A saw is one of the tools that has been around for the past few millennia. This does not come as a surprise, considering all the different purposes that you can get out of it - from doing lumberjack work to trimming trees and gardens, a saw is a versatile tool that we all have at our house.
Now, if you are a DIY enthusiast, you probably know that getting a couple of different saws is a wise investment, but how do saws differ in the first place, and are there really some things that a reciprocating saw can not do? Absolutely.
The first method of grouping different types of saws is by differentiating between hand saws and power saws. While we will get into the main aspect of these in a moment, it is important to say that both types come with a number of different subtypes, some of which are good for pruning and trimming, while others are ideal for cutting logs.
Depending on what kind of job you will need to get done, using a power saw is probably a better decision, especially if you are in a hurry and you want to stay on the safe side. Still, there are certain pros of using a hand saw, as well.
Thus, we have prepared a comparison of the two main types of saws, as well as a list and a review of the important subtypes that you may come across. Let’s take a look!
Hand Saw vs Power Saw - The Battle of the Ages
Before we get into all the different subtypes, we want to highlight the main difference between hand saws and power saws and suggest why you would go for one over the other. The first thing that is worth noting is the fact that hand saws have been around for centuries, while the power saws are tools that have been around for the past few decades at most.
However, while a classic hand saw has changed its appearance over the course of time, the concept has stayed the same - it is a manual tool that you can use for cutting logs and plastic, trimming and pruning, and performing other tasks, all depending on the subtype.
Bearing this in mind, a hand saw is affordable and doesn’t feature a lot of movable parts. Additionally, the simple design allows a beginner to quickly become familiar with all the important parts and get to work.
On the other hand, a power saw is a tool for which you will need a power source. While, for most older models, it would have to be a wall output, the newer models come with a reliable battery that can give you at least a couple of hours of continuous performance before it needs to be recharged.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the power saw is better in terms of requiring less physical effort to use, as well as being able to get through tougher material even if your hands are not that strong or sturdy. Always remember, while using a power saw, ensuring that you are wearing safety gloves, or that it has a reliable off/lock switch, is a must.
As for which one is better, the decision is all yours, and it depends on a couple of factors. If you are a fan of classic saws and you enjoy being able to manually control the direction, as well as the pressure that you are putting on the tool, then the hand saw is the right choice for you. On the other hand, for more delicate and demanding work, the power saw seems to be the go-to option.
Yes, it does feature a more complex design that you will need more experience to figure out, but, apart from that, it requires less effort, and, as long as you consider the aforementioned precautions, you will not be risking an injury.
Saying this, let's go ahead and review all the different subtypes of hand and power saws - this will allow you to get more educated on the important differences between the two, as well as all the purposes of these handy tools!
Hand Saws - The Different Subtypes
The importance of different hand saw subtypes depends on whether you are a collector or a practical craftsman. No one can deny the fact that, from the moment that hand saws first appeared, there have been a couple of design-related modifications that made it sturdier and easier to work with. The market is swirling with models that differ in size, price, and purpose.
Though, while being in a specific niche may require that you own just a few of the different subtypes, knowing what is offered will certainly not hurt you. Thus, we have prepared a list that will not only educate you on the difference between a back, coping, and crosscut saw, but also give you information on what these can be used for!
As one of the most popular hand saws on the market, the crosscut is highlighted by large, beveled teeth, as well as a thick blade. What this means is that this type of saw makes it looks easy when it comes to cutting through the rough and dense wood. Not only that, but the fact that it comes in two different variations (1-man, 2-man) will allow you to choose according to your own preference and experience.
The latter is ideal if you are on a construction site, or you are dealing with timber that needs to be cut by two people (hence, one handle on each side). The 1-man saw, on the other hand, is great for trimming branches, and cutting through dense wood.
While the crosscut comes in other variations other than these two classic models, the most important thing about it is that the handle is comfortable and that there is space between the sharp, beveled teeth.
Among the most popular variations of the traditional crosscut saw has to be the bow saw. As saw experts suggest, the bow design was actually quite common back in the early days, due to the fact that it is quite easy to maneuver and cut through rough wood with this one. The main difference between it and the aforementioned subtype is the long blade that comes with somewhat smaller, yet equally sharp, teeth.
You can perform both a pushing and pulling motion with it, helping you get a clean and precise cut. Other than that, it can be used for things such as trimming and pruning. Thus, whether you are a craftsman or a gardener, this saw something that you should invest in!
Unlike the traditional crosscut saw, the back saw features a simpler design that is highlighted by a reinforced top. The main reason that it got its name is to suggest a strong back that is reliable for working with tenons or miter boxes.
You shouldn't be surprised if you come across terms such as miter/tenon saws - the official name depends on where you live and the particular model, but know that it is for the same subtype. With a narrow blade and a short overall design, this saw is not as commonly used for everyday wood-cutting tasks.
A saw that greatly differs from both the crosscut and the backsaw is the fret saw, which is known for its long, thin blade. The thin blade does not only contribute to the appearance of this tool, but it will also allow you to get those hard to reach places and, thus, perform intricate cuts on a regular timber.
Still, it comes with its own cons, as the shape of this saw does not allow you to be that comfortable and maneuver as much as you can with the bow saw. On the other hand, the larger frame does allow you to cover a large wood surface with a single movement.
One of the best alternatives to the aforementioned fret saw has to be the coping tool. Not only is it used by experienced craftsmen on a daily basis, but also by plumbers and toymakers. This certainly is a great sign of its great quality.
What highlights this saw is a long, thin blade that will allow you to get all those precise cuts that the fret saw couldn’t help you with. The main difference between these two is that the blade is rotatable on this one, and, thus, it is more user-friendly for those with less experience.
Coming in three different variations, including dozuki, ryoba, and kataba, the Japanese Saw is a great alternative to the aforementioned back saw. What you can do with this handy tool is get into those delicate places with the thin blade, and still cut through hardwood at the same time.
On top of all that, whether you are an experienced craftsman, or someone that has just gotten their first Japanee Saw, the comfortable handle will allow you to work for hours at a time without getting exhausted. Thus, while not ideal for pruning, it certainly is great for cutting through wood!
As one of the most versatile saws on the market, the hacksaw is a favorite for plumbers and craftsman that deal with tubing work. Not only because you can efficiently go through wood, metal, and plastic, but also because working with this saw doesn’t require a lot of strength.
The fact that it is versatile, but doesn't lack blade length, is what makes it a great choice - oh yes, plus the fact that it comes with around 20-25 teeth per a single inch.
The pole saw has to be among the most innovative tools on the market. While there are models of this one that is powered, you can still get a hold of a hand pole saw that is traditional and doesn't feature a chainsawed end.
The main difference of this, compared to any other saw, is the extendable pole that will give you up to 20 feet more working height. What is this great for? Well, pruning trees and a couple of other things. The traditional blade that it features sits at anywhere from 6 to 8 inches in size.
When talking about tools that are exquisite for a specific use, the keyhole saw is one of the most common. While you may not be able to go through hardwood with this one, the round handles and a thin blade coming out of it will allow you to cut circles or other patterns. This can be handy if you are lacking space in the drywall for pulling through a power tool - draw the adequate circle on the drywall and simply use the keyhole to get it settled.
Much like the crosscut or the backsaw, this is a tool that you will have to invest in both as a collector and a craftsman. With a thick blade that features a few sharp teeth per single inch, you can’t really perform any timber or log cutting without the rip-cut. As it comes in a variety of sizes, you will get to choose the one that best fits your needs.
Now, this is one of those tools that can only be used for one specific task, and that is working with veneer. As it features a short blade with around 60 teeth in total, you can’t really adapt it for anything else. The reason? It is double-edged, thus pruning or cutting wood with it is almost impossible.
Whether you are a gardener or a lawn keeper, investing in a pruning saw is a must. No, it can’t be used for timber work, but the 15-inch blade will allow you to trim your trees to perfection. Not only that, but, since it can be used in both directions, doing so will not require a lot of physical effort. Additionally, the pistol-shaped handle ensures a comfortable, non-slip grip.
Much like the keyhole saw, this one is something that you will want in order to create a hole that you will use for getting power tools through. Still, there are a few design-related differences, such as the fact that it comes with an edge on both sides, as well as that the blade is not as long, but certainly is thick enough.
Power Saws - The Different Subtypes
While some may claim that power saws have evolved from hand saws, we want to suggest that there is much more to it than that. Given the numerous subtypes of power saws, you now have tools that can both cut circular patterns and be used for dealing with miter boxes at the same time.
Before we get into the different types of power saws, we should suggest that all are grouped either in tools with a Continuous Band, Reciprocating Blade, or a Circular Blade.
Stationary Band Saw
While you certainly will not be finding a stationary band saw at a regular DIY garage, it is a handy tool that can get through the hardest and most delicate materials. No, it doesn’t have the desired depth, but being able to deal with PVC, metal, wood, and regular plastic with something as simple as thin pulley blades and a cutting table is quite cool. It might take some time, but, at the end of the day, you should be able to get through with the task.
Portable Band Saw
With the fact that most people are used to portable saws, this one is an alternative to the aforementioned stationary band. Excluding the cutting table, it has a similar technique using the continuous blades included in the main unit. If you are a plumber, it is going to be a great tool for getting through small pipes and tubing work.
There are many different names for this tool - still, whether you use the abrasive, cut-off, or chop saw, the purpose is still the same. It is inspired by the hand circular saw, but uses a different toothless blade design in order to be able to delicately cut through most materials. Additionally, as a lot of plywood and dust is usually a result of the chop saw work, connecting it to a water line should facilitate the process. It is portable and usually comes in a full-metal design.
As one of the most common saws on the market, the regular circular saw does differ from its bigger brother. First and foremost, the blade it uses has teeth that is up to 9 inches in diameter (the whole blade). Additionally, this circular saw does come in two variations, including the one that runs using electricity and the other that is battery-powered.
Overall, this is a great tool if you are on the go and dealing with different materials, including regular masonry, PVC, wood, and metal.
You probably know this one from the popular horror movies - apart from having a cool and unique design, it is highlighted by a chain, and not a blade. It features ripping teeth that are perfect for going through soft and hard wood. Thus, if you are a lumberjack or a homeowner that needs to remove some trees, a chainsaw is a must.
If your floor needs resawing, and you want to have a portable tool to do it with, the flooring saw is a perfect choice. You will be able to get any hardwood or laminate settled, while not investing nearly as much time or effort as you would with traditional miter saws.
Compound Miter Saw
This one is the upgraded version of the traditional miter saw, and it is perfect for cutting windows or doing scrollwork. The best thing about this saw is that, instead of being able to do only up and down movements, you can easily maneuver this tool and find the most delicate angle to achieve the optimal result.
Now, while most tools are good for cutting straight lines, this particular saw is perfect if you are in need of some angled work and a cross cut or band saw will not do the job. Look for models that are battery-powered and offer a number of different speeds.
While the compound miter saw is ideal for scrollwork, this one can be used for regular cutting through wood and metal, including the ability to be adjusted up to 45 degrees to the left or right side. For things such as trimming off imperfections on wood and PVC, this tool is just perfect!
If you are into the sign-making niche, then a horizontal saw is what you should get. A great alternative to a regular table saw, this one uses a sliding feed to cut through the given material. On the other hand, the vertical variation of this saw is what you should get for making cabinets. It features a blade that cuts through the material on a stationary panel.
As one of the most versatile tools on the market, the oscillating saw features the design of a regular reciprocating saw, but it comes with a unique top that you can attach different heads to. Thus, not only are you able to go for delicate cuts with this tool, but you can also perform grinding and scraping work, as well.
Radial Arm Saw
Known for its speed, the radial arm saw is highlighted and powered by a circular blade and a motor. In most cases, it comes above the cutting table and can allow uniform straight cuts.
Probably the best tool if you need to disassemble something, such as wood pallet, the reciprocating saw can safely cut through metal, plastics, and wood. The design is similar to the one of a jigsaw, as you are able to make both straight and angled cuts in order to get optimal results. The main highlight of this tool is that it does not go only in one direction, and you are able to freely move it back and forth.
If you are a craftsman, you definitely know the importance of tools for small cutting tasks. That is why getting yourself a rotary saw with a screwdriver and a fixed blade that will get through drywall is a must! It is probably the most common power saw when it comes to construction work and repairs.
This one is basically a combination of the reciprocating saw and a band miter tool. By going for the one with a reciprocating blade and skipping on the continuous band as an option, you will be able to create delicate curves with edges. As its name suggests, this saw will allow you to get settled on any scrollwork you need.
While resembling the design of a table circular saw, this one is highlighted by a high rpm motor that powers the blade. It is suitable for cutting through most masonry and metal. Still, you should always look into the instructions for a specific model and ensure that it can handle the thickness of the relevant material. Keep in mind that, by adjusting the blade, you will be adjusting the depth, as well.
We can not go on without mentioning the tool that you can use to cut through tiles. This saw is highlighted by a toothless blade that is diamond-coated, and it has a high-speed motor that powers it.
Last, but not least, when talking about the different power saws, we must mention the track saw. It is comprised of a single-line track and a circular blade saw. By combining the two components, you will get a tool that can provide you with clean and precise cuts with zero effort.
Which Saws Should You Buy?
There are so many saws on the list that it can be tough to know which to buy. Here are the two that we think everyone should have in their tool kit:
Whether you are a woodworker or your restore old homes, this is just the saw for that. No matter if you are removing studs or chopping up wood panels, this saw will see you through.
This is the saw-of-all-saws, the father of all saws. You can use it for almost anything - from removing flooring and trimming the bottom of doors to restoration projects, this is the saw you want at your side.
At the end of the day, the importance of saws is enormous. Unless you really despise DIY and reparation work, you probably use some of the aforementioned saws on a monthly basis.
Whether you are a gardener and you are obsessed with trimming or pruning your trees, or you enjoy doing some craftsmanship and designing furniture out of pallets, investing in tools is a must.
We have done our best to present you with the main types and differences of several saws, so now it is your turn to do some further research and get yourself a proper set!