33 Different Types of Saws and How to Use Them

What is Saw?

A saw is a tool consisting of a tough blade, wire, or chain with a hard-toothed edge. It is used to cut through material, very often wood though sometimes metal or stone. The cut is made by placing the toothed edge against the material and moving it forcefully forth and less forcefully back or continuously forward.

This force may be applied by hand, or powered by steam, water, electricity, or another power source. An abrasive saw has a powered circular blade designed to cut through metal or ceramic.

Saws can vary from the simplest style of cutting tool to an advanced piece of powered machinery. Depending on your job or the hobbies you’re interested in, the type of saws you own or would like to own will vary dramatically.

Anyone in the construction industry is likely to need a wide variety of saws, including those which are equipped to deal with a range of scenarios, as well as those which are designed to handle a specific task. Carpenters or anyone with a home wood workshop will need an entirely different set of saws, with some crossover.

What is Saws

Hand Saws

Hand saws are simply any type of saws that are powered by the force of the user, rather than being powered by electricity, battery, or gas. These saws are common in a variety of trades, with many of them being suitable for a wide range of tasks around the home and garden as well.

The benefit of these saws is that they are easily portable, take up very little storage space, and are more inexpensive than power saws. However, they typically take longer to finish a job than a powered equivalent, so they may be most suitable for smaller tasks.

Types of Hand Saws

Types of Hand Saws

1. Hack Saw

The hack saw was created to cut through metal, and due to its thin blade, it works well to cut through thin materials such as plastic or metal pipes. For very occasional use, it could also be used as a multi-purpose saw for cutting through wood, but this could damage the blade.

Perfect for cutting pipes and tubing, the hacksaw is one of the most common saw types. They are lightweight and versatile, able to cut through wood, metal, plastic, and other materials using material-specific cutting blades with a tooth count ranging from about 18 to 32 per inch.

2. Coping Saw

The coping saw, as the hack saw, has a blade that is secured in place by tension. It is used for making curved cuts on wood, and in fact, this is where it gets its name from, as it is ideally used to create coping joints rather than miter joints. The blades of these saws are narrow, with between 15 and 17 teeth per inch of the blade. These saws are lightweight and typically measure around 6 inches across.

3. Crosscut Saw

Designed specifically for rough-cutting wood, a crosscut saw has a comparatively thick blade, with large, beveled teeth. Traditional 2-man crosscut saws (aka felling saws) have a handle on each end and are meant to be used by two people to cut across (perpendicular) the grain of the timber.

The more common 1-man crosscut saw is great for rough cutting lumber, trimming limbs or branches, and makes an excellent saw for camping or at the job site.

4. Bow Cut Saw

A bow-cut saw is a modern type of crosscut saw. It is a medium-sized hand tool that is most commonly used outdoors for pruning trees and cutting logs. A bow-cut saw has crosscut teeth that are able to remove sawdust while being pushed in and out. Their blades are fairly long and narrow, making them suitable for cutting thick sections of wood. They can also be used to make curved cuts.

5. Fret Saw

Most closely resembling a coping saw, the fret saw has a long, thin blade for making intricate cuts. The fret saw has a longer, larger frame that allows cutting farther from the outer edges, but the blade cannot be rotated, which results in more tedious and difficult cutting positions when performing intricate scrollwork.

6. Keyhole Saw

These saws take the shape of a dagger, with a blade that comes to a point at the opposite end of a single handle. They are also known as ‘jab saws’ because the sharp point allows them to jab through materials such as drywall, and then saw through.

Their thin blade makes them ideal for making awkward cutting maneuvers or making small holes. They are also used for cutting rough patterns out. These types of saws typically come in two varieties; with a fixed blade or with a retractable blade.

7. Japanese Saw

Built with a single handle and a protruding strong, thin cutting blade, this type of saw is more precise than a backsaw and has the advantage of being able to reach places where other saws cannot reach.

These saws are available in three types (dozuki, ryoba, and kataba), and can be used to cut hard and softwoods with equal precision.

8. Rip-Cut Saw

A rip-cut saw is one of the most common types of saws that anyone who works with wood will own, and probably the saw that gets used the most often as it is versatile and suitable for a number of jobs. A rip-cut saw is designed to cut wood parallel to the grain.

It has few teeth per inch compared to most other hand saws, though each tooth is very sharp to remove chips of wood as it works, almost like a collection of chisels working together all at once.

9. Back Saw

A backsaw is a relatively short saw with a narrow blade that is reinforced along the upper edge, giving it the name. Back saws are commonly used with miter boxes and in other applications which require a consistently fine, straight cut. Back saws may also be called miter saws or tenon saws, depending on saw design, intended use, and region.

10. Pruning Saw

These saws are specifically designed for use in the garden, as a quick and easy means of pruning trees and large shrubs. They have a single curved handle attached to a curved blade, and can easily access even hard-to-reach branches hidden amongst dense-growing trees.

Pruning saws have many more teeth per inch than similar-sized saws, making them an excellent tool for smaller pruning jobs when a chainsaw would be unnecessary.

11. Veneer Saw

These saws are designed for cutting hardwood veneers, laminates, and plastics. They are a double-edged saw with a small, curved blade, usually measuring just 3 or 4 inches long. Their size means they are only useful for working in small areas, but they offer fast and smooth results.

Typically, these saws have around 13 teeth per inch of blade. When teamed with a straight edge, the veneer saw can cut square-edged materials perfectly to achieve butt-joints for matching veneers.

12. Wallboard Saw

Looking very similar to a keyhole saw, the wallboard saw generally has a shorter, wider blade and fewer teeth per inch and often comes in a double-edged variety.  It is designed for puncturing through paneling or drywall and is often used to create starter holes for powered tools.

13. Camping Saw

There are many types of camping saws available, offering various features and differing designs. For most people who will need a saw when camping, the most important elements are that the saw is versatile and able to cut a range of materials and that it is compact and lightweight for easy portability.

The folding camping saw fits all of these criteria, being ideal for slipping into a pocket of clothing or a bag. They take up hardly any space at all and are useful for cutting up firewood, trimming branches, or making a number of any other cuts you might be presented within the wilderness.

14. Bone Saw

A bone saw as you might expect, is for cutting bones. These are used primarily in the meat butchering trade, or by hunters to make cuts through deer or other game. A stainless-steel blade is best for these saws as they will not corrode under contact with animal blood.

Power Saws

Power saws are saws that are powered by rechargeable batteries, electricity, or gas motors to make cuts. These can be stationary tools or portable tools. They are great for efficiency and precision and help to complete cutting jobs much more quickly than a hand saw equivalents.

The drawback of these is that they can be quite costly, though if you buy a reliable option, it should see you through many years of cutting. While many of these power saws are simple to use, some may be complex and dangerous to operate, and special training might need to be taken before you proceed with working with power saws.

Types of Power Saws

Types of Power Saws

15. Circular Saw

This saw is so named because of its blade, which is a circle shape. The circular blade spins at high speed and is guided down by the user to cut the material which needs to be held firmly in place underneath it. These saws are hugely popular because of their versatility and portability.

Unlike a table saw, these saws are reasonably lightweight and so can be transported to construction sites or used in different locations with ease. They are also compatible with a number of different blade types, enabling them to cut through various materials, including stone, metal, wood, plastic, and ceramics.

16. Miter Saw

One of the few saws designed to expressly mimic a hand saw, the miter saw is ideal for use in the trim or other jobs involving precise measurements and angle cuts.

A simple miter saw can pivot up to 45 degrees to either side of a straight 90-degree cut and can be used in conjunction with tables for cutting long mitered ends

17. Compound Miter Saw

A compound saw is like a hyped-up miter saw. It has the same blade which operates on an arm instead of on a pivoting lever, giving the user greater scope for adjustment on more complex cutting. These saws can produce miter, straight, and compound cuts, and are great for efficiency and precision.

18. Jigsaw

This handheld saw has a short, fine-toothed blade that moves up and down at variable speeds. This is one of the few saws which are designed specifically for cutting curves and other non-straight lines. Look for a jigsaw with a long cord or even a cordless option.

They are lightweight and easy to handle, as well as being fairly quiet, and are most suitable for cutting out patterns in thin materials such as plywood. Thicker blades are available to be purchased for jigsaws to allow them to cut through metal, tile, or ceramic, but these are not typically included as standard. Jigsaws are a versatile tool that will see heavy use in home woodworking households.

19. Stationary

Stationary band saws have become popular amongst safety-conscious carpenters as there is no danger of kickback like there is when using a table saw. Band saws have a band of the continuous blade that spins around 2 or 3 wheels to make cuts.

The blades have fine teeth, which make them suitable for working on a range of materials. The blades form part of a heavy table, making this a tool for a workshop rather than one which can be driven around. It can cut wood, pipes, and plastic, but is limited to cutting at a depth of just a few inches.

This tool is relatively quiet for a power tool, so it may appeal to those with a workshop in a residential area who don’t want to disturb their neighbors.

20. Portable

Portable band saws are simply the portable version of the stationary band saw, with a looped blade that runs around 2 wheels for cutting. The benefit of this tool is that it can be taken to a job site with ease, but it is only suitable for cutting smaller items such as pipes. This tool, in particular, is popular among metalworkers, plumbers, and welders.

21. Table Saw

Table saws have circular rotating blades that emerge upwards from out of a table to cut the chosen material. These work almost in the opposite way to a circular saw, in which you pull the blade down onto your material. With a table saw, instead, you push your material onto the blade.

The blade depth can be adjusted to suit your cutting needs, and the blade itself can be swapped out for masonry or metal blades so that you can cut different types of materials. These types of saws are ideal for making exact straight cuts, but require training before use as they can be dangerous to operate.

22. Chainsaw

Chainsaws operate with the use of a linked chain that rotates around a piece of steel, with specially designed teeth attached, which cut through wood at high speed. It is most commonly used to cut through lumber and fell or trim trees. Chainsaws come with various power sources, including gas engines, battery-powered motors, or corded electric-powered motors.

Chainsaws with gas engines have the most power; however, they can also be more difficult to use because they vibrate the most. Chainsaws powered by battery or electric cables are better for longer jobs as they will induce less fatigue on the user.

23. Chop Saw

These saws are like circular saws and offer portability while also being larger than a standard circular saw. These saws are intended for cutting through metal or masonry and have smooth toothless blades that have been specifically designed with abrasives to cut through the chosen material. Sometimes these saws link up to a water line to reduce dust when in use.

24. Flooring Saw

This is a specialized tool that has been specifically designed to aid in fitting flooring, including hardwood, laminate, and bamboo. It is able to make straight cuts as well as miter cuts and is designed to be a portable replacement for a table saw, able to complete any cutting task you might face during laying flooring.

25. Panel Saw

Available in either vertical or horizontal alignments, these relatives of the table saw is designed to cut large panels. The horizontal models use a sliding feed table while the vertical models either require you to feed the material or have a blade that moves through a stationary panel. Panel saws are common in cabinetmaking, sign making, and similar industries.

26. Oscillating Saw

Also known as an oscillating multi-tool or oscillating tool, it has a body that resembles a grinder but has an oscillating attachment at the end that can be changed out depending on the job.

It’s often considered a more versatile sibling to the reciprocating saw, as it can handle not only cutting, but also grinding, removing grout or caulk, and scraping. At least one brand even offers sanding pads for their OMT.

27. Radial Arm Saw

By placing the motor and blade on an arm that extends over the cutting table, the radial arm saw allows you to make identical compound cuts, miter cuts, and more. Depending on the manufacturer, radial arm saw blades may be interchangeable with circular saw blades, but verify the recommended speed of the spin, as some radial saws turn very fast.

28. Scroll Saw

These portable tools are designed for carrying out intricate and precise work such as patterns, spiral lines, and scrolls. The blade can be continuously oscillating, or attached to a band, and is fixed to a small table where you can hold your materials in place while cutting. This tool is best at producing curved edges.

29. Pole Saw

Pole saws consist of a telescopic pole with a chainsaw attached to the opposite end to the handle. These saws are designed for pruning and trimming hedges and trees of tall heights, without having to use a ladder. Pole saws can be battery-powered and, therefore, cordless, electric powered, or powered by a gas engine.

30. Wet Tile Saw

These saws are designed specifically for cutting flooring or wall tiles without chipping or cracking them. This is a portable piece of machinery that can be easily transported between job sites and used in situ at the place where the user is fitting tiling.

They operate similarly to a circular saw, with a round blade that spins at high speed and is pulled down over the tile to slice it. These are essential tools for people in the kitchen and bathroom or flooring trades. They offer excellent accuracy and speed up the job.

31. Reciprocating Saw

These small saws offer excellent versatility on a job site. Their size makes them easily portable, and they can be used on a variety of projects, with a good bit of power behind them. They work by powering a small blade in a back-and-forth motion to cut through both metal or wood. They can be cordless or corded depending on the power type.

32. Rotary Saw

Rotary saws (or rotary tools) have a fixed blade and a small screwdriver-type handle. They are used for everything from crafts to construction and are ideal for cutting into a wall for access or repairs. Like the keyhole saw, a rotary saw is essential for drywall, paneling, and a myriad of other small cutting tasks.

33. Track Saw

Able to attach to a long gliding rail, the track saw (or plunging saw) is like a souped-up blend of table and circular saw with added abilities. It more closely resembles the circular saw in appearance, making it more portable.

Simply line up the sticky-based track with your cut line (which you can see clearly through the track) and stick the saw on its rails. It’ll glide smoothly along the rail creating a perfect cut with almost zero effort.