What Type of Saw Do I Need?

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to cut some material and just weren’t sure which type of saw you needed? Well you’re in luck, because with this handy guide in your back pocket, you’ll always know which saw is the right one for the job! For this blog, we’ll do a quick overview of the types of saws available, what they do best, and what material they work best with.

Cutting and fastening are the basic functions of any carpentry or construction project. One of the most basic tools in a tool box is a saw. So how complex can it be to decide what saw to get? There are literally hundreds of types of saws and blades that we sell at Koopman Lumber. For today, let’s do a quick walk through the basics:

Hand Saws

hand saw koopman lumberHand Saw: Every carpenter needs a basic, wood-cutting hand saw that will fit in a tool box. It’s cost effective and gets the job done. There are a few variations to the hand saw designed for specific applications. 2 of the most common are hand saws that work in a miter box to cut perfect angles and ones designed to cut on the pull stroke for certain woodworking applications. You can’t beat the utility of a basic hand saw!

hack saw koopman lumberHack Saw: A hack saw is mostly used to cut metal, though it is also useful on PVC pipe and conduit. Its teeth are more fine and durable than a wood saw.  A hack saw typically requires a lot more strokes to get through a piece of material than a wood-cutting hand saw, but result in a much cleaner cut against hardened surfaces.

coping saw koopman lumberCoping saw: A coping saw is a hand saw designed to cut fine woodworking such as crown moldings, chair rails, and baseboards. Its tiny blade allows the user intricate external shapes and interior cut-outs in woodworking or carpentry. It is widely used to cut moldings to create coped rather than miter joints.

Jab Saw: A jab saw is a great tool when doing drywall work. The tip is sharp enough to penetrate drywall, but not so sharp that it will cut your finger when you apply light pressure. The “jabbing” function is the main feature of the jab saw. When you don’t have an edge to start your cut, place the sharpened end of the saw perpendicular to the cutting surface and smack the handle with the heel of your free hand (a strike with a hammer or rubber mallet will also do).

Those are your basic carpentry hand saws. Now let’s look at the ones with some real POWER!

Power Saws

Everything is more fun when you add power to it!  Here’s a quick walk through common power saws.

circular saw dewalt koopman lumberCircular Saw: Perhaps the most basic is the 7 ¼” circular saw. If you’re going to be doing any carpentry work, your first saw needs to be this one. A long time industry favorite is the Makita 7 1/4″ Circular saw, However, DeWalt’s 7 1/4″ circular saw is our staple today. Features are very similar in this category but look at power (15AMP typical), weight, type of foot plate, bevel capability, blade change ease and general comfort to hold. This saw is extremely versatile for cutting lumber, plywood, or even metal and stone with the right blade. It’s hard to go wrong with a circular saw!

reciprocating saw koopman lumberReciprocating Saw: A reciprocating saw like (4201455) is a fantastic demolition tool. The blade reciprocates – or goes back and forth mimicking the action of your arm with a hand saw – but can do so much faster than any human could. There are a variety of blades to cut all kinds of materials; from wood and metal to pruning blades for your tree trimming. This type of saw is incredibly versatile and useful in tons of situations.  

jig saw koopman lumberJig Saw: For the beginning carpenter, a jigsaw is probably the next most common powered saw. This blade also goes back and forth but is designed for more delicate work than the reciprocating saw. It also cuts circles around a circular saw! But seriously, it’s designed to cut curves and interesting shapes and works best when cutting through wood. 

miter saw koopman lumberMiter Saw: The miter saw allows you to really step up your game! Also known as a chop saw, this allows you to keep most of the saw and material in a fixed position while cutting. These typically come in 10” and 12” blade sizes.  Some are “compound” saws which mean they can cut 2 angles at once.  More advanced miter saws have extension capability to push the saw forward and back along the material vs just having the chopping motion.  

table saw koopman lumberTable Saw: Finally, to round out your basic saw selection, is a table saw. As the name suggests, the saw is mounted in a table format – kind of like a circular saw mounted upside down. These are typically used with a 10” blade and are great for “ripping” lumber – like when you want to make a 2×6 into a 2×4.  Or for cutting 10” off a 4×8’ sheet of plywood. There are portable table saws like and much larger stationary saws for a shop setting.

Every one of these power saws also comes in battery and plug-in formats.

Chain Saw: We would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention the timeless powered chainsaw! We are huge fans of Stihl saws and you really can’t have more fun felling trees than with a Stihl!

Wrap Up

So there’s your quick run down of basic saws to consider when starting out as a “Do it Yourselfer.”  Feel free to check in with one of the tool pros at any Koopman Lumber location for more information for your specific needs.  This is by NO means an exhaustive list and we’ll be happy to give you the full rundown!