10 Types of Saws and How to Choose the Right One for Your Project

Get to know the different types of saws, both manual and powered.

handsaw in home workshop

Getty Images / Witthaya Prasongsin

Most DIYers know what a saw is, but learning the different types of saws and what saws can be used for can help level up your projects. Some saws are for quick, rough cuts while others are for precision. Some saws can handle cutting details and curves while others are designed to cut wood straight as an arrow. Some types of saws are better for cutting plastic and metal while others are designated for cutting wood. Even still, some saws can be fitted with different blades to cut a variety of materials.

So how do you determine which saw is best for your project? Below, our saw guide will teach you everything you need to know about the most common saws.

01 of 10

Circular Saw

yellow dewalt circular saw cutting wood

Dera Burreson

Best For: Wood, crosscuts, rip cuts

Cost: $30 to $160

A circular saw, sometimes called a skilsaw due to its association with the Skilsaw brand, is a type of saw that every DIYer should have in their toolbox. Perfect for quickly and accurately cutting lumber, a circular saw features a handle with a trigger at the rear and a secondary handle on the top for steadying the saw. The circular blade protrudes from the bottom and its depth is controlled by an adjustable shoe.

02 of 10

Miter Saw

ryobi miter saw on white backdrop

Scott Morgan

Best For: Wood, PVC, angled crosscuts, straight crosscuts

Cost: $100 to $1,600

Miter saws are necessary if you wish to cut materials at precision angles. The miter saw features its own table and fence to hold the material. Once the material is placed on the table and against the fence, the blade is adjusted to the desired angle and pushed down into the material.

03 of 10

Table Saw

table saw being used on wood board

Dave Toht

Best For: Wood, paneling, rip cuts, angled cuts

Cost: $150 to $10,000+

Table saws are named for their large table-like cutting surface. Somewhere near the middle of a table saw is a circular blade that can be moved up and down and tilted to cut angles. Think of it as an upside-down circular saw that's permanently mounted to a table. The material is then pushed across the table, allowing the blade to slice through it. An adjustable fence on top of the table controls the width of the cut.

04 of 10


carving circle with jigsaw

Jason Donnelly

Best For: Wood, plastic, metal, plunge cuts, curved cuts

Cost: $30 to $450

Jigsaws are handy for several cutting needs, but they're absolutely necessary if you desire to cut curves, especially in the middle of a material. The jigsaw is designed for one-handed operation, with a handle on top with a trigger. A quick-change straight blade protrudes from the bottom at the front of the saw. Because the blade is only attached to the saw on one side, cuts can start at the center of a material rather than only at the edge.

05 of 10

Band Saw

band saw cutting board

Jacob Fox

Best For: Wood, metal, rip cuts, large material

Cost: $150 to $2,000

A band saw is a large, floor-mounted saw that uses a band blade. When powered on, the band moves in a constant rotation, much like the serpentine belt on a car. The blade runs through a table with a fence, which allows the user to push materials across, making accurate, straight cuts. The benefit of a band saw over a table saw is its ability to make rip cuts through much thicker material.

06 of 10

Scroll Saw

yellow scroll saw

Blaine Moats

Best For: Wood, metal, plastic, detail cuts, curves

Cost: $100 to $1,100

A scroll saw is kind of like a mini band saw that functions more like a table-mounted jigsaw. Scroll saws have a very thin, short blade that quickly moves up and down through the middle of a small table. This allows the user to move and manipulate materials on the table, effortlessly cutting out detailed curves.

07 of 10

Tooth Saw or Hand Saw

handsaw in home workshop

Getty Images / Witthaya Prasongsin

Best For: Wood, crosscuts

Cost: $10 to $30

A tooth saw, often called a hand saw or crosscut saw, is what many people picture when they think of a manual saw. It has a handle at the back, traditionally made of wood, with a long protruding blade with teeth at the bottom. With a little practice, a hand saw can make quick cuts through lumber.

08 of 10

Reciprocating Saw

reciprocating saw

Scott Morgan

Best For: Wood, metal, plastic, demolition

Cost: $30 to $300

Reciprocating saws, known by the popular branding Sawzall, are essentially reserved for demolition. This is because, though they are very efficient and powerful, they are difficult to control in a precise manner. Reciprocating saws consist of a handle at the back, a long motor housing with a secondary grip, and a straight blade that protrudes out the front.

09 of 10


hacksaw used outdoors on PVC

Robert Cardillo

Best For: Metal, plastic, pipes, clean crosscuts

Cost: $5 to $50

Hacksaws are the go-to manual saw for cutting metal and plastic, often in the form of pipes, rods, dowels, and brackets. Many hacksaws feature a C-shaped frame with a handle on one side and a replaceable blade mounted across the bottom. Hacksaw blades have very fine teeth, which makes for clean cuts on metal and plastic.

10 of 10


chainsaw cutting log in workshop

Dera Burreson

Best For: Wood, live wood, large lumber, fence posts

Cost: $100 to $2,000+

Most everyone knows that a chainsaw is geared toward cutting trees. The powerful, often gas-powered motor drives a chain fitted with several teeth around a straight bar at a high speed. The sharp-toothed chain removes small bites of wood rapidly, efficiently sawing through logs, lumber, and wooden fenceposts.

Which Type of Saw to Buy First

There truly is no one-size-fits-all saw. If you're on a budget, choose the one that can do the most and start assembling your toolbox collection from there. For most, a circular saw is a great place to start, but avid DIYers will quickly find a use for a miter saw, a table saw, and eventually, every saw on this list.

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