The power saw (or electric saw) revolutionized the building and craftsman industries. There is some debate as to who invented the first power saw and when it happened but most sources agree that it came about around the end of the 18th century. These early saws were a lot different from the saws we know today. They were powered by a treadle – a foot pump, like you would find on early sewing machines – and were large and heavy stationary saws.
Saw design underwent a large development in 1922 when a man named Raymond Dewalt (sound familiar?) created the first radial arm circular saw. But it was seven years later, in 1929, that the real breakthrough in saw design came about when Art Emmons designed the first hand-held electric circular saw.
This helical-drive saw was powered by an electric motor and was light enough that it was portable and easily transported. This design became the foundation for all modern portable circular saws and to this day remains the most popular saw design.
Of course, it didn’t stop there. Saw designs have continued to evolve and be innovated upon over the years. We’ve seen advances in safety features, such as springs and feeder wheels, guards, cut-off switches, safety triggers and even sensors that can detect when a hand comes too close to a saw blade, automatically switching the saw off.
As well as improvements to help you keep all your fingers where they should be, we’ve seen technical advances such as cordless technology, lightweight parts and advances in blade and motor design.
All these improvements have lead to the wide range of power saws we have available on the market today, performing a multitude of tasks and making our lives a hell of a lot easier.
So let’s take a look at the most common types of saws that you’ll find in use in the construction industry and in home workshops and I’ll give you a quick run-through about what they are used for.
Circular Saw: A handheld power saw with a circular blade that is most commonly used to perform straight cuts on wood but can also be used to cut a variety of other materials such as metal, plastic and masonry with the use of different, task-specific blades. Both cordless and corded models are very popular, with each having its own merits and benefits. These saws are super portable and are great for cutting up lengths of 2×4.
Compact Circular Saw: A scaled-down version of the circular saw, these are made with portability in mind. While you won’t be able to cut pieces of material the size of which you could with a regular circ saw, their compact size and versatility make them a great addition to your toolbox.
Reciprocating Saw: You might also know this saw as a Sawzall or a sabre (saber) saw. They are most commonly used during demolition work because of their ability to cut through a diverse range of materials without needing to change the blade. This is a handheld saw that operates by moving a blade at the tip of the saw in a push/pull motion at a high speed.
Miter Saw: A very popular and common saw, the miter saw is designed to make crosscuts quickly and accurately. Cuts can be made at miter angles, bevel angles and a combination of the two called a compound cut. These saws are mostly used by carpenters, shopfitters and cabinet makers but they are popular among many other trades as well and are a perfect addition to a home workshop or DIY setup.
Jigsaw: Another handheld power tool, this saw is designed for making curved and irregular cuts. These saws feature a small reciprocating saw that moves in an up and down motion underneath the saw. It’s mostly used for woodwork projects but is also capable of cutting tile, plastic and some metals.
Scroll Saw: A benchtop power saw that is used for making intricate and detailed cuts on wood, plastic and metal. A scroll saw is much more accurate than a coping saw and also provides a more precise cut than you would get with a jigsaw.
Tile Saw: As you’ve probably guessed from the name, this saw is used to cut tiles. It is also known as a wet saw because it is fitted with a water-cooled diamond tip blade that makes cutting tile very easy and very accurate.
Band Saw: A bench top or stand-alone machine, this saw uses a large banded saw blade that revolves around two wheels, providing a constant one directional cutting blade. This design allows the user to cut curved and irregular shapes.
So, take the time to look over the saws on this list and decide exactly which type of saws you need in your collection. Having the right saw for the job saves you so much time and energy, they are an investment you won’t regret.