The Best Types of Saws for Your DIY Projects

Reader Contribution by Kayla Matthews
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Photo by Unsplash/Greyson Joralemon

If you’re taking on any home project, chances are you’re going to need a saw. But determining the right tool for the job can be difficult. To find the best saw for your projects, you have to consider not just different brands, but different saw types as well. There are electric ones, manual ones, portable ones and stationary ones, and choosing between all these options can seem intimidating.

The right kind of saw mostly depends on the job at hand. Different types offer various advantages, but some are more applicable to home use than others. For instance, you probably don’t need a chainsaw to do anything around the house other than clearing trees and bushes, since their thick, jagged cuts are not precise enough for most home uses.

To help narrow down your choices, here you’ll find seven of the best saw types for home projects.

1. Basic Handsaws

When you hear the word “saw,” you probably picture a handsaw. There are several kinds of these saws out there, but the basic, traditional handsaw one of the most common tools as well as one of the most versatile.

Handsaws may be tiring to use since they rely on your movement to make cuts, but you can use them in areas where powered saws may not work. If you’re not near an electrical outlet, are in cramped quarters or have to cut something that’s particularly thick, a handsaw can help you out.

You can find these saws pretty much everywhere and find blades of all sorts of lengths and materials. Popular brands include Stanley, Irwin and Great Neck.

2. Hacksaws

Hacksaws are a type of handsaw but deserve a separate category for their notable usefulness. Hacksaw blades are easily interchangeable, allowing you to use them for a wide array of different jobs.

People typically use hacksaws to cut through metal pipes. Many models will allow you to adjust the tooth type as well as the tension of the blade, helping you cut thick, resilient materials more efficiently. Some models may ship without a blade, but hacksaw blades are widely available and generally inexpensive.

Many of the same noteworthy makers of traditional handsaws such as Stanley and DeWalt also produce quality handsaws.

3. Circular Saws

Most varieties of saws you’ll see are power saws, drawing their power from an electric motor instead of your arms. Circular saws are one of the most popular and versatile kinds of power saws. As the name implies, they use circular blades of various sizes that spin inside a baseplate, which fits flat against the surface you’re cutting.

Circular saws are ideal for cutting pieces of wood — such as rafters or floorboards — to length and are relatively easy to use. These saws come in both cordless and corded models. Cordless variants offer greater portability and may be easier to handle, but a cord provides a more reliable power source and longer runtime.

Several sources, including Pro Tool Reviews, cite the Makita 5007MGA as the best overall circular saw. Other notable brands include Porter-Cable and Bosch.

4. Jigsaws

Jigsaws feature a small blade that moves up and down rapidly. They operate similarly to circular saws but stand apart in their ability to cut curves. Jigsaws have a metal baseplate called a “foot” that allows you to rest them on a flat surface and, more importantly, protect your hands from the blade.

When you have to cut unusual shapes or curves, it’s hard to do better than a jigsaw. The smallness and vertical configuration of their blades will allow you to make small, smooth adjustments while cutting.

Review and project website The Saw Guy recommends jigsaws from Bosch, SKIL and Black & Decker.

5. Miter Saws

Contractor and TV host Mark Clement refers to miter saws as the center of his setup. Unlike the previous entries on this list, miter saws are not handheld but instead mount on top of a table. They feature a large, circular blade on an arm that can be maneuvered in different directions to make an array of cuts on the material at the base.

Being able to cut from many different angles makes miter saws ideal for creating crosscuts and bevel cuts for jobs such as cutting framing materials. While these saws are versatile and precise, they’re also bulky and often more expensive. Brands like Hitachi and DeWalt produce a variety of quality miter saws.

6. Reciprocating Saws

Reciprocating saws use a small, exposed blade moving back and forth quickly to cut through a material. These handheld saws are easy to use and have a diverse range of applications.

Reciprocating saws offer higher efficiency than a basic handsaw or hacksaw and can cut through just about anything, from wood to drywall to metal. The exposed blade on these tools makes them potentially dangerous, so you should handle them with care.

The original inventor of the reciprocating saw, Milwaukee, still produces competitive saw options today.

7. Table Saws

Like miter saws, table saws attach to a worktable, but unlike miter saws, they mount below the table. They use a circular blade that you can raise and angle above the table, so you can cut material by sliding it through the blade across the surface of the table.

Most people use table saws to cut wood planks down to length using rip cuts. Due mainly to their size, table saws tend to cost more than other kinds of saws.

Professional review site Tool Box Buzz recommends the DeWalt DWE7491RS, and other notable brands include Grizzly and SKIL.

Use the Right Tools to Finish the Right Job

Once you’ve determined what your home project is and which materials you need to cut, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the perfect saw from the list of options above. After it’s in your hands or on your worktable, you’ll be just a few steps away from a job well done.

Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living, sustainable consumption, eco-friendly practices and green energy. In the past, her work has also been featured on GRIT, Mother Earth Living, Blue And Green Tomorrow, Dwell and Houzz. To read more from Kayla, follow her productivity and lifestyle blog, Productivity Theory, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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