Checked and updated on March 4, 2021 by Aaron Barnett
There are many types of hand and electric saws and each saw is made for different cutting jobs. It is essential that as a builder, a DIYer, or a woodworker, you know what type of saw to use for each job and how to use each one correctly and accurately.
Keep reading to know everything you need to know about all the different saws and when to use each tool.
1. When to use a circular saw?
A circular saw is the most common power tool used by builders and DIYers. They are used when portability is required for cutting wood.
- Comes with a powerful motor intended for cutting wood for light and heavy-duty cuts.
- Is portable and hassle-free for us.
- Cheap to buy.
- Is a must-have tool.
- Leaves rough cuts when ripping compared to a table saw.
- Slower and less accurate than a miter saw or a table saw.
2. When to use a cordless circular saw?
You should use a battery-powered circular saw when maximum portability is on your list.
Jobs such as repairing or installing roofs, making frames, and creating bookcases which require a lightweight easy to carry tool not tethered to a power outlet.
The cordless version of a circular saw is a must-have regardless of where you want to work. Brands like DeWalt or Makita make the best cordless circular saws.
- Easier and safer to handle due to the smaller and more lightweight tool.
- No cords that need extensive care and maintenance.
- Batteries last a long time.
- Enough power for almost all cross-cutting jobs, and some light ripping jobs.
- Not ideal for heavy cutting jobs.
- Working hours are limited unless you have spare batteries on charge.
3. When to use a jigsaw tool?
You will need to use a jigsaw tool when making curved and circle irregular cuts in your materials like wood, metal, and plastic.
A jigsaw tool can take different blade types that need to correspond to the specific material you are cutting.
For example, a blade for cutting wood is different compared to a blade made for ceramic tile, metal, and laminate. So it is essential to use the right blade for the material you are cutting.
A Makita, Festool or DeWalt jigsaw can take narrow blades that can do the job of cutting curves and circles smoothly and accurately. A jigsaw is the best tool for cutting curved cuts in building materials, you cannot do this with a circular saw. If you want to know more differences between a jigsaw vs circular saw click the link.
- Ideal for cutting out intricate curved shapes and detailed checkouts on wooden boards.
- Easy to use and operate.
- Unlimited power.
- Many blade options.
- Not fast, for long and straight cuts.
- If the material is to thick the blade can bend, and it’s better to use a “band saw”.
4. When to use a cordless jigsaw?
The best time to use a cordless jigsaw tool is when you need to cut curves and circles but instead with a more portable cordless option. Not being tethered to a power outlet has many advantages if the cordless tool delivers the power that you need.
Cordless is better for intricate woodwork or stencil designs. Cordless jigsaws are even more hassle-free to work with both at home or on the job site and work even if you’re remote without a power supply.
The Festool and the Makita jigsaw 18V cordless jigsaw tool has low vibration while in operation and provides all the power you will need for any jigsaw cutting task that you might have.
- The most portable option since it is battery-powered.
- The best models are variable speed to extend the variety of jobs you can do with it.
- Can easily cut curves and circles in building materials.
- Cannot cut thick lumber, or thick metal.
- Not for straight and lean cuts.
5. When to use a miter saw?
A miter saw is a power tool that should be used when making well-angled or perfectly square and straight cuts in wood or aluminum. Miter saws are even better when you need to bulk cut many pieces of timber to the same exact length you want, and can save a lot of time doing so compared to a circular saw.
Miter saws have a mounted blade and a swing arm that can be moved on a dial left or right to give your project well-angled accurate cuts.
The Makita compound miter saws can perform really well but so can the DeWalt miter saws that can last longer, and require little to no maintenance with their tighter springs.
- Has a powerful motor for heavy jobs.
- Has articulated blade guards.
- Can accurately cut miter cuts, bevel cuts, and compound miter cuts.
- Can cut cross-cuts quicker and more accurately than a circular saw.
- Can come with a lightweight stand for quick setup, and good working height.
- Not for portable use due to its size (You could think about a cordless option).
- Can only crosscut, cannot rip timber (Like a table saw).
6. When to use a cordless miter saw?
A cordless miter saw is a battery-powered alternative to a standard corded miter saw. Although it’s better to get a corded miter saw the portable option can be useful when you need to work in a remote location with no power source or outlets, nearby.
If deciding between a miter saw vs circular saw for remote job sites, have a think about what will save you time and money in the long run, and deliver better accuracy.
The DeWalt battery miter saw is a lightweight and portable tool that operates via cordless operation. Although it has a strong advantage over other power tools cordless miter saw brands simply because it can also work from being plugged in, making it a bit of a multi-function tool
- Lighter weight and more portable than a dedicated miter saw.
- Has electric brakes for fast and smooth stops.
- Dewalt has the option of both corded and cordless in one tool.
- More accurate than a cordless circular saw.
- Limited working time.
- Less vertical and horizontal cuts can make.
- Less power than a dedicated plugin tool.
7. When to use a portable table saw?
Portable table saws are the most common type of table saws used by builders and DIY’ers. They are cheaper than a cabinet saw but deliver more accurate and faster results for ripping timber compared to a circular saw. Make sure you know when to use a table saw as a table saw can increase your accuracy and save a lot of time if you regularly need to accurately rip timber to a specific thickness.
These tools can be dangerous without the right training, if safety is a top concern think about getting a model from Bosh or Stopsaw. Stop Saw specializes in building table saws with built-in flesh detecting emergency brakes that will automatically stop and retract the blade if it detects an accidental human touch on the blade in operation, that can save a finger or someone’s life.
The best portable table saw can adjust to various types of cuts with an easy to adjust and accurate dial.
- Portable and powerful types of power saws for ripping timber.
- Can be used on different level surfaces at the job site as it can be moved on wheels.
- Can cut exact widths and can also be set to cut angled cuts.
- Makes a bit of noise and vibration, need to wear PPE.
- Cabinet table saws pack even more power and accuracy.
8. When to use a cabinet table saw?
A cabinet table saw is the best option for serious woodworkers, joiners, or cabinet makers. The unit isn’t portable like a portable table saw, however, it is more stable for the most accurate cutting, they can come with larger tables for guiding your cuts, and come packed with more power on tap.
Designed for heavy-duty construction it has an induction motor that can support long working hours. As a ripping tool, its ripping capacity can also be adjusted easily.
There are heavy-duty cabinet table saws that can do the accurate and precise cutting on large pieces of wood and promote safe use inside a workshop check out the options here .
- More power and more stable than a portable table saw.
- Easy-to-change blades.
- Collects dust easily.
- Larger tabletop for guiding your cuts.
- Less vibration.
- Made of heavy materials like steel and cast iron (although some come with wheels).
- Need a large space for its set up.
- Not portable like a job site table saw.
9. When to use a bandsaw?
You should utilize a band saw when cutting irregular shapes like curves, crosscuts, and even rip thick lumbers into thinner and smaller slabs. A bandsaw will take your garage or workshop to the next level from only using a portable jigsaw tool, as the blade won’t bend as easily when cutting thicker materials.
A band saw has two to three wheels and a rotating and continuous loop of the blade, a motor, and a tabletop as a support for the job at hand. Band saws have different types of saw blades, and each has specified tensions that need to match the blade width. Proper adjustment of the blades and tension is essential when using a band saw.
- A powerful tool for cutting, ripping, and resawing various materials in straight and curved motions.
- Has different blade options with a wide variety of tooth styles and sizes.
- Often leaves the material with rough edges which will need finishing sand.
- Not portable like a jigsaw tool.
- Your work needs to be lifted up to the cutting table.
10. When to use a reciprocating saber saw?
You need a reciprocating saber saw for when you do any type of demolishing work. Such as cutting out drywall linings, cutting out wall framing, and tearing out old materials like pipes, ceiling battens, and cutting old nails.
A corded or cordless reciprocating saw has a push and pull motion on the blade that makes blade placement easier for demolition work. It has a foot on the base like a jigsaw tool and has a handle meant for vertical, horizontal, and upside-down use.
- Can do vertical and horizontal cuts.
- Has variable speed for different cutting jobs.
- Many blade options for different materials you want to cut and destroy.
- Only a small tool like this can take out a whole wall in as little as an hour (Make sure and wires are disconnected from the power source).
- Not to be used when you want any type of accuracy (Demolition only).
- For only cutting drywall look at getting a cutout saw. (It’s safer and easier to use as you don’t have to penetrate past the lining thickness).
- If you want to remove old weatherboards and keep them in reusable condition, or cut out skirtings and trim to reuse. You want to instead use an oscillating tool.
11. When to use a track saw?
Track saws are similar to a circular saw although this type of power saw has a rebate in the base of the saw, which then fits on a long aluminum rail or track used as a “straight edge” with a groove that the electric saw fits on.
Track saws are used when cutting long and straight cuts when exact to-the-point precision and accurately is essential to the job at hand.
Doors, melanins, plywood, and even fiber cement sheets can easily be trimmed with the use of a track saw often also referred to as a Festool which is the brand that is mostly used.
- Quick and accurate straight cutting on finishing sheets like cladding and interior linings.
- Can be used to cut large sheets on sawhorses that can’t easily be lifted up onto a table saw.
- Different blade options can let you rip even fiber cement sheets as well as plywood sheets.
- Portable easy to move light tool.
- Includes dust extraction (Works very well).
- Can cut straight angles accurately as a table saw can only cut parallel to the guide.
- Requires an even or flat surface to work on for a precise result.
- Not as powerful as a table saw for ripping thicker wood.
12. When to use a flooring saw?
Flooring saws are for cutting flooring boards to length or cutting out sections or edges. The power-operated flooring saw runs a circular saw attached to a radial arm as a guide that can then slide back and forward the remaining square. The saw blade rotates very fast and can cut multiple hardwood floors, vinyl planks, and other flooring types in just one cut.
- Portable, and can cut multiple boards at the same time.
- Saves spaces due to their size.
- Can be installed on the ground close to where you are working.
- Creates a bit of noise.
- Can just use a miter saw.
13. When to use a cut-out saw?
A cut-out saw is a tool used for cutting openings in drywall linings and plywood. A cut-out saw can be better used instead of a reciprocating saw for cutting out these materials in demolition because the blade depth can be set to exactly the thickness of the lining you are cutting.
This means you don’t have to worry about overcutting into pipes, or wires that might be concealed inside a wall. It also has a dust collector that can make the work less messy.
- Makes drywall cutting easier and cleaner (Than a demolition saber saw).
- Has variable speed motor for cutting different materials.
- Limited to cutting thin boards and not for thicker materials (Use a reciprocating saber saw).
14. When to use an abrasive chop saw?
You should have an abrasive chop saw ready on your job site when cutting hard metals like steel and high tensile steel. Chop saws cut straight down on 90 degrees and can simplify cutting metal bars. And speed up bulk cutting of steel studs.
- Excellent for cutting hard steel in a similar way you would use a miter saw for wood.
- Has powerful and large motors.
- Can cut thin metals with the abrasive disk not jamming.
- Bigger and heavier than an angle grinder.
- Limited to straight 90 degree cuts only.
- Has a stationary platform.
- The abrasive blades need replacing.
15. When to use a metal-cutting cold saw?
It is best to use a metal cutting cold saw for cutting thicker metals without sparks (Instead of a standard metal chop saw). A metal cold saw has a durable toothed blade instead that transfers the heat produced by the friction by removing the material rather than burning it.
Meaning a cold-cutting saws toothed blade allows for both the blade and the material to remain cold despite excessive heat and friction. Cold saws usually have solid high-speed steel (HSS) or tungsten carbide-tipped (TCT) blades that provide heat resistance. Both the HSS and TCT blades can be resharpened.
- Offers adjustable feed rate and variable speed for bulk work.
- Can cut ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
- Can do straight and angled cuts.
- Wrong feed rate can damage the saw teeth.
- Be careful if your cutting thin materials that can flex.
16. When to use an angle grinder?
An angle grinder can be used for cutting metal, tile, concrete, and stone. Available in both a corded and cordless option, the cordless angle grinder is more portable and most widely used. However, for cutting concrete a corded 9-inch angle grinder might be what you need.
- Can cut metal and concrete while being a portable handheld tool.
- Cuts are fast.
- Loud and noisy and can create a lot of dust (Wear all the PPE required).
- A 9-inch angle grinder can be dangerous be careful of kickback.
17. When to use a concrete cutting saw?
You should choose a petrol-operated concrete cutting saw when you need to cut concrete deeper and faster than what you can by an electric handheld grinder.
Hard materials like masonry, cement, asphalt, and brick typically need a diamond saw blade to cut through hard materials. There are various types of concrete cutting saws powered by both gasoline, hydraulic, pneumatic pressure, or an electric motor.
- Has a very powerful motor.
- Works super fast.
- Loud and noisy and creates a lot of dust.
- Need good body strength to safely operate.
18. When to use an oscillating saw/ multi-tool?
The best time to use a multitool or what’s commonly called an oscillating saw is when you need to trim door or window architraves, cut skirting, cut pipes, or sand wood in tight spots. Doing tricky cuts in hard-to-reach spots with accuracy is how this tool shines.
Oscillating tools are portable and compact that take a variety of different interchangeable blades to perform a wide variety of functions. Oscillating tools vibrate back and forth at high speed but only by a little bit, this means that you can cut by pushing the tool into what you want to cut without the room needed to make a swipe, making it great to cut hard to reach spots, like up behind weatherboards to cut the nails off.
The ability to change the head from a blade to a sanding pad makes it a good alternative to a detail sander as well.
- Portable and has an easy-to-grip body.
- Let’s you remove trim with a tidy cut.
- Let’s you sand like a detail sander with a triangle pad for reaching into tight corners.
- Blades are expensive and can get blunted fast if cutting hard metals.
19. When to use a scroll saw?
Scroll saws are types of electrical saws that can do the task of cutting intricate shapes, curves, circles, joints, and other small enclosed cuts on a woodworking project on a table. A scroll saw has a fine and thin blade that can produce delicate and smooth cuts in a range of different woodworking materials. Scroll saws can take a wide variety of blades with different tooth patterns and sizes for different types of cuts.
These saws interestingly can come with a foot pedal to operate as a trigger.
- Capable of cutting intricate and detailed contours.
- Can create better finishing than any other detail saw.
- Controllable blade motion with the use of the pedal.
- An alternative to a band saw for small detailed projects.
- Not for large and thick materials.
- Not ideal for cutting straight long cuts.
20. When to use an electric handheld tile saw?
A hand-held tile saw is best to use when cutting checkouts and angles on tiles. Among the other types of tile saws, a hand-held tile saw is more portable and easier to carry. Using a hand-held tile saw requires some skill and expertise to avoid mishap or human error when cutting.
- Lightweight and portable.
- Can cut checkouts and angles on tiles.
- Its dry variety is susceptible to overheating.
21. When to use a tile saw (Dropsaw)?
Make sure to use a dedicated tile saw when cutting or making angled or bevel cuts to tiles, or for doing straight cuts faster and more accurately than by a hand-held tool. This powerful tool has a usual blade length of 8 to 10 inches and a powerful motor for tiling whole rooms when many tiles need cutting.
- Ideal for multiple and bulk cutting tiling jobs.
- Can make accurate and precise angled cuts.
- Heavier than a hand-held saw to carry around.
22. When to use a ripping hand saw?
A ripping hand saw is the standard hand saw you will see, made for manually cutting towards the direction of the grain. A rip saw is typically 26 inches in length and has five teeth per inch (TPI), Bigger teeth compared to a crosscutting saw for a faster cut. When using a hand rip saw, you must hold or fasten the material before cutting with your foot, or by using clamps.
- Convenient, does not need a power supply.
- Cheap and needed for simple tasks.
- Requires manual effort.
- Will need replacing at some point.
23. When to use a tenon hand saw?
Tenon hand saws are types of hand saws that are best for crosscuts and can also create mortises and tenon joints. This type of saw can be used on both soft and hard types of wood. A standard tenon hand saw has 10 to 14 teeth per inch (TPI), giving an accurate depth and direction while cutting across the wood grain and along with it.
A hand saw tool like this should have a pistol grip to support the blade and protect the user’s hands.
- Has detailed control for fine woodwork.
- Requires physical push and pull.
24. When to use a dovetail saw?
Make sure to equip yourself with a dovetail saw if you will cut small and precise dovetails, tenons, and miters with a fine finish. A dovetail saw is a small saw with 15-20 teeth per inch (TPI) with a delicate rip pattern and a relatively short and thin blade it can be used for the most detailed wood cutting work.
Its finer tooth pattern compared to a tenon saw can also be used when making crosscuts in both hard and softwoods.
- Effective for making small fine crosscuts.
- Needed for cutting dovetail joints.
- Requires manual push-pull.
25. When to use a hacksaw?
A hacksaw is a fine-toothed hand saw that you should use when cutting metal or plastic pipes quickly. It has a C-shaped frame that holds the blade under tension. Its frame is adjustable for the accommodation of various blades, and to tighten it if it stretches. To put the blade under tension, a screw or other mechanism must be adjusted at the end of the tool.
- Small and easy to use.
- Quickly cut metals by hand.
- Not as fast as an angle grinder.
26. When to use a coping saw?
A coping saw is a type of bow saw that you should use when creating interior cut-outs and intricate shapes in wood. Coping saws have very thin blades that are stretched to their U-shaped metal frame. The blades are held by swiveling clips on both ends. It can make turning cuts, circles, and slight bends when you cut.
A coping saw usually has 12 to 15 teeth per inch. Its handle can also be turned, allowing the user to turn the blade while cutting.
- Excellent in making detailed cuts on trim.
- Has a controllable handle.
- Hard to control when making thick straight cuts.
27. When to use a fret saw?
A fret saw is the best tool to use if you need to cut intricate and complex shapes like a coping saw, but instead with a longer frame extending farther away from the blade. It has thinner and shorter blades that can cut even tighter curves. A standard fret saw has 14-48 teeth per inch and has a cylindrical handle that allows you to move and turn to make more accurate cuts.
- Can create more precise intricate shapes.
- Very fragile, not suitable for heavy-duty or aggressive kinds of jobs.
28. When to use a gib saw?
The best time to use a hand tool gib saw is when you need to cut out curves, holes, or openings in installed or before installing plasterboards. This tool can be used to cut out holes for light switches, fittings, and lights that will penetrate through the ceiling.
It’s also worth looking into a cut-out saw, which is the electric alternative.
- Easy and safe to use (just be careful of wires and pipes that could be inside a wall).
- Useful for cutting openings in plasterboard linings.
- Not for cutting out thick or hard materials due to the large teeth.
29. When to use a chainsaw?
A chainsaw is a mechanical tool that can be used for trimming and cutting down trees, or cutting up firewood. Chainsaws are most commonly used by homeowners for harvesting firewood and, limbing, bucking, and pruning trees.
Gas-powered chainsaws are powerful and meant for large cutting jobs with a long bar that accommodates a set of teeth attached to a rotating chain,
For most cutting jobs a chainsaw with a long bar like a 24-inch chainsaw will put out the heavy-duty performance, needed by most people.
- Can cut large logs and trees quickly and aggressively.
- A very powerful tool.
- Loud noise.
- Requires some maintenance and oiling.
30. When to use a cordless chainsaw?
A battery-powered cordless chainsaw can be used instead for lighter jobs like trimming branches. Like a petrol chainsaw, it has a drive gear, bar, motor, and chain but since it is cordless and battery-powered, it operates differently. But being cordless there is no need to mix oils or worry about fumes.
Most cordless chainsaws have a battery size and power ranging from 4.0Ah to 31.1Ah although you have to take into consideration the voltage as well to know the true power captivity of each tool like I explain in my review.
Makita chainsaw offers brushless motors, high chain speed, and variable speed that can increase performance for different jobs.
- Quieter than a petrol chainsaw.
- Has a quick start button.
- No gas fumes.
- Limited time working since it is battery-powered.
- Less power for bigger jobs (But still grunty enough most of the time).
31. When to use a pocket chain saw?
A pocket chainsaw is a portable tool that can be utilized for cutting high tree branches. It is designed with two handles, a rope, and a small cutting chain. A pocket chainsaw works by first throwing the rope around a high hard to reach tree limb and then using your manual strength by pulling each rope up and down to make a cut.
It is the most portable type of chainsaw and is also used by hikers for survival purposes as well as homeowners that want to safely cut a high tree branch.
- Very portable.
- Can cut high branches without a ladder or a pole saw.
- Can even cut large timbers.
- Very portable.
- Can cut high branches without a ladder or a pole saw.
- Can even cut large timbers.
32. When to use a bow saw?
A bow saw is a hand saw that is best to use when cutting green woods like branches of trees, shrubs, and logs, by hand for people scared to use a chainsaw. It can cut tree branches faster than other types of saws due to the large teeth and solid space to grip the saw.
A bow saw tool has a bow-shaped metal frame and a long straight blade that can be removed and replaced. A standard bow saw has 6-8 teeth per inch and the bow saw blade can either be a peg tooth blade or a peg and raker tooth blade. Peg blades are for cutting dry woods while peg and raker blades are for cutting wet woods (green lumber).
- Has a hollow frame making it lightweight.
- Can cut with both forward and backward strokes.
- Only ideal for woods and not metals.
- A chainsaw is much less hassle.
33. When to use a folding pruning saw?
Many gardeners and campers have a folding pruning saw for survival and gardening purposes such as trimming branches. Similar to a bow saw it has large teeth for cutting trees, but it’s smaller and can fold up hiding the blade to fit inside your backpack.
A folding pruning saw has sharp teeth that can cut wet, and dry wood, bamboo, and prune small plants and flaxes.
It can be folded up and is the reason why it is known for its excellent portability.
- Portable and easy to use.
- Large sharp teeth for fast cutting.
- Not powered by gas.
34. When to use a manual pole saw?
There are two types of pole saws, those that are like a bow saw, but on a pole, and those that are small electric chainsaws operating on a pole to reach cut and prune high tree branches safely or for clearing bush in front of you.
Pole saws come in various lengths and can either be steel or fiberglass. The length of the bar should correspond to the height that you need to reach and cut. The longer the bar, the thicker the material it should be made of, most pole saws are telescopic, meaning that height can be reduced but is limited by its max extendable reach.
It is the type of pole saw that is best for smaller gardens.
- Lightweight and easy to use.
- Cheap to get.
- Can safely reach and cut high branches.
- Not for large and heavier cutting jobs.
- Slow to cut thicker branches.
35. When to use a cordless pole saw?
A cordless pole saw should be used when cutting or trimming branches but with the power of an electric motor. And less hassle of tangled cords compared to a corded pole saw. It has a small chainsaw on the end with a short bar length of approximately 8”. A cordless pole saw operates on either a NiCD or Li-ion battery. But Li-ion batteries are much better when it comes to charging time and power storage.
Since a cordless pole saw is battery-powered, it doesn’t really require any maintenance and does not emit any fumes.
Removing the pole can result in a chainsaw-like tool and can be used as a smaller power saw to cut wood.
- Cut high branches without manual effort.
- Portable and lightweight.
- Less quiet than gas-powered pole saw.
- No fumes, or need to mix oils.
- Limited battery life.
With lots of different cutting jobs, as a builder, DIYer, or woodworker, it is essential to equip yourself with the right saw technology to match your cutting needs.
Note that utilizing different types of saws will always lead to improved performance, accuracy, and save time.
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My name is Aaron, and welcome to Bangingtoolbox.
As a qualified builder and DIY’er, my goal with Banging Toolbox is to provide the #1 building and DIY resource on the internet for my readers.
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