Skil 5680 7 1/4" Skilsaw With Laser

A good, economical choice for DIYers, or for woodworkers who use a circ saw occasionally for processing rough lumber.

Skil 5680 7 1/4" Skilsaw With Laser

Skil 7 1/4" Skilsaw With Laser

Skilsaw remains one of the more popular circular saw brands among both tradespeople and DIY-ers. In fact, many people revert to calling all circular saws 'skilsaws', even though the name is a registered trademark of Bosch (the parent company of Skil Tools). 

Skil Tools currently has 18 Skilsaw models to choose from - six worm drive saws, eleven sidewinders (standard drive saws), and a cordless model.

Three of the sidewinders feature integrated laser guide lights to simplify straight line cutting. The one that we'll look at here, the Skil 7-1/4" Skilsaw With Laser (5680-02), is an upgraded version of the model 5680-01. The primary difference between these two models is that the 5680-02 has a 15-amp, 2.5 HP motor, rather than a 14-amp motor. As with the earlier model, and similar to most circ saws on the market today, it features a ball bearing motor rather than a solid bushing motor. Ball bearing motors are more durable because they don't build up as much friction and heat as bushing motors, so they last longer.

The 5680 lacks an electric motor brake. A brake is a good safety feature to have, particularly if you're blade guard doesn't close properly as you set the saw down. It's a feature you're likely to appreciate more if you make a lot of quick repetitive cuts.

Command center
The motor is encased in a glass-reinforced nylon housing, which is extremely strong, tough, and abrasion resistant. The front auxiliary handle is made of high impact ABS plastic and both the upper and lower guards are made of die-cast aluminum. The base plate is made of stamped steel. All together, this makes for a high impact resistant saw that can put up with a lot of job site abuse. Even with all this lighter weight nylon and plastic, the 5680 weighs in at just over 11 pounds. Weight isn't likely to be issue if you only use the saw intermittently, but it can be an important factor if the saw is one of your main work tools. 

There aren't any rubber grips on the handles, though for me it isn't an issue, as I always wear gloves, and the handle opening is large enough to grab with gloves on.

The controls are easy to reach. There is a safety lock, which you need to depress before pressing the trigger. You can easily depress the lock with your thumb or the side of your forefinger. Some people may find this inconvenient, but I think it's a good safety feature as it minimizes the chance of accidentally starting the saw when toting it around a worksite, or up and down a ladder or scaffolding.

Right on the top of the handle is a power-on light, which glows when the saw is plugged in. This is another nice feature I quite like. 

Just below the power-on light is the laser on/off switch. When you power up the saw the laser light always comes on. Sometimes you don't want to use the light - this switch enables you to turn it off whenever you want.


At the back end of the upper blade guard is a chip diverter that does a good job of diverting chips and dust away from the saw. Still, with all circ saws a lot of dust falls though the mouth of the base plate.

The lower guard has a 2-3/4" plastic handle, which is large enough to easily manipulate. I like the tension of the spring on the lower guard - it enables the guard to move up and down smoothly. And, there is a thick rubber stop against which the front of the guard impacts when you release the guard. It makes for a pleasing 'thud' rather than the 'clang' of metal on metal.


On-board storage for the wrench is a real bonus. I dislike having to attach the wrench to the power cord, or worse, having to search though a tool box for it.

Adjusting the height of the blade is straight forward. The depth adjustment lever is easy to move, and in the lock position (when pushed all the way towards the base plate) firmly locks in place.

The rear height scale is a real disappointment. It's easy to read, but the scale is only taped in place, rather than stamped on the motor casing. On the model I tested it was already peeling off when I took the saw out of the box. In general I find these depth scales handy, as they're marked with standard lumber thicknesses so you can quickly set the correct cutting depth and get right back to work.


The bevel adjustment arm at the front of the saw is also straight forward to use. The locking knob is a decent size, and there is a positive stop at 45°. You can also set a 51° bevel.

However, it does take a fair amount of effort to move the base plate. There are two rivets that hold the motor onto the base plate - one at the front next to the bevel arm, and another at the rear of the saw. Both are tightly compressed, and can't be loosened. I squirted WD-40 on the rivets, which helped somewhat. Perhaps with use the rivets will loosen up. On the plus side, 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. 

The stamped bevel scale is somewhat difficult to read, particularly in less than ideal lighting. For rough cuts you can use the scale, but for anything approaching a modicum of accuracy its best to use a sliding bevel.

By the way, there are slots in the base plate (just ahead of the bevel adjustment arm) to attach a rip fence. Unfortunately you have to purchase the fence as an optional accessory.


I like a large show on a circ saw as it increases stability when cutting. On the 5680 the stamped steel base plate is 6-5/8" x 11-1/8" and has radiused corners that are less likely to get caught when sliding the saw along rough stock.

I found that the base plate was acceptably square to the blade. If you need to make adjustments the operating guide provides you with easy-to-follow steps.


At the front of the base plate are two kerf-indicator notches 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. The indicators are just narrow V-grooves cut into the base plate. However, on some saws the notches are so wide as to be useless - on the 5680 the notches are very narrow, making it super easy to track a cut line. At 90° you get a respectable 2-7/16" maximum cut, and when tilted to 45° you get a 1-15/16" maximum cut.


While the 5680 doesn't have an electric brake, it does have Skil's 'Vari-Torque Clutch'. This consists of an outer washer on the shaft that enables it to continue turning freely should the blade become pinched when cutting. This significantly reduces the likelihood of kickback. It's important to note that, in order for this feature to work properly, you have to follow the blade installation instructions carefully, and not over-tighten the blade bolt.


I was very surprised to find that the 5680 doesn't have a shaft lock button. Which means that you have to immobilize the blade with a piece of wood in order to loosen the blade locking bolt (what Skil refers to as the blade stud). For most DIYers who might change the blade once a year or so, this isn't gong to be a big deal. For tradespeople it's likely to be both annoying and inconvenient.


Skil includes a thin kerf 24-tooth carbide tipped framing blade with the saw. It's a good all-purpose blade that cuts well on softwood, plywood and MDF.


I love the single beam laser guide on the 5680. It produces a crisp, easy-to-see red line that makes straight line ripping a breeze. This is the first time I've used a laser feature on a circ saw, and I won't want to be without it in the future. There isn't an LED work light on the saw and with the laser you really don't need one for illuminating the cut line.


If you don't want to use the laser, then simple turn it off. You'll then use the kerf indicator notch on the front of the base plate to track your cut line.


In use I found the 5680 to be quite well balanced. It has all the power you need to slice through dimensional lumber without any problems. Like all circ saws it's ungodly loud so wearing some kind of hearing protection (and something for the eyes) goes without saying. Even though I usually end up using a power cord extension with the saw, I still would have liked a long power cord - the cord on the 5680 is only 6' long.

For DIYers, or for woodworkers who use a circ saw occasionally for processing rough lumber, the Skil 5680-2 is a good, economical choice. It's ruggedly built with lots of cutting power, runs smoothly, and has an accurate kerf indicator. The laser guide is a great feature that makes it very easy to follow a cut line. The lower blade guard moves smoothly, and the height and bevel adjustments are quick and easy to make, while the stamped steel base plate is nice and flat. 

I would be less inclined to recommend this saw to tradespeople. It lacks a shaft lock, which makes blade changeover less convenient and more time consuming, and there isn't a motor brake, which I feel is an important safety feature for job site use. Bevel adjustment is stiff, and the power cord is short. Balance is quite good, but at just over 11 pounds it's a heavy saw to be using over long periods of time. For job site use a magnesium base plate would be better value than the stamped steel plate.
  • 15 Amp, 2.5 HP motor 
  • 5,300 RPM 
  • Ball bearing motor construction 
  • 7-1/4" blade capacity 
  • 2-7/16" max cut at 90° 
  • 1-15/16" max cut at 45°
  • 1-11/16" max cut at 51° 
  • 0° to 51° bevel adjustment with positive stop at 45° 
  • Power-on light 
  • Safety lock 
  • Single beam laser cutline 
  • Anti-Snag lower guard 
  • Vari-Torque clutch 
  • 6-5/8" x 11-1/8" steel base plate 
  • Rear view depth adjustment scale 
  • On-board wrench storage 
  • 6' power cord 
  • 11.2 pound weight 
  • 1 year warranty 
  • Includes: 24-Tooth carbide blade, blade wrench, carry bag
COMPANY:Skil Tools
SOURCE:Canada - Canadian TireLowesRonaHome Hardware
June 2012
Carl Duguay
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