So, you need to cut a piece of wood or maybe a tree, but what saw do you choose? That rusty handsaw hanging in your tool shed isn’t going to cut it.
To a novice, there is a seemingly endless variety of saws. This guide helps you acquire the right equipment to tackle that woodworking project. If you’re a homeowner who works with wood (or are buying gifts for one), you’ll eventually need to have each of these types of saws in your arsenal. Mind you, this list is not exhaustive. There are dozens of types of saws for specific purposes, but these nine classics come in handiest.
Perhaps the most common and utilitarian saw is the rip cut saw. Ask a kid to draw a saw, and this is what you get. This handsaw is great to simply cut a piece of wood. However, if you’re looking for smoothness, precision and ease, there are better alternatives — although no saw is quite as versatile.
It’s inexpensive, portable and features built-in grooves to ensure straight cuts. What’s not to love? Yes, you need to put some muscle into it, but this saw is best used for light cuts that don’t require a power tool, such as those used in crafts or framing.
If there’s one type of saw where you shouldn’t skimp, it may be the chainsaw. Essential for any homeowner with trees, a chainsaw is capable of cutting through trunks or big, thick limbs. A cheap, handheld electric chainsaw still requires a great deal of muscle and time to make a dent. Opt for a chainsaw with some real power.
This tool extends up to 12 feet, making it invaluable for any yard with tall trees. Just flip the blade upward, lock it into place and break a sweat as you trim away dead branches. But watch out below! Branches in treetops always wind up being larger than they appear from the ground.
A circular saw is great for cutting boards, especially in places where a stationary saw isn’t practical. Measure twice, draw a straight line, make sure your hand is steady and follow the laser guide to cut boards to precise lengths. Whether you’re building a fence, a bench or a deck, a circular saw should be a go-to tool.
A miter saw may be too large for some garages or tool sheds, but if you have the space on a bench, you’ll save yourself time and energy. A miter saw cuts at 45- to 90-degree angles with speed, precision and ease.
OK, you probably don’t need one of these bad boys in your garage unless you’re a serious woodworker or carpenter. Bandsaws are great for details and curves like a jigsaw. This stationary unit allows the user to guide a piece of wood through the blade. A professional bandsaw will run well north of $1,000, but there are cheaper and portable options for DIYers and hobbyists to cut into tough spots.
Lastly, the ever-popular rotary saw. What can this saw do that none of the others on this list can? Let’s say you need to saw into a sheet of drywall that’s already installed and there’s no obvious place to start cutting. This saw can create its own pilot hole and then start sawing, eliminating the need for other tools. The average person isn’t going to use one of these often, but someday you might be glad you have it tucked away.
Never operate a saw without protecting your eyes! The tiniest speck of dust or a larger fragment of jagged wood could cause irreversible damage. Will you look a little goofy? Sure, but it’s far better than a teary-eyed trip to urgent care.
As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.