When it comes to woodworking projects, a saw is an essential tool that I often rely on, given its primary function in cutting. However, not every saw is suitable for cutting all types of materials. It’s a realization that manufacturers too have come to grips with, leading to the continuous innovation and creation of niche-specific saws.
To help you navigate this, I’ve broken down the different types of saws available you can find today.
Hand Saw Category
Different Kinds of Hand Saws
1. Traditional Hand Saw
2. Coping Saw
A coping saw is made for back-beveled cuts, and while it commonly resembles a hacksaw, the saw’s blade is shorter, and the frame is lighter in weight. Typically, a coping saw measures six ¾ long, and the teeth range from 10 to 32 TPI.
A coping saw with tiny blades makes it easier to curve cuts on the wood, and it’s better in coping joints than a miter saw. The only drawback with coping saws is that you have to replace the blades when it gets dull.
3. Bow Cut Saw
This medium-sized tool is a modern version of the vintage crosscut saw mostly used for outdoor pruning and cutting logs. It has a crosscut tooth and long blades that enables the removal of sawdust.
The bow shape of the saw and its long narrow cutting blade make it a perfect shape for cutting thick sections of wood.
(Check out the best bow saws for cutting logs and trees!)
Hacksaws are the best fit for metal works and wood workings and are the best saw for cutting thick metals like bars and tubes. The thin blade of this hacksaw was made purposefully for cutting through metal pipes and plastic.
Hacksaws have always been a staple for small DIY tasks. That’s probably why they’re the most recognizable tool for many of us in the craft. Most commonly, you’ll find hacksaws anywhere from 18 to 34 teeth.
Interesting Read: The Best Hacksaws: Reviews and Guide
5. Crosscut Saw
Crosscut saws are designed with large, beveled teeth and relatively thick blades to make them sturdy enough to cut through rough woods and backyard planks. This saw is ideally used for cutting and trimming branches and construction sites.
Bigger crosscut saws come with bigger handles on both ends of the blade and are used to cut perpendicularly. As a woodworker, I have a soft spot for the crosscut saw. Not only is it durable, but it’s also compact enough to bring along on camping trips.
6. Keyhole Saw
Mainly used for cutting awkward shapes and irregular patterns, the keyhole saw gestures a dagger-like point on the front of the blade. It is also known as a jab saw or drywall saw.
There are two types of keyhole saws, one with a fixed blade and the other with a retractable one. The thin blades make the small and rough areas easy to maneuver without the fear that they will slant through and curve or get broken.
7. Fret Saw
The fret saw, which came from the French word ‘Freter,’ is crafted mainly for completing intricate woodwork, like pallets and shaped-wood shelves. The blades range around 32 teeth per inch and work best for precise works and latticework.
Also Read: Must-Know Woodworking Terms
A fret saw comes with a long and narrow blade and a big body, allowing you to cut from the outer edges. Hence it’s a little more fragile than most saws, given its build.
8. Japanese Saw
A Japanese saw is robust and delivers impeccable cutting performance. One of the most common characteristics of Japanese saws is their cutting technique which works through a pull stroke instead of a typical push manner.
They have longer handles and thin narrow blades, which makes it easier to cut wood with more precision without tearing the grain.
This saw type has three varieties: Kataba, Ryoba, and Dozuki. All Japanese saw types can cut hardwood and softwood precisely, making it another powerful small tool.
9. Rip Cut Saw
Even for those who only dabble in woodworking occasionally, the rip cut saw is likely a familiar sight. It is all-purpose woodworking saw that delivers crosscuts across the grain and is made especially for board sizing and rougher cuts.
It has a flat tooth edge and fewer teeth per inch compared to other hand saws, but it has sharp teeth just enough to carve out materials in a push and pull manner, almost close to how a chisel works.
Rip-cut saws are also equipped with tapered ends. This design reduces friction during cutting, making the saw more efficient for various tasks.
10. Pruning Saw
As a hand tool, pruning saws are designed to reach plunging branches or thick vine lines. As a woodcrafter, I find the pruning saw indispensable for managing shrubs. Thanks to its curved blade and handle, it makes trimming branches in hard-to-reach areas a breeze.
The curve blades, which measure from 13 to 15 inches, can also cut through both sides using their coarse teeth. The pruning saw is most commonly used for landscaping and lawn services. It’s also mounted to the end of poles when used to cut tree branches and limbs.
11. Back Saw
Wrapped with a strip of brass or steel on the blade’s edge, back saws are known to have heavier weight making it easier to cut even with less energy. It’s also ideal for producing right-angled and straight cuts and goes with the alias -miter saws.
It has thinner blades with fine teeth, making it an option for precise work. There are also different types, such as tenon saws, dovetail saws, and blitz saws.
12. Veneer Saw
Named veneer saws, this saw is used mainly for veneer works. It has a short pointed blade on both sides and 13 teeth per inch, especially for small and fast work.
A veneer saw delivers quick results if you sustain the teeth clean of debris. This saw cuts straight and is best for butt joining matched veneers.
13. Wallboard Saw
Wallboard saws are often comparable to keyhole saws, only it is shorter and has wider blades. Known to have double-edged blades and a pointed nose, this is typically used for making starter holes for drilling or puncturing in drywalls.
It also has fewer teeth count per inch than the keyhole saw, which it resembles, and is commonly used for rough cuts.
14. Camping Saw
For campers, it’s vital to invest in versatile yet compact cutting materials or small-sized chainsaws like this one, since it doesn’t take much space but are still very useful.
Pruning folding saws are camping saws easily carried in a belt-mounted holster and folded down into the handle. This pruning style saw folds down into the handle.
Folding bow saws are locked into place and fold out from a collapsed position.
15. Bone Saw
As to the name itself, a bone saw is used for cutting bones. It’s the main tool hunters use for butchering and, sometimes, to cut through deer or other hunted animals.
I’d suggest opting for a stainless steel blade for these saws. It helps prevent rusting, especially when exposed to animal blood.
16. Carcass Saw
The carcass saw is similar to a tenon saw due to its framework. It’s a specialized saw made for smaller work than a tenon saw.
It has stiff blades enabling it to make more precise cuts when worked across wood grains. It looks similar to the carcass of a cabinet, hence its name.
17. Wire Saw
Wire saws are amongst the favorites of light backpackers and survivalists because it’s handheld and is comparable to band saws. However, a limitation I’ve noticed with these saws is that they tend to take longer to cut due to their size. Plus, your hands can get a bit roughed up, especially with those less ergonomic handles.
If you’re considering one, I’d recommend choosing a model with more comfortable handles. It can make a big difference in preventing those unwanted cuts and bruises on your knuckles.
18. Razor Saw
Razor saws are popular amongst model train enthusiasts due to their crosscut teeth that can craft clean cuts on softwoods and metals.
It’s mostly used to cut wood used in making model planes, trains, and boats and is a little different from other saws of the backsaw family.
19. Manual Pole Saw
The manual pole saw falls low into the level of ease, so most people consider investing in electric ones. It’s a little more difficult to use since it’s manually powered, but it can allow you to reach high to medium-duty branches when cutting.
20. Pocket Chainsaw
To picture a pocket chainsaw, imagine a typical gas-powered chainsaw without the chains and split at one point, and there you have it.
Close to a wire saw, it’s also lightweight and small, making it another backpacker’s favorite. To work on it easier and more efficiently, use the teeth of the saw rather than the friction.
From its namesake, power saws run through power by battery, electricity, or gas motor. There’s a wide variety of power saws, and they can come in portable and stationary types.
Both are efficient and deliver precise cuts but can be costly compared to hand saws. It completes jobs quicker and, when maintained, can last throughout the years.
One downside to these saws is their complexity compared to handheld saws, which are generally straightforward and manual. Whenever I teach beginners, I always emphasize the importance of getting proper training before using power saws.
Different Kinds of Power or Electric Saws
Chainsaws are designed mainly to cut wood–for limbing, logging, or pruning. It’s one of the most powerful saws ever made, as it can be used to cut metal or tree branches. But, it is also the most dangerous.
Chainsaws have a lot of models and varieties, too. You have those that are for trimming trees and those that can cut curves and make precision cuts.
22. Table Saw
Table saws are also powerful and can accommodate huge construction projects and remodeling tasks.
The circular blade is supported by an electric motor that features stable guides. Table saws are the most accurate for making repeated cuts while maintaining speed when cutting wood.
Table saws come in a variety, from the least to the most portable.
Table Saw Variations
Cabinet-style table saws stand out for their precision. Among table saws, it’s typically the heaviest and most expensive. I frequently turn to it for cabinet making and slicing through large wood blocks.
It is considered a less expensive contractor saw and is built to look more sophisticated than cabinet saws. It is fully enclosed and has its motor on the back.
Jobsite table saws are lightweight and deliver equally powerful cutting capability. Plus, it’s also the most efficient portable table saw. It can handle tremendous work but is cheaper, especially for DIY enthusiasts.
The motor built of a contractor table saw is made for heavy-duty works and is heavier than job-site saws. They are less portable but durable for any heavy cutting, which is why it’s popular amongst construction companies.
If you’re up to lightweight table saws, which you can bring with just one hand, then a benchtop saw suits you best. It’s not as accurate as the heavy-duty saws but is certainly an inexpensive buy if you just need a handy traveling saw.
23. Circular Saw
If you’re looking for a more powerful version of the typical hand saw, then a circular saw is your best find. A portable circular saw caters to rip and cross cuts and delivers convenience, too, as it is mobile and can be brought anywhere.
It is also a favorite tool of construction workers and carpenters because of its versatile cutting and portability.
24. Miter Saw
A miter saw is designed to craft angled cuts with accuracy. To create a miter cut, two kinds of wood are angle cut equally at the end and joined together.
This tool is often used for crafting picture frames. Its popularity also extends to cutting molding and creating trims, largely due to the box that facilitates angle cutting.
25. Compound Miter Saw
Unlike a traditional miter saw, compound miter saws have adjustable heads and blades that can angle the workpiece and make accurate bevel cuts. Pull the mounted circular blade downward and start sawing to make crosscuts, miters, and bevel cuts.
Imagine a jigsaw blade connected to a table to picture what a band saw is. The band saw blades have no dangerous kickbacks like the traditional table saws and run quieter than other saws.
The band saw blades are built with a continuous metal loop attached to two or three wheels. Cautious woodworkers love the bandsaw because it’s safer. However, it can’t promise clean cuts like a radial arm saw.
Stationary band saws
Stationary saws are best for making curve cuts on wood or cutting pipes and tubes. It’s a large saw that uses huge pulleys on the side.
It moves with a continuous band and has a fine-toothed blade on the surface, allowing it to cut through most materials like PVC. I occasionally use it to reduce thickness.
However, one limitation to be mindful of is its efficiency. The process can be time-consuming, and the depth of the cut is limited to just a few inches.
Portable band saws
When it comes to quality, it’s just a portable version of the stationary band saw. This makes this a hit amongst metal workers and plumbers, as it can be taken anywhere regardless of the job site. This tool, in particular, is best used only for smaller cutting jobs.
Jigsaws are popular power tools for making curves and straight cuts. It’s lightweight, with a downward pointing blade and upper handle that guides precise cutting.
Jigsaws come in both corded and cordless varieties and are best for cutting thin materials like plywood. If you’re up to thicker materials like metal, or ceramic, you may opt for thicker jigsaw blades. It’s one of the most versatile tools in a home setting.
28. Chop Saw
Chop saws are made for cutting masonry and metal and are sometimes used to link up water lines. It has smooth toothless blades with abrasives that help cut and are close to circular saws, and only this one offers more portability.
29. Panel Saw
Like table saws, panel saws are powerful tools that can cut through thick wood but can only cut vertically or horizontally.
It has horizontal and vertical alignments, but it’s only specific. Often, vertical panel saws are equipped with a sliding table that allows materials to be fed onto the blade. These saws are common tools in the panel industry and are also used in making road signs.
30. Flooring saw
Flooring saws are designed to make straight cuts and to aid in flooring and fitting hardwoods or laminates.
Like miter saws, a flooring saw can produce miter cuts and straight cuts and is another option for table saws. It’s also portable, which makes any flooring task easier.
31. Wet Tile Saw
Wet tile saws are integrated with their own water reservoir, making cutting through tiles easier. It can cut clean and smooth, which makes it a top choice for tile setters.
However, this type of saw is very specific in its cutting capacity, so you cannot utilize it for materials other than tiles.
32. Oscillating saw
In my line of work, I often rely on the oscillating saw. It’s a versatile multi-tool that’s not only popular among DIY enthusiasts but also with professional remodelers like myself, thanks to its range of blades suitable for cutting various materials.
It can also cut through tight corners and small spaces. However, it’s not useful if you want accurate and longer cuts.
33. Radial Arm Saw
Radial arm saws were very popular during the 1920s, but it has lost their charm since the evolution of the miter saw in 1970. It operates through a circular saw mounted on a movable horizontal arm.
These days, I don’t often come across radial arm saws at working stations, primarily because they’re pricier than the more portable miter saws. However, as a traditional woodworker, there’s something about the cutting precision of a radial arm saw that still draws me in.
34. Scroll Saw
Scroll saws are portable for intricate and precise work and have continuously oscillating blades that make them appropriate for curved edges. The scroll saw is fixed to a small table that holds all the materials in place to avoid them from falling when cutting.
Standout Feature of Scroll Saws
Scroll saws are unique because it uses a reciprocating blade rather than a continuous loop. The reciprocating blade feature allows you to insert the blade for interior cutouts. This is most preferred when making decorated woodwork.
35. Pole Saw (Gas/Electric)
Pole saws are created mainly for trimming hedges and pruning trees without a ladder. It’s either battery-powered or run through gas.
There are also corded and cordless versions which make it convenient for different types of users. It has a telescopic pole with the chainsaw attached to the opposite end of the handle.
36. Reciprocating Saw
What makes reciprocating saws stand out is their portability and versatility on the job sites. It’s handy and has efficient power that delivers impeccable cutting abilities on various projects, whether metal or wood.
It is powered by a small blade and runs on a back-and-forth motion. Reciprocating saws are available in both corded and cordless models and only vary on power. Find out the best cordless reciprocating saws next!
37. Track Saw
Track saws function like a breed of table saws and circular saws. It can function either by attaching the round blade to the track to prevent it from gliding along the rails or by attaching it to the handle, which the user pulls down. With track saws, you can expect straight cuts with minimal effort.
38. Rotary Saw
A rotary saw is a handheld cutting tool, often an alternative to keyhole saws. It runs through batteries or can be powered through a power source.
It’s a saw with small blades attached to a drill-style handle and is used mostly for paneling or sawing drywall. A rotary saw is also efficient, even for construction projects.
39. Masonry Saw
A masonry saw works with a diamond saw, allowing it to work on heavy-duty materials. It’s also often called a concrete, road, or slab saw.
Masonry saws use water to cool the blade and prevent airborne dust from building up. Many of the masonry saws I’ve used are handheld, bearing a resemblance to a circular saw. But over the years, I’ve also come across a few stationary models in various workshops.
40. Cold Saw
Cold saws are circular saws are created for cutting metal. It has a steady rotational speed, equipped with a toothed blade, which is why it doesn’t build friction when used for metal sheets. It is constructed with thermal-resistant components, so sheet metal roofers often use it.
41. Abrasive Saw
Abrasive saws are available in wide varieties, such as tabletop, handheld, and walk-behind types. They are specifically used for grinding hard materials such as metal and concrete.
It can also cater to demolition jobs or construction tasks.
42. Chain Beam Saw
A chain beam saw functions similarly to a handheld type of circular saw and a downward mounted chainsaw–only it’s a mixed version.
It is designed for timber framers and log builders and costs a little more than the other saws. Hence it’s an efficient investment, especially for users who are fond of trimming big wooden beams.
43. Straight Flush Saw
A newbie on the field, the straight flush saw is a handheld saw that caters to a more specific and specialized approach to cutting. It has advanced technology that can facilitate cuts directly adjacent to studs, headers, posts, and much more.
It has a zero clearance cutting capacity, made possible due to its recessed mounting point. This way, there’s no need to utilize a reciprocating saw for finishing touches.
44. Toe-kick Saw
A toe kick saw is a small flash cutting material that makes cuts on the toe-kick panel sides of a cabinet, so it will be easier to detach the flooring without disassembling the whole cabinet.
Since it’s niche specific, it’s better to borrow than buy, especially if you’ll only use it for a couple of works.
45. Diamond Blade Wall Cutter
Diamond blade wall cutters are used mainly for slicing narrow grooves on a wall. They are often called “wall chasers” as they are often used for installing electrical wires.
Wall cutters usually have abrasive discs that facilitate grinding, even on concrete metals.
46. Jamb Saw
Jamb saws are typically used for laminates and wood flooring installations. It’s mechanically powered to remove the door casing bottom so floorings can easily slide in, prompting a nice and clean appearance when installed.
47. Biscuit Joiner
A biscuit joiner is considered a half saw and half gluing box that is most commonly utilized for creating edge-to-edge cuts on vertical joints. It’s a circular saw blade that can cut holes on the facing edges of the wood.
The wooden ‘biscuit’ is then enclosed with glue and reinserted before clamped together. This results in a stronger tenon joint on the project.
48. Domino Joiner
Produced mainly by Festool , the Domino joiner is a version of the biscuit joiner that cuts mortises instead.
These mortises are filled with Festool tenons, producing a stronger joint capability than the biscuit joiner. It is a little pricier and can be noisy when used.
49. Electric Hand Saw
In my experience with various tools, the electric hand saw often feels like the odd one out. Its design can be quite inconvenient, and honestly, there isn’t a specific job where it truly shines.
For almost every task, other saws tend to be more suitable, leading me to sometimes question the utility of the electric hand saw.
The varying types of saws available on the market are confusing and can be overwhelming if you’re not familiar with their intended individual purpose.
If you want to truly harness the potential of your power tool, it’s crucial to understand what it’s designed to cut and its limitations. This way, you’ll always know the kind of cut you’re going to get.
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