What Type of Saw Do I Need?

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to cut some material or branches 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 arborist supplies they work best with. If you are actually need tools for a project then take a look at this list of building supplies that may come in handy. 

Cutting and fastening are the basic functions of any carpentry or construction project. One of the most basic tools in a toolbox 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: Every carpenter needs a basic, wood-cutting hand saw that will fit in a toolbox. 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!

hand saw koopman lumber

STANLEY Comfort-Grip Hand Saw




Hack 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.

Picture of STANLEY STHT20139L Hacksaw, 24 TPI, Steel Blade, Ergonomic Handle

Stanley Hacksaw



Coping 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.

Picture of STANLEY FATMAX 15-104 Coping Saw, 15 TPI, HCS Blade, Cushion-Grip Handle

Stanley Fatmax Coping Saw



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).

Picture of DeWALT DWHT20540 Jab Saw, Plastic/Rubber Handle

DeWALT Jab Saw



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 walkthrough common power saws.

Circular 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 footplate, 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!

circular saw dewalt koopman lumber

DeWALT Circular Saw, 20 V Battery, Lithium-Ion Battery, 7-1/4 in Dia Blade



Reciprocating Saw: A reciprocating saw 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, but if you have no experience and are planning to do some tree trimming, then consider hiring a tree service for professional assistance.

reciprocating saw koopman lumber

Milwaukee Sawzall Reciprocating Saw Kit, 120 V, 3/4 in L Stroke



Jig 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. 

Picture of Milwaukee M18 FUEL 2737-20 Jig Saw, 18 V Battery, Lithium-Ion Battery, 1 in L Stroke, Black/Red

Milwaukee M18 FUEL Jig Saw, 18 V Battery, 1 in L Stroke



Miter 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 means 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.  

miter saw koopman lumber

DeWalt DCS361M1 Sliding Miter Saw, 7-1/4 in Dia Blade, Black/Yellow



Table 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.

table saw koopman lumber

DeWALT Table Saw, 120 V, 10 in Dia Blade



Every one of these power saws also comes in corded and cordless models

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 rundown 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!