The 7 Different Types of Saws Used for Wood Cutting

Having the right tool in hand before you start that next woodworking project is essential for great results. One of the most important is a saw that can help trim and shape your wood to fit your needs.

different saw types for woodworking

There are a range of different types for different situations. We’re going to explore all of the best saws for different woodworking projects and when it’s best to use each one.

Here are the Different Types of Saws That are Used for Wood Cutting:

1. Traditional Handsaw

Carpenter's handsaw

If your dad or even a grandparent is an avid DIY enthusiast, chances are you’ve had some kind of old handsaw handed down to you at some point in the last few years. These are a staple tool in any old school DIYer’s chest box.

There’s a good reason for that – they’re incredibly versatile and you never need a power source to use one. All you need is a sharp blade and a little bit of muscle power to make the cut you want.

You may have a pretty clear picture of what one looks like in your head, but there are actually a few different types. These include:

  • Carpenter’s handsaw,
  • Rip-cut saw,
  • Cross-cut saw,
  • Backsaw,
  • Japanese Pull saw,
  • Coping saw.

You can make basic cuts with any one of these types of handsaw but by far the most popular and versatile style is the Carpenter’s handsaw.

One of the best on the market is the Irwin 15″ ProTouch Fine Cut Saw (see on Amazon). This is a lightweight saw with extra-fine teeth for precise cuts and a cushioned grip handle to reduce the risk of blisters and cuts from repetitive tool use over time.

2. Table Saw

table saw

When it comes to power saws there are many different to choose from, but the most versatile type for wood cutting is easily the table saw. It can be used for cutting straight edges, angles, beveling and ripping.

You can make quick and accurate cuts with a table saw much quicker and with greater accuracy than a handheld power saw.

That leads to many first time DIYers asking is it the only saw I need and why would I choose any other? As is often the case when it comes to any type of power tool it isn’t that straightforward.

Yes, table saws are a great tool to have in your garage or shed, but they aren’t ideal for every situation. For one thing, they’re not very mobile – in most cases once you buy one, you find a good spot for it and it stays where it is for use when you need it.

If you’re building a fence at the back of your 6-acre property, far from your table saw or any available power source that’s not too practical. Also, a good table saw can be fairly pricey so your budget will be a big factor in deciding whether a table saw is the right way to go for you.

If you have your heart set on a table saw, the Dewalt DWE7491RS (see on Amazon) is a great choice. It includes a rolling stand that does make it a little more mobile as long as you have power nearby and it operates at 4800 RPMs so you can even use it on pressure-treated lumber and hardwoods.

For more options, check out our recommendations for the best hybrid table saws.

3. Circular Saw

circular saw

If there’s one power saw that every DIYer should have on hand for a range of wood cutting tasks that would be a good circular saw. These are powerful cutting tools that also happen to be highly mobile so you can take one just about anywhere as long as you have an available power source.

There are two main types the direct-drive and worm-drive saws. The direct-drive is more common for home use and the great thing about these is that you can use them with one hand while using the other to hold the wood you’re cutting in place.

It’s always best to use a clamp if possible though, this will keep your wood in place and reduce the risk of accidental injury if the hand you’re using to hold the wood slips.

Circular saws can range considerably in price, but usually, you can find a decent one between $50 and $100. The blade diameter can range between 7-1/4 and 10 inches.

If you plan on cutting a lot of thick wood pieces you’ll want to look for a larger 10-inch diameter saw, but for most common household wood cutting duties the 7-1/4-inch blade will do just fine. A great option is the Skil 5280-01 7-1/4″ saw (see on Amazon).

4. Miter Saw

miter saw

There is actually a saw that combines some of the best features of both handheld circular saws and a table saw. It’s called a miter saw and it has a range of uses that make it a woodcutters dream.

It can be used to miter, crosscut and bevel – more expensive models also have a sliding arm for greater versatility. There isn’t a lot you can’t do with these saws whether it’s a straight cut for a piece of flooring or a beveled cut for new trim around a door frame.

There are three different types of miter saws:

  • A straight cut-off miter saw,
  • Compound miter saw,
  • Sliding compound miter saw.

The most popular choice is easily the compound miter saw because it allows you to adjust the angle from side to side as well as up and down.

If you’re seriously considering a miter saw it’s worth spending a little extra to opt for a more versatile compound miter saw instead of a simple straight cut-off model. You probably won’t need a sliding compound miter saw unless you’re using the tool in a professional capacity.

The Dewalt DWS715 12-inch compound miter saw (see on Amazon) is one of the most popular choices on the market today.

For more great options, check out our recommendations for the best 12″ miter saws, the best 10″ miter saws, and the best miter saws for beginners (great for your DIY home projects).

5. Band Saw

band saw

For the serious woodworker, there aren’t any true substitutes for the band saw. You can manipulate a piece of wood into just about any shape you can think of with a band saw. It’s great for furniture work where you may want to shape a piece of wood into a semi-circle or to cut notches into the wood for slotting together.

You can also use a band saw to slice thick pieces of wood into thinner pieces. If you’re setting up a dedicated woodworking shop for personal hobby work or for commercial work you should give strong consideration to adding a band saw to your tool arsenal.

If you’re looking for a great starter band saw without breaking the bank, the Wen 3959T (see on Amazon) is one that should make your shortlist. This is a benchtop bandsaw that can easily be moved around when necessary, weighing in at just 40 pounds.

6. Oscillating Saw

oscillating saw

When you’re doing a lot of work with small bits of baseboard or you need to make a wood cut in a tight space one of the best tools to use is the oscillating saw. They’re highly functional and many models on the market today can also be used for sanding, polishing or scraping as well.

The best part is these are affordable tools that can be used for a variety of applications and they’re compact so you can even store it in your portable toolbox to take to a jobsite as well.

The Dremel Multi-Max MM50-01 (see on Amazon) is a top seller in this category that comes with all of the different blades you’ll need for cutting, sanding and polishing the wood you’re working with.

For more great options, make sure to check our our pick of the best oscillating tools on the market right now.

7. Jigsaw

jigsaw

One other type of wood cutting saw that has to be included in our list is the jigsaw. These are handheld saws that can do a lot of the work you can do with a band saw, although the cut may not be as clean as the saw is guided by your hand.

On the upside, they are mobile so you can take them to the job rather than having to cut wood pieces where the saw is. They’re ideal for use with furniture making and repairs, they’re also great for cutting laminate and hardwood flooring.

Blades usually vary between 7 and 32 teeth and as you might expect when you opt for a blade with more teeth you get a finer cut.

These days you can even find powerful cordless jigsaws such as the Dewalt DCS335B 20 V jigsaw (see on Amazon).

Choosing the Best Saw Type for You

When it’s time to use a wood cutting saw there’s no one right answer for everyone – it depends on how you’re planning on using the saw. A jigsaw is one of the most affordable and versatile options, but it isn’t suitable for every type of woodworking project.

No matter which type of saw you need always remember to wear proper eyewear protection while you work and change your saw blades regularly for the best results.

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