What are the Different Types of Woodworking Saws

They say a bad workman blames his tools. However, you never want this phrase to apply to you if your hobby is woodworking. Unfortunately, it could apply if you don’t use the best types of woodworking Saws. Any top-notch carpenter, joiner, or furniture maker knows that using the correct type of woodworking saw is crucial for producing a high-quality finish.

Man Using Hand Saw

To the untrained eye, woodworking saws look like incredibly simple tools. Each has a handle and a piece of bendy metal with sharp teeth. But newbie joiners and carpenters easily get confused trying to figure out which type of hand saw they need. And trying to figure out woodworking terms like “saw taper,” “nib,” “toe,” “saw nut,” “kerf,” and “rake” can make choosing the best woodworking saw thoroughly confusing.

If you are new to woodworking, don’t worry. This article explains the various types of woodworking saws. You will also get handy tips for choosing the best hand saws and woodworking electric power saws.

Types of Woodworking Saws

Woodworking saws are typically divided into two categories — woodworking power saws and hand saws.

Power saws are ideal for cutting large pieces of wood and making straight cuts in timber. In many cases, power saws remove much of the labor associated with being a skilled woodworker.

However, hand saws can tackle woodworking jobs that power tools cannot. For example, you need hand saws for cutting moldings, dowels, dovetails, and other intricate cuts.

Woodworking Power Saws

Let’s look in detail at the seven essential power saws for woodworking that can make cutting wood easier.

Table saw

A table saw is an essential power saw in every workshop. The saw consists of a motor-driven circular saw blade. This is held in place by a fixing mechanism, and the height of the ripping blade can be adjusted to the wood’s thickness. It is also possible to adjust the table saw to cut at angles.

The most common use of a power table saw is to rip or crosscut wood by cutting it lengthwise. This kind of saw is perfect for making long cuts in wood panels like MDF, hardwood, and plywood.

Typically, a table saw is expensive and is a significant investment for a DIY enthusiast or beginner.

Circular saw

A circular saw is a handheld power saw that cuts through wood quickly. The saw has a circular blade — hence the name — and is typically used for crosscutting. The advantage of a circular saw is that it does the job of two types of hand saws in one — a miter saw and a handheld saw.

Investing in a circular saw is a good start for beginners. The saw does a similar job as a table saw but costs a fraction of the price. Additionally, you can easily use the saw to make angled cross cuts or rip through large sheets of plywood.


A bandsaw is a common power tool in large woodworking workshops for cutting large chunks of wood in perfectly straight lines. This type of woodworking saw has a blade which is a continuous blade that spins around two or three wheels. The saw blade consists of fine teeth and can be used for cutting most types of wood. However, the cutting depth is limited to a few inches.

An advantage of cutting wood with a bandsaw is that there is no kickback. This feature can make a bandsaw somewhat safer than using a table saw.

Because of its size, a stationary bandsaw is typically for professional carpenters, joiners, and commercial carpentry, where large volumes of timber, plywood, and MDF boards are involved.


Investing in a jigsaw is a must for anyone starting out in woodworking. These versatile woodworking power saws are handheld saws with a blade that moves up and down and a flat base that sits on the surface. Jigsaws are ideal for various cutting jobs because there are multiple grades of blades for different finishes.

One of the best uses for a jigsaw is its ability to make curved cuts. For example, coarse-tooth blades are suitable for rough cutting. However, fine-toothed blades are helpful for cutting veneer and laminate boards.  Because they are lightweight and easy to handle, they are a perfect cutting tool for DIY enthusiasts.

It’s good to note that a jigsaw is not only for wood. By changing the blade, you can cut through ceramics, plastic, tile, and metal.

Reciprocating saw

types of woodworking saws-Reciprocating saw

A reciprocating saw is a handheld woodworking power tool with a small blade that moves back and forward. The reciprocating motion (push and pull) allows the user to cut through large pieces of wood quickly. This type of woodworking power saw is typically used in construction and demolition.

Also called a Sawzall, a reciprocating saw can be an invaluable piece of equipment when tackling large jobs. However, this type of saw is rarely used by regular joiners or carpenters.

Miter saw

A miter saw is an excellent piece of woodworking equipment if you need to make precision angle cuts. This type of power saw is ideal for precision cuts when creating frames, installing moldings, or other types of miter cuts. It is also suitable for making bevel or dual bevel cuts.

A miter saw consists of a circular saw mounted to an adjustable arm on a heavy steel base. You can adjust the angle to your need and then lower the blade to make the cut. The beauty of this saw is that it makes various types of cuts at almost any angle with precision and ease.

If you want to invest in a useful woodworking power tool for a home workshop, then a miter saw is a perfect choice.


A chainsaw is what most people think of when they hear the term “power saw.” The cutting blade on a chainsaw is a revolving linked chain with sharp cutting teeth. Chainsaws can be gas-powered or connected to an electrical outlet or battery. Chainsaws are typically used to cut through lumber quickly, fell entire trees, or cut large tree branches into smaller pieces.

Types of Woodworking SawsHand Saws

Various types of hand saws are crucial for anyone starting in woodwork. Each type of saw has a different blade and function and can be used to create woodworking masterpieces. Handsaws are ideal for cleaning out dovetails, cutting dowels, cutting in hard-to-reach places, and attaining a smooth, clean cut.

Another advantage of woodworking hand saws is that you can use them anywhere. This means you are not limited to a power source. Therefore, you can take the saw where you need it rather than move timber and woodworking pieces to the equipment.

Wood Handsaw

A traditional handsaw is an essential tool in a woodworker’s arsenal. Also called panel saw, this type of sturdy saw is ideal for cutting large, thick pieces of timber. The two types of handsaws are a rip saw and a crosscut handsaw. The rip saw is for cutting wood lengthwise along its grain. The crosscut cutting edge is for cutting across the wood grain.

Even though using a traditional handsaw takes muscle power, it’s helpful in cutting wood when it’s too thick for a power circular saw.

Types of Handsaws

Dove saw

Also called a dovetail saw, this carpenter’s tool is a small hand saw with a straight blade and fine teeth used for making accurate cuts. A feature of dove saws is the rigid brass or steel back to keep the blade rigid when sawing.

It’s good to note that dove saws come with blades in varying grades, and the saw can get very expensive. Therefore, buying a dovetail saw that meets your requirements is vital. If you are a beginner, choose a mid-range dove saw as it will easily tackle most jobs.

Japanese saw

A Japanese saw looks like a small dove saw. However, a Japanese saw has one unique feature — it cuts when pulled rather than pushed. Pulling rather than pushing cuts better and requires less effort than pushing. In addition, the extremely thin Japanese saw blades result in thinner kerfs (slits created by a saw) than regular thickness ones. Therefore, using a Japanese saw requires less effort to achieve superior results.

Back saw (Tenon saw)

Also called a tenon saw, this type of woodworking saw looks like a larger dovetail saw. The rectangular blade has a sharp, straight, toothed cutting edge and robust steel or brass back to give strength to the cutting edge. The back saw has a wider, thicker blade than a dovetail saw and has crosscut teeth rather than rip teeth. However, some tenon saws also have rip-filed teeth.

A tenon saw or back saw is a vital tool for cabinet makers, joiners, and carpenters. The sharp, fine, closely-spaced teeth are ideal for cutting tenon joints and mortises.

Fret saw

A fret saw has a thin, extra-fine blade, and it features a distinctive deep frame that makes it look like a bow — hence the name bow saw. The thin, fragile blade is designed to cut curved lines, make angled cuts, or cut curved shapes in light wood. You can use this helpful hand saw to create intricate patterns in wood.

The blade of the fret saw is clamped by wingnuts that usually require tightening by a wrench to all sufficient torque when cutting wood. Additionally, it is possible to purchase various types of blades depending on the material you are cutting and the finish you desire.

Coping saw

A coping saw is a type of bow saw with a thicker and coarser blade than a fret saw. A coping saw is used in woodworking to create moldings and cut tight curves and circles. Although it’s not as versatile as a fret saw, a coping saw has more flexibility than a fret saw. However, it’s impossible to achieve the intricacy of a fret saw.

Hack saw

A hack saw is a type of bow saw typically used for cutting metal. However, its fine teeth and blade make hacksaws ideal for specific woodworking projects. For example, the cutting edge is relatively robust and produces a smooth, straight cut with a thin kerf.

Keyhole saw

A keyhole saw is a type of hand saw for cutting through plywood, wood, drywall, or Sheetrock. Depending on the type of keyhole saw, it can have a wooden or plastic handle and a long, tapering blade with fine teeth. Some kinds of keyhole saws have shorter blades. This hand tool has a fine blade that doesn’t rip out large pieces from the wood or drywall.

Also called a wallboard saw, alligator saw, jab saw, or drywall saw, this hand tool is ideal for creating holes in plywood or drywall. The sharp tip and tapered end get the cut started. It’s then easy to cut precise holes if you need to install piping, electrical outlets, or fixtures.

Types of Woodworking Saws — In Conclusion

Even the most skilled joiner or carpenter must use the right types of woodworking saws. Some woodworking power saws like a jigsaw are excellent all-around tools you can use for a wide range of various jobs.

However, when it comes to hand saws, there are several that are essential for beginner joiners. The four essential saws for basic woodworking are the panel saw, a dovetail saw, back saw, and coping saw.