Types of Saws – Our Comprehensive Guide to Woodcutting Tools
This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you.
We, as humans, have characterized our workmanship with the tools that we use. From hammers to wrenches, and the most iconic of all of them is the saw. Throughout our development, saws became more and more embellished, from the simple hand saw types that were created long ago, to the power saw types, there is one that will fit the bill for everyone, no matter their needs. Today we will be discussing the types of saws that are available to choose from, what the different kinds of saws are useful for, and whether they will be used for cutting materials like wood to others that might be stronger. By the end of this tutorial, you will be comfortable with the various saw types, so you will not go out and buy the wrong one because the wood saw types are not the same as the saws designed for metal.
Table of Contents
- 1 Different Kinds of Saws
- 1.1 Hand Saws (Manual)
- 1.2 Power Saws (Electric)
- 1.3 Table Power Saws
- 1.4 Specialty Saws
- 2 Tips for Safety When Using Power Saws
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
Different Kinds of Saws
It would take an enormous amount of time to mention every single one of them saw types that have been invented to this date, and a whole encyclopedia would be filled, and that would be a serious read. Today we will talk about a few variations of the kinds of saws you will find on the market. Here are 30 of the different types of saws that you can use, as well as what their uses are best suited to.
Hand Saws (Manual)
Every craftsman was more than likely to have tried their first saw venture with one of the hand saw types. These types of saws make up the basic saw and they were one of the first to be invented. What adds to the success of these saws is how strong your arm is, and how long you keep that saw momentum going before you need to take a break.
Traditional Hand Saws
When most people think of saws, this is the first to come to mind. They are the bread and butter to our manual saws because, since their invention, their design has remained pretty much the same, maybe with a few tweaks, but not much. These handy and reliable tools are a must-have in your collection of tools and building equipment. The blade is lightweight and is packed with ergonomics that never fail to impress.
In addition to being perfect for use in both commercial and home settings, this hand saw has the capability to cut through everything from aluminum car parts, the branches, and trunks of trees, and PVC pipes, depending on the blade used.
The Fine Saw
In most cases, fine saws look like big knives used in the kitchen for food and are used in pretty much the same way. The blade is particularly small and is equipped with tiny teeth that allow it to make the cleanest cut that creates sawdust as you cut, and not those annoying splintered edges. These saws will leave the surface of the wood you are cutting smooth as if it has been sanded, even though you have not yet touched the sandpaper to it.
In addition to the blade being one of the most important components of this saw, the handle is also quite special on this fine saw. If you can imagine a rolling pin for baking that has slightly deformed handles, then this is what a fine saw looks like. It tapers from the blade elegantly, and you can hold it in different ways.
The Bow Saw
Known as one of the most important tools in landscaping and gardening in general, a bow saw is a great tool for transforming nature. You can use a bow saw to cut medium-sized trees or prune the branches of a great oak. With the C-shaped clamp, a huge berth is created between the serrated blade and the frame of the saw, allowing you to create much deeper cuts than a typical hand saw could manage.
The teeth of the bone saw are also useful for removing particles from the place you are cutting while you are cutting with the saw. Despite their large size and strength, the large bow saws have been used for felling the branches of massive trees, or simply cutting down the whole tree.
The Fret Saw
The fret saw is not that common amongst the woodworkers out there and only a few have one as a part of their tool collection. The fret saw is unique in the sense that it has a particularly robust frame that is shaped like a “C”. The blade can be located at quite a distance from the apex of the frame, which is quite appropriate, considering it is used to cut intricate objects.
There may not be any way to adjust the direction of the blade when using this fret saw, but it does have enough flex so that you can make cuts comfortably, even if you are working from an uncomfortable angle. It is interesting to note that fret saws are at their best when working with intricate workpieces. Therefore, furniture makers and wood craftsmen are likely to find the fret saw very handy.
The fret saw is known for being able to cut through the intricate lines of specific designs, and many professionals like to use it for this purpose. But this is understandable because of how efficient it is.
The Coping Saw
The Coping saw is only a little bit more popular amongst the woodworkers and crafters. The frame is not as deep as the fret saw, so the “C” shape of the frame is much shallower, making it much easier to work with. This does mean that the cut you can make with a coping saw will not be as deep as the cut that a fret saw can make, but this does not seem to bother most craftsmen who work with wood.
The Hacksaw has a name that rings a bell in most people’s heads, even if they are not skilled in the arts of wood-crafting. These saw types usually come with blades that can be swapped out and replaced for fresher ones, and each blade is of a different tooth count and cutting strength. This way you can use a hack saw for multiple types of jobs, and you are not limited to one. If you are not such an avid wood crafter, you might be able to get away with owning just a hack saw for the fact that it is more versatile than other saws.
The Japanese Saw
Japan is an innovative country, and they have invented a number of useful things, including the Japanese saw. It is a precise tool that will allow you to cut through wood and other materials effortlessly, and accurately. What you can expect with a Japanese saw is a fine blade that is thin, and this is what allows for accurate cutting. When it comes to the handle, you might be surprised by its length, because it is a bit longer than your typical saw. This design makes it able to cut into those complicated pieces of wood. Keep in mind when using a Japanese saw, that, unlike European saws that cut on the push stroke, Japanese saws cut on the pull stroke.
The Keyhole Saw
A keyhole saw is used to make those tiny holes into surfaces. You might be thinking why you do not just use a drill to do so, but there is nothing quite like a keyhole saw, and no drill can replicate what these tools can do.
The blade of the keyhole saw is made up of fine teeth that make a sharp serrated edge that cuts deeply into the surface of the wood very easily. Since this type of saw is used for a specific purpose, it is not so easily found. Therefore, it is typically used for commercial purposes, which is different when compared to some of the other saws on this list.
You might recognize the handle to look similar to something, but if you cannot put a finger on it, it is the average kitchen knife that you use daily. In fact, if you catch a glimpse of the hole saw at first glance, you might mistake it for a knife that you use to debone a chicken. Furthermore, it has the same functionality as well and can be used both to penetrate and cut simultaneously. In addition, it can also be used to cut small wood pieces as well.
The Frame Saw
The unique style of the frame saw is one that stands above the rest, it is iconic because its frame is made from wood and is interestingly shaped like the letter “H”. There is a blade on one half and a mechanism to lock the blade in place on the other side. This mechanism uses a threading mechanism to lock the blade, and you can also use this to swap the blade for a fresh one.
The blade’s top of the frame saw is very sharp, so you will need to be careful when handling this saw because it will cut your fingers easily. It is very versatile, so you are not limited with what you can create when this saw is part of your tool kit.
If you are looking for versatility, then this is the saw to end your quest. The blade is so sharp, which means you must be extra careful, but this means that you can use this saw for many different kinds of jobs, as well as many different kinds of materials. The job this saw is best at is to cut off those bits sticking out from the corner of your workpiece and smooth out the edges as well. Not only that, but it is remarkable at cutting finer lines.
Although this particular saw may seem curious in its shape when compared to other saw types, this saw offers an advantage of iconic ergonomics that are so unique that it is largely unknown to most wood crafters, regardless of how advantageous they are.
The Pruning Saw
The pruning saw is one that we cannot leave out of the list, it is another one of the favorite tools of all landscapers and garden service workers. As you can guess by the name of this saw, it is one of the hand saw types that allow you to prune your bushes. This means that you can reshape your hedge, or cut a leafy tree into a rounded shape, or even a spiral if you will.
You will recognize the blade for its medium girth and that the width of the blade is quite narrow. The handle looks like it could be the handle of a Colt Revolver gun, so you are able to work with one hand, whilst taming the branches and leaves with the other.
Power Saws (Electric)
Now that we have covered a few variations of the kinds of saws that are designed to be handheld and manually worked, we can start with the power saw types, which are the mechanical saws that are electrically charged. Power saw types are useful for the more hardy types of jobs because they pack a punch with half the amount of effort that handheld saws require. Here are a few of the examples of these electrically-powered saws types.
The Band Saw
This type of saw is very popular in both the industrial and personal sectors, which is not surprising when you think of the fact that this type of saw offers a large amount of versatility and power. A band saw is used to cut wood pieces with the help of a blade attached to an overhead motor that is attached to a pillar mounted above the top of the table.
In terms of slicing and scoring materials, the band saw can be used in a variety of industries by professionals and weekend enthusiasts alike. They tend to be a bit more expensive, but they never fail to impress.
This jigsaw machine is marked by the presence of a hand-held rectangular unit that holds the motor and driver train, with a retractable blade coming out of the other end. You will easily be able to recognize the jigsaw because of how common it is.
These saws are remarkably precise, and extremely easy to use, which makes them a favorite with professionals, and hobbyists alike. What sets this saw apart from the rest, is that the blade works with a hammer function. This means that the blade not only spins around but also moves forwards and backward, which helps when you are using the saw to cut through materials like plywood.
The Alligator Saw
When you see this saw for the first time, you might find that you thought it was a chain saw at first. This is not surprising because they look extremely similar, but they could not function more differently. As opposed to the chains with teeth that rotate to make the saw cut through trees, an alligator saw has two blades that are serrated blades. These two blades cut through the hardest wood and other materials by moving forwards and backward with each other.
These saws are highly effective because of their powerful nature, and the fact that there are two blades working in unison. This saw is not necessarily used for tree felling, but it is used on building sites to cut up building materials.
We mentioned above how the alligator saw looks similar to a chainsaw, but they function completely differently. Now we have the chainsaw to discuss. This machine runs with a motor that is fueled by diesel or gasoline; it just depends on who manufactured the chainsaw. Tree fellers and so much more will appreciate the powerful impact that a chainsaw has on trees that are really thick, and clearing away an old stump will be no problem at all.
The Chop Saw
Whether you are a craftsman who likes to make things for your friends and family as a hobby, or maybe you run a professional business in the industrial sector. Regardless, the chop saw is likely to be found in most tool sheds. This saw has a simple design, and sports a round blade that is attached to a cutting board with something called a flange. You can lift the extension blade up and down by the flange while the saw is spinning, and press it into what you need to cut.
The Saber Saw
There is nothing worse when your drywall will not fit the space that you need it to fit into. But no need to fret! A saber saw will be your best friend in that regard. It is a high-powered and super functional saw that is favored amongst many craftsmen. You are able to cut your material into specially designed shapes that are too intricate for other saws. You might recognize this saw by how easy it is to hold it. This is thanks to the handheld grip that it is designed with.
Saber saw blades are available in a wide range of composite materials, making it capable of cutting through practically anything. As this saw is not battery powered, there are some difficulties, because it will need a fixed connection to the main power supply in order to provide sufficient power to the motor.
The Circular Saw
This is definitely the most favored of all of the power saws in the industry of woodworking. The easy-to-use and simple design includes a blade that sits vertically and spins really fast via the power of an electrically charged motor. You can use this saw for all types of reasons and that opens up a whole lot of jobs that will seem like they are done by professionals even if you are not. Not only that, but it is versatile enough to be used on various types of materials and not just wood.
The Reciprocating Saw
The reciprocating saw is the first to be invented of its kind, in terms of the reciprocating or rotating motion. This is the saw that sparked the designs of many of the saws we are speaking of today. It consists of a long blade that has extremely sharp teeth, and even if it is a power saw, it is held by hand when you put it to use. This is a versatile tool, so you can use it to saw through all kinds of materials, so you are not limited to wood-crafting with this guy. Normally you will find a cable attached to a power outlet that leads to the saw, but you can also find versions that are battery charged.
The Flooring Saw
Even by the standards of this list, the flooring saw is one of the most unique. The flooring saw is easily recognizable by having a familiar appearance to the chopping saw we explained earlier. It also has a cutting table with chucks that can be adjusted, as well as a saw which can be lowered or raised onto the material you intend to use it on.
The flooring saw is exceptional because it is specifically designed to saw through materials used for floors. This means that you should use it with a blade that is suitable for hardwood. You will find how niche this saw is because it is what every single professional flooring worker will use without fail.
Table Power Saws
Table-powered saws are found in particular environments, so you might not see one in every tool shed. Professional woodworkers will make use of these, and you might stumble across them on a construction site or home renovation. Let us take a look at some of the variations that you can choose from. There is one to suit the needs of any task at hand.
The Panel Saw
The first table saw that we will speak of today, is the panel saw. This is often used within the industries that create lumber. This saw is useful because you are able to position it vertically, or you can make it sit at a horizontal angle to resemble a tabletop. This saw works by feeding the material through the blade, unlike other saws, this one sits still while the blade rotates, so the material will not cut itself.
Make sure that your workstation has large windows that you can open up for good airflow because you will not want to inhale any of the dust particles that come from the wood that you are cutting. Panel saws are favored in the tree felling and lumber industries because they are able to cut long trunks of trees into the long planks that are great for the foundation of houses.
The Table Saw
A table saw is known as the basic saw of all craftsmen. Having one of these machines in these industries is so common that it is hard to imagine these sectors without one. They would sorely miss its practicality and the way it improves the processes in their work.
A range of add-ons are available for units available on the market today, including larger chucks, measuring tables, compartments to collect sawdust and the pieces that you are sawing off, and do not forget the accuracy laser! The laser is there to help guide you in the direction that the saw must cut, and it prevents you from going off course.
Despite the fact that these units are quite large and cannot be easily moved, they do compensate for this in their power and versatility. You will find a number of blade replacements for table saws on the market today which are capable of cutting through a number of different materials. However, one of the disadvantages of many of these saws is that they are only able to cut straight lines, which means that they are not optimal for cutting intricately designed shapes, but rather straight or rounded lines.
The Miter Saw
Think of the circular chopping saw and then you will have a good idea of what we are referencing when we speak of the miter saw. The base of this saw is not the largest, and it can be added to a workbench. What sets this saw above the circular chopping saw is that the blade is able to be angled at a 45-degree angle for a better position. This is an innovative invention, and its appearance is also quite noticeable.
The Multi-Blade Saw
Out of all the saws we have spoken about today, this is definitely the least likely to be found in your home workshop, unless you are lucky enough to run your own workshop from home and you are a professional woodworker, home renovator, or you own a construction business.
This saw works with an electrically powered motor that rotates multiple blades simultaneously, and they will shred through pretty much any material that meets the sharp spinning edge of the blades. All material is loaded onto the rollers that are attached to the tabletop, and it is then rolled toward the blades and pushed through so that the blade cuts through it.
You will find that most materials will easily be cut by a multi-blade saw, and it works very fast, so those construction sites that need new beams constantly, or a factory producing thousands of beams per day is where you will find the multi-blade saw. It might be tricky, but you can even change the blades out for fresh ones when you find a blade has blunted.
The Radial Arm Saw
This is quite an expensive power saw, but it is because it has been specifically designed. This machine’s base attaches to a workbench, but the table is where the blade will attach with a joint that can move on a Y-axis, which means up, down, left, and right. It is the ideal machine to use for tripping workpieces or just cutting deeply through it.
The Scroll Saw
Just like the multi-blade saw, you are not likely to be using the scroll saw if you are woodcraft on the weekends only, but rather if you are running a professional craftsmen business of some kind. They are the type of saw that can care and cut those lines that run in intricately thought of designs. This is why they are more suited to professionals, and maybe the random hobbyist who should really think about changing professions.
This is quite a lightweight saw, which is strange because those are usually designed for beginners. The base is connected to an arm that is of an “L” shape, and that is what holds the blade and the motor. You must feed the material through the blade in order for it to function.
The Tile Saw
Previously, we reviewed the handheld counterpart of this saw, but this tile cutting saw provides you with a few more functions. You can use this tile saw to cut ceramic tiles specifically, even round-edged tiles, since it has its own workbench and circular saw.
The tile saw has a lot of chucks on its table, so it can cut tiles more accurately than you can when you hold them in your hands or mark them as you go. For tile saws that are a bit more powerful than a handheld saw, the blade can often be adjusted so that it sits higher and so that it can cut through material that is thicker.
You might have thought that we have covered just about every saw under the face of the sun. But there are even some saws that are considered “specialty saws” because their design is based on a specific function. Let us go through a few of these, bear in mind, they are not as widely known or recognized, so do not be surprised if you are unfamiliar with one or two.
The Veneer Saw
As the name suggests, this saw was designed specifically to cut veneer. The blade of this saw is made up of lots of extremely fine teeth that run along the edge of it. The handle is more than often made of wood, and it elegantly attaches to the blades. If you want a reference, this saw resembles a knife made for cutting boxes. You might struggle to find one available, even in your most well-stocked hardware store because it is such a specialized tool.
The Wire Saw
The wire saw is an extremely unusual device that works so differently than most saws do, one might even question why it is a part of the saw family. There are two rings that are attached to serrated wire that moves backward and forwards to cut through the material that you feed through it. You can use this specialty saw to saw through multiple materials like hardwood, and you might even get through a piece of rock!
The Pole saw
You are less likely to find this last saw in a hardware store, but rather in a store that supplies gardening tools and materials. It has a unique look about it, with its long handle and much shorter blade, it was designed specifically for the task of trimming your hedge.
Tips for Safety When Using Power Saws
Safety first! That is our main motto! If you are a beginner to the world of power tools, you should definitely focus on this next section, but if you are a professional already, you might as well brush up on our recommended safety guidelines so that you make your practice that much more hazard-free.
Wear Protective Clothing
You have all seen the construction workers who are wearing those long-sleeved and seriously dense clothing whilst handling power tools. Well, this is not just a company’s requirement to protect their name in terms of health and safety, it is a requirement in general. Protective gear is one of the most important things that you could do for yourself when you are working with power tools, but in particular, power saws.
This protective gear that we recommend starts off with long sleeves and long pants, or possibly an overall that covers your whole body. This will protect your skin in case the blade takes an unexpected turn. You will also need some protective gloves for the same reason, no one wants to lose a finger, and your working partner definitely does not want to see that. Safety goggles are also highly recommended because of the splinters or dust particles that will fly up and threaten to blind you. The final item would be a respiratory mask that will prevent you from inhaling harmful dust particles.
Practice Manufacturer’s Safety Guidelines
Safety guidelines are not there just to look pretty or buff up the reputation of the brand that manufactured the tool you are planning to use. They are also there to help keep 100 ten fingers safely attached to your hands, and possibly your limbs too, thus, keeping yourself away from harm’s way. If you are a beginner in this industry, we highly recommend you read the instructions that have been provided by the manufacturers that explain the general safety guidelines as well as our own recommendations for safety. If you are a professional, we advise that you brush up on your safety knowledge – just in case.
Regarding how to operate the machine, it is very important to have a safety guard at all times when operating it (as we mentioned earlier). Moreover, you should be familiar with the machine’s limitations and not push it beyond its limits, whether it is the blade or the motor. Read the instructions that are provided by the manufacturer because they will explain in detail what the saw is suited to be used with. Some materials might not be cut with every saw, and you might hurt yourself when you try to force it through a material that is too strong for it.
Make sure that your machine is serviced routinely because this is what makes sure that things like the safety stop in emergencies are functioning. Lastly, you should make sure that the blades are fresh and sharp because a dull blade might splinter when the RPM is too high. This could cause them to ricochet into you causing fatal wounds.
There is an abundance of saws, that is for sure! And we hope that now, after reading this tutorial on some variations of the saws you could possibly choose to use, that you have a greater understanding of what saw is best suited to which task, whether it be a saw for cutting wood or a saw for cutting other materials. Either way, you can apply the knowledge you have learned here and go out and broaden your skill sets!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can I Use a Power Saw For?
Saws are very handy when you need to cut through something that is made of a strong material, like wood or plastic. Sometimes those materials are too thick and hardy for a simple hand saw, so you opt for a power saw. These guys are able to cut through much more durable materials like thick trees or even building composites. Just keep in mind when cutting plastic, that if your blade does not have a speed setting and generates too much heat, the small plastic shavings can melt and fuse together inside your cut, while gumming up your blade as well.
Can I Store Away a Power Saw?
If you do not have a dedicated workshop area for your saw, you may need to find a container or a box that the saw can be stored in. If this is not possible, then the saw needs to be placed strategically so that the blades are not at risk of cutting you. A great tip for storing your power saw would be to hang it on a hook against the wall of your workstation.
What Is a Good First-Time Saw to Buy?
Before you decide which saw to use, you must determine the job at hand if you are new to the world of saws and power tools. A great option to use when you are a beginner would be a jigsaw because they are both versatile and easy to use.