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the various types of sawsIf you’re into woodworking and carpentry, you may know by now that the saw is something you cannot do without. It even gets your job done when you’re working with metal.

Not all saws are created equal but we’re not talking about the quality, but about their type. A specific saw may work for a specific job so you should do due diligence about the types of saw that are out there. Using the right type of saw can make the difference between a job well done and a completely failed one.

Without any further introduction, here are some of the most important types of saws that you can use for carpentry and woodworking. Choose wisely and don’t be afraid to try them as many as you can.

  1. Traditional handsawtraditional hand saw

This is probably the most common type of saw and the first to come to mind when thinking of a saw. It features a wedge shaped blade and presents a pistol grip handle. If you’re big on woodworking, this may be the very first type of saw that you should buy.

  1. Coping sawcope saw

This is another popular type of saw and it’s rather simple to look at. It consists of a thin blade and a D shaped frame, containing the blade. It’s a really helpful saw.

Coping saws may come with various types of blades so that you may cut both wood and metal. The best part about this type of saw is that you may remove its blade, put it into a hole (that you’ve already drilled) and cut the profile you need.

You are going to use the coping saw for cutting curves, moldings, joinings and even fashion dovetails. Even though this saw isn’t the most precise one, it’s still very helpful on various jobs.

  1. Japanese sawjapanese saws

Also known as “dozuki”, the Japanese saw is a common choice for the Japanese woodworking and carpentry. Unlike the western saws, this one cuts on the pull stroke. It seems that this type of cutting is more efficient and it also leads to a thinner cut width.

Japanese saws typically come with thinner blades than most of the saws out there. They present two kinds of teeth-crosscut teeth on one side (for making the guide path) and the rip teeth (for finishing the cut).

The downside for this type of saws is that they cannot cut hard wood (which most western saws are able to do just fine). They’re a better option for the soft wood (cypress or pine).

It’s quite common for the Japanese saws to come in a kit. Here are some examples:

  • Azebiki- it has a short and curved blade which is good for starting center panel cuts
  • Anahiki- works for general construction when cutting logs or beams
  • Dozuki- it’s a back saw to use on joinery. It’s also known as dovetail dozuki.
  • Kataba- you may use it for general purpose. It’s a single-edged saw that presents a thick blade.
  • Kugihiki- it’s for flush cutting wooden nails and dowels
  • Mawashibitiki-it has a narrow and thick blade that is great on curves and keyholes
  • Ryoba- it’s the most popular Japanese saw. It looks a lot like a spatula and has crosscut teeth on one side and the rip teeth on the other
  • Sokomawashibiki- it’s a curved saw that you may use for curved profile

A video from The Samurai Carpenter explaining these fine tools:

  1. Crosscut sawcrosscut saw

This type of saw is able to cut wood perpendicular, right to the grain of the wood. It’s the opposite of the rip saw (which helps you cut wood parallel to the grain). It cuts on the push stroke, just like the majority of Western saws.

It comes in a great variety of sizes. You’re going to use a small crosscut saw for the accurate woodworking and a larger model for the coarse woodwork.

The crosscut saw is one of the oldest models and there’s proof that even the ancient Romans used them.

  1. Back sawback saw

This is just another hand saw, but it sure stands out from the crow with the stiffening rib on its upper side. The stiffening edge doesn’t let the blade bend when you’re pushing. This is why the backsaw is going to cut a lot more precisely than many other types of saws. It also provides better control to the user.

You are going to want to use the backsaw for the accurate cuts in cabinetry and joinery. The most important asset comes with a big downside: you’re not going to be able to cut as deeply, but you’re going to solve it with another type of saws. After all, there are so many to choose from.

  1. Keyhole sawkeyhole saw

This saw sure looks a lot like a swordfish or the sword per se. you may know it as the “drywall saw/ alligator saw/jab saw or pad saw. Even though it’s a narrow kind of saw, it’s also quite versatile.

You may use it to cut curves, circles and frets, especially in places where no other type of hacksaw is able to do a good job.

Lightweight, the keyhole saw presents and pistol grip which ensures easy use. There are 2 types of keyhole saws: the one with retractable blade and the one with fixed blade. Be ready to pay the extra buck for the retractable blade keyhole saws.

  1. Compass sawcompass saw

The name of this type of saw is a bit confusing. When it comes to carpentry, woodworking and architecture, the word “compass” relates to a curve. Therefore, the compass saw is the main kind to use for cutting curves.

The compass saw is narrow and comes with a tapered blade. The blade is pointed at the end most of the time. The common type of compass saw comes with 8-10 teeth per inch, but this may go up to 20teeth per inch (in case you’re going to cut some harder materials).

This type of saw also presents a pistol grip which is going to help you work easier in confined places. Its pointed end is going to penetrate nice and easy the soft materials, eliminating the need for a pilot hole.

  1. Fretsawfret saw

When you’re trying to make some intricate cuts in wood, a fret saw is going to be the best choice. It also goes without saying that this one is great for the really tight curves too.

The coping saw is in fact a type of fret saw, but the last one is going to be able to make cuts with a tighter radius, helping you perform the most delicate cuts.

The fretsaw is a deep frame saw (10-12inches) and features a short 5inches blade. The blades can get up to 32 teeth every inch, which helps you make the tighter cuts.

The main pet peeve? The amazing ability of the saw comes with a price and the fret saw sits on the fragile side, so you want to be extra-careful with its blade.

  1. Bow sawbow saw

Its name says it all and the bow saw does look a lot like a bow. Some call it the buck saw/ finn saw or swede saw.

No matter the name, the bow saw presents a coarse wide blade and works for cutting wood (firewood is easy to cut with this one). This saw is definitely the no.1 choice when cutting some green or wet wood.

The bow saw is a lot like the frame saw as the blade is maintained in tension inside the metal frame. Many gardeners are using the bow saw as it’s very easy to use for pruning or cutting branches of trees (up to 6 inches thick). You may use it for both straight and curved cuts.

  1. Veneer sawveneer saw

This small saw is a solid option when cutting hardwood veneer. The blade is no longer than 4 inches and it features 13teeth per inch.

The most important feature of the veneer saw is that you may practically cut with both the edges. It’s the ideal type of saw when you’re planning some veneering work.

On a side note, veneer is the thin covering made of some fine wood (3mm at most) that is going to be applied on a coarser wood, leading to a flat panel. Veneer wood is really thin, but it’s still wood so a knife isn’t going to be of any good. A veneer saw is always going to be the better choice for cutting the veneer.

  1. Band sawelctric band saw

This is one of the many kinds of electric saws that are on the market nowadays. The cutting edge is made of a serrated steel belt that is moving constantly.

The band saw is a woodworking saw, but it does a good job in lumbering, metal working and even on cutting metal.

As the tooth load is evenly distributed, the band saw ensures uniform cutting and helps you cut irregular and curved shapes too.

It’s important to highlight that this saw is really dangerous so it should be used only by the experienced ones. Don’t forget to be careful of kickbacks as well.

  1. Rip sawrip saw

The tip saw is going to cut wood parallel to the grain, which is different from a crosscut saw that does it perpendicular to the grain. It looks a lot like the crosscut saw, but there’s something different to notice right from the first glance. The teeth on a rip saw are in fact angled backward about 8 degrees or so. In the case of cross cut saw, it’s 15 degrees for the angle.

You can use the rip saw just like a chisel, as it eliminates anything it runs up against. It works like a knife, cutting the fibers from the wood.

Most rip saws out there come with 5teeth per inch, whereas a cross cut saw is going to have twice the number.

  1. Jig sawelectric jig saw

The jigsaw is a reciprocating saw that you may use for cutting various shapes in plywood. It’s also known as the bayonet saw or the sabre saw. The biggest challenge when using it is the control as the blades are rather weak and small. There’s also no support at the lower end.

If you’re planning to make a curved cut with the jigsaw, you should steer the blade without forcing it sideways. If you’re going to force the blade, you may obtain an uneven cut or even break the blade.

You may find various types of blades that work for the jigsaw, increasing its versatility.

  1. Track sawtrack saw

Many are mistaken the track saw and think it’s a circular saw. However, the track saw (rail saw/plunge saw) is used for cutting sheet material. This doesn’t mean you cannot use it for cutting wood and other materials.

Keep in mind that getting a straight cut with the track saw is going to be really difficult. You may have a win only if the piece of wood is clamped down.

Most track saws out there are going to come with an aluminum guide which is going to help you make the sharp cuts.

  1. Scroll sawDeWalt variable speed scroll saw

If you’re going to take a look at a scroll saw from a distance, you may think it’s a sewing machine. Truth be told, it’s a pedal operated saw.

The scroll saw is a good option when planning to make an intricate curved cut. This one combines the functions of a jigsaw and a coping one just fine. You may see it as a type of band saw. Unlike the band saw which uses a steel band that loops continuously, the scroll saw is based on a reciprocating blade.

You may remove the blade on the scroll saw and place it into a drilled hole. This is going to let you make interiors cuts without needing an entry point.

  1. Dovetail sawdovetail saw and tenon saw

This saw comes with 15-20 TPI (teeth per inch) and you may use it for dovetail joinery. It’s a great saw to use for applications that need a small, yet very accurate cuts. When you’re looking for an impressively neat finish, this is the saw to use. It works on both hardwood and softwoods.

  1. Carcass sawcarcass saw

you should use it for accurate cuts across the grain, defining edges of a dado or cutting Tenon shoulders. It comes with 14 points per inch and ensures fast, smooth and precise cuts. It’s a great saw that complements the dovetail saw.

  1. Circular sawmakita circular saw

You’re going to use the circular saw for cutting metal, wood or concrete. It’s made with an abrasive/toothed disc on an arbor, using a rotary motion for making the cuts. You may find handheld models and various mounting options too.

As for the blades, they’re also different as you need to use specific ones for specific materials. You’re going to need to use different blades for making rip cuts, cross cuts or a combination of the two.

The main downside when using the circular saw is the limited depth of the cut. You unlock the shoe (you can use the lever for it) by adjusting the height of the blade and moving the shoe upwards. Lock the blade once again afterwards.

  1. French flush-cut sawFrench flush-cut saw

This saw comes with teeth angled a bit upward so that it doesn’t damage the surface while cutting. It’s a double-edge saw that comes with 2 different TPI- 11 on one edge and 20 on the other, most of the time.

  1. Miter sawmiter saw

This is a multi-function electric saw that you may use for making cross cuts (perpendicular to the grain of the wood), bevel cuts (this is an angle cut and you need to cut across the thickness of the board), miter cuts (it’s an angled cut that goes across the width of the wood) and compound cuts (it’s a combination of the bevel and miter cut). You need to adjust the miter saw for making each of this type of cuts.

You can use the miter saw for making wooden frames and molding and it ensures high precision for each of the operation. However, you’re not going to be able to make rip cuts with the miter saw.

  1. Razor sawlynx razor saw

This one is the perfect small saw that you may use for the small projects or model making. It’s made with 40teeth per inch and its blade provides a smooth finish to any project.

It works great for the fine cuts in soft wood and may come with disposable blades.

  1. Table sawtable saw

This is a blade on an arbor, set in a table. The blade is coming up from under the table, as the table is going to support the material that you’re cutting.

This is dangerous saw as the blade is exposed to you, so you need to be extra-careful when using it. Exposing more or less of the blade is going to help you adjust the depth of the cut. The more the blade is going to protrude, the deeper is going to be the cut.

The modern models come with a high number of safety features for keeping you safe. Magnetic feather boards, dust extractors are only some to mention. You may reduce the risk for injury by lowering the blade height.

One final thought

Even though we presented the basics of some types of saws, we didn’t cover them all. The variety of saws is impressive and you should look the ones you need for the most special jobs. Do due diligence and don’t take a stab in the dark when using one. Never.


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