Can’t tell a hacksaw from a veneer saw? Not sure what a miter saw is? Don’t feel bad – with the number of tools available on the market today, it’s hard to keep track. While compiling this article, we came up with 31 different types of saws with their pictures and uses. We even had to brush up on one or two ourselves.
Still, it’s always good to know that you’re using the right tool for the right purpose. In this post, we’ll go through the extensive range of hand and power saws available today. We’ll cover everything from coping saws to track saws.
We’ll give you a quick guide to what each tool does. Use the list to impress your buddies, or start building your custom tool collection. Ready, steady, let’s go.
Way back when there were no power tools. That was probably because there was no power supply either, but we won’t go into that now. In those dark days, you were the power supply. Fortunately, you had some trusty tools to rely on and hand saws definitely have a place in your workshop. They can’t be beaten for portability, and for quick, light jobs. Let’s take a look at some of the basic hand saws.
The backsaw is a shorter version of a hand saw; the blade is narrow. What makes it unique is the reinforcing on the top edge. (That’s how it got its name.) You might also see people referring to these as tenon or miter saws, depending on where you live.
Backsaws work well in situations where you need a highly accurate, even, fine cuts.
The bow saw is considered a crosscut saw since it has crosscut teeth. The handle resembles an archery bow. This model moves back and forward quickly. It works well for rough cutting like trimming trees or pruning.
A coping saw looks something like a wire cheese cutter. The coping saw is a fine blade that’s narrow and thin. It works well for intricate cutting and finishing work, like scrolling. It’ll cut through quite a few different types of materials and is a very useful tool.
A crosscut saw chews through thick pieces of wood fast. It won’t look neat and pretty, but you don’t need that when you’re chopping trees for firewood. You’ve seen this type of tool used by old-time lumberjacks. The saw has two handles and is excellent for rough cutting.
This saw looks a lot like a coping saw. It also has a long and narrow blade to make intricate cuts. The difference is that the frame is larger and longer. The shape means that you can reach in further from the edges. This tool allows you to create a wider, finely finished border.
This is another must-have tool in the tool shed. It’s the most common saw types with a narrow edge. The design makes it easy to apply force, making this one of the most versatile handsaws. You can use this to cut a wide range of materials. It’s great for cutting a piece of tubing or trimming branches.
The Japanese Saw has a unique look. It looks more as if it were a weapon to be used in war. The blade extends out from the handle, much as a sword’s blade does. The difference is that this blade is flexible. This flexibility allows for highly precise work. This type of saw reaches more places than back saw.
If the Japanese saw is a sword, then the keyhole saw is a short stiletto blade. You’ll use this saw to cut patterns. This tool comes in handy if you need to patch drywall. The Keyhole saw will cut a hole in the wall quickly and neatly.
You might have heard of this called a pole runner. In this case, the saw is attached to the end of an extendable pole. This type is for reaching the higher branches of trees. This tool makes it possible to trim trees more easily. More modern versions have motors.
(see our list of best pole saw)
Stick ‘em up, cowboy. These saws have a curved blade and a single handle. You grip them much as you would a pistol. These blades are suitable for rough cutting. The teeth are coarse to chew through the wood faster.
If you plan to do a fair amount of framing, a rip-saw is a good investment. The teeth are very sharp and spaced wider apart. The spacing makes it simple to cut through wood fast. This type looks a lot like a backsaw without the reinforced back.
The veneer saw is a specialized product. Designed for veneer work, this precise double-edged blade is not very versatile. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the blade itself. The pattern of the teeth is fine. It’s the length of the blade that’s problematic – it’s too short.
A wallboard saw is perfect to create a starter hole. It’s useful when you’re cutting into drywall or carving into a panel. The overall design looks a lot like the Keyhole saw. The difference is that the blade here is shorter and broader. You can also find these with double edges.
You’d think that power saws would simply be replicas of their hand-powered predecessors. In some cases, this is true. In general, though, power saws took their own direction. We see many hybrid tools in the power tools section.
A band saw is a relatively tall piece of equipment and is generally classified as a continuous band model. It does take up a fair amount of space, so if your space is limited, it’s not the best choice. It uses a system of pulleys to move the continuous band blade.
Band saws are useful for cutting pipes and wood. They’re great for cutting curved designs but can’t cut through a depth of more than a few inches.
(see our list of best band saw)
If you’ve got limited space, a portable band saw might be a better option. It’s smaller and far more compact. The price for portability is reduced by cutting depth. The stationary version allows you to cut through thicker layers.
(see our list of best portable band saw)
Unsurprisingly, the chain saw uses a chain with built-in ripping teeth. Chainsaws are closest to band saws in the way that they operate. You wouldn’t say it when looking at them, though. Chain saws leave a rougher edge, but they power through wood fast.
(see our list of best chainsaw)
A chop saw is the portable version of the circular saws. Chop saws are often further divided into masonry and metal cutters. The masonry cutters often have a connection to hook them up to water. The saw dispenses water as it cuts, dampening down the dust and keeping the blade and material cool.
A lot of us call this a buzz saw. It’s a saw that many people choose for general purpose use. It’s versatile in that being able to change the blades means you can cut just about any material – from wood to metal, to concrete. One of the main reasons many people choose this as it is the most common type of powered saw.
(see our list of best circular saw)
The hand miter saw can’t hold a candle to this powered-up version. Make precise cuts at different angles, thanks to the design of the arm. A real time-saver in a professional workshop.
This portable saw is a lot more versatile than the name implies. Contractors use it to resaw flooring at the site. They save valuable time in not taking materials back and forth to the workshop.
The jigsaw has a fine-toothed, short blade. It can operate at different speeds and makes quick work of cutting curves. It’s also excellent for detailed patterns, as it can create a fine cut.
(see our list of best jigsaw)
With the miter saw, you can cut trim, framing, or anything else that requires fine angled cutting. You can set the powered version at 45° to the left or right. It’s easy to match it with tables for longer cuts.
(see our list of best miter saw)
This saw looks more like a grinder at first glance. The difference here is that you can change the attachment at the end. It can be used for both cutting and grinding, depending on the attachment you choose.
Panel saws can be big and bulky. If you have limited space available, consider choosing a vertical model. With the vertical model, there’s no feed table. You first place the wood. You’ll then have to feed the wood through. More expensive models feature a blade that moves down to cut the lumber.
The radial arm saw is a versatile piece of equipment. It’s a good option for the DIYer. You can make accurate compound and miter cuts with ease. It’s a great time-saver in a busy workshop where accuracy is important.
Here we have the jigsaw’s bigger brother. With reciprocating saws, the blade moves backward and forward fast. The action makes cutting a lot faster. The type of saw cuts through nails and wood. Also called as Sawzall® which is its original manufacturer.
(see our list of best reciprocating saw)
Rotary saws are pretty simple. You hold them much as you would a paint roller. The cutting blade is at the end of the tool. This position makes it ideal for cutting into surfaces and making repairs.
You’ll find powered scroll saws in the reciprocating blade or continuous models. They perform in much the same way as the manual versions. They work well for patterned work.
(see our list of best scroll saw)
Table saws are usually a larger version and a more powerful version of a table-mounted circular saw. With the right blades, these can even cut masonry now.
(see our list of best table saw)
If the tile saw looks familiar, it’s because it’s similar to a miter saw. The difference here is that water cooling is built into the design. It’s designed to cut ceramics and makes precise, quick cuts.
(see our list of best tile saw)
If you’re looking for the big daddy of all saws, this is it. It’s a circular saw that runs on a track. You can cut with it effortlessly, every time.
That rounds out our round-up of the different types of saws on the market today. On learning about the various purposes for each, you’ll be to choose the best saw for your needs.
Generally speaking, you’ll need a few hand saws, depending on the type of work you’re doing. If you’re an avid DIYer or woodworker, save some space for a power saw or two. Now that you know what’s out there, you know what to put on your wish list.
David has been a woodworker for most of his life — in his dad’s cabinet shop. After using the tools himself, he decided to share it his woodworking and power tools knowledge with DIYers. Read more about him