17 Popular Types of Saws for Woodworking & Carpentry

The saw has become an indispensible tool to cut wood and even metal. However, you can't cut everything with one type of saw.

There are different types of saws to accomplish different types of cuts. Here we will talk about 17 types of saws, how they compare to other types of saws, what their benefits are and where they are used. 

So let us see what the different types of saws are.

1. Coping saw

Coping Saw

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The coping saw is a popular woodworking saw. It is simple and unpretensious to look at, consisting of a thin blade inside a D shaped frame but it is very useful.

There are different types of blades in coping saws to cut wood and metal. The most useful feature of a coping saw is you can remove the blade, insert it through a hole you've drilled and cut profiles.

Coping saws are frequently used to cut curves and fashion dovetails, moldings and joining. A coping saw is not a precision tool but they are still very useful.

>> Read More: Best Coping Saws

2. Crosscut saw


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Crosscut saws cut wood perpendicular to the grain of the wood. It is the exact opposite of a rip saw, which is used to cut wood parallel to the grain.

Cross cut saws come in a variety of sizes. Small crosscut saws are used in precision woodworking while the larger ones are used in coarse woodwork.

Crosscut saws are also one of the oldest type of saw used. There is proof that the ancient Romans used crosscut saws. Crosscut saws typically cut on the push stroke, like most Western saws.

3. Japanese saw


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The Japanese saw, also called a 'dozuki' is used in Japanese carpentry and woodworking. Unlike most western saws, the Japanese saw cuts on the pull stroke. This type of cutting is said to be more efficient, leaving a thinner cut width.

Japanese saws have thinner blades than other types of saw. They have two types of teeth- crosscut teeth on one side to make a guide path and rip teeth to finish the cut.

The major disadvantage of Japanese saws is, you can't use them to cut hard wood which western saws are suited for. They are best for soft wood like pine and cypress.

4. Compass saw


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Don't be confused by the name 'compass' saw. In carpentry, architecture and woodworking, a compass means a curve. So a compass saw is a type of handsaw used to cut curves.

It has a narrow and tapered blade, usually pointed at the end. A compass saw typically has about 8-10 teeth per inch, which can go up to 20 teeth per inch if you are cutting harder materials. A compass saw comes with a pistol grip, which is best suited if you are working in confined places. The pointed end helps you penetrate soft materials without requiring a pilot hole.

5. Back saw


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A back saw one of the many hand saw types. It is unique among saws because it has a stiffening rib on the upper side. The presence of the stiffening edge does not allow the blade to bend when you push. So a backsaw allows you to cut more precisely and with better control than other types of saws.

They are often used to perform precise cuts in joinery and cabinetry. Note that the presence of the stiffening edge means you can't cut as deeply but this is not a problem where these saws are typically used.

6. Keyhole saw

 keyhole saw

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A keyhole saw looks like the sword of a swordfish. It is also called drywall saw, alligator saw, pad saw or jab saw. It is a narrow saw but it is quite versatile.

You can cut circles, curves and frets with a keyhole saw, often in places where other types of hacksaws can't work.

Keyhole saws are very lightweight and come with pistol grips.

There are two types of keyhole saws- one with a fixed blade and another with a retractable blade. The retractable blade keyhole saws are usually more expensive.

7. Bow saw

bow saw

As the name suggests, a bow saw looks like a bow. Bow saws are also called finn saws, swede saws and buck saws.

Bow saws have a coarse wide blade and they are typically used as a saw for cutting wood, especially firewood. If you ever want to cut green or wet wood, you will find this saw useful.

The bow saw is a kind of frame saw because the blade is held in tension inside a metal frame. It is no unusual to find a bow saw among garden tools, where they are used to prune or cut branches of trees, up to 6 inches thick. You can make both curved and straight cuts with a bow saw.

8. Fretsaw


If you want to make intricate cuts in wood, especially tight curves you need a fret saw. A coping saw is actually a type of fret saw but fret saws can make cuts with a tighter radii and so perform more delicate cuts.

It is a deep frame saw (between 10-20 inches) with a short 5 inches blade. The blades can have up to 32 teeth every inch, allowing much tighter cuts. But this dexterity comes at a cost. The blade on a fret saw is more fragile than the blade on a coping saw.

9. Rip saw


Rip saws cut wood parallel to the grain, unlike a crosscut saw that cuts perpendicular to the grain.

The rip saw and the crosscut saw look very similar on first glance but there is a difference. The teeth on a rip saw are angled backward by about 8 degree, as against 15 degree on a cross cut saw.

A rip saw works like a chisel, removing anything it runs up against. A cross saw is like a knife and it severs the fibers from the wood. A rip saw typically has about 5 teeth per inch while a cross cut saw may have twice that number of teeth. The crosscut saw also makes a finer cut.

10. Veneer saw


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A veneer saw is a small saw for cutting hardwood veneer. The blade is not more than 3-4 inches long and contains 13 teeth per inch. A unique thing about the veneer saw is, you can cut with both the edges. If you going to do veneering work, a veneer saw is a must have in your arsenal.

Veneer is a thin covering made of fine wood (3 mm or less) that is applied to coarser wood, to create a flat panel. Though veneer wood is thin, it is wood nevertheless and a knife won't cut it. In that case, you will need a veneer saw to cut the veneer.

11. Band saw

band saw reviews

The band saw is one of the many types of electric saws available today. The actual cutting edge is made up of a constantly moving serrated steel belt.

The band saw is typically a woodworking saw, but it is also used in lumbering, metal working and for other uses (cutting meat).

The major advantages of a band saw is uniform cutting (because the tooth load is evenly distributed) and the ability to cut curved and irregular shapes.

Please note that electric saws are very dangerous and only an experienced person should operate one. Be careful of kickbacks too (kickbacks are flying pieces of wood).

12. Circular saw

Choose circular saw blade

If you want to cut wood, metal or concrete generally, you might probably use a circular saw. The circular saw consists of an abrasive or toothed disc on an arbor. It utilizes a rotary motion to make cuts. Circular saws come in both handheld and mounted varieties.

There are different types of blades for cutting different materials. For example, there are different blades for making cross cuts, rip cuts or a combination of both.

The major drawback of a circular saw is, the depth of the cut is limited. You can adjust the height of the blade by unlocking the shoe (there is a lever for this), moving the shoe upwards (or downwards) and locking the blade again.

13. Jigsaw

Jigsaw tips

No, we are not talking about the villian in the 'Saw; movie franchise. A jigsaw is a type of reciprocating saw and it is used to cut custom shapes in plywood. Some manufacturers refer to jigsaws as sabre saws or bayonet saws.

Control is a problem in jigsaws. The blades are weak and small and there is no support at the lower end. If you want to make a curved cut with a jigsaw, steer the blade and don't force it sideways because if you force the blade, you will get an uneven cut or the blade itself may break.

There are many kinds of jigsaw blades which adapts the jigsaw for different types of cutting work.

14. Miter saw

miter saws

The miter saw is a multi function electric saw. You can use a miter saw to make cross cuts (perpendicular to the grain of the wood), miter cuts (an angled cut across the width of the wood), bevel cuts (a type of angled cut where you cut across the thickness of the board) and compound cuts (a mix of the bevel and miter cut). To make each of these cuts, you have to adjust the miter saw accordingly.

Miter saws are often used to make wooden frames and molding, because of the high degree of accuracy you get from each operation of the miter saw. Note that miter saws cannot be used to make rip cuts.

15. Scroll saw


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If you look at a scroll saw from afar, you might confuse it with a sewing machine. In fact, there are pedal operated scroll saws.

If you want to make an intricate curved cut, a scroll saw will suit you well. It combines the function of a coping saw and jigsaw. So the scroll saw is a type of band saw. But unlike the band saw which uses a continuously looping steel band, the scroll saw uses a reciprocating blade.

Like a coping saw, you can remove the blade on a scroll saw and insert it into a hole you've previously drilled, allowing you to make interior cuts without an entry point.

16. Track saw


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The track saw is often confused with the circular saw but they are different. The track saw or rail saw or plunge saw is typically used to cut sheet material, though it can also cut wood and other materials.

The major problem with a circular saw is, it is difficult to get a straight cut with one, unless the piece of wood is clamped down. Track saws typically come with an aluminum guide to enable you to make lazer sharp cuts.

Track saws also have a plunge action i.e you can begin the cut anywhere. But it is also possible to feed the blade into the edge of a workpiece the conventional way. Woodworkers who want to make straight cuts will find the track saw useful.

17. Table saw


The table saw is exactly a blade on an arbor, set in a table. The blade comes up from under the table with the table supporting the material being cut.

The blade in a table saw is exposed so if you are not careful, you can easily hurt yourself. You can adjust the depth of the cut by exposing more or less of the blade. The more the blade protrudes, the deeper you can cut. Modern table saws come with a number of safety features to reduce the danger, like dust extractors and magnetic feather boards. Reducing the blade height is also a good way to reduce the chances of grievous injury.

In Summary

In this review, we've tried to cover as many varieties of saws we could think off. We are sure there are more variations but these are the most common ones. As you may have noticed, there are many types of electric saws too. We hope this guide is useful to you when you go out to buy a saw in the future.

Last Updated on January 15, 2020 by

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Tom Bradly

My entrepreneurial journey started in 2006, when I dropped out of university. I wanted to work with my hands, to build things. Now I mix my background with computers with my first-hand experience with woodworking to provide insights into the tools I like best. I love everything about woodworking and have been building stuff for over 20 years of my life. I hope to pass some knowledge and expertise. See more at TomBradly.com

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