Different Types Of Saws Every Wood Worker Should Have

different types of saws

For thousands of years, saws have been in use. The use of saws spans over a number of specific niches, as the world turned and technology remained on the uprising. It's one of the most important tools a craftsman must have in his tool kit.  Before you can call a tool collection complete, it must have different types of saws in it.

This means a complete tool collection will include a number of saws ranging from coping saws to hacksaws. The list could go as long as possible as it also includes a number of specialized table saws. Sometimes this tool collection consists of more than one saw type. The composition of a craftsman’s tool collection depends on his niche and the types of the project he takes on.

In this present age, we cannot keep count of the number of cutting tools we have. There exist specialized cutting tools not commonly used for what they were built for. However, if you don’t know your saw types by name and have issues identifying them when mentioned, this post is a must read for you. In addition, you will find out that most saws are regionally called by the name of other saws. Below are the different saw types that we have.

Different types of saws and their uses

There exists quite a lot of saws, however, we will group them and make them easy to identify. Due to a large number of saw types, remembering the name and function sometimes becomes a challenging task. However, as a craftsman, you need to know your tools by their name and functions.

This simple task of familiarizing yourself with the tools will save you time when you need to purchase one. In addition, it also saves you from looking like a novice amongst fellow craftsmen. However, you should know that the shape and number of teeth help to determine the intended use of a saw.

Firstly, we will group saws into three broad groups from which we can identify the different types of saws. Depending on the mode of operation, we have:

  1. Hand saws.
  2. Electric saws.
  3. Gas-powered saws.

However, in this post, we will group the different types of saws according to their build design and function. The classes are:

  1. Hand saws
  2. Power saws.

Hand Saws

From the name, you can already guess what this type of saw looks like. Something comfortable, handy and easy to maneuver. Over the years, hand saws have evolved to fill many niches and offer efficiency in numerous cutting styles. However, some of these saws serve general purposes as the traditional hand saw. On the other hand, some hand saws work best for specific needs like the keyhole saw.

Craftsmen, however, purchase hand tools to suit their individual needs like framing or trimming. A tool collection without any type of hand saw remains incomplete. Without further ado, let’s get to the different types of hand saws we have.

1.      Back Saw

The Back saw is the first tool to discuss among the different types of saws in this class. In simple terms, back saw refers to a relatively short saw that has a narrow blade with reinforcement along the upper edge. This brought about the name “back saw”.

Backsaws do not have specific applications but works best when used with miter boxes. Majorly, back saws come in handy in applications that require a consistent, straight cut through different materials. The back saw is often times referred to by other names depending on the saw design, intended use, and region of use.

2.      Bow Saw

The bow saw remains yet another type of saw with a wide range of applications. In addition, some craftsmen refer to it as a type of crosscut saw. However, the bow saw offers more outdoor uses than indoor applications. It has a build that features a long blade blessed with numerous cross cut teeth used for removing materials while pushing and pulling.

Most importantly, you can use bow saws to trim plants, prune, and cut logs. However, as a craftsman, when the need comes to make some rough cuts and you need a hand saw, bow saw is the right tool for you.

3.      Coping Saw

The world of wood-work and other cut related crafts can never get enough of hand saws. The different types of saws have made cutting duties really easy and possible to accomplish. The coping saw remains yet another hand saw with a huge value attached to its importance.

The coping saw has a unique design different from what we have seen with the back and the bow saws. It features a thin, narrow blade, with a well-built handle perfect for grip. The coping saw works best when used for trimming, scrolling, and any other detailed cutting. Fortunately, you can use a coping saw on a wide range of materials, and make precise and intricate cuts. Although a very versatile tool, you will likely find it in the toolkits of everyone from carpenters to plumbers and toy makers.

4.      Crosscut Saw

Of all the different types of saws mentioned, the crosscut saw has a rather different design. Unlike the bow, back and coping saws with thin blades, it has a relatively thicker blade. Just like the bow saw, it has a design built for making rough cuts. This means it has large and beveled teeth for crosscutting wood. We have two types of crosscut saws, with different build design and uses.

The traditional 2-man crosscut saws also called felling saw has a handle on both ends. Also, this saw can be used by two people to cut across a grain of timber perpendicularly. The well-known 1-man crosscut saw works best when used for rough cutting lumber and trimming limbs or branches. It stands out as one of the best tools to have in your tool kit when camping or at the job site.

5.      Fret Saw

The fret saw looks just like the coping saw, however with a unique feature. Unlike the coping saw, it has a large, long frame and a thin but short blade. The frame cuts farther from the outer edges possible and the blade makes intricate cuts. However, you cannot rotate the blade during scrollwork and this compromises the craftsman's cutting position.

6.      Hacksaw

Of all the different types of saws available, hacksaw is the most common. When it comes to cutting pipes and tubes, no other saw type does it better than the hacksaw. It's light in weight and offers enough versatility to cut through wood, metal and other types of materials. Lastly, hacksaws have a tooth count ranging from about 18 to 32 per inch.

7.      Japanese Saw

The Japanese saw has a single handle with a protruding strong and thin cutting blade. Unlike the back saw, it offers more precision and can also reach places other saw types cannot get to. Furthermore, it comes in three different types: dozuki, ryoba, and kataba. Regardless of its rather thin blade, it can cut both hard and soft wood with equal accuracy.

8.      Keyhole Saw

The wide range of the different types of saws available stems from the different tasks craftsmen takes on. When its time to make rough cuts around circles or patterns, the keyhole saw will serve you better.  The keyhole saw has a build design that features a round handle and a single blade extending from the top of the handle. Keyhole saws remain indispensable, especially when working on drywalls and when you need to remove or replace a small section.

9.      Pruning Saw

Of all the different types of saws we have mentioned, the pruning saw stands out as the first to feature a curved blade design. Pruning saws often come with a 13-15 inches curved blade which extends from the single “pistol grip” handle. The wide, coarse teeth blade can cut in both directions and helps to remove materials faster. Although you will likely find a pruning saw in every homeowner’s toolkit, tree surgeons, lawn services, and landscapers remain the major users.

10.  Rip Cut Saw

The rip cut saw often referred to as the “hand saw,” has as similar build design with the crosscut saw. For any craftsman that needs to perform a lot of framing duties, you need to have a rip cut saw in your tool kit. Although it has relatively a few teeth per inch, each tooth has a sharpened point, designed to remove wood efficiently. Rip cut saws come in varying lengths and a woodworker should have them all.

11.  Veneer Saw

The veneer saw belongs to the highly specialized saw class. It has a design that features a double-edged blade with about 13 teeth per inch. The tool comes in really handy when performing precision veneer work. Unfortunately, the short blade restricts its versatility as it falters when used for other cutting duties.

12.  Wallboard Saw

You would notice that there exists a trend in these hand saws wherein one saw looks exactly like another. Similarly, the Wallboard saw has a close look alike in the keyhole saw. Generally, it has a short but wide blade, fewer teeth per inch than the keyhole saw and in a double-edged variety. As with the keyhole saw, it works best when used to puncture holes through paneling or drywall. However, many a time, craftsmen use it to create starter holes for powered tools.

Power Saws

In the just concluded sections, we defined the different types of saws belonging to the handsaw class. On the other hand, power saws, rather than following the trend of hand saws have created a world of their own. For instance, the radial arm saw builds on the abilities seen on the miter saw and circular saw but does not directly duplicate the functionality of either. Overall, we can group Power saws into three subclasses: Continuous Band, Reciprocating Blade, and Circular Blade.

1.      Circular Blade Saws

For easy identification, any type of saw with a round, rotating blade belongs to the circular blade saw class. However, in this class, we have different types of saws ranging from the portable handheld saws to elaborate table mounted ones. Without further ado, let’s get started.

a.       Circular Saw

This remains the most common type of handheld power saw. Circular saws fit different blade sizes and style, which makes them one of the most versatile types of saws too. However, with the right blade, you can make cuts through just about anything with a standard circular saw.

Circular saws also called buzz saws were initially used in sawmills for cutting beams. The type used in sawmills had a bigger size, however, the basic design and functionality are the same.

b.      Table Saw

Unlike the lightweight and portable circular saws, table saws remain fixed and stable upon installation. Although they belong to the circular blade saws due to their functionality, they have a fixed circular blade that rises from a dedicated portion in the table. Instead of moving the blade, you move the workpiece around the saw on the table. This rather unique mode of operation allows for straight and precise cuts.

Table saws come in different sizes with the smallest type, the workbench saws. Since you can easily place them on a workbench, they offer maximum portability and work on any job site. The contractor’s saw comes right after the workbench saw. Unlike the workbench saws, they have steel legs for easy set up on a flat sturdy surface.

Lastly, the cabinet offers better performance for heavy-duty uses. It has a design that features enclosed and multiple driving belts. The cabinet saws offer better performance than all other table saw types mentioned.

c.       Radial Arm Saw

Unlike the table saws, a radial arm saw mounts the circular blade on a horizontal arm. Instead of moving the workpiece around the blade, sliding the arm pulls the blade across the workpiece. Radial arm saw works best when used to cut long pieces of wood or cross cutting.

d.      Rotary Saw

Of all the different types of saws that we have, only the rotary saws resemble a drill. The rotary saw has a build that features a small, circular blade used for making precise cuts into drywall, plywood and other materials. Rotary saws come in really handy when you need to cut into the wall without requiring pilot holes.

e.       Electric Miter Saw

Remember the miter saw belonging to the hand saw class described above? Here goes an electric version, now in a different “Power saw” class. The electric miter saw works best when used to control cuts and precision angling. The main difference between the handheld and electrically powered version revolves around the time taken to complete the task at hand as it cuts faster than the hand saw type.

f.        Concrete Saw

This stands out as one of the most powerful types of saws to feature in this list. Although not really a tool for amateurs, it offers better productivity when used for heavy-duty tasks. The concrete saw can cut through asphalt and similar surfaces beyond the concrete it was naturally built for. Furthermore, it features diamond cutting blades coupled with varying power sources. The concrete saw uses an electric power source or the internal combustion engine for its sheer performance.

g.       Abrasive Saw

Just like the concrete saw, it's one of the most powerful circular blade saws for tough jobs. Majorly, the abrasive saws come in really handy when used in cutting metals. The name abrasive comes from the abrasive friction disc used as the cutting blade instead of the toothed blade. The abrasive friction disc, also known as the metal cut-off saws or metal chop saws, wears off easily and requires a high cost of maintenance.

Due to the functionality of abrasive saws and the rate of degradation, you also need to replace them frequently. Having listed a number of different types of saws in the circular blade types, let us move ahead to the next class of power saws.

2.      Reciprocating Blade Saws

Unlike the circular blade saws with round rotating blades, reciprocating saws cut workpieces by moving their blade quickly back and forth. Also, they are in two wide classes, the handheld reciprocating blade saws and those you can fix on a platform.

a.       Jigsaw

Seems like every class of saw has its own powerful “bad guy” and the jigsaw takes this position for the reciprocating blade saws. Although handheld, it comes with a narrow blade and can also cut curved lines. Jigsaws come in really handy for woodworkers, especially when building large, multi-shaped items like furniture.

b.      Reciprocating Saw

You are probably wondering why reciprocating saw is the name of a type of saw with a reciprocating blade. However, most craftsmen end up referring to this as a Sawzall, regardless of the brand name. The reciprocating saw features a parallel blade and can cut through any wood type. In addition, you can make cuts on drywall, pipes and other material types. Due to the fact that it lacks finesse, people only use these saw types for demo work

c.     Scroll Saw

As a true fan and a reader here at mytoolcloset, scroll saws should not sound strange to you as we have a number of posts about them. Unlike the reciprocating saws, scroll saws stand on their opposite side. Artists, woodworkers and other hobbyists remain the major users of scroll saws. A scroll saw in the hands of a user with enough mastery of the tool can cut practically any shape or design. To make cuts, you move the wood around the platform in relation to the fixed cutting blade.

3. Continuous Band Saws

Undoubtedly, the differentiating factor in all these classes of power saws revolves around the blade arrangement. Unlike in reciprocating saws with one blade moving back and forth, continuous saws use a different method. In continuous band saws, all you have is a blade with a long band of metal with teeth. Unlike the reciprocating saw, it has just 2 sub-classes.

a.       Band Saws

This belongs to the stationary class of continuous-band saw. Here, the blade consists of a band of metal on wheels rotating on the same plane as the blade. Band saws come in really handy when cutting large pieces of timber. Furthermore, it can be used by the butcher to cut through meat. Hence it offers a wide range of versatility.

b.      Chainsaw

Unlike the band saw, the chain saw belongs to the handheld class of continuous band saw. However, when the need arises for heavy duty tasks, you can make use of the chainsaw. For instance, cutting brush and trees. Although chainsaws make a lot of noise during operation you can always wear ear protection. Many a time, a two-stroke internal combustion engine bears the responsibility for the sheer performance observed in this saw type.


Undoubtedly, we have mentioned a number of different types of saws. Whether you want to cut through metal, trim your deck down to size or cut out a hole for a sink on your benchtop, there exists a saw type for the job. However, choosing the right saw type for the job depends on you the craftsman.

In this post, we have showcased all saw types. With pictures, well-detailed definition and use of the different types of saws, you can now boast of your knowledge now. To attain knowledge, add information every day therefore, keep this post to heart. Happy crafting!