Different Types of Woodworking Saws

Image of a woodworker using a miter saw, one of the many different types of woodworking sawsA saw is a tool comprising a wire, strong blade, or chain with a firm toothed edge or edges. Saws are used to cut through materials, commonly wood, and sometimes stones or metals. The cuts are made by putting the toothed edge of the blade against the workpiece and moving it back and forth, or by moving continually in one direction as it cuts. The cutting force can be applied manually by humans or powered by water, steam, electricity, and other power sources. Since saws are used on wood as the most common workpiece, I will give you an insight into different types of woodworking saws as you carry on reading.

There are two broad categories of woodworking saws, which are hand saws and power saws. The power saws are electric-powered and usually are faster and more accurate compared to their hand counterparts.

Let’s take a keen look at the Different Types of Woodworking Saws available in the market.

Power Saws

Well, as the saying goes, “there is nothing as constant as change!” Power saws are a testimony to this. These are useful machine tools that have evolved from hand saws. The saws have modernized the woodworking industry by making the cutting process more comfortable and more efficient on so many levels. There are so many of these saws, but they fall under 3 main classes: reciprocating blade, continuous band, and circular blade saws; this division is only based on their blade movements. 

These tools are mechanized and are therefore equipped with motors or engines powered by electricity, gasoline, rechargeable batteries, etc. 

Below is a detailed analysis of the types of woodworking power saws:

  • Band Saw

Image of a bandsawThis power saw gets its name from the blade used on it; it’s a continuous loop blade that goes around a wheel above its table and another wheel below the same table, the whole setup looking like a band. This saw is usually stationary during operation due to its sheer size. Therefore it is the workpiece that moves through the machine when cutting. The band saw has flexible functionality as it can crosscut, rip, and make curves. The machine cuts through several items using interchangeable blades whereby the materials are fed into it manually to execute the cutting.

The band saw is among the most accurate cutting machines available for producing straight and curved cuts. This saw blade is generally long, and the exact length of the blade depends on your machine’s size.

Types of band saws include:

  • Portable band saw
  • Wood band saw
  • Vertical band saw
  • Benchtop band saw
  • Meat band saw
  • Horizontal band saw


  • Chain Saw

Image of Dewalt chainsawAs its name implies, the chainsaw uses a linking chain with several uniquely-designed ripping teeth. While a chainsaw is specially designed, it is categorized under band saws. I thought it best to discuss it separately due to its popularity.

Chainsaws are primarily used in tree felling and logging practices and are an essential power tool to arborists and woodcutters.

  • Circular Saw

This saw is for projects that need a more hands-on approach. There are several types of circular saws, and they are mostly used in building projects.

Circular saws are relatively lightweight and easily fit in hand for improved workability. Nonetheless, you have to manually push the saw to cut through the material at hand.

skilsaw, circular sawWorking Mechanism

 The circular saw uses a round-shaped blade. The blade rotates as you cut through your workpiece. Most people love the saw because it is easy to maneuver.

To use this type of power tool, you need to guide the blade well while holding the material to be cut firmly; in short, it requires full concentration when operating. The blade then chips away from the workpiece, producing the best cut at its surface. The blade does this as it spins, courtesy of the electrically-powered motor that comes with the machine.

There are several types of circular saws, the most popular of which are listed below:


  • Flooring Saw

This saw is meant for resawing floorings (engineered, laminate, hardwood, or laminate) to fit. A flooring saw is a specialized machine that, in effect, encompasses the functions of a miter saw, table saw, and other paraphernalia needed to cut flooring. In other words, it is an all-in-one machine.

These saws come fully assembled and have a lot of cool features, including an adjustable fence that guides and secures your workpiece for planing, sawing, marking, or routing. The power tool has pre-measured markers that allow you to slide the fence and set your depth gauge, all to make the cut that you desire. The saw comes with a hold-down feature to securely hold the board to the saw, though experienced users don’t need to use it. Flooring saws have excellent longevity to last you through several jobs, which makes a decent investment for every woodworker.

Flooring saws are loud, and hearing protection is required before powering on these machines for safety. The saws produce straight cuts, but with some chipping; to alleviate the chipping, it is advisable to cut your flooring material upside down.

  • Reciprocating Saw

A reciprocating saw is a great tool! It’s fast and powerful enough for anything from trimming tree branches to cutting pipes, and it’s your go-to tool if you are remodeling. You can use various blades to cut through metal, wood, and even nail-embedded wood; This is a tough tool, so it’s best to know how to handle it. 

Image of a reciprocating sawYou can install the blade with the teeth up or down, depending on the angle you need. Usually, you’ll have a quick-change mechanism that lets you slide the blade in place and lock it in. Make sure you use the right blade for the material you are cutting; as a rule of thumb, the fewer the teeth per inch, the faster and rougher the cut, and when cutting metal, you’ll usually have finer teeth. A reciprocating also goes by the name Sawzall and is suitable for both metal and woodworking.

If you intend on making deeper cuts with this tool, use a longer blade that extends beyond the shoe plate and thickness of whatever you are cutting. When remodeling, you can use this machine in all sorts of situations; it slices through nails so that you can cut out railings, door and window jambs. 

If you are cutting into a wall with one of these, ensure you know where the plumbing and electrical cables are located so you can avoid them as these power saws will go right through them with dire consequences.

These saws tend to be easier to handle from a ladder or above your head than a circular saw, and remember to wear safety goggles, a dust mask, and ear protection when using them. The most common reciprocating saws are listed below:

  • Corded reciprocating saw
  • Cordless Reciprocating Saw
  • Portable Reciprocating Saw


  • Scroll Saw

Scroll saws are among the most valuable additions you can make to your woodshop, as they can do so much stuff. One of their outstanding attributes is that they often produce less sound when operating, and they also don’t create a lot of dust. Some of the many fun things you can do with these saws are making delicate cuts for ornamental products and surface finishes that are so nice that you don’t need sanding afterward.

Image of Kings industrial, arguably the best scroll saw for woodworkingThese saws can cut through different species of wood for an accurate and near-polished finish. Scroll saws have thin and small blades that let you get into much tighter spots than you could get with other saw types. The other thing that these machines can do is pierce-cuts; where if you want to cut internally on your workpiece, you take the blade out of the machine, get it into the material, attach the machine again, and then make those internal cuts. 

Another cool thing about scroll saws is it’s a great way to get kids started in woodworking (kids as young as 8 years) because they are safe and fun to use. 

These saws have the benefit of coming with a table whereupon you can lay the material to be cut; this is convenient as you don’t have to worry about holding your workpiece when cutting.

They are second to none in performing intricate scrollwork for decorative cuts, spiral lines, and patterns.

  • Jig Saw

Image of Bosch, arguably the best jigsaw for woodworkingJigsaws are powerful handheld power saws that cut various materials and have beveling capabilities that range between 0-45. Jigsaws are available in corded and cordless versions; the corded models need a constant connection to an electricity source for operation while the cordless models operate on rechargeable batteries.

Due to their flexibility, jigsaws can produce several cuts like straight cuts, curved cuts, rough cuts, angled cuts, and even highly detailed cuts. These machines are also able to produce cuts in areas that are inaccessible to other saw types.

Working Mechanism

The jigsaw operates on an electric motor system that powers up the blade to cut through materials eventually. These power tools initiate the cutting process via a trigger, which is pressed to give varying speeds of cut. These machines’ blades come in divergent lengths and thicknesses to enable you to cut in different situations. Jigsaws are also equipped with sole plates that are adjustable for bevel cuts. This class of saws can cut through hardwood, softwood, composite planks, metal, ceramic tiles, among others.

  •  Miter Saw

A lot of woodworkers say if they’d only have one type of saw, it would be the miter saw, and the reason is they do so many jobs! This flexibility and universal application make these saws a gem in the woodworking realm.

miter sawThere are 3 common types of miter saws in the market today; the sliding compound miter saw, compound miter saw, and the conventional miter saw. The sliding compound miter saw kind of does it all, i.e., it cross cuts, it miters, it bevels in both directions (right and left), and it also has a slide function that gives you the ability to cut wider boards. The compound miter saw is the most common of the 3 mentioned above; it also crosscuts and miters but does not have the sliding option—the saw bevels in one direction (to the right only).

The circular blades of miter saws typically come in either 10″ or 12″ sizes. The cutting blades are made of carbon steel for improved durability. The best of these saws have their blades covered in a protective coat still for durability purposes and a comfortable cutting experience.

Another unique feature of miter saws is the ability to key in a precise angle of cut; this produces accurate cuts for a detailed as well as clean finish, which is perfect for fitting joints.

How to Dial-In the Angle of Cut

These miter saws come with a dial pad. The dial pad is calibrated with various angles. You can use this pad as a guide to key in the degree of cut you want your miter saw to execute.

Hand saws

Hand saws have made headway through the years to fill many voids in the woodworking industry. There are several types, some of which are designed for discrete applications like the keyhole saw, while the others are general-purpose tools, like the traditional hand saw.

For woodworkers and construction workers at large, you’ve got to have at least one of these in your assortment of tools. Your tool kit is incomplete if you don’t possess any of these.

Hand saws generally have a thick blade to make them sturdy enough to cut through any material. Nevertheless, thin-bladed hand saws are made rigid by either holding them at high tension in frames or by bolstering them with a folded steel strip (previously iron) or brass. Below is a listing of the day to day woodworking hand saws:

  • Back Saw

Back sawA backsaw is a comparatively short saw with a narrow blade reinforced on its upper edge, hence the name. Back saws are often used with miter boxes and other utilizations that demand a consistently clean and straight cut. Back saws can also be referred to as tenon saws or miter saws, depending on their intended use, saw the design, and regional differences.

  • Bow Saw

Image of a bow sawThe bow saw is a type of crosscut saw, and it’s more suited for outdoor applications than indoor usage. It has a somewhat long blade with several crosscut teeth designed to cut aggressively and faster when engaged. Bow saws are primarily used for pruning, cutting logs, and trimming trees but are flexible enough to be used for rough cuts as well.

  • Coping Saw

Image of a coping sawThe coping saw is ideal for scrolling, trim work, and any other work where precision cutting and other intricacies are prioritized. The saws can be used to cut different types of materials and are found in just about everybody’s tool collection from plumbers, to carpenters, to furniture and toymakers.

  • Crosscut Saw

A crosscut saw is designed to produce rough cuts on wood specifically. The saw has a thicker blade than its counterparts, plus large, angled teeth. The traditional 2-man crosscut saw (also the felling saw) has a handle on each end and is engineered to be operated by two people at the same time to cut across/perpendicular to the grain of lumber.

The even more familiar 1-man crosscut saw is excellent for trimming limbs and branches, rough cutting timber planks, and is an excellent saw for job site camping.

  • Fret Saw

Image of a fret sawThe fret saw bears a striking resemblance to a coping saw, so much so that some construction workers can’t tell them apart. This saw is used for intricate cutting work that includes tight curves. The coping saw works in a similar capacity, but the fret saw can do more delicate work and cuts into much tighter radii. A remarkable physical uniqueness of the fret saw is a large frame depth (ranging from 10-20 inches), and a relatively short 5″ blade, which, together, make it appear disproportionate as contrasted with other saws.

  • Hack Saw

Image of Hack SawPerfect for cutting tubing and pipes, timber, among others, the hacksaw is arguably the most common saw; almost everybody knows what a hack saw is. It is a lightweight design and multifaceted in use, able to cut through metal, plastic, lumber, and a variety of workpieces. With this saw, you can use different cutting blades depending on what you are working on, and these blades have teeth that range from 18-32 per inch.

  • Hole Saw

Bi-Metal Hole Saw KitA hole saw is attached to a drill and is used to make perfectly round cuts or holes in metal, concrete, plastic, wood, stainless steel, and other materials. Hole saws are similar to spade bits, the difference being that hole saws are used for large projects like drilling big holes for plumbing pipes or locksets, while spade bits are used for drilling small holes up to 1¼ inches in diameter.

The blade type varies based on the kind of workpiece at hand. Bi-metal hole saws are particularly universally available for everyday usage, while diamond and carbide-coated teeth are reserved for cutting more rigid materials.

  • Japanese Saw

Image of a Japanese SawThis saw comes with a single handle and a protruding thin and firm cutting blade. The Japanese saw is more accurate than the back saw and can reach through tight spaces where other saws can’t reach.

The saw comes in three subtypes, i.e., Ryoba saw, Kataba saw, and Dozuki saw, and it is used to cut through softwoods and hardwood with identical results. 

  • Jab Saw

The jab saw/” alligator” is also referred to as the keyhole saw in some English-speaking countries. It features a round handle with a blade protruding from one of its ends. The saw is used to produce rough-cut circles and other curved patterns. It’s well suited for a dry wall, more so when the cutting area is almost inaccessible, and the shape of the wall hinders power tool usage. 

  • Pole Saw

Pole sawThis saw is also known as the pole runner! It has a flexible pole that extends it further to reach into tight cutting areas; this extension ranges from 7 to 16 feet or more, based on the model. The saw’s cutting end has a 6″-8″ pruning blade, perfect for pruning trees. Nowadays, many pole saw models are powered, having a chainsaw-like ending and running on electricity or gas.

  • Pruning Saw

Pruning SawThis saw comes with a 13 to 15-inch curved blade that protrudes from a single “handgun grip” style handle. The saw’s cutting blade has bristly teeth that cut when tracking in both directions, making it faster and more efficient. This saw has a carbon-metal blade that is stainless, and you can extend the handle length by screwing or hooking on a wooden prop on it. The hand tool is widely used and particularly valued by landscapers, lawn services, and tree surgeons.

  • Rip Cut Saw

As with the frame saw and the veneer saw, the rip cut saw is used to produce rip cuts, which severs the lumber parallel to the grain. This saw is a must-have tool for framing; it has comparatively few teeth per inch of blade. The rip cut saw is the most widespread hand saw, and as a result, most people refer to it as “hand saw.” The saw comes in various sizes, and every woodworker, contractor, and DIY enthusiast has one or more of these.

  • Veneer Saw

This is a highly-specialized saw kitted out with a short, double-sided blade having around 13 teeth per inch. The veneer saw produces rip cuts and is mainly used for precise veneer work. The saw is built with an elevated offset handle that makes it easy to maneuver when in use. This saw’s short blade limits its use, as it cannot be easily adapted for other cutting tasks.

  • Wallboard Saw

The wallboard saw and the keyhole saw are alike, but the wallboard saw generally comes with a shorter, wider blade with fewer teeth per inch. This saw is designed for penetrating through drywall or paneling and is usually used to make starter holes for power tools.


As a wind-up, saws stretch a long way back into the ancient times from where they have evolved and have undergone remarkable improvements to become the contemporary cutting tools we are using. Nowadays, every woodworker and professional contractor owns a bunch of saws to ply their trades or help them get by. Wood and timber being the most widespread materials involved in sawing tasks, there are different types of woodworking saws designed for such projects.

The examples I’ve discussed above rank among the best of the current generation, and they come at affordable prices relative to their work output. I’ll throw in an investment-oriented motto that says “garbage in, garbage out,” which basically means a good investment yields good results and vice versa. In simple terms, all the saws highlighted in this article are worth your staking.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.