With so many types of saws available, it's important to know the major saw types and what kinds of jobs for which each saw is best suited. While even the most ardent woodworker probably won't need each of these saws in their shop, it's always smart to use the right tool for the job at hand.
The table saw is a powerful tool combining a circular saw blade with a metal table frame. By changing the blade's height, you can alter the depth of the resulting cut. This type of saw is used to make cuts in sizable pieces of wood.
Another type of circular saw that's attached to a stationary frame, the miter saw is used for more precise work, including trims and molding. Unlike table saws, miter saws are portable and capable of more precise crosscuts. The blade itself generally measures anywhere from 8 to 12 inches in diameter.
A chain saw is a motorized handheld tool that consists of an extended arm around which a chain of sharp teeth revolves. Chain saws are ideal for cutting back trees and brush where more power than a handheld saw is required. They're not generally used in smaller, more detailed jobs.
The band saw's blade is notably elongated and thin. Used especially in woodworking as well as metalworking, the band saw is the right choice for cutting on the curve. Typically, the adjustable band saw can come in a number of sizes, starting with a small benchtop version. The most common styles of band saw are stationary, but you can find portable versions as well.
The scroll saw is like the band saw, but it uses a narrow reciprocating blade. Its smaller-sized blade tip is especially useful for intricate scrollwork and patterned work, such as spirals or lines. Scroll saws may be electric or powered by a pedal.
The reciprocating saw is characterized by blades that use a push-pull (or reciprocating) mechanism to make cuts in wood. Similar to a jigsaw, the reciprocating saw is longer and can handle several types of cutting jobs, including cutting into drywall, chopping off stray tree branches and more. The reciprocating saw is sometimes referred to as a sabre saw.
The jigsaw is a handheld saw with a reciprocating blade that can be difficult to control. A type of reciprocating saw, due to the push-pull motion of the blade, a jigsaw has small blades that are best used to cut odd curves and lines in wood and metal materials. They're not designed for cutting straight lines.
One of the oldest tools known to man, the handsaw dates back to prehistoric times. As a strictly manual tool, the handsaw requires a lot of elbow grease to complete even the simplest cut in a piece of lumber. Even so, the handsaw is an integral tool in a well-equipped shop. It can handle cuts that power saws simply can't tackle, such as cutting thick posts that can't be removed for use on a table saw.
The primary feature of the keyhole saw is its long, narrow blade. It's a handheld saw that may have a retractable blade in some models. The keyhole saw is especially useful in making small cuts in hard-to-reach places.
A bow saw has a unique U- or J-shaped metal frame. This crosscut saw is generally used for rough but small jobs where speed is more of a concern than precision, such as trimming branches off trees or cutting firewood.
Sometimes referred to as masonry saws, concrete saws are just what they sound like: saws made especially for use with concrete. Their diamond blade design is configured specifically for working with concrete and other types of very hard masonry materials. You can find concrete saws in different sizes for different types of material. The concrete saw may sometimes be referred to as a chop saw.
The coping saw comes with blades that can be swapped for use on both wood and metal materials and is capable of cutting tight corners. You can also remove the thin blade from the saw's curved frame and use the blade to refine drilled holes for precise interior work. The lightweight coping saw is especially useful in artistic, creative work; for creating precise joints for trims such as crown molding; and for back-cut curves.