Types of Saws and Their Uses

Saws have become quite a common tool that can be found in almost every DIYer kit. These are either used to prune gardens, cut branches, or for a myriad of other purposes.

I will explain the different types of saws and what each one is used for. Below is a list of 26 different types of saws, each with a short description of what it contains and the purpose it serves.

There are more than 55 Saws available, but I will discuss here the major one to give you a better idea;

Manual Saws

This section will explain the different types of manual saws. Manual saws need some level of effort to cut down different materials. They are sometimes also known as handsaws. This is because they need human hands to be operated on.

Most saws in this category are used to cut down wood or branches, clean up gardens or yards, etc. Some are also good for doing professional carpentry.

1 – Fret Saw

Fret SawIf you want to make fine cuts with intricate curves and paths, then the fret saw is the one for you. Although it has quite a weird design with a large C-shaped frame, it makes up for it by letting you do all sorts of jobs that require a delicate touch.

The fret saw usually has 32 teeth per inch, which makes it suitable for making detailed cuts. The good thing about the fret saw is that it lets you reach much deeper wood areas. This is again due to its large frame size.

The only downside of this saw is that you can’t rotate it. The blade is in a fixed position relative to the frame. This also means that new users might need to use the saw with a handle along a vertical axis to prevent the saw from wobbling out of the desired direction.


2 – Rip Saw

Rip Cut SawThen we have the rip saw. This is probably the type of saw that you might have seen in horror movies or shows. But don’t worry. It has many other useful purposes rather than just scaring people.

The blade of the rip saw is quite long as compared to the handle. And it has teeth at different angles, which give it chisel-like capabilities. You can use the saw to make rough cuts on a push stroke.

This makes the rip saw quite efficient for cutting down woods and large branches. More precisely, the saw lets you cut parallel to the grain. This allows for much cleaner cuts.


3 – Veneer Saw

Veneer SawIf you are new to the woodworks business, you might want to know what a veneer means. Quite simply, a veneer is a thin wood covering over a rougher piece of wood.

Veneers are basically used to give final finishing touches to anything made out of wood. For example, tables or cupboards made out of wood are covered with veneer.

A veneer saw, quite obviously then, is used to cut veneers. However, it can also be used to cut out plastics.

The blade of the saw is curved and small, with approximately 13 teeth per inch. Given the small size and such a granular structure of the teeth, the saw is good for carving out small areas.


4 – Back Saw

Back SawBack saws are incredibly powerful saws that can give you sharp and smooth cuts. Usually, back saws are used for making complex dovetail cuts and even for carving out miter for wood joints.

Back saws are known for their stability when cutting hard pieces of wood. This is because they usually come with a metal or brass lining on the top of the blade, which prevents the blade from shaking.

The actual blade that does the cutting is quite thin. This makes it ideal for making complex cuts, such as those required for making a wood joint. And so, the teeth structure of the saw is pretty close-knit, with the spaces between the teeth being less.


5 – Coping Saw

Coping Saw in GeneralA coping saw, as the name implies, is mainly used for cutting coping joints. Coping joints are curved cuttings cut into the wood to join it with another piece that may not have square corners.

The saw, more or less, looks like a fret saw but has a D-Shaped frame with a thin blade tightened at the lower end.

The blade usually has 15 teeth per inch, which means that the coping saw is designed to cut out intricate shapes rather than be used for heavy-duty wood-cutting.

Overall, the size of the saw may come around to be 6-inches long. Also, you can remove the blade from the frame. The teeth of the saw are pointing toward the handle. This means that the saw cuts on the pull stroke.

Unlike the fret saw, the coping saw can be rotated by simply loosening up the handle a little bit.


6 – Keyhole Saw

Keyhole SawThe saw gets its name from the way it looks. It has a long blade that becomes thinner until the end, where the blade reduces to a point-sized edge. It is kind of similar to a dagger.

The keyhole saw is sometimes also known as the “jab saw” because of its ability to jab into things like drywall. Plus, the incredibly thin blade-line makes it quite a quirky tool because you can carve out all sorts of strange shapes.

You can use a keyhole saw either with a fixed blade or a retractable one. Retractable keyhole saws can be a bit expensive. But these saws hold the blade tight in place, which makes it easier to cut.


7 – Frame Saw

Frame sawsIf you ever want to go old-school and experience cutting wood in a totally exotic manner, then you should probably get your hands on a frame saw.

These saws have been around on the planet earth for quite some time now – maybe more than a century. They have a rectangular wooden frame with a blade fixed right in the middle.

The way you cut wood from this is by placing the blade on one corner of the wood and then sawing it down. So basically, the wood actually goes past through the frame as you move further down.

You can also use this to cut stones.

However, frame saws are quite hard to find these days. They have been replaced by a more modern type of handsaws such as the back saw. But of course, searching for it can be fun. You never know what you might find.


8 – Wallboard Saw

Wallboard SawIf you are into drywalls or work with a lot of drywall construction, then the wallboard saw is the perfect companion for you.

It has a shape similar to that of the keyhole saw, but the blade is rather short and wide. And the tip of the saw is pointed. This helps in making holes into drywall.

Wallboard saws come with a low number of teeth per inch. This makes it quite a suitable tool for making rough cuts.

Usually, the blade of wallboard saws is double-edged. This means that the teeth can be found on both the top and bottom sides of the blade.


9 – Bow Saw

Bow SawNo, a bow saw does not have a bow and an arrow! It’s basically a saw that has a frame that is shaped like a bow.       Not only does it have a cool and fancy look, but it also offers great performance.

It is primarily meant to be used in the outdoors. The blade is held tightly across the frame, and given its long and narrow design, the blade can very conveniently cut through branches and firewood.

In fact, the saw can cut branches that are up to six inches in diameter. You can also use the saw for other purposes such as pruning or trimming down trees. This is because the blade has multiple cross-cut teeth that are sharp and strong.


10 – Japanese Saw

Japanese SawThe Japanese Saw is an incredible saw when it comes to cutting with a pull stroke. Known also by the name of “nokogiri,” the saw comes with a thin and long blade usually used for delicate woodworks such as those involving carpentry.

For those who do not know what it means to have a saw with a “pull stroke”, – it basically refers to the fact that while cutting, you cannot push down on the saw with your body weight. This can break the blade.

Push strokes, in contrast, are the ones that allow you to put your weight onto the saw, as it helps with cutting hardwood. With pull saws, you need to be quite careful as they are meant for light work and have more to do with design and precision.


11 – Pruning Saw

Pruning SawWhat kind of saw do you think would be required for excellent pruning? Well, it’s quite simple – a pruning saw! Ok. Maybe it’s not that simple.

Although it is correct that you would require a pruning saw, but what exactly is a pruning saw anyway?     

Quite frankly, it has quite a strange shape. With a handle similar to that of a gun, and a long, curved blade, the saw can definitely scare the wits out of someone if they see you standing near them with it at night.

But let’s not talk about these alternative uses. Pruning saws have curved blades around 13-inches long and can prune areas that are heavy in vegetation.

This is because the long side of the blade allows the saw to reach deeper ends and give nice and clean cuts. Also, the pistol-like handle lets you have a strong grip and prevents slipping.


12 – Camping/Folding Saw

Folding SawWe all desperately need a nice, relaxing camping trip in the outskirts, surrounded by nature with trees and grass, probably hiking up sinuous tracts of the majestic hills.

But what is it that keeps us from doing it? Probably those annoying branches with thorns that may cause you damage on the trip. Or perhaps other things too. But thorny branches are among the many reasons for sure.

So what can you do about it? Well, get yourself a nice camping saw! A saw that comes in many shapes and sizes, a camping saw is lightweight and portable with a small but sharp blade.

They can also be foldable, which means you don’t have to worry about storing them. Simply fold the saw in and keep it in your pocket.


13 – Bone Saw

Bone SawsSo, you want to cut bones? Don’t worry; bones in this context imply animal bones. If you are a professional butcher, then a handy bone saw would be the perfect tool for you to do your job in peace.

Since cutting bones is never a clean business, you can expect the blade of the bone saw to be quite tough. And so, most bone saws have a blade made out of stainless steel – the good ones at least.

The blade is quite large and usually rectangular in shape, and the overall size of the saw is relatively small.


Power/Electric Saws

Unlike manual handsaws, power saws can be operated through electricity or a battery. Most saws in this category are used for doing crafty woodworks. However, there are some which can be used to prune gardens as effectively as handsaws.

Portable power saws are a bit easier to operate as they don’t require a lot of manual effort – at least not as much as a manual saw.

However, those who are worried about safety will find handsaws to be more appropriate than power saws. This is because blades of power saws move at incredibly high speeds. And even the slightest bit of carelessness can lead to accidents.

1 – Chainsaw

ChainsawsA chainsaw is one of the most common types of a power saw. As the name suggests, a chainsaw has a chain linked to the teeth of the saw. The chain rotates when the saw is powered on, which helps cut down various types of material.

A chainsaw can be powered by gas, electricity, or a battery. They are usually used for felling trees, pruning and may also be used for cutting down concrete.

Gas-powered chainsaws are the ones that have the highest power rating. However, one downside of a chainsaw is that it vibrates a lot. This is again due to its high power. So, you will need quite a strong grip to work with them.


2 – Circular Saw

Circular SawIf you are looking for an all-purpose saw that offers excellent performance, then a circular saw might be the one for you.   

Meant to cut materials like wood, plastic, ceramic, and even stones, a circular saw uses a circular-shaped blade – that’s where it gets its name – which can have a diameter of up to 9 inches.

Professional laborers on construction sites mostly use it. Due to this, the saw is usually optimized to work with either the left or right hand. This gives people the option to work the way they want.

Lastly, it’s also pretty lightweight and portable. This makes it quite easy to carry around worksites.


3 – Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating sawWith a large, powerful blade along with a nice, portable design, the reciprocating saw is a highly versatile power saw that will help you with heavy-duty cutting such as that required in demolition or construction works.

The specialty of the reciprocating saw is its blade. More specifically, the saw’s blade can move back and forth to cut down wood or plastic – hence the name “reciprocating.”

This means you can cut with both a push and pull stroke. The handle of the saw allows you to hold it effectively when cutting down in a vertical position.

You can get a corded saw or a cordless one as well. Of course, cordless ones will need to be charged.


4 – Jigsaw

JigsawJigsaw also has a reciprocating blade. That is, the blade can move back and forth to make intricate cuts. These saws are specifically designed for carving out curves and other patterns for aesthetics.

Not only are they good at cutting wood, but they can also be used on materials made out of metal.

Most jigsaws these days come in a portable variety, so you can carry them anywhere you like, without the need to be restricted by a long cord.

Also, jigsaws are incredibly good at cutting angles of around 45°. This makes them an excellent tool for carving out miter joints.


5 – Oscillating Saw

Oscillating SawsMore famously known as “multi-tool,” the oscillating saw is a type of saw whose blade oscillates. Oscillation is kind of a vibrating movement from a fixed point. It is different from reciprocating.

The oscillation gives the saw the ability to be used for a wide variety of purposes. This includes grinding, scraping, and even polishing. The small size of the blade again makes it possible to make curved cuts.

In fact, you can get different types of blades that can be fitted with the oscillating saw. Each blade gives the saw a specific ability. For example, you can get blades that are meant for masonry, tiling, sanding, etc. But if you just want to cut, you can simply get a basic cutting blade.


6 – Table Saw

If you like to have larger areas to work on or want a dedicated place to do your woodwork, perhaps a table saw is the one for you. Or, if you just love tables, then this one is definitely for you.

From the name, one might guess that a table saw is a saw for chopping down tables or perhaps building one as well. However, this is not entirely accurate.

A table saw basically comes with a circular blade protruding out of a table. You can adjust the blade up and down to have the right measure of depth. So, the more upwards the blade is, the deeper you will be cutting down your material.

And as you might have already realized, you have to push the material through the blade to cut it out. This means that you can only do straight cuts with a table saw.

That’s quite a bummer since, given the size of the entire thing, all you can do is cut straight. Plus, the setup is not easily movable as well.

More importantly, it is hazardous since you have to bring your fingers near the blade as you push the material through the blade.


7 – Band Saw

Band SawBand saws come in two types – stationary and portable. Stationary bandsaws are huge in size, consisting of a functional table that has the blade attached. The blade has evenly distributed teeth, making bandsaws quite versatile as they can do all sorts of cuts.

Due to their size, stationary bandsaws are usually placed in workshops to stay permanently without moving them. You can use it to cut metal, wood, and plastic.

Then there’s the portable variety. Portable bandsaws can be carried easily, and more or less, have the same uses as the stationary bandsaw. However, portable saws won’t be able to cut large materials.


8 – Miter Saw

Miter SawThis one’s easy. A miter saw is used to make miter cuts. A miter cut is basically an angled cut. This is usually done to join two or more pieces of wood. The juncture is called a miter joint.

Miter saws again have a circular blade that can be used to cut at almost any angle. The blade can have a size of up to 12-inches. You can also use the saw to trim or molding materials like wood, metal, or plastic.

The saw is portable, so you don’t need to be locked in a single location when using this tool. The way to use it is that you will need to place the material onto a board and pull the blade in the direction you want to cut.


9 – Scroll Saw

Scroll SawAre you ever dazzled by the light, detailed designs on wood? Do you ever wonder how these might have been made? Well, you shall wonder no more. The secret to these beautiful designs is the scroll saw. That is, in addition to the talent of the woodworker.

Scroll saws have an excellent blade that moves in a constant oscillating fashion. Due to this, they can be used to make all kinds of curved patterns on wood or metal.

The saw got its name because of its use in making scroll designs, usually found in ornaments and many decoration pieces.


10 – Flooring Saw

Floor SawA flooring saw is used for replacing floors or materials that are used for flooring. This may include bamboo, laminate, etc.

Basically, the saw gives you nice and clean cuts that can be used to install strong and sturdy floors. Again, the saw has a circular blade in shape and rotates at speeds of up to 11,000 revolutions per minute! You can also use specialized blades for hardwood or laminate flooring.

The best part about this saw is that you don’t need to be a specialist to use it. Watching a couple of videos is enough for you to replace your floor by yourself.


11 – Radial Arm Saw

Radial Arm SawA fancy name for a saw, don’t you think? But a radial saw is simply a machine that has a circular blade with an arm-like structure on top that is horizontally positioned.

The miter saw has mostly replaced the saw. But back in the day, it was also used to make angled cuts. But it can be used to make cuts for dado. A dado is simply a trench-like opening made into a piece of wood.

The arm can be used to turn the blade around. This helps set the blade in a direction that allows you to have a particular type of cut.


12 – Chop Saw

Chop SawA chop saw is mainly used for making straight cuts. It comes with a toothless blade that is circular in shape. You can use it with masonry or metal. The saw is perfect for doing cross-cuts, and it comes in four different types.

There are standard chop saws that can only do straight vertical cuts. Compound chop saws, on the other hand, can be used to make cuts at an angle. But if you want to make bevel cuts, then the dual-compound chop saw is the best.

Lastly,   the most flexible one is the sliding-compound chop saw which can cut back and forth motion.


13 – Rotary Saw

Rotary SawLike a drill in shape and purpose, the rotary saw is mainly used to make holes in drywall. They usually have a single handle with a small blade.

People usually consider a rotary saw as being related to a keyhole saw. The only difference being that a rotary saw is either battery or electric-powered, while a keyhole saw is a manual tool.

The advantage of using a rotary saw, though, is that you don’t need to make pilot holes in drywalls. The saw is precise enough to make the actual hole in the first go.


Final Verdict

Always compile the requirements of your project before deciding on any specific Saw. There is no Universal type saw to do all jobs, but it can be multi-tasking like for woodwork and metalwork by just changing the saw blade type.


Video Guide | What type of saw do I need for which job?

David Houghton
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