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What Are the Different Types of Woodworking Saws?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Woodworking saws are used to cut pieces of wood into various shapes and sizes. Just about all saws feature some sort of blade with sharp teeth, though the size and shape of this blade can vary significantly. Different types of woodworking saws are designed to accomplish very different tasks; some of the most common types include circular saws, mitre saws, table saws, jig saws, scroll saws, and many more. Some types of these tools are powered, meaning a motor is attached to the unit to control the movement of the blade.

A mitre saw is a type of cutting tool that is used in connection with a mitre box, which is essentially a guide for the blade. These types of woodworking saws can be power tools or hand tools; the hand tool version is a simple, lightweight cutting tool that slides into pre-cut slots on a guide or jig. The piece of wood to be cut is positioned in one of the many guides so the user can make an angled cut, straight cut, or other type of cut depending on the material's position within the guide. A powered mitre saw will feature a round, rotating blade that is mounted on a pivoting arm; the arm chops downward to cut the piece of wood secured in the guide.

When woodworking, a miter saw is ideal for making precise crosscuts.
When woodworking, a miter saw is ideal for making precise crosscuts.

Circular saws are perhaps the most commonly used woodworking saws among carpenters. These extremely useful tools use a quickly rotating round blade to make a cut. They are operated by holding down a finger trigger mounted on the handle; as the blade cuts, the operator will move the unit along the length of a board or piece of wood to make a quick, straight cut. Sometimes these woodworking saws are battery-powered for greater versatility, though units that must be plugged in tend to have more consistent speed and cutting ability.

Table saws are much larger woodworking saws used for cutting long lengths of wood or heavier pieces that cannot necessarily be supported by hand. The wood is moved in this case rather than the blade, which is fixed to a motor mounted beneath the surface of the table. The top part of the rotating blade sticks up from the center of the table, usually lined up with a guide to help the user move the wood more accurately over the blade. The height of the blade can be adjusted to allow the user to create different cut depths.

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Discussion Comments


Does anyone here have any opinions about whether or not it is worth it to sharpen a circular saw blade? I have a friend of a friend who is able to sharpen them. Since I have a connection to him, the cost of him sharpening the blade would be pretty similar to just buying a new blade.

I am mainly wondering if the quality of a sharpened blade is the same or better than buying a new one. Also, how long will a sharpened blade go before it goes dull again?

I have heard a lot of talk about carbide tipped blades. Maybe I should just start going that route. Does anyone have any experience dealing with sharpened blades and whether it is worth it?


@jmc88 - I will second the last post. Table saws are a must. Besides cutting long pieces of wood, they can be modified to take the place of a lot of other tools in a pinch. As far as cost goes, you could find a beginner's table saw for a little over $100. Some of the other woodworking supplies you might want to look into would be clamps and a vise.

For anyone here who knows about detailed woodworking, I am curious if there are any suggests for scroll saws. I usually make larger things like tables and TV stands or whatever, but I have decided to want to try my hand at intarsia. I have never really looked at scroll saws before, so if anyone knows what the best features are or anything, I would be interested to hear.


@jmc88 - It is great to hear that your son is interested in woodworking. It is a great hobby to take up and can even be a pretty good source of income if he's got an entrepreneurial streak.

The absolute most important wood saw that every woodworker needs is the table saw. Fortunately, that is probably the largest saw he will need, and you can find ones that are modest in size. I know when I first started, the one I had was probably 3 by 2 feet, so definitely small enough to fit in a garage.

The table saw, like the article mentions, lets you get perfectly straight cuts on long pieces of wood.

The other tools would really just depend on what kinds of things he's wanting to make. If it's more detailed craft type things, maybe a band saw. If he gets into furniture, then definitely a planer and jointer.


My son is just starting to show some interest in woodworking, but I don't really know anything about it. For his birthday, we got him a sabre saw and a sander, which seem good for making small little projects, but I think now he is wanting to move into a little bit bigger things, so I think he probably needs some more exact tools. For anyone who has any experience here, what would you suggest, and what can be done with the various tools?

Other things I really need to consider besides the purpose is the cost and the size. Right now, he is working in the garage. It is a two car garage that only holds one car, so hopefully that gives you a good idea of the amount of space. In other words, there can't be any gigantic tools.

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    • When woodworking, a miter saw is ideal for making precise crosscuts.
      By: Dmitry Naumov
      When woodworking, a miter saw is ideal for making precise crosscuts.