Whether you are a professional tradesman who needs to expand their range of equipment, a keen DIYer with a passion for devising exciting home projects or just an average homeowner who wants to equip their toolbox with all of the essential equipment to complete any household task, a modern saw is one of the key power tools to invest in.
Saws have been in existence for hundreds of years, however in more recent years the addition of electric motors has meant that sawing materials has become easier and more convenient than ever. While traditional manual handsaws are still very popular and feature heavily in the standard tool kit, power saws are now being commonly purchased by homeowners who require them for multiple purposes.
Modern top notch power saws offer a host of impressive features that put them streets ahead of their ancestors, being cleaner and simpler to use as well as being a lot more accurate.
They are designed to make light work of any cutting task that would have taken a lot more effort and man-power in days gone by. Also they are strong, robust and capable of performing a range of cuts.
There are numerous varieties of saws available on the market today, each being best for accomplishing different types of tasks and more types are becoming available every year. Available in a host of sizes and shapes, modern power saws can be used for both outdoor and indoor projects. They can also be used for both heavy duty and extremely delicate tasks that require a high level of accuracy.
Different saws are suited to cutting different material types and thicknesses, and therefore the kind of saw that you should purchase will depend on the kind of materials you are likely to be using and the varying projects that you have in mind.
What Kinds Of Power Saws Are Available On The Market Today?
Our aim is to tell you more about various kinds of power saws and tools available to buy today and we will provide you with all the information and details that you need to know about the uses that each variety is best suited to. This guide will allow you to make an informed choice so that you can get the right saw for your needs as well as other power tools.
It will offer comprehensive descriptions and reviews of every saw type to help you choose a tool based on its work demands and use so that you can be certain of picking the most appropriate product to suit your individual needs. Our high-quality buying guide will not only give you details about each type of product but will also give you useful in depth reviews so that you can see at a glance all of the unique features of each power saw and determine which is the best value for money.
With all of the options available today, there is certain to be an affordable power saw to complete every possible job. So whether you need to cut a delicate stencil into wood or demolish a wooden structure, here is our brief guide to the main types of power saw available on the market today:
- Chainsaws are efficient and effective tools that are ideal for garden usage.
- Powerful and robust, they can tackle all kinds of tough tasks including sawing large logs and chopping trees down, and make cutting wood much easier and quicker.
- There are various bar lengths available which can be matched to the diameter of wood you need to cut, and there are also different power types to suit different locations.
- For example, if you need to cut hardwoods, a more powerful saw will be required than if you will be sawing softwoods.
- Chainsaws are available in gasoline powered and electric varieties and now there are even modern cordless varieties on the market which are powered by a battery.
2. Table Saws
- A table saw is an upside down circular saw which is mounted permanently in a housing.
- It is ideal for making long, lengthwise cuts and presents a much more accurate alternative to a circular saw if you need to do bevel or miter cuts or cutting across a grain.
- A table saw has excellent cutting visibility as well as a side rail which helps to guide your material and hold it in place throughout cutting.
- In general, if you are looking for a table saw for home use, you should choose as large a one as your budget allows.
- However if portability is an essential requirement or you have limited space available, there are also table saws that have collapsible platforms that will be ideal for your purposes.
- Circular saws are considered to be one of the most useful types of power saw for home usage.
- These handheld tools have a rotating blade which is perfect for cutting wood either across or with the grain or on the bevel.
- They can also be used for sawing through ceramic tiles and masonry if precision is not an essential requirement.
- There are battery operated, cordless models as well as corded styles on the market and blade sizes range from 5 3/8″ up to 6 1/2″ for cordless models and up to 7 1/4″ for corded varieties.
- A voltage of 18 volts or 13-15 amps is perfect for use in home DIY projects.
- Some essential features you will want to look for in a circular saw include an electric brake which can stop its blade quickly, and a shaft lock which allows you to change the blades with ease.
- If you are left handed, you can even find left handed circular saws on the market which are safer and more comfortable for you to use than a standard model.
4. Miter Saws
- Miter saws are sometimes known as chop saws and function in the same way as a guillotine, however the blade rotates and is circular.
- The rotating blade is brought downwards onto the piece of wood which is mounted on the bed and the cut produced is accurate and clean.
- The best miter saws allow you to make adjustments on two planes and come in a range of blade diameters, from 8 inches up to 12 inches.
- Wider blades allow for wider boards to be cut with ease, however most home workshops will find that a smaller diameter suits its purposes.
5. Band Saws
- Band saws are able to perform a broad spectrum of cuts including very thin veneer cuts, cross-cutting and ripping, and this makes them a key piece for any workshop thanks to their versatility.
- There are many different types of band saw to choose from with interchangeable blades, so whether you are looking for a small hobby machine or an industrial strength model, you are sure to find a suitable product.
- Band saws are able to cut curves in even thick wood and can cut irregular shapes smoothly.
- They can even be used to cut other materials including metal.
6. Scroll Saws
- A scroll saw is used as a freehand cutting tool for making intricate shapes in thin wood.
- Its thin blades allow the user to cut small curves making it ideal for delicate tasks like cutting inlays.
- It is an ideal tool for a craft-oriented woodworker, although it is possible to fit thicker blades to this tool to allow it to cut through thicker pieces of wood.
- The best scroll saws have variable speed controls to allow the user to improve their cutting accuracy and table bases which are able to be angled to permit beveled cutting.
- A jigsaw is an essential tool for any woodworker who wants to be able to perform delicate cutting tasks.
- Light to use, this tool has a thin reciprocating blade ideal for cutting curves into wood as well as for following stencil designs and making intricate holes.
- With different blades, they can even be used on other materials such as plastic, ceramic and metal.
- The best jigsaws have variable speed functions as well as laser lines, dust blowers, illuminating lights and orbital blade motion functions.
- They come in both corded and battery powered models to suit the needs of a variety of users.
- Reciprocating saws have a wide push and pull reciprocating blade which is inside a heavy-duty housing.
- Thanks to its rugged construction, this saw type is ideal for demolition tasks.
- It comes in both cordless and corded versions although a cheaper corded model is usually ideal for most home workshop tasks.
- The best reciprocating saws have variable speeds, orbital action and allow for the blades to be changed without the need for tools.
9. Tile Saws
- Tile saws are designed to take the hard work out of cutting ceramics allowing the user to easily cut through tiles.
- They also allow for smooth edges and can be used for both professional and domestic purposes.
- Wet tiles cutters are especially good at cutting porcelain tiles, however they can also be used on other materials such as granite, brick, natural stone and marble.
- By using the right diamond blade, wet tile cutters can even be used on glass.
10. Pole Saws
- Pole saws, sometimes referred to as pole pruners, are ideal gardening tools.
- Lightweight and easy to manoeuvre, these long reach saws allow for cutting branches safely without incurring injuries.
- Perfect for cutting trees when the branches are thick and tough, pole saws feature an extension pole which saves the user the hassle of setting up and using a ladder while allowing for extra reach into thickly massed leaves.
- There are both electric and gasoline operated devices available to suit the needs of different users, however corded devices are often ideal for domestic use and are lower in price.
How To Choose A Power Saw:
While different types of power saw all have different features to consider, there are some key points which you should bear in mind when choosing any variety of power saw. Here are some of the main features which you should consider:
1. Length Of Stroke
The length of stroke is the distance which is traveled up and down by the saw blade. For example, if a jigsaw has a 20mm stroke, this means that the blade moves 20mm up and 20mm down, completing a single stroke. If a saw has a longer stroke length, the more teeth it will have to come into contact with the wood in every stroke cycle.
2. Strokes Per Minute
This refers to the number of times that the blade can travel down and up during one minute. The more strokes per minute a saw has, the more cuts will be performed and therefore the machine will be more efficient and faster.
3. No Load Speed
This refers to the number of times that the blade moves up and down (or the total number of revolutions completed by a circular saw) during one minute. The term “no load” refers to the motor’s speed when the saw is not cutting as the speed will usually decrease when the saw is in cutting mode.
4. Power Input
This refers to the amount of watts required by the motor to be drawn from the electricity supply. Generally, the higher the number of watts, the more powerful the machine’s motor will be.
5. Maximum Cutting Capability
This refers to the thickest material which can be cut by the saw and will be outlined in the manufacturer’s recommendations.
6. Keyless Blade Change
This allows the user to make blade changes quicker and easier without the need for any tools.
7. Variable Speed Function
Many modern power saws have a variable speed function, allowing for a range of uses. As different speeds are needed to carry out different applications, if you can change the speed at which the machine operates, you can enjoy greater tool versatility. Variable speeds also allow the user to perform much more accurate cutting tasks.
8. Dust Extraction Facility
One of the most annoying things about using a power saw is the amount of mess that can be created in a workshop due to the sawdust which is produced during cutting. Power saws that feature a dust extraction facility enable dust to be collected during cutting allowing for a cleaner and tidier work environment.
9. Beveling Shoe
Some of the best power saws feature a beveling shoe which is a moveable plate that allows the user to cut at angles for greater flexibility.
10. Power Rating
The motor’s strength and the number of revolutions per minute that the blade can perform is important to take into account. Usually, if a saw has a higher wattage it will produce more RPM and the higher the RPM, the more control and power the user can enjoy.
11. Depth Adjustment
Most saw users need to cut through materials that vary in thickness and therefore a saw that features a depth adjuster is a good idea as this allows the user to make a more precise cut.
12. Parallel Guide
A parallel guide is ideal for allowing the user to make more accurate straight cuts as it provides a guide at a specific distance from the material’s edge. Most circular saws have this feature as standard.
A handheld power saw must be properly controlled and therefore, if you select a saw that has a handle at the rear and the front, you will be able to achieve a better grip and therefore be able to cut materials much more comfortably and in greater safety.
Whatever kind of power saw you choose, it is essential to have the correct blades to carry out the task in hand and therefore you will need to select a variety of blades to suit a range of materials including masonry, metal and hardwoods. Saw blades are also available with several teeth settings which allow for cutting either across or along the grain and the greater the number of teeth, the more fine the cut is. If you choose TCT (Tungsten Carbide Tipped) blades, they will have a longer lifespan and will even be able to cut more quickly than a standard steel blade.
15. Safety Features
There is no denying that using a power saw can be dangerous, so it is essential to pay close attention to safety. The best modern power saws have excellent safety features including safety switches and lock off buttons which prevent accidental start ups, and soft start switches to allow the blade to move at a slow speed for the initial cut.
16. Corded Or Cordless
Most power saws are available in both corded and cordless versions, so you need to consider your working environment in order to determine which would be the best for you. For example, when choosing a chainsaw, you should consider the size of your property as a large amount of land will generally mean that you will struggle to find a suitable power socket in order to plug in a corded model.
What To Look For In The Most Popular Power Saws:
- Blade Bore Diameter – This is only relevant when choosing a circular saw and refers to the hole diameter which is found in the center of the blade. This hole, which is known as the blade bore, will vary between different saws, and it is important to select the appropriate size to suit your machine.
- Motor Type – There are several motor types to choose from. The most traditional are the inline or sidewinder variety with a shaft which runs from the motor to the blade. A sidewinder saw is lighter and more compact than a worm drive saw, which has a motor at right angles to the blade and which is better suited to heavy duty usage.
- Heavy or Light Duty – For occasional use, an electric chainsaw is perfectly adequate, however for heavy duty usage, a gas powered one is better.
- Heating – If you will be performing cutting activities during winter, a model with a heated handle and carburetor is ideal.
- Guide Bar Length – Most average homeowners with minimal experience would benefit from a chainsaw with a guide bar of under 14″, however heavy duty tasks will require a guide bar of 22″ or more.
- Universal Blade Clamp – There are two different varieties of fitment for jigsaw blades – the U Shank and the T Shank. While most jigsaws are only able to accept a single type of shank, there are some models which are considered to be “universal blade clamp” models and these are the most convenient as they can accept both U Shank and T Shank blades.
- Pendulum Action – Normally, a jigsaw blade’s normal action is just up and down in a straight reciprocating action, however if a jigsaw features pendulum action, the blade can also move backwards and forwards, allowing the user to adjust the amount of blade movement and also to increase the aggression of the cut to allow the blade to cut more quickly with a less fine finish.
- Laser Guide – A laser beam allows for more precise cutting.
How To Care For Your Power Saw:
It is very important to care properly for your power saw in order to ensure a long lifespan. While most modern power tools do not require a lot of care, regular maintenance is essential. Here are some of the key tasks to carry out routinely:
- Clean motor contacts and check regularly for wear
- Replace any worn out brushes (always replace both at the same time).
- Buy official manufacturer’s replacement parts to ensure a perfect fit and best quality.
- Wipe off any dust after use.
- Inspect the power cord for any damage and replace any damaged cord.
- Check for smooth functioning of all moving parts.
- Regularly tighten up any loose bolts or screws.
- Test safety features and blade brakes to ensure they are functioning correctly.
- Check for cracks in the motor housing.
- Lubricate at least once per year.
- Fill in any nicks in the shoe plate of a circular saw or jigsaw.
- Flatten out a bent shoe and check that it is perpendicular to your saw’s blade.
- Always follow your power tool’s instruction manual to ensure you are adhering to specific maintenance procedures for your individual power saw.