How to Choose the Right Saw for Your Project

For your next carpentry project, don't reach for any old saw. Read our handy guide to learn what type of saw will work best for your material and scope of project.

Anyone who has tackled a DIY project knows that sawing is often a necessary task. Whether used for ripping wood boards down to size or cutting tiles to fit a corner, there are many different reasons to use a saw. And for every sawing project, there's a tool that will make the job easier and more efficient.

We'll introduce you to eight common saw types—including both manual and power-operated saws—and help you choose the right one for your project. Plus, we have expert tips for operating each saw so you can work with confidence.

Hand Saw

The most basic type of saw, a hand saw is a must-have tool for cutting boards, logs, or thinner materials. The tool requires manual labor and a steady back-and-forth motion to cut through materials, and it's very simple to use. The trickiest part is getting a groove going. Once you've created a notch, you'll be able to work through the remaining material with ease.

Consider a handsaw when trimming branches or cutting small quantities of timber. If you rarely do home projects that involve carpentry, a hand saw is an inexpensive option for making cross cuts rather than investing in a power saw you might only use once a year.

Master the hand saw technique with our how-to guide.

Coping Saw

Small and thin, a coping saw features a flexible blade that makes it easy to follow precise lines and tricky corners. It's the best tool for finishing molding or cutting out a hole.

To use a coping saw, you'll need to install the blade and secure your material. Then, it's as simple as executing a steady sawing motion to complete your cut. Since this tool requires manual labor, save it for smaller projects that don't require a ton of sawing.

Learn how to use a coping saw.

Hacksaw

A hacksaw is a type of hand saw that is simple to use. You'll need to secure the item you're sawing, choose the appropriate blade for your material, and make the cut using short strokes. 

Hacksaws are most frequently use to cut through metal, such as pipes or conduit, but can also be used to cut through thick materials like plastic. The smaller the household item, the denser the blade teeth should be on a hacksaw. Because this is a manual saw, reserve it for smaller projects that require minimal cutting.

Learn how to use a hacksaw with our helpful tips.

Jigsaw

If you need to cut out a precise shape, look no further than a jigsaw. This power-operated saw is easy to maneuver, making it possible to get accurate cuts. After you've turn on the jigsaw, you simply guide the blade through your traced shape. Specialized bevel and speed settings help to customize each job.

Jigsaws work best on softer woods, but they can be used on a variety of materials—just make sure your blade is suited for the material you're sawing. We recommend the jigsaw for cutting perfect circles, openings for outlets and sinks, and tracing irregular shapes.

Master the jigsaw in just five steps.

Miter Saw

Miter saws are ideal for making both crosscuts and angled cuts. Both cuts are popular among woodworkers and are easy to make with a miter saw. The trick is to make accurate miter and bevel adjustments to ensure a proper cut.

Many miter saws come equipped with a clamp that secures your material and protects your fingers from the blade. This saw moves fast, so it's crucial you take the necessary precautions to prevent an accident. Miter saws are best for projects that require a lot of identical cuts, such as building a bookshelf, or a project that requires precise corners that fit together. A miter saw will make quick work of a tall stack of plywood.

Learn how to use a miter saw.

Circular Saw

Every professional wood shop has one of these versatile saws for cutting, well, nearly anything. Although they're predominantly used for woods, circular saws can be used on almost any material—so long as you install the proper blade.

To use a circular saw, get the blade running at full speed, then slowly guide the saw along the material. This super-simple process makes it easy to saw a lot of wood at once, so consider this tool if you need to split multiple sheets of plywood.

Learn how to use a circular saw.

Table Saw

Another common power saw, a table saw makes quick work of ripping and cross-cutting boards. If you need to make multiples of the same cut, consider this saw for the job. Simply attach the appropriate blade, set your measurements, then feed your material through the blade, using a push stick to keep your fingers safe.

Table saws are ideal for big carpentry projects, such as building a pallet wall or installing a deck. If you don't own one, consider renting the tool from a home improvement center.

Follow our tutorial for how to use a table saw.

Wet Saw

Tiling a bathroom, kitchen, or another big surface? Consider purchasing a wet saw. This specialized tool uses water and a sharp blade to slice tile with ease.

Prepping to work on nearly every tiled surface requires trimming tile, making diagonal cuts, or making partial cuts, and a wet saw can make quick work of all three tasks. If you don't have access to a wet saw, consider renting one from a home improvement center.

Tiling your bathroom or kitchen soon? See how to use a wet saw.

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