger and started looking over this saw. It definitely needs the battery to be balanced but it is a full sized Skil Saw! The arbor play was non existent like a new saw should be and it had depth and angle adjustments levers that are better than most. Then I got to the blade. Some blade, it is an ultra thin kerf blade coated with a non stick substance and extra sharp carbide tips.

I must focus on this blade for a moment because it is exactly what I would like in all blades. No it would not be a good deck blade that might hit metal but I have metal detectors that I put on all of the wood that enters my shop because it could save my life. This blade is severely thin, so thin that it removes very little wood. Why do I like that you may ask? Because I must pay unreasonable sums for the wood I buy these days, that is why. It makes you think that Spruce I use in a kayak might have been originally gold. At least these days they charge for it like it were gold. A thin blade like this saves wood unlike most blades that cut a swath up to an eighth inch wide. The big deal is that it uses much less power removing that much smaller piece of wood to separate what you need cut off.

Now we know that a full sized 18 volt saw with the depth of cut the same as a regular saw there has to be an edge and it is the blade. The 18 volt full size Skil saw has much less wood to remove therefore it uses less power and can cut wood longer. With that we know the secret that Skil uses to make a full sized saw that uses battery power to work just like its corded brothers. It works great and makes short work of plywood and stick lumber. I even ripped oak with this saw and it didn’t bog down with that special thin blade that makes it work so well.

Skil has even fixed the worst problem with battery operated saws; there is no way to tell what charge you have left in the battery. Skil added a battery gauge on each battery so you can see at a glance if you need to change the battery before you start ripping that eight foot sheet of plywood. I used the saw to help turn a common two car garage into a high tech electronics lab. It never skipped a beat and all of the guys that picked it up wondered who cut the cord off at first.

I am going to use it to build my shop, something that has been planned now and it seems it will never get started. Once that is done I am building a few small boats then a floating guest room on the lake in the form of a house boat. Our house is very small and we are on the banks of the largest fresh water lake this side of the Rocky Mountains. The tax hit for building a guest room is much higher than the insurance and building of a house boat that will have a regular boat license and no hike in property tax. And what will I use for cutting wood on the Houseboat? Of course the 18 volt Skil Saw that does not need house current to operate. I knew I could tie the house boat back to the Skil Saw if I tried.

Skil has made a saw you can use away from the shop or if the power goes out and it carries a real seven and on quarter inch blade. The angle gauge on the saw works and is accurate. The depth of cut gauge is slightly off on the saw I had but it cuts about a sixteenth inch shallow instead of deeper where it could be a problem. Most saws with such gauges are not that accurate and I prefer to use a tape to get it right on. Now the battery life on this saw is not as long at maximum depth of cut as say another five inch blade 18 volt saw but there is a huge difference in the maximum depth of cut.

There is nothing on the market now to compare this saw to. It has the same heft and balance of a corded unit but sans the cord. I myself like it better than the smaller saws and for boat building I would suggest you buy an extra battery or two if you are going to use this in a shop. Now most battery operated saws come in a set with other tools that use the same batteries that the saw uses. If you need a battery operated saw only this is the saw you should buy. I say that because you loose nothing in size or comparable cutting power.

I am waiting till they bring out the other tools in the set that must be coming that uses these same batteries. This saw is worth the cost and I would spend my money to buy it. It works well and has enough improvements over any other 18 volt saw to make it to the top of the 18 volt saw hill. Go take a look at one and pick it up to feel the balance. If you have the money I’ll bet you’ll buy it.

From my little tool crib to yours