A rafter hook is simply a little piece of machined metal shaped like a hook that is attached to the external structure a circular saw. This basic yet practical feature allows you to safely and effectively hang your circular saw from nearby structures so you can operate free-hand.
While the idea of a rafter hook might sound overrated, it most definitely makes your life a lot easier when working at heights.
There's really nothing more irritating than having to make more unnecessary trips up and down a ladder than need be. While a rather hook might seem like a luxury attachment when you're considering purchasing a new circular saw, it will most certainly be deemed a necessity once you get used to operating with one.
Now, while some circular saw models on the market do already come equipped with this handy hunk of angled metal, the majority of saws don't.
So, what to do if you don't have a rafter hook fitted to your existing circular saw and want to upgrade your saw without wanting or need to buy another new saw? Is that even possible? In most cases, yes!
With that said, let's explore your options so you can perhaps install a rafter hook on your circular saw.
Can You Buy a Universal Rafter Hook For Circular Saws?
The short answer, no. Currently, no one manufactures a one-sized fits all rafter hook to fix to any and every circular saw model. Why not you wonder? Because there is a multitude of variations when it comes to circular saw types and they have been structurally engineered and assembled differently.
With everything from sidewinders, to worm drives, and even hypoid circular saws and all their dissimilar designs from separate manufactures, it would be far-fetched to find an aftermarket rafter hook to accommodate each and every circular saw appropriately.
Now, I'm not saying you couldn't forge something yourself and rig out your saw with a metal hook to deliver the same results as a standard rafter hook. It is entirely possible. It's just highly unlikely that you're going to locate a universal type of rafter hook on the shelf of your local hardware store to solve all your problems.
But all that said, what are the alternatives when it comes to fitting a rafter hook to some of the more popular circular saws? Let's start with one of the more popular circular saws that both hobbyists and professional woodworkers use, the worm drive circular saw.
What's the Best Rafter Hook for a Worm Drive Circular Saw?
If you've yet to upgrade to a more recent model worm drive circular saw that has now utilized a rafter hook feature into their design, luckily, all is not lost. There is a viable aftermarket option available and the correct course of action to apply such a brilliant design feature could not be easier.
Thankfully, a company called Toolhangers Unlimited has come to the rescue and produced a quality spring-loaded retractable rafter hook that fits all word drive circular saws, but more specifically, all Skilsaw worm drive circular saws. Why the need to name-drop Skilsaw, because if you own a worm drive circular saw, it's likely a Skilsaw worm drive.
This rafter hook from Toolhangers Unlimited is a premium quality rafter hook that is extremely affordable. There are also two different versions of rafter hooks available and either option will depend on the type of worm drive circular saw you own. The standard Saw Hanger option will fit a range of different worm drive models, while the I-joist rafter hook type will fit most Hyoid type circular saws and some other worm drive models.
How to Install a Rafter Hook On Your Worn Drive Circular Saw?
If you've purchased the right rafter hook for the right circular saw, this should take you all of 3 minutes. You'll typically have a few washers and a couple of screws to tighten to the recommended section of your circular saw which is outlined in the instructions that come with Toolhangers rafter hook.
Now, if things didn't go according to plan and you've either purchased the wrong rafter hook or you just can't locate the correct position on your saw install the hook assembly, you can always improvise. Honestly, we're talking about a couple of screws and a piece of metal material forged into a hook-like shape.
Ideally, you'll want to find a solid section on your saw that isn't in the same vicinity as motor housing or gearbox. Once you've chosen a part on the saw where the mounting bracket will adequately fit, you can go ahead and drill two small holes. Depending on where you've drilled, it is likely that you should choose some different fasteners/screws than what came with the kit. The only goal here is to secure this lightweight rafter hook to your saw that weighs a mere 7 ounces.
Do You Really Need a Rafter Hook for Your Circular Saw?
Well, not really. But then again, do you really need to plonk your feet up on the coffee table while relaxing on the couch polishing one beer off after another? Probably not. But you don't exactly do it out of necessity, do you? You do it because it feels comfortable, which in many ways is sort of like a rafter hook.
A rafter hook merely adds a great degree of convenience and comfort as you work by substantially reducing your movements. When you're working solo off of a ladder, the less time and effort you have to spend venturing back down to ground level to grab your saw the better.
Not only that, if you're regularly operating at heights with a corded circular saw, a rafter hook will also help prolong the lifespan of your expensive power tool as you won't feel the need to lower the circular saw to the ground utilizing the power cord. And yes, I myself used to stupidly operate like that until a brought a worm drive circular saw that came equipped with a rafter hook.
Apart from the benefits in regards to convenience and comfort, a rafter hook adds another layer of practicality and safety if you're working on a roof or off of scaffold.
Fact is, you're not always paying attention to what's around you when working at heights as you're already at a heightened state of alert. Really, whether you're working six or ten feet above ground level, your own personal safety is likely a priority, not some inanimate object that is out of sight and out of mind.
This is exactly why a rafter hook is considered by most tradesmen an extremely logical component that you should ideally fit to your circular saw. Honestly, the last thing you want to do is potentially drop a circular saw off a roof or scaffold for those unsuspecting beings below.
Personally, I wouldn't buy a new circular saw that doesn't include a rafter hook as a standard feature.
At this point and time in our civilization and with all the mechanical and technological advancements industries have made thus far, surely, fitting an inexpensive & lightweight metal hook to the structure of a circular saw should now be a prerequisite.
Yeah sure, there is the aftermarket option for your existing circular saw that transforms it in a matter of minutes, but if you're now buying new, I'd recommend you just get one that already comes with a rafter hook.
Either way, rafter hooks are undoubtedly an advantage for those who frequently wield a circular saw to cut framework on a job site or other rudimentary DIY tasks around the home for home improvement needs.