For a beginner, different sizes, shapes, and types of saws seem pretty overwhelming. If you are a DIYer and looking forward to getting the very first saw, it's totally relatable.
Saws basically cut metal, wood, ceramic, glass, etc., soft and hard objects. But you cannot use a softwood cutting saw to cut heavy metal pieces. Each saw has different functions and cutting abilities, which are pretty specific to different materials.
To make sure you get the right saw for your projects, I will brief you on different types of saws and their uses.
Also, a dedicated buying guide will help you ensure the best specs and features in your saw, depending on the projects you will mainly deal with.
Table of Contents
Types of Saws
Consider the power option; saws are of two types.
- Hand saws (Hand-powered ones)
- Power saws (Electrically or battery-powered ones)
These are the major saw types. All saws out there will either be under the hand saws or power saws.
As the name indicates, these saws are powered and used manually, using hands. Handheld saws are inexpensive and fit for easy-cutting applications in different circumstances. Most hand saws are for general use. But, there are some models for specific applications.
Types of Hand Saws
Handheld saws are of different types. However, the list includes the most commonly used ones. Still, you will be able to find the right saw for your projects from the list below.
1. Hack Saw
This handheld saw is mainly used for metal cutting applications. Using its thin blade, you can also cut plastic and PVC materials.
Because of its thin blade, it doesn't stand well against the wood. The blade has 18-32 teeth per inch, depending on the size of the tool.
Some hacksaws even come with rigid blades. Whether it's fixed or comes with a rigid blade, you can change the blade when needed. Thin blades are for thin materials, whereas thicker materials require a thicker blade for efficient operation.
Uses of Hacksaw
You can use a hacksaw to cut metal objects such as rods, bars, plastic objects such as pipes, PVCs, and similar materials. Saws with thicker blades can even cut wood without any issue.
2. Fret Saw
Similar to the shape of a hacksaw, fretsaw has a C-frame with a thinner blade. When it comes to precise cuts, DIYers, as well as professionals, rely on fret saws.
There are 32 teeth per inch on the blade, which manage to cut faster. One of the unique characteristics of these saws is that the frame is about 10-20 inches.
This allows the saw to cut through materials internally. Deep and precise cuts on a variety of applications are what this saw is an expert at.
Uses of Fret Saw
Primarily, these saws are used for jewelry making and woodworking. For applications that require you to cut tight internal areas, you will need a fret saw for the task.
3. Coping Saw
Both a coping and bow saw are identical when it comes to their shape and blade. You get to see a pretty similar narrow blade that can cut a wide variety of materials, including metals and plastics.
Unlike bow and fret saws, coping saws have a ribbed handle. Its C-shaped frame got a high tension blade, which is a bit thicker than the bow and fret saws.
Uses of Coping Saws
Carpenters use coping saws for trim work, scrolling, molding, and projects that require precise and delicate cuts. The saw is pretty good on soft metals and aluminum. Woodworkers also use these saws for some specific applications.
You can create a circular-cut using a coping saw tool.
4. Bow Saw
Unlike coping and fret saws, people mostly use bow saws for outdoor cutting applications. The blade on this saw is relatively long and ideal for tougher cuts. It has two handles. But the main handle is more rigid and comfortable to hold in hand.
Modern bow saws are C-shaped and have a smaller overall diameter than traditional ones.
Uses of Bow Saws
Outdoor wood cutting, such as firewood, logs, trimming trees, pruning, etc., are the most common applications of bow saws. You also find woodworkers and carpenters using these saws as well.
5. Keyhole Saw
This is one of the specialized saws for specific applications. Keyhole saws feature a triangular-shaped blade, which is about 10-12 inches long. The blade edge got a pointy shape to fit into tight space and cut without much hassle.
Because of its finely sharp teeth and pointy blade, delicate cuts are done efficiently. You can get a keyhole saw in either a retractable blade or a fixed blade. Regardless of the toughness of an object, you can get fine cuts on it.
Uses of Keyhole Saws
These saws are great for internal cuts. You can use a keyhole saw to be able to cut in tight spaces without compromising precision. The saw cuts plastic, wood, hardboard, metal, etc., materials.
6. Compass Saw
This saw is pretty much the same as a keyhole saw, except for the blade size. Both keyhole and compass saws have a narrow tip blade, but the blade on a compass saw is a bit larger.
It's made for twisted incision cuts. There's no need to make a pilot hole in objects when you got this in your hand. The pistol grip handle is comfortable to hold.
Uses of a Compass Saw
People mostly use the saw for cutting through drywall, wood, plastic, etc.
7. Wallboard Saw
From how it looks, the saw is pretty identical to a keyhole saw. Its small and compact form factor makes it one of the smallest saws you can get.
The blade on this one is larger than what you see on a keyhole saw. Some models come in a double cutting-edge variety. Most wallboard saws come with a rubber grip handle for comfort and easy handling.
Uses of Wallboard Saws
You guessed it right. The saw is used to cut through hardboard, drywalls more specifically.
Thus, you can also use it on wood pieces, plywood, and other soft materials. It can do exceedingly well to get into tight space and cut internally. But, keep in mind that the cuts will be a bit rough.
8. Camping Saw
Compared to a regular handheld saw, a camping saw doesn't have many differences, except for the portability as these are made for use while camping; portability is the prime factor here.
Also, camping saws are lightweight and easy to carry. Most of these saws can be folded and easily taken into the pocket of any backpack.
As the saw is for cutting pretty much everything when you are on an outdoor trip, the blade has exceptional sharpness.
Compared to other saws of similar sizes, you will find camping saw blades to be very sharp and able to cut thicker objects without taking much time in most cases.
For safety, these saws have blade sheaths and grip handles.
Uses of Camping Saws
You will find camping saw cutting bush and thinner wood like a pro. There are also other uses of the saw depending on the situation you face at the campsite.
9. Pruning Saw
This saw isn't like other regular handheld saws by its design. Unlike the rest of the other saws, it has a curved blade. Depending on the size, the blade size ranges from 13-15 inches.
It's one of those saws with a coarse teeth blade that can cut in both directions cutting the overall time and effort for the user. It helps when you cut anything above the height of your head.
The handle has a 'pistol grip' style to ensure the user's comfortable and tight grip for various cutting applications.
Uses of Pruning Saw
You can effortlessly cut tree branches that are above head height. Most gardeners use these saws for trimming live bushes as well as trees. It also cuts branches and stems while leaving a fine finish, an ideal saw for decorative trees.
10. Manual Pole Saw
When cutting objects that you cannot reach, a manual pole saw is helpful in such cases.
It stands out among others because of its extendable pole, which allows you to reach up to 16 ft. or even more. With a 6-8 inches blade, you can use the saw for similar applications like a pruning saw.
There are electric and gas pole saws. But a manual one seems to deliver superb control to the user for light-duty cutting tasks.
Uses of a Pole Saw
These saws work great for pruning and trimming projects. Whether you want to cut a high tree branch or something that's far away from your reach, you can use it for the desired cuts.
11. Wire Saw
If you think that all saws use blades to cut through materials, your observation won't be the same after knowing about this specialized saw. Instead of a blade, this saw uses a wire to make cuts. These are available in both hand and powered options.
Uses of a Wire Saw
People use the saw for cutting branches by rubbing against branches until they are worn away.
12. Pocket Chain Saw
Design and function-wise, a pocket chain saw is similar to wire saws. But the convenience is like camping or outdoor saws.
If you are an enthusiastic outdoor person, carrying a pocket chain saw will be extremely useful in different situations.
The best part is, you can actually create one for yourself. Get an old or broken chainsaw, and cut the chain as per your preferred length. Then, add handles on both ends.
Uses of a Pocket Chain Saw
Using the saw, you can cut through wood while on the go or during an emergency.
13. Japanese Saw
You can pretty much tell its origin. Yeah, this multipurpose saw is made in Japan, and it's very popular worldwide.
Compared to other multipurpose saws, it's much more efficient and easier to use. With the exact cutting mechanism, the saw handles different cutting applications. Like what we see in Japanese anime, this one got a thin and wider cutting blade.
Rather than traditional and regular push strokes, you have to cut through pull strokes with a Japanese saw.
This difference is what makes it more efficient in cutting performance than others. You will notice a bit narrower kerf on the workpiece after cutting with this saw.
Due to different hardness levels of wood, Japanese saws are available in 3 types: Dozuki, Ryoba, and Kataba.
Uses of a Japanese Saw
When it comes to cutting lighter woods, Japanese saws are more convenient to use. Carpenters, other professionals, and DIYers use these saws for delicate woodworking projects.
Japanese saws with thicker blades can even cut through metals.
14. Fine Saw
It is one of those saws for delicate wood artworks. You can get very precise cuts using the saw due to its thin and small blade. Other regular saws don't come close when it comes to precise cuts on wood pieces.
One of the differences that this saw has compared to other ones is its top bar design. It's for enhanced stability while cutting. This has to do with increased precision on various applications.
Uses of a Fine Saw
If you are fond of wood artworks, you need one of these. The amount of detail on applications would surely please you.
15. Razor Saw
Where all saws have jagged teeth blades, a razor saw features a fine razor blade for cutting objects. Softwood mostly gets ripped when you cut using a regular saw blade. But with a razor saw, there won't be anything like that. The cuts are immaculate and don't even have any cutting traces at all. These saws come in different sizes for various cutting needs.
Uses of a Razor Saw
You can cut both soft plastic, softwood, and other similar materials using a razor saw. Hobbyists mostly use these saws as well as jewelers to get exact cuts.
16. Rip Cut Saw
This one is the most commonly used saw among others. For general cutting purposes, people mostly rely on a rip cut saw. Professional and non-professional woodworkers, as well as DIY workers, use it for light-duty cutting requirements.
Its blade got larger teeth compared to other saws similar to this one. The teeth work as a chisel that cuts through wood grain quickly. You may notice small wood fragments on the workpiece while cutting.
Uses of a Rip Cut Saw
Most woodworkers use it as a general-purpose saw. If you are to cut wood logs in the direction of the grain, get one of these if you cannot afford an electric saw.
17. Crosscut Saw
You might get confused with crosscut and rip cut saw as both these are pretty identical in design and structure.
Unlike a rip cut saw, this one has a blade with beveled teeth. Some models also come with rakers and gullets for more convenience. The teeth on the blade work as knives when it comes to cutting through the wood.
Crosscut saws have different blades with specific purposes. All teeth remain angled in diverse patterns depending on the blades.
Uses of a Crosscut Saw
A crosscut saw with a large teeth blade is for log bucking and other similar tasks. You can use a smaller teeth blade to cut wood with fine details. Regardless of the blade size, the cuts come out perpendicularly shaped across the wood.
18. Back Saw
Another specialized handheld saw for different cutting needs. One of the back saw's blade features is that there are more teeth per inch, and these teeth are much thinner.
But the overall construction quality of the blade is pretty sturdy. No matter how complex the workpiece is, the blade's holding edge and cutting edge maintain the same exact shape.
For heavy-duty cutting tasks, the handle on this saw is pretty stiff. You will get a great rigid feeling holding the handle. For precise cuts, you can control the handle easily.
Among all back saws, dovetail, tenon, miter, and Japanese saws are the most commonly found ones.
Uses of a Back Saw
Woodworkers, as well as carpenters, use back saws to make accurate cuts with great efficiency. Mechanically, the saw can also handle jewelry cutting and metal cutting.
19. Carcass Saw
This particular handheld saw features a thick and a lot sharper blade than the others. The other side of the blade is enforced. There are 14 teeth per inch on its blade.
Uses of a Carcass Saw
You can make smooth and precise crosscuts along with tenon shoulders, across the grain, and dado cuts.
20. Veneer Saw
The name pretty much explains what this saw is for. You can make clean double or single-edged veneer cuts using the saw.
The blade is mostly 4 inches long, and it's attached to the handle. Due to an arch shape blade, all teeth get engaged while cutting for efficient results.
There are different blades for this type of saw. Each blade has a different teeth pattern per inch.
Uses of a Veneer Saw
The saw does exceedingly well for cutting through the edge to make a long and straight edge while leaving no flaw whatsoever. Hardboard and similar thin boards are specific cutting applications for a veneer saw.
21. Bone Saw
It's basically a surgical tool used mainly by surgeons. The blade is pretty sharp and sturdy that retains its quality even after contacting animal bones, flesh, and blood. These saws come in different shapes and sizes for specific purposes.
Uses of a Bone Saw
Surgeons and orthopedics use these saws to cut bones and flesh during surgeries. Other than the medical purpose, it's also used for butchering.
Buying Guide for Handheld Saw
Although these are less powerful saw options, getting the right one for the right job would make cutting tasks quite effortless and less tiring. Be sure to check for the following things before you get a handheld saw.
Handsaws come in different lengths, from 6 to 24 inches or even more. If your cutting projects require short strokes, you need a short saw to get the job done easily.
Longer saws are ideal for cutting with long strokes. If the projects demand high caliber effort, get a larger saw.
Number of Teeth
For more delicate, intricate, precise, and finer cuts, look for a saw that has a blade of more teeth.
When fast cutting is necessary, and accuracy isn't really that important, go for a saw with fewer teeth. Teeth Per Inch (TPI) indicates whether a saw has more teeth or less.
Blade Thickness and Size
Thicker blades are for hard materials such as wood, metals, plastic, ceramic, etc. Handsaws with flexible and thin blades are ideal for cutting plywood, aluminum, plastic, etc., soft materials.
You will come across saws with narrower blades; these are good for tight areas such as drywall saw, keyhole saw, etc.
As these are handheld models, having a comfortable to hold handle is really important for a safe and convenient cutting experience. If your hand sweat a lot, make sure the saw has an ergonomic handle. Pistol-style handles also provide an excellent grip on the hand.
These are basically circular saws with different cutting functions, mounting options, and cutting power. Most power saws are motor or electric-powered. But, there are some budget-friendly and portable battery-powered saws in the market.
Types of Power Saws
Regardless of your project's type and cutting requirements, you will find the most power-oriented and efficient saw from the list. The list includes saws that make rough and precise cuts.
1. Circular Saw
The first power saw on the list is the circular saw. It has a circular-shaped blade, which is the reason for such a name.
There are different blades for circular saws with different teeth forms for various purposes when it comes to the blade. The blade spins in a circular motion and cuts through different materials.
Although it has a small and compact form factor, circular saws are powerful tools. Most models are handheld, but you can mount the saw on a fixed place or a benchtop for the project's convenience.
Uses of a Circular Saw
Using a circular saw, you can cut various materials, including metal, plastic, wood, stone, etc.
Woodworkers, carpenters, metalworkers, construction workers, and DIYers use these saws. You can make crosscuts, rip cuts, miter, and plunge cuts with smooth results.
2. Chain Saw
This one cuts through materials using a rotating chain blade. Chain saws have a guide bar, on top of which the chain is mounted.
When the saw is turned on, the guide bar rotates, so does the chain mounted on it. The teeth are sharp and angled to make cutting less time-consuming.
You can adjust the tension of the chain depending on the projects you work on.
Uses of a Chain Saw
Chainsaws are very popular for cutting and trimming down trees. You can also crosscut trees and logs smoothly. Some higher-end models can even cut stones and masonry.
3. Miter Saw
Apparently, it's a circular saw but attached on a stationary plate. However, the function of a miter saw is quite different.
These saws are for angular cuts ranging from 45 to 90 degrees. You can adjust the angle by turning the table and tilting the head of the saw.
So, when cutting precision is something you must ensure, a miter saw is a tool to get.
Uses of a Miter Saw
Miter saw tools can make angular cuts with great precision. You can also crosscut different materials changing the vertical and horizontal angles.
4. Jig Saw
It's one of those multipurpose power saws that cut through different soft materials. The saw is smaller in size and has a thin blade. Thus, harder materials cannot be cut using it. But, you will get great results using the tool on wood and plaster.
The blade can make round cuts along with regular straight cuts. Blade's design and features vary depending on the saw model and purpose of use.
As these tools are battery-powered, carrying and maneuvering is pretty easy holding a jigsaw.
Uses of a Jigsaw
These saw tools are the ideal choices for making curved lines, curved and sharp angles, or cuts on workpieces such as wood, any synthetic materials, and even soft metals and tiles.
5. Chop Saw
In terms of size, structure, and cutting mechanism, chop saws resemble circular and miter saws.
The only real difference is that the cutting head is flexible, changing the cutting direction easily. You can also move the head up and down for cutting requirements.
Uses of a Chop Saw
Professionals use chop saws for making straight cuts on metal, wood, and other soft and hard materials.
6. Pole Saw
Previously, I have written about manual pole saw. This one is powered by a motor and functions similar to a chainsaw. Its blade is covered by chain teeth that do the cutting working, and the extra-long pole allows the user to reach high spots.
Uses of a Pole Saw
You can use an electric pole saw for trimming and pruning applications. The pole can reach high tree branches and cut down thick branches to help you make logs.
7. Reciprocating Saw
From the rest of the other power saws, reciprocating saw tools are different for their cutting mechanism. The blade functions in a push and pulls mechanism to get the cutting work done.
Unlike other tools, the blade on this one is pretty short and flat. But the sharpness and reciprocating functions handle different cutting needs quite impressively.
Uses of a Reciprocating Saw
Woodworkers mostly use these saws to cut through hardboard, plywood, drywall, etc., soft materials. You can also make internal cuts on surfaces with its thin blade.
8. Saber Saw
Among professional woodworkers, a saber saw stands for portability and the ability to cut through different materials by changing blades.
Regardless of the thickness of the workpiece, you will find a compatible blade for cutting through that material using the saw. You can reach difficult corners utilizing the tool that other saws cannot access.
Uses of a Saber Saw
Cutting wood, steel, plastic, and both soft and hard materials aren't much of an issue for this saw. For gardening and DIY projects where deep cuts are necessary, you will need this tool to get the job done effortlessly.
9. Oscillating Saw
This saw right here is one of the most versatile saws that are currently available. It's named after its impressive oscillating functionalism.
There are several attachments available for this saw, which you can use to perform multiple tasks smoothly. If you are to get one master tool to do more than cutting, this would be the one.
Uses of an Oscillating Saw
Apart from just cutting, you can use the saw to remove caulk or grout, use its grinding function, use it for scraping, trimming, sanding, polishing, and whatnot.
10. Rotary Saw
This power tool works following a spinning blade mechanism to cut through materials like drywall.
Its circular blade spins at an incredible pace to make smooth cuts. Unlike other power saws, the blade on this one is fixed. The handle is a smaller one and not very comfortable to hold.
Uses of a Rotary Saw
Cutting into walls for repairing or access is the most common application of this saw. You can also use it for paneling, drywall, myriad, and other small cutting needs.
11. Plunge Saw
When projects require making longitudinal and crosswise cuts, a plunge saw is a suitable tool to work with. The saw can make different cuts on a single workpiece without much hassle.
There is a circular disc inside the saw that handles all the cuttings effortlessly. Even on hard surfaces, the saw is able to make smooth straight cuts. Professionals, as well as DIYers, rely on this tool for precise straight axis cuttings and stuff.
Uses of a Plunge Saw
These saws are found in construction sites and workshops that mostly deal with assembly works. You can use it for cutting, chopping, and angular cutting on different soft materials, including aluminum, with great accuracy.
12. Table Saw
The cuts are made using a more powerful circular saw on a table. As the tool has a table to rest the workpieces for precise cuts, it's known as a table saw. Higher-end models are quiet and efficient in operation.
You can also build your own table saw with a powerful circular saw and a tabletop with enough space for projects on it.
A table saw is one of those saws that aren't easy to move at all. Once you install it, there's no easy chance of moving or modifying the unit.
Uses of a Table Saw
All woodworking workshops have at least one of these. Due to a more powerful motor, you can cut larger, even massive projects with deep and better cuts.
You can cut wood, plastic, MDF, PAL, and other less hard material, including metals like aluminum.
13. Panel Saw
Say hello to one of the cousins of the table saw. Panel saws are available in both vertical and horizontal alignments. You can cut huge panels or large wood sheets on this tabletop saw.
With its sliding feature, your place plywood or workpiece automatically moves towards the blade. This is a horizontal model.
However, on a vertical model, the wood piece is held upright vertically and slides through horizontally.
Regardless of the sliding mechanism, the cutting techniques are the same.
Uses of a Panel Saw
Panel saws are most commonly used for cropping plywood and similar large wood pieces. The tool can make both longitudinal and transverse cuts on materials.
14. Radial Arm Saw
This tabletop-mounted saw features a circular blade and a sliding mechanism to make cuts on hard materials. You can slide its head along the fence to make parallel cuts on wood pieces.
Unlike other saws, the blade on this one is covered by a safety guard to minimize injuries.
For further safe operation, most of these saws feature an anti-kickback tool that prevents the tool from kick-backing when you cut bulky and heavier wood pieces.
Uses of a Radial Arm Saw
Professional woodworkers use this saw for rip cuts. The tool is also able to make clean dado, dovetail lap, cross lap, cuts, and even more.
15. Track Saw
Unlike typical tabletop saws, a track saw uses a long track line to slide through workpieces to the blade. There's a circular saw on the other end of the line to cut. The tool is excellent for making long and straight cuts on different materials.
The best part of this tool is that you can carry the entire unit pretty much everywhere you go, as most of these saws are portable.
Uses of a Track Saw
Woodworkers use track saws to make precise straight cuts on large workpieces. It also cuts shallow grooves on different materials as well.
16. Wet-Tile Saw
Its title says pretty much everything about the saw. This is the type of saw people use for tile cutting. Similar to most tabletop saws, it features a powerful circular saw to handle all cutting and stuff.
One of the unique things about this saw is it uses water for cutting convenience. The temperature of the circular blade increases during the cutting process, so the tool uses water to cool down the temperature of the blade.
There's a water reservoir that handles the water supply during operation.
Uses of a Wet-Tile Saw
This specialized saw is only for cutting tiles. You can make bevel, plunge, and miter cuts on tiles as per projects require.
17. Band Saw
Unlink other tabletop-mount saws; band saws come in different sizes and shapes. Some larger models require anchoring with the foundation of production halls. Whereas you can literally carry a portable band saw in your shoulder bag.
The saw comes with a band blade and uses large pulleys top and down the cutting table to continuously move the band to cut through materials with fine teeth.
Most of these tools have cast iron wheels for easy maneuvering. You can get blades of various thicknesses as per the thickness of the materials. The operation requires a highly powerful motor to get things done efficiently.
Uses of a Band Saw
Professionals use band saws for woodworking, re-sawing, shaping wood, making circular cuts or notches, etc. purposes. It can even make bevel and miter cuts. Some higher-end models can even cut through metal and plastic materials as well.
18. Flooring Saw
Materials needed for flooring, such as bamboo, hardwood, engineered, or laminate, are cut using a floor saw. Its portable form factor allows the user to carry it wherever flooring stuff is required.
Uses of a Flooring Saw
The tool is widely used for cutting materials for flooring.
19. Scroll Saw
This is one of the saw tools that has an extremely fine, thin, and narrow cutting blade for special cutting needs. You can use the saw with a band or a reciprocating blade as well. Cuts are made with precise rotation and detail for delicate projects.
Uses of a Scroll Saw
Scroll saws are mainly used for intricate scrollwork and spiral lines. Beginner woodworkers often use the saw for making curved cuts.
Buying Guide for Power Saws
Finding one perfect power saw for multiple cutting needs isn't that difficult. Just keep the following things in mind before you go buying one.
Type of Cuts
For straight cuts, you can opt for any power saw of your choice and budget range.
When it comes to making bevel, rip, miter, plunge, etc. cuts, you can get a circular saw, which is the most versatile power saw out there. If you are to cut down trees, a chainsaw would be the perfect tool for it.
Only a few power saws can make angular cuts. If your projects require so, you can get a miter or angular saw for the best results.
Working with a large workpiece, whether it's made of metal, wood, plastic, or other materials, you will have to go for a table saw. But, table saws are of different types. A regular table saw is less expensive than a sliding panel table saw.
When you must make precise straight cuts, you will need a track table saw. Specialized table saws such as wet-tile saws are solely used for cutting tiles.
For projects that require fine and precise cuts, you can get a scroll saw for this purpose.
Not all power saws are heavy in weight and benchtop. If you need utmost portability and want a power saw that you could also carry with you to work sites, get one from the plunge, portable band, pole saw, reciprocating, oscillating saw considering the type of cuts your projects require.
If you don't want a saw for a specific cutting purpose, versatility is something you will need to make sure of.
Get a circular saw to get the best performance and multipurpose using convenience.
We hope the article was informative enough for you to understand which saw is suitable for what kind of project and cutting. You can have different saws for different needs if you need the most performance-oriented saw for a specific task.
Otherwise, multiple versatile saws are available in both handheld and power options, which are ideal for occasional and DIY projects.
As cutting quality depends on the blade, give special attention to understand the blade type, kind of cuts it can make, the number of teeth per inch, etc., to get the best cutting results.