types of saws

If you build things for a living or carry out DIY projects around the home, there are different types of saws you can use for these projects.

Every craftsman has a saw of some kind, but choosing the right one for your project can sometimes be mind-tangling because there are many types you can choose from.

Different types of materials need to be cut when building furniture, a house, carrying out metal fabrication, or some other projects and various types of cuts need to be made.

That is why using one type of saw is almost impossible, especially when carrying out specific projects, such as woodworking and metal fabrication.

Here, we’ve listed 18 different types of saws you can use for your projects, and their uses/applications.

Table Saw​

table saws

A table saw is one of the most important tools for carrying out fine woodworking projects. Its primary purpose is ripping large wood stocks or sheet goods like plywood and MDF into smaller pieces.

Apart from ripping large sheet goods, you can make smaller cuts like crosscuts, bevel cuts, and even dadoes on it. It’s one piece of machinery that any avid woodworker should have in their workshop.

There’re different types of table saws you can choose from. They include benchtop/job site table saws, contractor type, cabinet, hybrid, and so on.

Each performs the same function of ripping down large wood stocks but on a different scale. While the benchtop or job site units are very portable and easy to move from workshop to jobsite, contractor and cabinet models are not as easy to move around.

Cabinet saws are built with bigger components in an enclosed base for better dust collection and noise absorption. They’re designed to stay permanently in the workshop because they’re heavy, and moving them all the time is almost impossible and not ideal. Contractor units can be moved around to the job site but are less portable than benchtop or jobsite models.

While they’re not portable, cabinet and contractor table saws produce the most accurate cuts. They also create less noise and come with better dust extraction ports to collect dust produced during use.

Uses: rip cuts, crosscuts, bevel cuts, dadoes.

Circular Saw​

circular saws

Just like a table saw, a circular saw makes use of a circular blade and can be used to make different types of cuts.

Circular saws can be handheld or mounted on a table to keep them stationary while feeding materials through the blade.

Woodworking circular saws are usually handheld and come in two types: sidewinder and worm drive.

Both types perform the same functions, but the worm drive models come with inbuilt worm gearing that increases the torque of the blade, making it easier to cut and reap through harder materials.

Because of the higher torque, professional carpenters and framers mainly use this for framing lumber and other materials.

Sidewinder circular saws are smaller and are more DIY-friendly. You can also use these on the jobsite, especially for overhead applications, since they’re lighter and won’t tire you out easily like a worm drive unit.

Of all the power saws listed in this article, circular saws are also the most budget-friendly, and that’s why they’re often the go-to choice for newbie woodworkers without a big budget to spend on professional tools.

They’re also small compared to other power saws; thus, you don’t need a big workshop or storage space to own one.

Compound Miter Saw​

miter saw

The compound miter saw is one of the most important pieces of machinery every professional woodworker should get.

In fact, it’s the best saw you can use for making crosscuts and miters when carrying out woodworking projects. There are different types you can choose from.

They include:

  • Single bevel
  • Double or dual bevel
  • Sliding and
  • Non-sliding compound miter saw

The blade of a compound miter saw can be beveled in either direction, left or right to make bevel or miter cuts.

Some can be beveled only in one direction (single-bevel), while others can be beveled in both directions (double-bevel).

Sliding units have blades that can be slid to and fro through a cut which increases their cut capacity, unlike non-sliding units.

If you’re crosscutting wide timber or sheet goods like plywood, getting a sliding compound miter saw is the best option because the saw head slides across the workpiece, offering you a larger crosscut capacity.

Non-sliding CMSs with large blades, like 12 inches, also offer a large crosscut capacity but not as much as that of a sliding unit.

If you’re a professional woodworker or home remodeler, it’s better to go for a saw with a larger crosscut capacity, like a sliding 12-inch miter saw. On the other hand, if you’re only going to engage in simple DIY projects around the home, a 10-inch non-sliding unit will likely offer everything you need.

Reciprocating Saw​

reciprocating saw

A reciprocating saw is one of the most versatile saws you can use for cutting different types of materials for your project.

Unlike other power saws, it cuts through the material by the blade’s reciprocating action or to-and-fro motion.

Also known as the Sawzall, it allows you to cut materials ranging from less dense materials like wood and plastic to denser materials like aluminum and iron rods. It even cuts nail-embedded wood.

All you need to do is switch to a suitable blade that fits the material you’re trying to cut.

There are blades for cutting wood, metal, plastic, non-ferrous and ferrous metals. So, you’ll have to buy blades based on the type of projects you carry out and the materials you use for those projects.

Band Saw​

bandsaw

A band saw consists of a looped blade wound around two wheels of the same diameter, with a motor spinning one of the wheels, thus creating the momentum that spins the blade around the two wheels. It’s just like a simple set of pulleys but with the ropes replaced by a band or looped blade.

With the aid of a fixed or adjustable table, the material to be cut is passed through the exposed part of the blade, which cuts through it effortlessly as you pass it through it.

There are different types and sizes of band saws, and the size of the wheels determines the size of the whole machine.

Larger wheels mean larger bandsaw blades and greater momentum needed for making cuts. It also determines the throat depth or the size of materials you can cut with the saw. The material of the wheel also determines how much momentum it produces to make cuts.

Band saws have different applications in the workshop. It can be used for ripping wood just like a table saw; it can also be used for resawing lumber and for cutting shapes and patterns.

Track Saw​

track saw

Track saws are very important piece of equipment for woodworking. It may look like a regular circular saw, but it’s not.

It’s one saw you can compare with a table saw and a panel saw because it performs the same main function of ripping large wood stocks to size.

Unlike a regular circular saw, it comes with a guide rail known as the track, which allows you to cut through your stock in a straight line without deviating from your mark.

Table saws and panel saws are mostly stationary pieces of equipment, but on the other hand, track saws are very mobile. You can take them with you anywhere you want to get the job done.

They’re also called plunge-cut saws because the blade can withdraw into the body of the saw, making it possible to lay the saw flat on workpiece, and then making it protrude out to make plunge cuts on it.

Jig Saw​

jigsaw

Just by replacing the needle in his wife’s sewing machine with a saw blade, Albert Kaufmann invented the first jigsaw.

A typical jigsaw power tool comprises a motor, a small reciprocating blade, and a sole plate (sometimes adjustable) that allows you to guide the saw through the material you’re cutting.

You can use a jigsaw to cut irregular curves and patterns, such as stencil designs and complex miter joints.

Panel Saw

high-end vertical panel saw

Although a panel saw may seem large, it usually occupies less floor space than similar machines in the workshop.

It’s used for cutting sheet goods like plywood into smaller sizes. You can choose from different types with different configurations and prices.

There are vertical and horizontal panel saws. They come in different sizes and price points.

When cutting with the lower cost or budget options, you’ll have to push the sheet through the saw blade if you want to cut lengthwise or rip through the material. On the other hand, with the high-end models, you can push the saw head through the material when ripping lengthwise or making rip cuts without moving the material.

Scroll Saw

scroll saw

If you want to cut curves and patterns that are more intricate and complicated than what a power jigsaw can handle, then what you need is a scroll saw.

It’s used for scrollwork which is a form of decorative art. Jewelry box makers also use it to cut the complicated patterns needed to make those beautiful jewelry boxes you see around. Scroll saws are also used for making sculptural ornaments and many other forms of art and woodworking designs.

There are different types of scroll saws, usually classified by throat size which is the distance between the blade and the rear frame of the saw holding the blade.

The throat size determines the size or width of the material you can cut with the scroll saw. So, larger scroll saws with larger throats allow you to cut larger pieces of materials, which tends to be more costly than the smaller ones.

Creating beveled curves and patterns on materials is usually done by adjusting or beveling the table or frame or frame holding the blade, depending on the type of scroll saw.

Hole Saw

hole saw

Without being told, the name already tells you that it’s used for cutting holes through materials.

It’s not a power tool itself, but just a drill attachment you can attach to a power drill to cut holes in materials without cutting through the side of the core material.

The hole saw is typically a ring or circular-shaped blade and a pilot drill bit or arbor at the center to keep the teeth from walking or moving during cuts.

It’s handy for many woodworking applications, such as cutting holes for plumbing pipes when framing a building.

Coping Saw

coping saw

A coping saw is just like a simple hack saw. It’s a type of bow saw used for cutting intricate external and interior shapes and cut-outs, both in woodworking and carpentry.

It consists of a thin, hardened steel blade stretched or attached between the ends of a bow, square, or c-shaped springy-iron frame, with a handle attached for directing the blade through the material you’re cutting.

If you install moldings, then you must be familiar with it, because it’s used for cutting moldings and creating coped or coping joints. It’s also used occasionally for creating fretwork.

Fretsaw

fretsaw

The fretsaw and coping saw are very similar in design and function, but the fretsaw can cut tighter curves and even more delicate and intricate work. 

It’s an odd-looking type of saw due to the depth of its frame, which ranges between 10 and 20 inches, coupled with a very short 5-inch blade. 

Continue reading our reviews and guides below so that you can choose the best saw for your next project.

Hacksaw

hacksaw

Sometimes all you need in certain situations is a small hand saw to carry out some cuts, especially when it will be an overkill to use a power tool.

A small hacksaw like the one shown above is just what you need. It can cut through wood, plastic, metal and even bones. It will cut pipes, rebar, galvanized iron, tree branches and so on.

Chainsaw

chainsaw

If you want to fell a tree, buck or cut firewood for use at home, one of the best saws to get the job done is a chainsaw.

There are different sizes and types to choose from. If you just need a chainsaw to take care of the yard, prune trees and cut firewood to make some fire, a small mini chainsaw or medium-sized chainsaw should get the job done.

On the other hand if you’re a professional who gets called to fell trees and buck them on a regular basic, then you surely need a larger gas-powered unit.

As a homeowner, you can also decide between getting a battery-powered one, a corded unit or a gas powered chainsaw. Unless you live in a ranch/farm or an isolated area where the noise of the chainsaw won’t disturb your neighbors, I’d advise that you opt for a battery-powered unit or a corded one, as those don’t make a lot of noise or produce any emissions.

Pruning Saw

pruning saw

Usually, if you want to prune tree branches in your yard, a good set of shears or loppers is all you need, provided the branches are not too thick (say more than 2.5 inches).

If they’re too thick to be prune with loppers or shears, then the next tool you can use to get the job done is a pruning saw.

Pruning saws are designed specifically for trimming and cutting branches, shrubs, and other types of vegetations, especially when they’re too thick to be cut with simpler tools like loppers.

The teeth on the blade are often designed to cut on the pull stroke, allowing you more control and accuracy when making the cut.

Most new pruning saws come equipped with curved blades which are designed to hook into the wood easily allowing you deeper cut through it faster.

If you’re going camping in the woods, having a pruning saw can prove to be very useful.

It’s very portable and folds away, so you can store it easily in your backpack and use it out there to cut wood for fire or tent building.

Apart from wood, it can also cut through a range of other materials like plastic, pvc pipes and even bones.

Wet Tile Saw

wet tile saw

As the name implies, wet tile saws are used for cutting tiles. If you’re tackling a large home renovation project where you have to install tiles on the floors, bathroom, kitchen backsplash and so on, this wet tile saw is a very important tool to have in your tool arsenal.

It ensures all your cuts are precise and fast, thus making the whole project easier and less time-consuming.

Chop Saw

chop saw

Chop saws look just like miter saws, but are not the same. The main difference between the two is the material they’re designed to cut.

A chop saw is designed for cutting metal/steel while the later is designed for cutting wood.

Masonry/Concrete Saw

masonry concrete saw

Concrete slabs, blocks and bricks are other materials that needs to be cut when carrying out a building project. To cut these you need a masonry or concrete cutter.

Some pros make use of an angle grinder to cut concrete, and it works. It’s just that a concrete saw comes with a much larger blade that offers much more cutting capacity to cut through larger and thicker materials than an angle grinder can handle.

Just like an angle grinder it can also cut through metal or any other dense material like ceramics. It also has a blade guard and a dust port, so that you can connect a suitable dust collector to isolate all the dust created when making cuts.

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