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15 Types of Saws

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Most people know what a basic hand or electric saw is, but did you know there are tons of kinds of saws?

With there being so many saws, many people find it hard to keep track of what each saw really does.

Knowledge is power and knowing which type of saw you need when you embark on a new do-it-yourself project is key. The following are fifteen distinct types of saws and what you can use them for.

Crosscut Saw

Black and yellow crosscut saw on white background

Crosscut saws are the handheld saws most of us have seen at some point in our lives as they are a staple in many households and on most farms.

This saw consists of a handle and a large saw blade that users cut wooden logs, branches, and flat boards with.

The saw blade can have large or small teeth and they cut easily through wood thanks to their specific design. These saws are man-powered and do not require any electricity or gas to work.

Bow Cut Saw

Green bow saw with gold handle isolate on white background.

A bow cut saw is a portable, handheld, non-electrical saw with a metal frame shaped like that of a bow. It is a straightforward design that includes a metal frame, a saw blade, and a handle.

People use these saws to cut limbs, small logs, and other wood materials.

The great thing about these saws is that they do not require any gas, batteries, or electricity to work.


Electric jig saw machine isolated on white background

Jigsaws are ideal for making precision cuts on wood, metal, tile, plastic, and more. Jigsaws have a small blade that juts out of the bottom of the saw.

The unique design of a jigsaw allows operators to start cuts in the middle of a piece of material and remove specific, straight-edged areas as needed.

Band Saw

grey haired carpenter cutting plywood on band saw in workshop

Band saws come fixed on a stand and are best for cutting materials like piping.

Construction workers and craftsmen alike use these saws on pipes because they feature a saw blade that moves in a circular pattern as it cuts.

The thin blade and design of the band saw allow it to cut through pipe much easier than other saws. 

Tile Saw

Professional worker cutting tiles using a tile saw

Tile saws can cut through various kinds of household tile, including both floor and wall tiles.

These types of saws use water to safely cut through ceramic or porcelain tile without cracking it in the process.

Without water and a special tile cutting blade, you cannot cut tile without breaking it.


Chainsaw in power tool store closeup

Chainsaws are probably the most well-known saw on this list. Chainsaws are handheld, portable saws that people can use to cut down trees, cut up trees, trim tree limbs, and even carve into logs.

These saws feature a chain that rotates around a blade to cut through the wood. Chainsaws are either gas, electric, or battery-powered depending on the model.

Circular Saw

Carpenter working with circular saw

A circular saw is best for crosscutting wooden boards, much like you see when someone is building something like a deck or a table.

These saws have a circular blade that is open or have a guard that retracts automatically to cut the wood.

Circular saws either have power cords or run off a battery depending on the specific model and brand.

If you are cutting 2×4 or 4×4 boards to build something, you will most likely need this specific type of saw.

Reciprocating Saw

Cordless Reciprocating Saw on wooden background

Reciprocating saws are handheld, battery-powered saws that hold a long blade. Handymen and women use these saws to trim materials like wood, floor or wall tile, PVC pipe, and metal pipe.

The great thing about a reciprocating saw is its unique portability that allows constructors to fit the saw into hard-to-reach places that larger more stationary saws cannot get to.

Miter Saw

Professional carpenter working with a miter saw

Carpenters and do-it-yourselfers use miter saws most often to cut pieces of wood, trim, and molding.

Instead of being solely handheld like a circular saw, miter saws sit fixed to a stand, making the cuts more precise.

Chop Saw

Using a chop saw on the floor to cut a piece of steel square tube.

Chop saws are a lot like miter saws in that they sit permanently on a stand, although it is smaller in size overall, and the arm cannot move from side to side.

Instead of a smooth blade, chop saws utilize a more abrasive blade to allow it to cut steel and metal.

Operators should use chop saws to cut metal materials, and they should stick with miter saws for wood products.

Table Saw

Carpenter sawing wooden plank using a table saw

Table saws are exactly what you think they are—saws fixed to a table. A table saw is integral when working with wood boards for projects.

The saw blade sits permanently in the middle of the table on one side allowing the person using the saw to simply hold the wood in place when cutting.

These saws are large and like most saws, they require an experienced operator to avoid injury.

Pole Saw

cropped view of gardener in overalls holding pole saw in garden

A pole saw has a chain saw blade on the end of a long bar that allows operators to reach high limbs up to about ten feet in the air. These saws can be battery, electric, or gas powdered.

This type of saw is perfect for trimming small trees and large shrubs.

Rotary Saw

A rotary saw is a small handheld saw that allows operators to make intricate cuts into wood or thin materials. These saws come with various bits that can cut different details into wood.

This type of saw is growing in popularity as crafters and wood enthusiasts are using them more often on their projects.

Rotary saws are also popular in medical settings where doctors use them to cut bones, casts, and other materials.

Keyhole Saw

Old keyhole saw on white background

Keyhole saws are relatively small, handheld saws that people can use to cut hard-to-reach places.

This saw is simple and features only a handle and a blade, appearing much like a large steak or fish fileting knife.

There are two types of keyhole saws including those with a set blade and those with a blade that retracts into the handle.

Construction workers and do-it-yourselfers can use this saw on materials like drywall and corkboard to remove small cutouts or corners.

Scroll Saw

 guy is making wood staff using a big red automatic electric precision scroll saw

Scroll saws also sit on a stand permanently and are not very portable. Crafters use them to cut detailed circular shapes in wood.

These saws are perfect for making jigsaw puzzles and handmade wooden toys and other projects.

Things to Keep in Mind

There are things you should always keep in mind when using any type of saw, especially if you are unfamiliar with it.

Stay Alert When Cutting

Saws are inherently dangerous, so it is important to stay alert and safe when cutting materials. It is more common than you think to lose fingers, appendages, and more when using saws unsafely.

Woodworking artisan cutting wooden plank

Use the Right Blade

Different saw blades cut different kinds of material, so it is important to make sure you have the right blade for the job.

You should not use the same type of blade to cut wood and metal material.

You may need to invest in multiple blades for your saw to make sure you have the right blade for each type of job you undertake.

Wear Safety Glasses

Woman wearing protective goggles and ear protectors holding circular saw, cutting piece of wood

Most people who have not worked with wood often will not understand the importance of safety glasses.

Sawdust and small pieces of material can easily fly off during the cutting and some will end up in non-covered eyes eventually.

Be Careful Changing or Adjusting Blades

It is imperative that you always make sure saws are not powered on at all when you try to adjust or switch out a blade.

If you leave the saw powered on or plugged in, you could easily switch it on and lose a finger or worse.

Ask for Help If Needed


Many people need help when using a new type of saw for the first time, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are important aspects to each type of saw that you should keep in mind.

Final Thoughts

There are many distinct types of saws, and it can get overwhelming trying to decide which one you need for your project.

The good news is, there is a perfect saw for the job, and you should be better equipped now to make the decision.


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