Saws have been around for years. In fact, they are one of the oldest known tools. The first saws were made from seashells, flint, shark teeth, or obsidian. Now, they are made from tempered steel alloyed with other metals, and they come in different types.
You can’t cut all kinds of materials with just one type of saw. What you use to cut wood may not work in cutting metal. There are different types of saws to create different kinds of cuts. If you are a professional carpenter or a serious woodworking enthusiast, you can collect the complete set of saws, from hacksaws to scroll saws.
Let’s go over this list of types of saws and answer the most basic questions of amateur woodworkers. What are the different saws? What can they accomplish? When do I use them?
Handsaws are often characterized by their thick blade. However, there are also thin-bladed handsaws that can be made stiff with a frame or a strip of steel. Carpenters hand saws have evolved to cater to different cutting styles and niches.
There are kinds of saws for woodworking, and there are those made for more specific applications like cutting circles and curves. If you don’t own at least one of these types of saws carpentry, your collection will not be complete. Here is a list of different saws that you should try and add to your collection now.
Recommended for: Cutting cabinetry and joinery
Not recommended for: Making deep cuts
A back saw is named thus because it has a thin blade that’s backed with brass or steel to make it rigid. Its stiffening rib avoids the blade from bending over when you push the saw. Thus, it allows you to make more precise cuts and better control of the saw.
To use a back saw, you need to firmly hold the wood. Use clamps or wood vice. Then, place the saw’s teeth on the marked line and push to cut the wood. It’s best if you work slowly so as not to damage the surface.
Take care of a back saw by periodically sharpening it. There are quality sharpening tools you can buy on the nearest hardware stores.
Recommended for: Felling, cutting, and pruning trees and branches
Not recommended for: Making quick cuts
Bow saw has a metal frame that is shaped like a bow and a wide coarse blade. The frame holds the blade in tension. It is sometimes called swede saw, buck saw, or finn saw.
In woodworking, it is used to make straight and curved cuts. However, they are also used in cutting firewood. It is also common to find it among gardening tools as it is efficient in cutting or pruning branches of trees that are up to 6 inches in diameter. When camping, small to medium-sized bow saws are handy. There are also big bow saws that can be operated by more than two people. These are used to cut gigantic trees.
To use a bow saw, ensure that there is proper tension between the frame and the saw. Bow saws for cutting firewood have a toggle that you can use to decrease or increase the tension.
Recommended for: Cutting curves and making dovetails, joining, and molding
Not recommended for: Creating more intricate designs achieved by other precision tools
The coping saw is one of the most popular saws in woodworking. It is a simple tool that consists of a thin blade a D-shaped frame. The thin metal blade stretches across the metal frame. The frame has a clip or swiveling spigot where you can attach the blade. You can remove the blade when you need to, insert it through a hole, and cut profiles. This makes turning cuts on plastic, wood, or metal easier. Most coping saws have 12 to 15 teeth in every inch.
To use the coping saw, you need to hold the material with clamps or a vise. Place the saw’s teeth on the markings you’ve made. Turn the handle and frame to cut the line. To replace the blade, set the front edge of the frame on a bench and hold it so that the saw is pointing up. Press the handle and compress the frame. Attach the blade and make adjustments when necessary.
Recommended for: Felling and bucking trees
Not recommended for: Boring cuts
A crosscut saw is one of the many types of saws for cutting wood. It’s also considered as one of the oldest types of handsaws. There are many pieces of evidence that ancient Romans have been using it. Like most Western saws, you use it by pushing the tool.
The saw’s blade edge, which at the bottom of the handle is called the ‘heel’ and its opposite end is called the ‘toe’. Each tooth is angled in an alternate pattern. In every inch, there are about 8 to 15 teeth.
They come in different sizes but usually have small teeth that are close to each other. Large crosscut saws can be used in coarse woodworking projects while small crosscut saws can be used as a precision tool. Generally, it is one of the specialized woodworking hand saws that can be used to cut wood manually.
Recommended for: Making intricate cuts and tighter curves in wood
Not recommended for: Quickly creating delicate shapes on thick materials
A fret saw gets its name from ‘freter’, a French word that means ‘lattice’. Lattice is a structure that’s made from overlapping several pieces of material, thus forming an intricate pattern. This goes to say that a fret saw can be used to create complex designs. It’s also sometimes called a scroll saw.
The saw looks like coping saw. Its teeth are small and have shallow gullets. However, it has a longer frame which extends far away from its blade. In every inch, there are about 14 to 48 teeth. The teeth of a fret saw are more delicate compared to that of the coping saw. The handle is cylindrical. You can easily turn it using your hand, thus giving you more control over your cuts.
Recommended for: Cutting metal, wood, plastic, copper, aluminum, brass, etc.
Not recommended for: Performing big woodworking projects
Project can make with hacksaw may you need to read:
A hacksaw is a hand saw to cut metal. However, you can also use it to cut other materials like plastic and wood. It has a metal frame and fine teeth. Most hacksaws have a C-frame which holds the blade under tension. It is also adjustable to accommodate different saw blades of different sizes. The handle often comes with a pistol grip. The blade can range from 8 to 32 teeth per inch. The denser the teeth, the better the cuts on small objects are.
To change the blade, you need to turn the adjuster found on the handle or the frame. Insert the blade in the spigots. While doing so, make sure that the teeth are pointed away from you. Lastly, make the adjuster tighter.
Recommended for: Efficiently making thinner cuts on softwood like cypress and pine
Not recommended for: Cutting hardwoods
Unlike Western saws, Japanese saws cut on the pull stroke. The pull stroke allows you to follow the line more easily and exert less effort in cutting. Japanese saws for woodworking and carpentry designed to cut joints are called ‘dozuki’.
The blades of dozuki are thin, so they can be pulled taut when you make your cuts. The teeth are either crosscut or ripped. Crosscut teeth will help make a guide while the rip teeth will help finish the cut. The handle is long and narrow. Usually, it is wrapped with rattan to improve the grip. You can hold the Japanese saw using one or two hands. The saw is lightweight.
Recommended for: Cutting curves, circles, and frets on surfaces where other saws can’t work
Not recommended for: Cutting through thick materials
A keyhole saw is easy to identify as it looks like a swordfish. It is a lightweight saw that comes with a pistol grip. Because it is narrow, it can be versatile. A keyhole saw is also referred to as an alligator saw, drywall saw, jab saw, or pad saw.
The blade of the saw can either be fixed or retractable. The latter is more expensive. The blade is pointed. Its length can range from 5 to 15 inches. In every inch, there are 5 to 20 teeth. The handle is usually made of wood or plastic.
Since the keyhole saw is flexible, you can use to cut holes in softwoods or drywalls.
Recommended for: Cutting wood of varied thickness
Not recommended for: Making precision cuts and cutting materials other than wood
A pruning saw has a straight or curved blade that is either open or closed. Its handle can be folded and may or may not be attached to a pole. These are specifically designed to cut branches of about 2.5 cm in diameter or bigger. The blades work on a pull stroke and can glide through the branch or wood to create a smooth, clean cut.
Pruning saws are better than crosscut saws when it comes to pruning and lopping. It’s also one of the most effective hand saws for cutting trees. However, like crosscut saws, you need good control and strength to manipulate pruning saws.
Rip Cut Saw
Recommended for: Making furniture, cutting lumber, and performing wood-cutting projects
Not recommended for: Achieving fine cuts
Rip cut saw is one of the carpentry saws designed to make parallel cuts. Though it looks like a crosscut saw at first glance, it’s very different. It includes a blade and a wooden or plastic handle. The cutting edge of the teeth is angled backwards and is sharpened to form a chisel-like surface. The common rip saw is 26 inches long with 5 teeth in every inch. With its design, the saw avoids following the grain lines.
A rip cut saw works just like a chisel. It removes anything that is against it. Though the crosscut saw makes finer cuts, the rip saw is good enough for cutting wood.
Recommended for: Cutting veneer and thin woods
Not recommended for: Cutting hardwoods
This is a small double-edged saw used in cutting wood of about 0.4-0.6mm and veneers. It has a narrow and curved blade that makes precise cuts. The blade is also 3-4 inches in length with about 13 teeth per inch. The handle is elevated so you can cut flush.
What makes this saw unique is that you can cut using both edges. When cutting veneer, you must place it on a tabletop and attach it with clamps. Pull the veneer saw and push the blade against the ruler. With your right hand, pull the saw.
Recommended for: Cutting wallboards and making starter holes
Not recommended for: Cutting hardwood
Wallboard saw is like a keyhole saw. It’s specifically designed to cut through plasterboard with lesser effort. Unlike the keyhole saw, it has a shorter and bigger blade. It also has fewer teeth. It has a sharpened point that can be used to plunge cuts. The blade usually has about 7 teeth per inch. Usually, it’s double-edged. It is ferruled to the handle which can be made from wood and rubber to make it more ergonomic.
Like keyhole saw, it can cut circles, frets, and curves. However, you can’t use it on thicker materials like metal.
In carpentry and architecture, compass means ‘curve’. A compass saw is then one among the different types of carpentry tools that is used in making curved cuts.
A compass saw has a tapered and narrow blade. The blade is usually pointed with about 8 to 10 teeth per inch. Because of its sharp, pointed end, it can easily penetrate through soft materials. If you are cutting through harder materials, you can buy a compass saw with about 20 teeth per inch. Its handle is curved and light with a pistol grip. Generally, it is designed to be used in confined spaces.
The saw has fewer teeth per inch and larger blade compared to coping saws. Thus, it cuts more quickly and can penetrate slightly thicker materials.
Types Of Power Saws
Unlike handsaws, the different types of power tools produce faster and cleaner results. They make your job easier and look more professional. There are various power woodworking saw types depending on your needs. So before you make your choice, it helps to know what kind of material you are cutting first. Then, learn how to use woodworking tools.
Whether you want to trim your deck or cut through metal, there’s a power saw to do just the job. Here is a list of power saws for woodworking:
Recommended for: Furniture making and cutting curves on large decorative pieces with precision
Not recommended for: Cutting thick boards and materials
Bandsaws are tall saws that use big pulley at the top and below the cutting table to move the band. The band consists of fine teeth that can cut through almost any material. The bands saw blades metal cutting skill is high. Though band saws are also used in making intricate cuts on woods, piping, PVC, etc., they usually have limited depth. Sometimes, resawing is essential.
Bandsaws are usually stationary with a built-in table. However, there are also portable bandsaws. Like other woodworking saws, different types of bandsaws come in different sizes.
Recommended for: Slicing lumber, trimming decks, and making quick rough cuts
Not recommended for: Finishing work
Circular saws, sometimes referred to as buzzsaws, have a toothed blade of 7 to 9 inches in diameter. These are the most common kind of power saw and can cut varied materials like plastic, masonry, metal, wood, etc.
Though named circular saw, this tool can make perfectly straight cuts. You can buy different blades for different kinds of job. The blade rotates as it makes the cut. It can cut across the grain or with the grain. Thus, circular saws are quite versatile and portable, which highly contribute to their popularity.
Recommended for: Cutting and felling trees
Not recommended for: Woodworking and carpentry projects
Chainsaws make use of linked chain with a number of ripping teeth. They have a unique design and are often ranked number one among the power saws for cutting trees. Although, you can use it to fulfill other tasks as well.
Chainsaws are handheld saws that use a motor to work. They usually run with a two-stroke power engine. The chain which holds the teeth revolves around the extended arm to make cutting pieces of wood faster.
Recommended for: Detail cutting on plastic, wood, or metal
Not recommended for: Making straight cuts
Jigsaw, also known as a saber saw, is a handheld saw with fine and short teeth across the blade. The blade moves up and down at different speed. It is designed to cut curves and other non-straight shapes and lines. It is lightweight as well. You can buy a jigsaw with or without a cord. Sometimes, the jigsaw comes with laser lines or lights.
If you want to make angles, curves, and shapes on plastic, glass, timber, plaster, etc., then you should use a jigsaw. It can also create straight cuts if you know how to manipulate it well.
Recommended for: Cutting through hard materials like masonry
Not recommended for: Woodworking projects
The masonry saw is often called concrete saw. This is specifically designed to cut masonry, concrete, brick, tile, asphalt, and other solid materials. Its blade is unique as it is made from diamond. This is how it can cut through the hardest materials.
This saw can be handheld or walk-behind. The weight and size vary to accommodate different kinds of jobs. It can also be powered by hydraulic, gasoline, electricity, or pneumatic pressure. Whatever kind of masonry saw you buy, it’s sure to perform clean cuts.
Recommended for: Miter cutting, aluminum trims, and angled cuts
Not recommended for: Making intricate cuts
Miter saws are designed to copy hand saws when it comes to trimming and making precise cuts and measurements. The simplest miter saw can pivot 45 to 90 degrees. Thus, you can use it with tables when cutting mitered, crossed, or beveled ends.
While miter saws are usually used with timber, you can also use it with plastic and softer metals. They make accurate and quick crosscuts through their rotating circular blade. They can also be used in finishing.
Recommended for: Lopping branches and demolition
Not recommended for: Cutting through masonry materials
Reciprocating saws are powerful electrical tools. It can cut through a material by the push-and-pull action of the blade. It does not have the same precision as the miter saw or the circular saw. It is also heavier than other power saws. You need both of your hands in order to operate it. However, it does a good job in completing gardening, construction, and demolition jobs. Other names of saws used to do such jobs are recip saw, hognose, and Sawzall.
The typical design of reciprocating saws is similar to that of a jigsaw. At the base of the blade is the foot of the saw. This foot is placed on the surface that you will cut so that the blade can push towards and away from it, cutting it in the process.
Compound Miter Saw
Recommended for: Cut variety of angles and installing crown molding
Not recommended for: Making long strip cuts
Compound miter saw is a miter saw, only stronger. It is used to create straight, compound, and miter cuts. It does not pivot like the miter saw. Instead, its blade is mounted on the arm which can be adjusted on a specific angle to make complex trims and scrollworks. Using this, you can save time especially when you are trimming windows and adding crown moldings.
This saw can be versatile as it cuts across the grain of the board and go through miter corners. To use it, you lift the blade and pull it towards you in a sliding motion.
Recommended for: Making cut-outs in drywall, wallboards, etc.
Not recommended for: Cutting hard materials
Rotary saws, sometimes called spiral cut saws or cut out tools, are mechanically powered saws that are used to make accurate cuts. They have a fixed blade and a small handle similar to that of a screwdriver.
With rotary saws, you can cut through plywoods, wallboards, and other thin materials without the need of a pilot hole. You can use them in construction and cutting walls for repairs. It is safe to say the rotary saws are the power saw version of keyhole saws. They are essential during panelling and other small cutting tasks.
Recommended for: Ripping whiteboard, shelving, and cutting wood
Not recommended for: Cutting metal
The table saw has a circular blade. However, it is larger than the circular saw. It has a high-speed motor beneath the flat table. The blade stays stationary while the material you want to cut is moved across the table. You can use it to create straight cuts, cross cuts, and rip cuts on laminate, plastic, wood, and other materials. The cuts it make are parallel to the grain’s direction.
If you want to adjust the cut’s depth, you need to raise the blade from the table blade. You can make simultaneous cuts on numerous materials in order to save time.
Recommended for: Woodworking, model making, and other craft
Not recommended for: Tasks that need to be finished quickly
A scroll saw operates using a continuous blade or a band. Like coping saws, it is designed to make delicate scroll works, patterns, and spiral lines. Unlike coping saws, it comes with a table where you can place the material. Thus, you can achieve more precise detail and rotation. You can also create edges and curves without any problem.
This saw is the primary choice of serious woodworkers and hobbyists. Why? It can even make clean intricate cuts on thin woods. When using it, you rarely need to sand the material.
Recommended for: Making straight cuts
Not recommended for: Finishing projects
Track saws are often confused with circular saws. However, unlike circular saws, these don’t have any trouble making straight cuts when the wood is not clamped down. They use an aluminum guide when making cuts. Though you can use them to cut wood and other surfaces, they are often used to cut sheet.
Since track saws have plunge action, you can begin your cut anywhere in the surface. You can also feed the blade to the edge of the material.
Recommended for: Refitting of flooring materials
Not recommended for: Creating delicate cuts
Flooring saw is a portable power tool that you can use to resaw any flooring material like bamboo, laminate, and hardwood. It is a specialized tool that can easily replace the miter saw and table saw when cutting flooring. Unlike the two, you can carry the flooring saw anywhere. Thus, you don’t need to move materials from the garage to the room to position the flooring.
Safety Tips When Using
Saws have a sharp blade. That is why, no matter what kind of saw you use and what material you want to cut, it is advisable that you follow these safety tips:
- Wear the proper gear when using the saw. Buy safety goggles, hearing protection (for power saws), and dust mask.
- Make sure that the blade is sharp and clean.
- When using types of electric saws, make sure that you check the cords and disconnect them when changing the blade.
- Operate the saw using both hands. Read the manual for additional safety guidelines.
- Use all the guards that come when you purchase the saw, especially when storing it.
- When using a hand saw cutter, wear gloves.
- Keep the area clean.
- Maintain a good position when cutting the material.
- Inspect the saw before using it.
- Keep the material firmly in its place.
Which saws are useful for the kind of projects and jobs that you do? If you are a starting professional, it’s best that you collect all of them. If you have a favorite type of saw for a kind of job, please share them in the comments below.