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Types of Power Saws

Types of Power Saws
circular saws Versatile and portable, circular saws are perhaps top the list of common types of power saws found in DIY workshops and used by pros on the job site. While primarily used for short crosscutting a board or for a long rip cut to wood, different circular saw blades can be used for other materials. Circular saws can be battery-powered or corded and most models can make bevel cuts to 45 degrees.
reciprocating saws Reciprocating saws are very useful for demolition work on remodeling jobs. Reciprocating saw blades move rapidly back-and-forth to cut through tough material. Fitted with the right types of blades, reciprocating saws can slice tile, pipe and nail-embedded wood. Many models are powered by battery, making it easy to take the saw into the yard to prune a tree branch.
miter saws Miter saws are used to make crosscuts and angled cuts, or miters, on pieces of wood or other soft material with its circular blade. These types of power saws are very useful for carpentry and trim work, making frames or cutting crown moulding. On compound miter saws, the arm that holds the miter saw blade can pivot horizontally and vertically to make a miter and a bevel with one cut.
table saws Table saws are a fixture of woodworking. They are used to rip cut boards, cut an edge, make crosscuts and even cut dados for joinery with the proper blade. On table saws, the circular blade sticks up above the table surface and the operator feeds the wood across the spinning blade to make a straight cut.
jig saws Jig saws can cut along a straight line but they are one of the power saw types designed to make curved cuts like those found on a jigsaw puzzle. While commonly used for wood, a wide variety of blades can make jig saws useful for cutting metal, tiles and plastic. One advantage for this versatile saw is that its blade can be inserted into a starter hole to make cutouts on a panel.
Band Saws Band saws are the undisputed champ when it comes to cutting curves and for slicing through thick material. Stationary band saws are generally packaged with a rip fence (for resaw cuts to make wood thinner) and miter gauge (for accurate cuts across the grain). Handheld portable band saws can be found on construction sites and are used for cutting pipe and other tough material. With both varieties, the thin band saw blade is a continuous loop.
scroll saws Scroll saws are used by woodworkers to make intricate rounded patterns and shapes in cuts of wood less than 2-inches thick. The thin blades on scroll saws create precise curves on ornate work. They are used for making jigsaw puzzles, wooden toys and other crafts with more precision than band saws.
concrete saws These powerful specialty cutters are cousins to the common circular saw. Fitted with a diamond blade and sometimes powered by a gas engine, masonry saws are used for concrete or asphalt repairs. Pros might own these types of power saws but even occasional users and DIYers can rent concrete saws for driveway or patio fixes.
Chop Saws Chop saws, also called cut-off saws, are used for crosscuts on metal or other tough materials. Chop saws look similar to miter saws but use an abrasive disc instead of a steel circular blade and can cut through brick or iron pipe with ease. These types of power saws are often found on construction sites but their specialized use makes them less common in DIY workshops.
panel saws Panel saws are used in commercial settings to break down large panels. A full sheet of plywood, for example, can be placed onto the saw’s frame and a carriage-mounted circular saw is used to make precision horizontal or vertical cuts.
Power Saw Blades
Reciprocating saw blades for cutting different types of material.

Selecting the proper saw blades for effective use is just as important as choosing the right tool.

Differences in saw blades can be found in the material they are made from, the thickness and the number and pattern of teeth. Some blades are specially designed for cutting through metal or tile but even if you’re cutting only wood, there are plenty of options.

Here are some terms and tips to know when choosing the right saw blades for all types of cuts.

  • Kerf is the term used to describe the width of the blade, including the spread of the blade’s carbide teeth.
  • TPI indicates the number of teeth-per-inch found on the cutting edge of a saw blade. A higher TPI will make a smoother cut in detail work. Rough cuts for demolition will require fewer teeth-per-inch.
  • Replacing saw blades is an important part of operating power saws. A dull blade reduces cutting efficiency and can be a safety hazard.
Power Saw Safety
A person cutting a board with a power saw.

All types of power saws are effective cutting tools when used properly but they can be dangerous. Always follow the important safety information found in the owner’s manual and operate your saw properly to avoid serious injury.

  • Keep hands away from moving blades.
  • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from dust or flying debris, use appropriate ear protection to dampen the loud noise and a dust mask to avoid inhalation of sawdust.
  • Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry when operating a power saw.
  • Unplug the saw or remove its battery when changing blades and when not in use.
  • Avoid dangerous kickback. Always use sharp blades that are intended for the material to be cut and follow the blade manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Do not attempt to turn on the tool when the blade is against material to be cut.
  • Never force the saw while it is cutting. Allow it to cut at its own speed.
  • Wait for the blade to completely stop before lifting the saw from a cut.

While saws can be used for a wide variety of projects, there could be times when it doesn't make sense to purchase a new saw for a specific task on a one-time project. The Home Depot offers power saw rental so you use the equipment you need without it permanently taking up workshop space.