20 Different Types of Saws (and Uses)

Growing up, there are generally four tools every child can identify: a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, and saw. But one thing most kids (and even adults) don’t know is that there are literally dozens of different saw types out there, many of which have a highly specialized use.

Here are 20 examples of different types of saws, some familiar, some unusual, some powered, and some manual. While hardly an exhaustive list, the examples listed here give a sampling of just how versatile the saw really is and may just give you a few items to add to your Amazon wish list you never knew you needed (until now).

Types of Saws

1. Band Saw

A popular sight in workshops, the band saw is a floor-mounted or benchtop saw which uses a continuous fine-toothed band to cut through various materials. Their popularity is due to the amount of control the thin cutting edge provides.

It’s easy to create curves as well as straight cuts in wood, metal, and PVC, although the depth is somewhat limited. A smaller, portable version of the band saw is also available, although it has more limited cutting depth and control than its stationary kin.,

2. Bow Saw

Named for the bow-shaped frame, bow saws have long crosscut blades that are perfect for cutting your own Christmas tree, pruning, and trimming trees. As with all crosscut-style saws, they’re great for rough cuts but perform poorly for finishing cuts.

3. Chain Saw

Chain saws make use of linked chains with specially designed ripping teeth along the length to make quick, rough cuts. The saws may be gas or electric, although the latter isn’t as common. Common uses for chain saws are tree cutting, pruning, and zombie extermination.

While generally easy to control, the use of this tool has become such an art form that lumberjacks often have annual competitions to compare mastery.

4. Circular Saw

The blade used for these saws are circular, toothed discs generally ranging between 7.25 and 9 inches in diameter. They’re relatively easy to use for a powered saw and may be fitted with blade types capable of cutting various materials, such as metal, plastic, stone, and wood. They’re sometimes referred to as buzz saws.

5. Coping Saw

Designed for use in trim work, the coping saw has a thin, narrow blade and a squared from that gives plenty of clearance. These saws are incredibly precise, making them popular in a wide range of woodcraft and even plumbing.

Despite how fragile the blades appear to be, coping saws are durable and can cut through a wide range of materials.

6. Crosscut Saw

This type of saw is actually an entire group of saws which have a specially designed blade. The blade tends to be thicker and has large, beveled teeth that can rough cut on both the pull and push strokes. Some versions have a handle at each end and are designed for two men cutting perpendicular to the grain.

An example of these is the felling saw. Meanwhile, the single-person versions are popular for rough-cutting lumber or in trimming trees, making them great for both landscaping and camping. The bow saw is a popular type of crosscut saw.

7. Fret Saw

Closely related to the coping saw, a fret saw has a much longer frame, allowing for even deeper cuts than its relative. It isn’t as well-suited for scroll work due to the inability to rotate the blade. However, it can still create quite intricate cuts.

8. Hack Saw

Chances are, you’ve used a hack saw at some point in your life. These saws have a handle on one end and a sturdy support frame that allows for fairly deep cuts.

By using material-specific blades, they’re able to cut a wide range of materials in a short amount of time and are most commonly used for cutting pipes and tubes.

9. Japanese Pull Saw

Japanese carpentry, as with most things Japanese, is an art form that stresses harmony with nature. As such, the tools they use are often very different in function than the ones you’re used to. Japanese pull saws are a great example.

Available as dozuki, ryoba, or kataba, these saws actually cut on the pull stroke, as opposed to the push stroke of most Western saws.

These butcher knife-shaped saws take some time to get used to, but once you do, the strong and thin blade is very precise and can get into areas similar shaped saws cannot.

Mastering a Japanese saw means very precise, clean cuts that are hard to match outside of a finishing saw while being able to handle much tougher wood types with ease

10. Jig Saw

Most people either equate the word jigsaw to puzzles or a serial killer (from the Saw movie series). In truth, both of these are connected to this electric saw. The short blade is fine-toothed and can move up and down at multiple speeds. They’re designed specifically for cutting curves.

The first puzzles were invented around 1760 and were cut using a fret saw and mahogany board. Known as dissected maps, they only had a few pieces and were generally reserved for children. Furniture maker Raphael Truck and his sons made use of a new tool called a jigsaw in the late 1800s to make the first modern puzzle.

The techniques, from materials to the use of box art and even “Whimsies” (those fancy-shaped pieces) are still in use today, although puzzles now tend to be laser cut for cheaper mass production.

11. Keyhole Saw

No, this isn’t used to carve keyholes in doors, although it could definitely cut a keyhole shape in the hands of a skilled individual. Instead, these saws are used to roughly cut circles and patterns and have a very long, thin blade.

They’re most commonly used in drywall repair to trim or replace bits of damaged drywall when a power tool isn’t viable.

12. Miter Saw

This electric saw is rather unique, as it imitates the capabilities of a handsaw. The term miter refers to an angled cut, and this saw can easily pivot to cut miters of up to 45 degrees or cut a 90 degree angle.

They can be very precise and are thus invaluable for trim work and other precision jobs. More advanced versions called compound miter saws allows the blade itself to be tilted at an angle other than 90 degrees to allow for bevel cuts.

13. Oscillating Saw

This peculiar saw is more of a multipurpose tool, which is where it gets the nickname “oscillating multipurpose tool”. The body is very similar to that of a grinder and can perform a wide range of tasks depending upon the attachment.

Its oscillating motion allows it to cut, grind, remove caulk and grout, sand, and scrape, making this an excellent companion for contractors on the go.

14. Pruning Saw

Sporting a long, curved blade, these saws have coarse, wide crosscut teeth and are designed to quickly tear away at wood. They’re rather inelegant and are thus reserved for tree maintenance and landscaping.

15. Reciprocating Saw

If you were to take a jigsaw and put the blade on the end of a drill-shaped handle, you’d end up with a reciprocating saw (or sawzall). These popular power saws make quick work of pipes and tubing.

They’re also able to cut nail shafts inside small cracks, making it easier to remove panels such as window frames where you may not otherwise be able to get at the nails. As a result, they’re equally useful in construction, demolition, and remodeling.

16. Rip Cut Saw

The posterboy of saws, a rip cut saw is usually known simply as a “hand saw” It has fewer teeth per inch than other manual saws, but these teeth are far sharper and pointed, making them ideal for cutting wood.

While they’re not good for specialized work, their usefulness in cutting boards and beams makes them essential for any tool kit.

17. Rotary Saw

Rotary saws, also called rotary cutters, are peculiar saws have a fixed blade and can have more precision than a reciprocating saw. They’re used for everything from drywall and paneling to crafts. The blade guard at the front helps keep cuts level, allowing for very tight cuts without the risk of going off-center.

18. Scroll Saw

Using either a band or reciprocating blade, scroll saws have a built-in table surface and are designed with intricacy in mind. These saws can cut very precise curves, spirals, and patterns with ease, making them an essential tool for those who create very ornate woodwork.

19. Table Saw

If you were to take a circular saw, increase its size, and attach it under a table, you’d get a table saw. This essential workshop tool excels at making multiple rip cuts in a short amount of time or cutting multiple pieces to a set size. While used most often for wood, they may be fitted with blades that can cut masonry or metal.

One innovative trait of this saw is the way the blade is mounted beneath the table. To adjust cutting depth, the blade moved up and down through a slit in the table. This means it’s capable of making partial cuts to an exact depth.

They’re a common sight in lumber mills, and the high speed motor means even the longest planks may be cut in a very short amount of time.

20. Track Saw

Sometimes referred to as a plunge cut saw, these powered saws get their name from the removable gliding rail. This rail sticks to the material, allowing you to line up the guide line precisely and not worry about slipping.

The circular saw-shaped tool then sits on the rails and follows them to make incredibly straight lines with little or no effort. Due to their design, they’re far more portable than a table saw but also far more precise than a circular saw when making longer cuts.

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