The 5 Best Types of Saws for Home Improvement Projects (2022)

Here’s a look at the 5 best types of saws to use on your DIY home improvement projects.

Author:
Mark Clement
Publish Date:
Updated Oct 26, 2022

What are the best types of saws for DIY projects? Well the most important saw I have in the shop or on a restoration job site is the one I need to do the task in front of me at that moment. Whether you’re undercutting a door jamb to add a new floorboard or tile, or cutting out studs and plates from a horribly remuddled partition wall addition, the phrase “right tool for the job” exists because it’s true. The reason the saw at hand is the most important isn’t because it’s fancy or expensive or refined; it’s because restoration success is about doing all the steps well with the right tool. If I can’t do a task—large or small, difficult or easy—progress comes to a halt.

I mainly rely on five saws to see me through: a reciprocating saw, circular saw, miter saw, table saw, and a Japanese handsaw. While having these saws is great, it’s only half the battle. Using them efficiently and safely is the other half. Everything from the right blade to the right accessory combines to make good work great and keep your restoration train running down the rails.

Reciprocating Saw

The 5 Best Types of Saws for Home Improvement Projects (1)

A reciprocating saw–also known as a “recip saw” or “hognose saw”–was invented by the Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation in the 1950s and branded Sawzall, is used mainly for demolition. While this word is generally anathema in a restoration context, I’ve seen many wonderful old homes chopped up into rental units where what once were doors have been studded up and drywalled over. Then there are the original basements retrofitted with awful 1970s paneling and landscapes littered with rusting store-bought metal sheds.

The 5 Best Types of Saws for Home Improvement Projects (2)

Chances are very good that as an old-house restorer, you’ll need to take some things apart before you can have a shot at putting them back together, and the tool for this go-hard-or-go-home work is a reciprocating saw.

(Video) 5 Different Types Of Saws || Dr Decks

Choosing the Right Blade for a Reciprocating Saw

For cutting through most construction-related material, I use a 10″ “demolition” blade on my reciprocating saw. Designed to take a beating, these blades’ small, hook-shaped teeth are configured for cutting the hodgepodge of nail-embedded wood, plaster, drywall, and just about anything else you’ll find.

Outdoors, if I’m cutting apart a metal shed or some fence posts, I’ll use a metal-cutting blade. Since unsupported metal will usually flop around, I minimize that vibration by pressing the shoe of the saw firmly against the work.

If I have to cut tree branches (or roots, for that matter, which are common obstacles in post holes) I swap out the blade for one with more aggressive teeth, such as the Skil “ugly blade.”

Reciprocating Saws Make Demolition Easier

One thing I really rely on this saw for is what I call smart demolition—in other words, I can use it to remove an item carefully. Take, for example, a door opening that’s been covered over with studs and drywall. I can use the reciprocating saw to cut the drywall away in manageable pieces. Then, instead of pounding on the studs nailed into the jambs and floor to pry the nails or dislodge the wood (which doesn’t work, by the way), I run the saw between the member that’s staying and the one that’s going, and cut the nails. This frees the work piece without bashing it, and minimizes both work and collateral damage.

Circular Saw

The 5 Best Types of Saws for Home Improvement Projects (3)

Circular saws are the big daddy tool for just about any project, and they come in two flavors: sidewinder and worm drive:

  • Sidewinders are lighter and smaller, and generally have the blade on the right side and the motor projecting out the left.
  • Worm drives are front-heavy, in-line saws named for the worm gear inside that turns the blade. I’m a worm-drive guy myself—its configuration jibes with the way I work, letting me make my cuts faster—but both configurations get the job done.

Restoration projects often require rough carpentry—a floor has been damaged by a longtime leak; a porch is falling apart; the bathroom floor framing has been eviscerated by previous plumbers. A circular saw is the go-to tool for cross-cutting and ripping framing members and sheet stock like plywood.

Using a Circular Saw to Remove Flooring

A circular saw is also the tool you need for removing a damaged floorboard.You simply make two passes down the length of the damaged board—enough to get a bar in there—then carefully pry the two pieces free. Removing the bottom of the groove on your replacement piece lets you easily lay it into the void.

(Video) What type of saw do I need for which job?

Setting the circular saw to the right depth and keeping a keen eye on the blade will enable you to make the precise cut required for removing damaged floorboard because you want to cut up to—but not into—the adjoining floorboard. This is one of the many reasons I like worm drives: Despite weighing nearly twice that of a sidewinder, the blade is on the left, so as a right-hander, I can see what I’m doing without craning my neck over the saw.

Using a Circular Saw to Trim Door Bottoms & Stiles

A circular saw, a straight-edge called a shoot-board, and a fresh blade are my first picks for trimming door bottoms and stiles. I can set the saw and straight-edge to make precise cuts in century-old doors to square them up for new openings. The worm drive’s in-line body easily passes by the clamps that hold the straight-edge down—not always possible with a sidewinder’s outboard motor.

Miter Saw

The 5 Best Types of Saws for Home Improvement Projects (4)

If there’s a core to my tool setup, it’s the miter saw. While it can be used for cross-cutting framing, angling pergola rafters, or slamming through umpteen fire-blocks, it is primarily a finish tool I rely on for trim—base, casing, chair rail, crown—and my standard is a 12″ dual bevel sliding compound miter saw.


Bonus: See our review of the sliding compound miter saw.

Set Up a Proper Work Station For Your Miter Saw

But a miter saw isn’t magic. In order for it to really shine, it needs to be set up properly—not on the ground with a couple of bricks on either side—to hold up a 12′ length of crown molding.

While I’ve built a custom work table for my miter saw, you can buy stands or build out less involved setups with just a few 2x4s, a sheet of ¾” plywood, and some 2×4 blocks.

The Importance of Infeed & Outfeed Support

Whatever route you choose, the thing that makes a miter saw effective is what’s called infeed and outfeed support—surfaces on the left and right of the saw that support the work, enabling you to cut it accurately.

(Video) Types of Saw and Their Uses | Different Types of Saw

The 5 Best Types of Saws for Home Improvement Projects (5)

Having this allows you to see what you’re doing—notably which side of your pencil line the blade is passing through. When I position the work in my miter saw, I look right down the blade plate and line up my pencil mark with the edge of a blade tooth, making sure to keep the thickness of the blade on the waste side of the piece. It might sound simple, but it takes practice.

Choosing the Right Blade for a Miter Saw

Use premium blades for premium work, like Vermont-American’s King Carbide or Ridgid’s titanium-coated sawblades. They’re expensive but worth it, because they cut accurately and cleanly, and you can sharpen them multiple times.

Portable Table Saw

The 5 Best Types of Saws for Home Improvement Projects (6)

Another “frame-to-finish” tool, a table saw is designed to cut planks down their length, a process called ripping.

While some portable job-site table saws are capable of opening wide enough to cut a 24″-wide piece of sheet stock like MDF or plywood, they’re really not designed for it, and it’s dangerous (not to mention almost universally inaccurate) to try. This is the domain of the circular saw (and shoot-board, if you need accuracy), or full-fledged contractor or cabinet saw with infeed and outfeed support.

Uses For Table Saws

Table saws are the main tool for tuning a board to the right width and sometimes thickness. They’re hyper-handy on any project using tongue-and-groove material like flooring or pine paneling. Not only can you use a table saw to rip boards to make graceful transitions around corners, but you can remove the bottom or back part of a groove to lay it over the tongue of the previous board as you near the end of a run. You also can use them to cut the parts for a cabinet face frame, or to trim cedar starter-strips or final pieces on siding jobs.

Bonus: See our review of the portable table saw.

(Video) Types of Power Saws | The Home Depot

Much like the miter saw, a table saw benefits from outfeed support. I’ve had terrible luck with the various roller stands you can buy in stores. However, a site-made table that’s a little lower than the saw’s deck works great. One of my favorites is a Rockwell Jawhorse with a 2×4 T-clamped in the jaws at the right height.

Choosing the Right Blade for a Table Saw

The 5 Best Types of Saws for Home Improvement Projects (7)

When cutting material that will show—say, a threshold for a flooring project, parts for a bookcase, or a column wrap—the better the blade, the fewer saw marks that will appear in the cut.Always look for saw marks on an appearance-face cut and sand them out, because they become glaring once painted or stained.

The Freud Fusion blade is one of the best all-around table saw blades I’ve worked with. It leaves a very clean cut and ably handles most materials.

One final note: If you’re super-serious about woodworking or doing a large-scale molding or cabinet package where you’re milling the parts, a job-site-type table saw isn’t enough tool. It will get you by, but the heavier iron of a contractor or cabinet saw will do it better. They’re bigger, more expensive, and not intended to be moved often, but they deliver the power and stability that type of work demands.

Japanese Handsaw

I’ve already said that the most important type of saw I have is the one I’m using at the moment. However, a saw that continually gets me out of scrapes is my Japanese handsaw.

The 5 Best Types of Saws for Home Improvement Projects (8)

I don’t use it frequently, and you could make the case that the raft of new oscillating tools could take its place, but I love it for undercutting door jambs to accept new flooring. I can run the tool flat and make the cut easily—about a hundred times better than any jamb saw I’ve ever seen.

(Video) 5 Best Miter Saws for 2023 [ Top Rated Models ]

The tool cuts on the pull stroke (most Japanese saws do this), and because in most cases the teeth go all the way to the end of the blade (check before buying), I can essentially cut out of a corner.

Bonus: See our review of the Japanese handsaw.

The Right Saw for the Job

There are more types of saws, of course, and all have critical-need uses:A jab saw for working plasterboard, plaster, or drywall; a coping saw—one of my absolute favorites—for inside corners on various moldings (molding is almost always more accurately installed by coping rather than mitering); even a chainsaw for anything from lot-clearing to firewood. But no matter how big or small your stock of saws, the most important tool in your arsenal is the one you need to get the job done.

FAQs

What is the best type of saw for home projects? ›

Circular Saw

Circular saws are the big daddy tool for just about any project, and they come in two flavors: sidewinder and worm drive: Sidewinders are lighter and smaller, and generally have the blade on the right side and the motor projecting out the left.

What are the 4 types of saw? ›

Some of the most common types of saws include:
  • Band Saw. A band saw is a floor-standing saw that works similar to a jig saw, but in this case, you have the benefit of a stationary table setup. ...
  • Chainsaw. ...
  • Jig Saw. ...
  • Chop Saw. ...
  • Circular Saw. ...
  • Reciprocating Saw. ...
  • Compound Mitre Saw. ...
  • Mitre Saw.
11 Mar 2020

What is the most useful power saw? ›

Here are the best power saws of 2021
  • Best circular saw: Makita 5007MG Magnesium Circular Saw.
  • Best miter saw: DeWalt 15-Amp DWS779 Compound Miter Saw.
  • Best table saw: DeWalt DWE7491RS 15-Amp Table Saw.
  • Best jigsaw: Makita XVJ03Z 18V Jigsaw.
  • Best reciprocating saw: Milwaukee M18 Fuel Super Sawzall.
12 Aug 2021

What is the most effective lumber saw? ›

Thomas' Top Picks for the Best Saws for Cutting Wood in 2022
  • Best JigSaw for Woodcutting: BLACK+DECKER BDEJS600C JigSaw 5.0 Amp | Buy Now.
  • Best Dual-Bevel Compound Woodworking Miter Saw: Makita Cordless 6.5-Inch Compact, Dual-Bevel Compound Miter Saw | Buy Now.

What type of saw is best for small projects? ›

DIY projects: If you're new to DIY and saws, or don't have a lot of room for a saw, a hand saw and miter box are a great place to start. It can be used for most projects where you would use a miter saw. It's great for DIY furniture projects, installing baseboard molding, molding around windows and doors, plus more.

How many types of saws are there? ›

32 Different Types of Saws and Their Uses
  • Hand Saws. Back Saw. Bow Saw. Coping Saw. Crosscut Saw. Fret Saw. Hacksaw. Hole Saw. Japanese Saw. Keyhole Saw. Pole Saw. Pruning Saw. ...
  • Power Saws. Stationary Band Saw. Portable Band Saw. Chainsaw. Chop Saw. Circular Saw. Compound Miter Saw. Flooring Saw. Jigsaw. Miter Saw. Oscillating Saw. ...
  • Conclusion.
7 Apr 2021

What is the most accurate saw? ›

Compound miter saws are used to make precise and accurate cuts in any material. In most cases, these cuts need to be made at an angle – getting the angle right is something most people struggle with. To that end, compound miter saws offer you the ability to make angled cuts after carefully measuring.

What is the first saw I should buy? ›

A jigsaw is great for cutting curves and shapes, and it can also be used with a guide to make straight cuts, which is why this is the first power saw you should own. Unless you plan to rip long sheets of plywood, a jigsaw is preferable over a circular saw.

What is the most common saw in the construction industry? ›

The circular saw is perhaps the most commonly used saw today, used extensively in both professional construction projects and DIY home improvement. This power tool uses a round metal blade edged with sharp teeth to cut an array of material such as woods, metals, cement block, brick, fiberglass, plastics and slate.

What kind of saw is most versatile? ›

The table saw, in my opinion, is the most versatile tool in the shop and should be your first major purchase. Next up is the Miter Saw. The miter saw does one thing but it does it really well. The Miter saw will cross cut wood better and faster than pretty much any other tool.

What saw is best for thick wood? ›

Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating saws are designed for demolition, not for woodworking, but for rough cuts in heavy stock, like landscape timbers or thick joists, they'll get the job done.

How do I choose a saw? ›

In order to choose the right tool for you, it is important to know the cutting height you need, as well as the type of teeth of the blade, which will depend on the material to be cut. There are band saws for wood, steel or aluminium.

Which saw is best for demolition? ›

A Reciprocating Saw is a handheld saw commonly used for demolition and remodeling. You can use it to cut through many types of materials such as wood, metal, PVC and nails.

What saw is best for cutting plywood? ›

A circular saw, or skill saw, is a common tool used to cut plywood.

What is the strongest type of saw blade? ›

Diamond blades cut concrete, marble, granite, ceramic, and glass materials. These are usually the strongest types of blades. Tip: When cutting through stone blocks, you'll want to start with a scoring cut that's about 1/4 inch deep.

What are the 3 primary types of mechanical saws? ›

Metal-cutting power saws are of three basic types: (1) power hacksaws, (2) band saws, and (3) circular disk saws.

What saws are used for wood? ›

Tenon saws are best used for cutting across the wood grain, as opposed to along it - that's where you'll need a rip saw or panel saw.

Which saws are most commonly used for hardwood flooring projects? ›

What Do You Use to Cut Hardwood Floors?
  • A Miter Saw – A miter saw is your best choice if you can only purchase or rent one type of saw. ...
  • A Table Saw - Table saws are best at ripping long planks or large pieces of wood. ...
  • A Reciprocating Saw – ...
  • A Circular Saw – ...
  • A Jig Saw – ...
  • A Jamb Saw –
19 Apr 2021

What is an all purpose saw? ›

Rip saw: A rip saw, or tooth saw, is an all-purpose tool for woodworking when you want to make rough cuts. The teeth alternate between left and right bends, working like a chisel for cutting parallel to the grain. A rip saw cuts only on the push stroke to craft a clean cut along the grain.

What is the 3 tooth rule for sawing? ›

You should have a minimum of 3 teeth in the work at all times; having 6 to 9 teeth in the work is the optimum number; but more than 20 is too many teeth in the work.

What are the 3 main types of sawn timber? ›

When lumber is cut from logs, it is typically cut in one of three ways: quarter sawn, rift sawn or plain sawn. Each type of lumber is dependent on how the log is oriented and cut at the sawmill.

What are the 2 sawing methods for lumber? ›

The most common methods are plain sawing, quarter sawing, and rift sawing.

What is a band saw and what is its best use? ›

A bandsaw (also written band saw) is a power saw with a long, sharp blade consisting of a continuous band of toothed metal stretched between two or more wheels to cut material. They are used principally in woodworking, metalworking, and lumbering, but may cut a variety of materials.

What is the circular saw best used for? ›

A circular saw is a utilitarian workhorse and a useful addition to the toolkit of DIYers. Its most common function is to make cuts in a straight line on pieces of lumber. Knowing its parts makes using a circular saw easier.

What makes a good band saw? ›

Every band saw should have a cast-iron, steel, or aluminum alloy table which tilts up to 45-degrees for angled cuts. The table will typically be about 16-inches in both width and length, equipped with a miter track. Look for band wheels that have tires with cleaning brushes to keep the wheels clean.

Which saw blades make the smoothest cut? ›

With fewer spaces between the teeth, crosscut blades remove less material, resulting in a smoother cut. It also means it takes these blades longer to move through wood. Crosscut blades are the go-to choice for finish carpentry and other applications that require precision and a smooth finish.

What saw causes the most injuries? ›

Compared to other home power tools (including nail guns, chain saws, and circular saws), table saws are the most dangerous home power tool and can deliver catastrophic injuries. Table saw accidents account for somewhere in the neighborhood of 67,000 recorded injuries every year.

What length hand saw is best? ›

Of the many types of hand saws out there of various lengths, the 26" is the one that provides the most efficient cutting because it puts the most teeth to work over the distance of the typical human arm movement.

Which saw is best for beginner woodworker? ›

Jigsaw. Every beginning woodworker should invest in a decent jigsaw. They're also called saber saws because of their reciprocating, saber-like blade. These electric power tools are designed to make intricate cuts that can be straight, curved or serpentine.

What is the safest saw for beginners? ›

The jigsaw is a very safe power saw that's simple to use properly. It's lightweight, easy to handle, and has a small blade that is not too close to anything other than your fingers.

What 5 tools are most common in carpentry? ›

  • Hammers. Hammers are the most common tools that almost everyone has in their home. ...
  • Tape measure. Another essential tool to add to your carpenter's kit is a good tape measure. ...
  • Squares. ...
  • Bubble Levels. ...
  • Utility Knife. ...
  • Marking Tools. ...
  • Screwdrivers. ...
  • Circular Saw.
22 Jul 2016

Which tool is the most commonly used in carpentry works? ›

Claw Hammer: Claw hammer is one of the most common tools used in carpentry. There is a well-counterbalanced claw on one side of the head and the other side is rounded.

What kind of saw is used to cut concrete? ›

Use a standard circular saw, equipped with a corundum or diamond blade, for small tasks. For slabs, it's best to cut through the top inch, then use a sledgehammer to break off the rest. The jagged edge left below the cutting line provides a good rough edge for the new concrete to bond to.

What is the most common saw? ›

The iconic handsaw is the most popular saw in most workshops. It's been in use for thousands of years and is currently the go-to saw for miter boxes and basic carpentry. The hacksaw is made for cutting plastics and metals and consists of a fine-toothed blade affixed to a frame under tension.

What is the most versatile woodworking tool? ›

Table saw: Of all of the tools in the shop, the table saw is the most useful and versatile. It excels at making straight cuts, and with the addition of any of a million jigs, can be made to perform an amazing number of tasks with repeatability and precision.

What is the hardest wood to cut? ›

1. Australian Buloke – 5,060 IBF. An ironwood tree that is native to Australia, this wood comes from a species of tree occurring across most of Eastern and Southern Australia. Known as the hardest wood in the world, this particular type has a Janka hardness of 5,060 lbf.

What should I look for in a skill saw? ›

Features that help you work effectively with a circular saw include accurate cutline markers, good blade visibility, smooth guard retraction, and a flat shoe set parallel to the blade. The best cutline markers line up exactly with the kerf cut by the saw. You want a notch no wider than a thin-kerf saw blade.

Do cordless circular saws have enough power? ›

The Bottom Line on Cordless Circular Saw Performance

While there's still a performance gap between corded and cordless circular saws, most cordless models now have the cutting power to handle just about any job.

What is the most versatile saw for home use? ›

The table saw, in my opinion, is the most versatile tool in the shop and should be your first major purchase. Next up is the Miter Saw. The miter saw does one thing but it does it really well. The Miter saw will cross cut wood better and faster than pretty much any other tool.

What kind of saw do I need for wood crafts? ›

If you're working with softwoods, then a handsaw or coping saw will suffice. For hardwoods, you will need a power saw such as a circular saw or jigsaw. Consider the sort of blade you'll need when selecting a wood saw. Some blades are better for cutting softwoods, while others work better on hardwoods.

What is the most common type of 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.

What saw is best for plywood? ›

A circular saw, or skill saw, is a common tool used to cut plywood.

What is the number 1 table saw? ›

Best table saw overall. The DeWalt 15-Amp DWE7491RS combines portability and power in a rugged, easy-to-use package, and its extendable fence can fit large boards and sheets.

What is the easiest wood to saw? ›

Cedar and plywoods are recommended as good woods to practice on while some recommend a good quality Baltic birch (Scroll Saw Forums). We actually recommend Poplar as the best practice wood because it has a more even grain than pine, meaning you can cut at an even speed without worrying about changing blades.

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