25 Types of Saws & Their Uses

Saws have been an essential tool for a very long time. And with time, saws have been specialized for different purposes and projects. This leaves us with an overwhelming variety of saws to choose from.

To help make your decision easier, here’s a quick guide on some popular saw types along with how and when to use them.

Circular Saw

A circular saw makes use of a circular blade; as the blade spins, it can be used to cut a variety of materials

Typically, the term circular saw refers to a portable circular saw, which is handheld and very convenient for tasks such as cutting lumber. Circular saws are not appropriate for trimming trees or other tasks which involve working without a stable surface.

Table of Contents

12 Types Of Non-Electrical Saws

Back Saw

A back saw is so named because it is reinforced along its spine by a stiffening rib. This keeps the otherwise thin saw blade from bending when the saw is pushed.

It is usually used when a fine, precise cut is required. It can only be used for shallower cuts, because the stiffening rib limits the depth to which you can cut.

It is often used in woodworking and may also be called a miter saw or tenon saw.

Small Hand saw
Back Saw

Bow Saw

A bow saw has a strong metal frame that is shaped like a
bow, hence the name bow saw. The bow frame holds the blade in tension. It has a relatively long blade and is typically used in outdoor settings.

Bow saws make quick, rough cuts thanks to their crosscut
teeth. They are best used in outdoors applications, such as for trimming trees. They are appropriate for woodworking, where intricate cuts are often required.

Bow Saw
Bow Saw

Coping Saw 

A coping saw is a specialized type of bow saw used to cut intricate shapes in woodworking. It can be used for creating internal or external shapes.

Coping saws are typically designed to cut only on the pull stroke. This gives the user greater control.

Coping saws can be used for cutting curves, molding, trim work or scrolling.

Coping Saw
Coping Saw

Photo by Pitoutom

Crosscut Saw

A crosscut saw is any type of saw designed to cut wood across the grain.

There are a variety of tooth patterns, depending on the intended use of the saw. But crosscut saw teeth universally have cutting edges that are angled in an alternating pattern.

These alternating angles cause the blade to cut in a knife-like fashion. This allows the saw to cut through wood fibers, reducing the amount of bending or warping within the workpiece.

Fret Saw

A fret saw is very similar to a coping saw. It is used for intricate cutting work, usually involving tight curves. The fret saw can cut curves of a much smaller radius than the coping saw thanks to its much shallower blade.

The fret saw has a short blade and deep frame. This results in a very unique appearance, wherein the blade seems out of proportion with the handle. Because of its deep frame, it can be used much further from the edge of the board than most saws.

Fret Saw

Hacksaw

A hacksaw is very similar to a bow saw, but it’s more versatile thanks to its finer teeth.

A hacksaw can be used to cut metal, plastic or wood. If you’re only interested in cutting wood, you should opt for the bow saw, which will make much quicker work of the cut.

hack saw
Hack Saw

Photo by Evan-Amos

Japanese Saw

There are several types of Japanese saws. The distinguishing feature is that Japanese saws cut on the pull stroke, rather than the push stroke as with most Western saws.

Cutting on the pull stroke doesn’t easily allow putting one’s body weight behind the stroke. Japanese saws are generally designed to cut softer woods, such as cypress and pine.

Japanese Saw

Keyhole Saw

A keyhole saw is a long, narrow saw that is typically used when other saws can’t get the job done. Its long, pointed shape can be used to cut starter holes in drywall or paneling.

Keyhole saws use either a fixed or a retractable blade. Due to the blade’s pointed shape, a starter hole may not be necessary.

Keyhole Saw

Photo by Pitoutom

Pruning Saw

A pruning saw has a pistol style grip and a long blade. Typically, pruning saws have wide coarse teeth that cut in both directions for faster material removal.

Pruning saws are used for removing small to medium sized limbs and branches. Their relatively small size makes pruning saws ideal for use in hard to reach places.

Pruning Saw

Photo by Brian Edgar / CC BY

Veneer Saw

A veneer saw is a highly specialized saw with a 3- to 4-inch double-edged blade. It is used almost exclusively for cutting hardwood veneer.

Veneer Saw

Photo by Johnalden / CC BY-SA

Wallboard Saw

Also called a drywall saw, a wallboard saw can be used to make cut-outs for things like electrical outlets or HVAC vents. It has fine teeth so that it doesn’t rip chunks from drywall when it’s used.

The wallboard saw isn’t designed to be used for much beyond making rough cut-outs in drywall and wood paneling.

Wallboard Saw

13 Types of Electrical Saws

Bandsaw

A bandsaw, or band saw, is a power saw that makes use of a continuous blade in the form of a band. The band has long, sharp teeth that are used to remove material, such as wood. The band is stretched between two or more wheels. Typically, one of these wheels is powered. As it rotates, the stretched band rotates with it, allowing the user to cut material.

Bandsaws can be used to cut wood, metal and other materials, such as plastic. Due to the continuous nature of the band, tooth load is distributed evenly. Unlike a hacksaw, you won’t wear out some teeth before others.

Bandsaws are available in stationary and portable formats; the stationary version is more common. The cutting depth of a portable band saw is limited by the distance between its blade and handle. A stationary bandsaw effectively has an unlimited cutting depth.

Chainsaw

A chainsaw is a portable power saw typically used to cut wood. The saw cuts using a set of teeth which are attached to a movable chain that rotates along a guide bar.

Chainsaws are powered by gas or electricity. The gas versions are typically more powerful and have a wider variety of uses. The electric or battery versions are more suitable for homeowners with only a few trees to maintain.

Chainsaws require some expertise to operate safely, and they should not be used without the proper protective equipment.

Compound-miter saw

A compound-miter saw is composed of a large, powered circular saw and sturdy frame. The frame allows the saw to rotate around the vertical axis so that it can cut a variety of horizontal angles.

Compound-miter saws also allow the saw to rotate along its horizontal axis, which allows for cutting at angles other than 90 degrees. A dual compound-miter saw allows the head to rotate in both the left and right directions. Whereas, a single compound-miter saw only rotates in a single direction. This means you have to flip the board to get angle cuts in the other direction.

Circular Saw

A circular saw makes use of a circular blade; as the blade spins, it can be used to cut a variety of materials

Typically, the term circular saw refers to a portable circular saw, which is handheld and very convenient for tasks such as cutting lumber. Circular saws are not appropriate for trimming trees or other tasks which involve working without a stable surface.

Flooring Saw

A flooring saw is a highly specialized tool that eliminates the need to set up a miter saw or a table saw. It’s a compact tool that can be used to rip boards along their length, crosscut at right angles or make angled crosscuts like a miter saw.

It’s a fairly portable tool, but it does require electricity; to date, there are no battery-powered options available. Typically, a flooring saw is used in the room where flooring is being installed, eliminating the need to carry materials back and forth during flooring installation.

Jigsaw

A jigsaw is a reciprocating saw which makes use of a shallow blade attached on one side. Thanks to its shallow blade, jigsaws can be used to make a variety of cuts. Jigsaws can be used to cut wood, metal and plastic.

The blade type determines what material can be cut and at what level of precision. Wavy set, milled teeth blades are used to cut most metals and plastic. Other blade types are used to cut wood; there is a trade-off between speed and precision when using a jigsaw.

Miter Saw

A miter saw, like a compound-miter saw, is composed of a large, powered circular saw and sturdy frame. Unlike a compound-miter saw, a standard miter saw only allows the user to make angled cuts at 90 degrees (straight up and down).

Oscillating Saw

An oscillating saw, also referred to as a multi-tool, works using a side-to-side movement (oscillation). The oscillation is very slight (less than 5 degrees) but very fast. It looks and feels like the saw is vibrating almost imperceptibly.

Oscillating saws can be equipped with a wide variety of blades. They can be used to cut wood, metal or plastic. Oscillating saws can be equipped with scraper blades for removing adhesive from underneath flooring or fitted with a sanding attachment for sanding.

Oscillating saws are usually used for small, tight jobs around the house where other saws simply can’t fit or wouldn’t be appropriate. Such applications include removing grout between tiles, cutting a copper pipe in a tough to reach spot, removing trim without damaging the wall and much more. It’s easy to see why oscillating saws are called multi-tools!

Pole Saw

A pole saw is essentially a miniature chainsaw affixed to the end of an extendable pole. It is used for trimming trees that would otherwise be impossible to reach without a ladder. A pole saw is meant to allow the user to trim trees while standing safely on the ground.

Reciprocating Saw

A reciprocating saw makes use of a blade attached at one end; it moves the blade in a push-pull (reciprocating) motion to cut through a variety of materials.

Many reciprocating saws are variable speed, which allows for more precise control of the cutting action.

Reciprocating saws are used for a variety of tasks and are a common go-to during home remodeling when cuts must be made in tough to reach places or in tight spaces. Examples include removing nails and replacing pipes.

 

Rotary Saw

A rotary saw, also called a rotary tool, spiral cut saw or cut out tool, is used to make accurate cuts in wallboard without the need for a pilot hole.

Rather than moving the blade in a push-pull motion, the rotary saw spins the blade (it rotates it!). This is what allows the saw to make cuts without the need for a pilot hole. Rotary saws were originally designed to make cuts in drywall, but they can be used to cut a variety of materials.

Scroll Saw

A scroll saw is very similar to a jigsaw. But thanks to its very shallow blade, a scroll saw can make extremely tight and intricate cuts. It gets its name from the fact that it is commonly used in scroll work.

A scroll saw typically produces very fine, smooth cuts with little need to sand after cutting.

Table Saw

A table saw, also called a bench saw, is composed a circular saw which is mounted on an arbor below the table surface. The circular saw can be moved up and down so that more or less of the blade is exposed. This allows the user to change the depth of the cut.

Table saws come in a variety of size and power ranges. They can be used to make crosscuts, rip wood or cut wood at a variety of angles.

Table saws can be quite dangerous compared to other saws. This is because when using a table saw, the user holds the material that is being cut rather than the saw itself.