Types of Saws And Their Uses 

By  Enda McLarnon

Welcome to the wonderful world of saws. Before you read this, just take a quick guess at how many different types of saws you may think exist. One quick clue, there a lot more than you may first think. the most common and best known saws are for working with wood.

There are however saws for cutting through metal and even saws for materials like ceramic tiles and concrete. There are even specialist saws for jewellers and other trades that we may never have even heard of.

In this article though we will look at the different types of saws most commonly used and what they are actually supposed to be used for. Let’s start with the most popular. To begin with I have included a video which I am sure you will find helpful.

Types of Saws To Cut Wood

Saws are generally thought of as a cutting tool that will have either a blade, in some cases a wire or even a chain with an edge with teeth on it. Their main purpose is of course to act as a tool that can cut through a material. These can either be operated manually or powered by a battery, an engine, or some type of power source.

Hand saws have been around for over 5,000 years and will still be around for a very long time to come.

We shall begin by looking at what are usually classed as hand saws. As the name would suggest these are saws that carpenters and joiners would use when working with wood.

There are however a few types of these hand saws available, and each has a specific purpose. All of them will have a few parts in common.

Best Hand Saws

best hand saws


The Stanley 15″ hand saw pictured above is a very popular and typical choice for many people. All hand saws will have a handle for gripping and the blade is then attached to the handle. The end of the blade is known as the toe, and the blade part closest to the handle is called the heel.

The blade will almost always have a set of teeth and is measured in points per inch or more commonly in teeth per inch.  For example if you see “18TPI”, then this means there are 18 teeth every inch of the blade. The Stanley above for example has 9 teeth per inch.

The small valleys between the teeth are called gullets. The next most important thing is the angle of the teeth, which determines the width of the actual cut you can make. This width is often referred to as the kerf. You may also hear people talking about the set of a saw.

This is basically the degree in which the teeth are bent out sideways and away from the blade. If you have ever used a hand saw and feel it sticking a lot, it most likely needs reset with a saw tooth setter.

Those are the main parts and are fairly standard. It is the materials these are made from, especially the quality of the blade, and how it is set that will determine the price.

Ripping or Cross Cutting? – What’s the Difference?

Ripping is simply cutting with the grain and cross cutting is cutting across the grain. You will find that saws used mainly for ripping will have steeper teeth. However for most general use this does not really matter a great deal.

So I mentioned there were several types so let’s have a look at those. In the main there are:

  • Crosscut – basic horizontal cuts
  • Rip saw – Like the cross cut but cuts parallel to the wood grain
  • Coping – used for cutting out shapes or patterns
  • Fret – similar to the coping saw but can cut out tighter and more intricate shapes
  • Plywood Saw – specifically for use on plywood
  • Keyhole – similar to a pad saw or a jab saw for cutting holes in soft wood or dry wall
  • Hacksaw – used for metal or wood with a thin fine blade
  • Veneer saw– as the name would suggest for cutting through veneer
  • Miter Saw – for doing miter joints
  • Tenon Saw – for making tenon wood working joints

These are all manual saws and for many years were the stock tools of the carpenter or joiner. To be honest with the introduction of power saws these are seldom used. It is always useful to have a general purpose hand saw in your toolbox, but in the main most of these tools are now redundant for general use.

Types of Saws For Metal

Most guys will be familiar enough with the general purpose hacksaw. For most jobs they will do a good job. These come in different shapes and sizes and they will get through the softer metals without too much difficulty. They are also relatively inexpensive.

You can also buy blades for jigsaws that are suitable for cutting metal. There are also a range of saws that have been designed to cut through all types of metals. At that level though, your are starting to get into industrial use.

Along with equipment like, shears, grinders, chop saws etc there are plenty of saws available that will chop their way through most types of metal. Many of the power saws can also have metal cutting blades fitted and these are now a very popular choice for many people.

Types of Saws For Concrete

Yes there are even a range of saws that can cut through all the different types of masonry, including brick, mortar and even the hardest of stone. The industrial type devices are often referred to as a road saw or a consaw.

To be honest none of us will ever have to use those, but if we do the best way to get one is to rent one, as these would be too expensive to purchase for a limited amount of use.

Many of us will simply want to cut pavers, or perhaps brick, block and tiles. This is typically concrete that is up to around 4″ deep.

Anything over that thickness and you would want to look at some type of industrial saw. For these smaller jobs it is possible to get what are called Masonry Wet Saws in either a table of a portable form.

They get that name because water is constantly poured over the diamond blade used to make its way through the concrete. These are just circular saws, but they will have a masonry blade fitted that can deal with the toughness of the concrete or stone.

Some are powered by gas, but more commonly these are now powered by an electric source.

Types of Saws For Cutting Trees

These are known as pruning saws and are clearly the popular choice of gardeners. As the name pruning would suggest these are saws that can handle smaller branches. At the other end of the scale there is of course the ever popular chainsaw. These can make their way through the biggest of trees.

Sitting in between the humble pruning saw and the heavy duty chainsaw, sit another range of saws, designed for use on trees. These include pole pruners, pole saws, loppers and various types of hand and woodworking saws. A very popular choice is of course the chainsaw.

Other Types of Saws

There are also a whole range of saws for cutting through glass, ice, logs, steel and just about any type of material that you can mention. In addition to these there are a whole range of power saws all designed for cutting through various materials.

These include scroll saws, circular saws, jigsaws, table saws, and band saws.

So as you can see, there is a saw available for just about anything that requires sawing. There are some unusual ones that you may also find interesting. These include metal cutting saws, hand powered saws and reciprocating saws.

Enda McLarnon

Enda McLarnon is now retired and is now enjoying writing about his love of power tools. All types of these tools are now available and they make working on projects and DIY jobs around the home a great deal of fun

Enda McLarnon

related posts:

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}