Skil 7 1/4" HD5687M-01 Skilsaw - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Magnesium body and aluminum shoe make for a durable saw.

Skil HD5687M-01 7 1/4" Skilsaw

Skil 7 1/4" Skilsaw

While worm-drive saws are more common among tradespeople, most people are familiar with the sidewinder (in-line) style, with the motor sitting perpendicular to the blade and a shaft running from the motor to the blade.

The new right hand sidewinder Skil 7-1/4" Skilsaw (HD5687M-01) has a 15 amp motor that spins the blade at 5,300 RPM. This saw doesn't have an electric brake, though it does have Skil's 'Vari-Torque Clutch'. Sounds technically impressive, but essentially it's an outer washer on the shaft that enables it to continue turning freely if the blade gets pinched when cutting. This significantly reduces the likelihood of kickback. In order for this feature to work properly you have to follow the blade installation instructions carefully, and not over-tighten the blade bolt.

Outer washer for the "Vari-Torque Clutch"
Well balanced with comfortable handle
The motor is encased in a glass-reinforced nylon housing. The main handle and the front auxiliary handle are made of high impact ABS plastic, while the upper guard/gear box and lower guards are made of die-cast magnesium, and the shoe (base plate) is made of aluminum. Put all this together and you have the lightest weight (10.8 pound) professional saw on the market. Every ounce shaved off is welcome, particularly when you're using the saw on-and-off all day long. There aren't any rubber grips on the handles, though for me it isn't an issue, as I always wear gloves. However, the handle opening is large enough to grab with gloves on. The power cord is 8' long; a 12' cord would be much more practical.

Lower guard lift lever
Ribbed aluminum shoe
The HD5687M-01 is quite well balanced, and is easy to handle with gloves on. I find the lower guard lift lever a bit too small. It's awkward to hold onto the front handle and simultaneously hold onto the lift lever with my left hand, particularly when wearing gloves.

I really like the thick, ribbed aluminum shoe. It's about 6 1/2" x 11-1/4", and has radiused corners that are less likely to get caught when sliding the saw along rough stock. There's on-board storage for the wrench, which is a real bonus. The stamped width and bevel scales on the front of the shoe are nearly unreadable, particularly in bright sunlight. At least there's a positive stop at 45°. On the back of the upper guard there is an easily readable taped-on depth scale. Hopefully the tape won't peel off (and that if it does, Skil has a replacement scale). The depth scale is marked with standard lumber thicknesses so you can quickly set the correct cutting depth and get right back to work. I really don't need a finer scale, as a circ saw wouldn't be my first choice when it comes to precision cutting - for that I'm off to the table saw.

On-board wrench storage
Kerf indicator notches are easy to see; scale is almost unreadable
There is virtually no slop when tilting the head to make a bevel cut, and the bevel adjustment lever locks the head firmly in place. I much prefer a lever over a knob. Ditto for the depth adjustment lever. It works very well, though I find it a bit short. The lower guard moves up and down smoothly, though as I mentioned, the lift lever could be a bit longer. There are slots in the shoe to attach a rip fence. Unfortunately you have to purchase the fence as an optional accessory.

I found that the shoe was acceptably square to the blade; instructions are included if you need to make an adjustment. It doesn't wobble or flex at all in use. There are kerf-indicator notches at the front and back of the shoe that make it easy to align the blade with a cut line; there is one notch for aligning 90° cuts, and another for 45° cuts. At 90° you get a respectable 2-7/16" maximum cut, and when tilted to 45° you get a 1-15/16" maximum cut.

Stamped bevel is hard to read
Easy to read depth scale
Changing the blade takes no more than a minute or two. The spindle lock button is easily accessible, and the wrench stores conveniently on the shoe. I can depress the spindle lock button while holding the blade guard lever with one hand, and then remove the blade nut with my other hand. The crucial thing is not to over tighten the blade bolt. Skil includes a thin kerf 24 tooth carbide tipped framing blade with the saw. It's a good blade that gives a smooth cut on softwood, plywood and MDF.

Dust chip diverter does a great job
The 24 TPI carbide blade gives decent cuts
Like all circ saws, the HD5687M-01 is loud (104.6 decibels, no load). Hearing protection is mandatory, as is eye protection. A diverter at the back of the upper guard does a very good job of diverting chips and dust to the back of the saw, but you still should wear a dust mask.

The Skil HD5687M-01 is a ruggedly built saw that should have no problem withstanding the rigors of the job site. The 15 amp motor has lots of cutting power, it runs smoothly, and has an accurate kerf indicator. Height and bevel adjustments are quick and easy to make, and the aluminum shoe is nice and flat, and runs smoothly over the roughest stock. There are a few features I wouldn't mind seeing on the saw (lock-out switch, brake, easier to view scales) and a rip fence and storage case would be nice, but at under $120 I can live without them. This is a great saw that should appeal to both trades people and avid DIYers.


  • 15 amp motor
  • 5,300 RPM
  • 7 1/4" blade capactiy
  • 2 7/16" max cut at 90-degrees
  • 1 15/16" max cut at 45-degrees
  • 0- to 51-degree bevel adjustment with positive stop at 45-degrees
  • Magnesium body
  • Ribbed aluminum shoe
  • Anti-snag lower guard
  • Rear view depth adjustment
  • On-board wrench storage
  • 8' power cord
  • 10.8 lbs
  • 2 year warranty
  • Includes: 24-tooth carbide blade, blade wrench

AVAILABLE FROMTool and equipment suppliers nationwide
MODEL #HD5687M-01

Carl Duguay
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