26 Different Types of Saws: Hand Saws & Power Saws

Types of Saws

In woodworking, cutting of stock to size is usually part of the project for perfect fitting of the different workpieces. Therefore, whether you have a professional workshop or you want to simply work on a DIY project, you need to buy a saw.

However, since woodworking projects are very diverse, there is a wide range of saws that are suitable for making different types of cuts. There are also saws meant for cutting other types of materials like metal and concrete. All these can be classified into two main types, which are:

Types of Saws

Hand saws and power saws are the two main types. Hand saws are more traditional because they require muscle power to cut. However, power saws are run using fuel, batteries, or mains electricity, which makes them faster and easier to use.

Various cutting tools can be classified into these two and they include:

1. Hand Saws

1.1. Back Saw

Back Saw


A backsaw consists of a short, narrow blade that is reinforced on the upper edge using a firm steel or brass strip, which acts as a frame. This keeps it from bending when cutting.

The saw’s blade usually has very fine teeth and is ideal for precise cutting work or fine finishing.

1.2. Bow Saw

Bow Saw


A bow saw gets its name from its long bow-shaped frame. It has a handle on one end and blade holders on each side for folding the blade. The tool normally uses long blades with crosscut teeth, which enable it to cut during the front and backstroke.

It is usually used in pruning but can also be used to make curved cuts and rough cuts in small pieces of wood.

Recommended Product: Bahco 10-30-51 Bow Saw

1.3. Coping Saw

Coping Saw


Coping saws are somewhat similar to bow saws because they have curved frames. However, their frames have a distinct U shape with straighter lines forming the U and have a large handle on one end for firm gripping

A thin narrow blade is fitted between the ends of the frame and this makes the tool ideal for making tight corner cuts with high precision. As such, it is used for cutting curves in wood or plastic material.  

Recommended Product: Bahco 301 Coping Saw

1.4. Hacksaw



Hacksaws are very common because they are very versatile. They can be used to cut through wood, plastic, and metal but you have to switch the blade for each material. The tools have a curved metal frame that holds the blade in place to prevent it from bending.

That said, hacksaws are usually used for metalworking to cut tubes and bars.  

Recommended Product: Lenox Tools 12132HT50 Hacksaw

1.5. Pruning Saw

Pruning Saw

Photo: Bahco

This saw is characterized by a curved blade that is held by a pistol-style grip with no frame. The blade has coarse crosscutting teeth that cut during the front and backstroke, which results in very aggressive cuts.

As the name suggests, the tool is used to chop tree branches and shrubs when landscaping, with the long, curved blade making it possible to get to hard to reach areas quite easily.

Read More: The Best Pruning Saws

1.6. Crosscut Saw

Crosscut Saw

Traditionally, crosscut saws were meant to be used by two people and had a long blade with a handle on each end. This allowed the two woodworkers to push the blade back and forth for quick, aggressive cutting.

However, the tool has evolved, with its modern design having a shorter blade and a single handle for single-person use.

Both the old and new designs are meant for making crosscuts though because they are characterized by large, beveled teeth. These are ideal for reducing wood pieces to size and they do so by making rough cuts across the wood grain.

Read More: The Best Crosscut Saws

1.7. Rip Saw

Rip Saw


A rip cut is the opposite of a crosscut and therefore, a rip saw is designed to do the exact opposite of a crosscut saw. The tool is fitted with a tapered blade that is wide at the handle then thins out towards the end.

This blade is fitted with very sharp teeth that are not very densely packed. It is a very common tool in most workshops and is used for reducing boards to width.

1.8. Fret Saw

Fret Saw

Photo: Wikipedia

Fret saws closely resemble coping saws but have a deeper U frame with a firm grip handle on one end. This frame holds a long thin blade with densely packed teeth (up to 32 per inch), which is ideal for making intricate cuts along tight curves.

Additionally, the deeper frame allows for cutting further away from the edge, and therefore, the saw can be used to cut thick pieces of wood. That said, the tool is mostly used to make detailed cuts such as in scrollwork and latticework.

1.9. Folding Saw

Best Folding Saw

Photo: SE

As the name suggests, a folding saw tucks in the blade into the handle to make it compact and easy to carry. The saw usually has safety locks on the handle that keep the blade from popping out when not in use or to keep it locked in place when in use (folded out).

This design the tool the main advantage of being easily portable and is therefore ideal for camping, where you can use it for pruning or cutting small pieces of firewood.

Recommended Product: Bahco 396-LAP Folding Saw

1.10. Veneer Saw

Veneer Saw


This is a specialized saw that is meant to cut veneer. Because veneers are thin wood covers, the saw has a small blade with double cutting edges and both sides are designed for smooth cutting.

These ensure you get a high-quality cut that keeps in line with the finish quality that veneer delivers on wood.

1.11. Japanese Saw

Japanese Saw

Photo: Suizan

Japanese saws are very popular because they are highly versatile. They cut on the pull stroke as opposed to the push stroke, which is common with many saws. With this design, the blades are usually very thin because they can’t bend during the pull stroke.

The saw blades also protrude outwards from the handle and this allows you to reach deeper into the wood to make thin, precise cuts.  

Recommended Product: Suizan Japanese Pull Saw

1.12. Pole Saw

Pole Saw


As the name suggests, a pole saw has its blade attached to the end of a long extendable pole. It usually holds a pruning blade and the pole extends its reach by about 7 feet to get to high tree branches.

1.13. Keyhole Saw

Keyhole Saw

Photo: Milwaukee

With a keyhole saw, the name should not fool you into thinking it is for cutting keyholes. It is characterized by a pointy blade that is ideal for making curved or awkward-shaped patterned cuts, and it creates rough edges on these cuts.

As such the tool is ideal for cutting drywall in tight spaces where jigsaws cannot reach, which can then be smoothened out for fine finishing.

1.14. Wallboard Saw

Wallboard Saw

Wallboard saws are very similar to keyhole saws because they have pointed blades but these are wider and their teeth are not as densely packed. Some varieties even have teeth on both sides of the blade.

The saw is commonly used to make plunge cuts on drywall and wood panels before using a power tool to proceed with the cut.

2. Power Saws

2.1. Table Saw

Types Of Table Saws

Photo: SawStop

A table saw is almost standard in every workshop. It consists of a wide table, a powerful motor that is mounted under the table, and a circular saw that protrudes from the middle of the table through a groove.

The wide table provides enough support to hold large workpieces so that you can make rip cuts easily. It also has fences for guidance and the blade can be raised or lowered to cut thin or thick boards.  

2.2. Miter Saw

Miter Saw

Photo: DeWalt

Miter saws complement table saws because they are designed to make crosscuts and angled cuts across the wood grain. They are composed of a circular blade mounted on a movable arm that swings up and down and sideways.

Miter and bevel scales are built into the tool and these are meant to ensure that you make accurate adjustments when making angled cuts. They operate at a range of about 60˚ on the miter scale on both sides and about 45-50˚ on the bevel scale on both sides.

Recommended Product: DeWalt DWS780

2.3. Circular Saw

Circular Saw

Photo: Skilsaw

Circular saws are like mini versions of miter saws. Though not as accurate and not as easy to use as the latter, they can also be used to make crosscuts, miter cuts, bevel cuts, and even rip cuts. They are fitted with a circular blade and a tilting shoe base for making bevel cuts.

However, the tool’s greatest strength lies in its portability. It is compact and lightweight and therefore, can be easily transported to the worksite.

Recommended Product: Makita XSS02Z

2.4. Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating Saw

Photo: DeWalt

Reciprocating saws are fitted with a flat blade that is moved in and out by a motor to create the cut. These blades usually have back-facing teeth that cut during the backstroke, which results in very rough cuts.

However, they are not very accurate and cannot be used with guides for accurate cutting. As such, they are ideal for cutting wood or drywall where accuracy is not a big issue (drywall can be easily smoothened out later on). The saw is also ideal for light demolition work.

2.5. Jigsaw


Photo: Makita

A jigsaw works similarly to a reciprocating saw because it cuts using a back-and-forth motion. However, it has a vertically oriented design while the reciprocating saw has a horizontally oriented design. The tool is also lighter and more compact than a reciprocating saw and is fitted with a thinner blade with densely packed teeth.

More Detailed: Reciprocating Saw vs. Jigsaw

This blade is ideal for fine cutting on corners and curves and is recommended when cutting thin boards.  

2.6. Scroll Saw

Scroll Saw


A scroll saw pretty much does the same work that a jigsaw does, but is more precise. It cuts using a short, thin blade that moves back and forth like in a jigsaw but has a worktable and a top arm for placing the workpiece and guiding the blade respectively.

More Detailed: Scroll Saw vs. Jigsaw

Because of this, you need to check the width of the material as it must fit between the two. It is worth noting that some scroll saws run a continuous blade band. This gives you better cutting performance when working on high detail decorative work such as when creating wood art.

2.7. Chop Saw

Chop Saw


Chop saws resemble miter saws in appearance because they have a circular saw mounted on a movable arm. However, this tool specializes in cutting hard materials such as concrete, metal, and bricks.

To achieve this, the saw cuts using a toothless blade that is made using an abrasive material. Some have a water hose connection for bringing in water to reduce dust when cutting concrete and bricks.

2.8. Track Saw

What is a Track Saw Used For

Photo: Makita

This saw is very similar to a circular saw but as the name suggests, it has a guiding rail (metal track) that is designed to enhance the cutting accuracy along straight lines. The track also makes the saw easy to use because it glides smoothly along the rails for hassle-free cutting.

Read More: Track Saw vs. Circular Saw

2.9. Band Saw

Band Saw


A band saw is the ultimate tool that should be used for precision cutting. It consists of two metal wheels (one at the top, the other at the bottom), which run a continuous blade (band), and hence the name.

This continuous spin makes it possible to run the band with the blade’s teeth facing downwards and this results in clean cuts with little or no chipping. That said, the tool can be fitted with thin blades for making tight corner cuts or wide blades for straight cutting.

2.10. Chainsaw

Type of Chainsaws

With chainsaws, the power tool spins a chain around a guide bar, and the chain is fitted with multiple sharp teeth on the surface. This makes it very effective at cutting trees and pruning branches.

Chainsaws are either powered by electricity (corded or cordless) or by gasoline, which is the case in most traditional chainsaws.

2.11. Pole Saw

Pole Saw


A powered pole saw is the electric or gas-powered version of the hand-type pole saw. It consists of a small chainsaw that is attached to one the end of a long pole for extended reach. Controls are transferred to the other end of the pole, where you get a handle and a trigger to run the saw.

This setup is ideal for cutting branches high up on the tree.

2.12. Rotary Saw

Rotary Saw

Photo: Dremel

Rotary tools are not meant to cut large workpieces. They are ideal for small cutting projects and can be fitted with small circular blades for high detail cutting work such as when crafting or shaping small pieces of wood.

They can also be fitted with large diameter blades for cutting drywall or metal/wood sheets/panels.


As you can see, there are different types of saws in the market, and these are meant to make different types of cuts. Therefore, you need to consider the task or project requirements first then use this to determine which saw is ideal.

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