Last Updated on May 3, 2023 by Barry Gray
Whether you’re making a wooden cutting board or installing trim molding, most DIY projects require some cutting. And while there are different types of saws on the market, some are just better suited for these kinds of projects.
So, what are the best saws for DIY projects?
The best saws for DIY projects are the reciprocating saw, miter saw, jigsaw, circular saw, and handsaw. They are used for different types of projects and your choice will depend on the project you’re working on.
Read on to learn more about the best saws for DIY projects; their uses and how to make the right choice.
These saws can cut through materials courtesy of the push and pull motion of their blades. Also called a sawzall, reciprocating saws are mainly used for demolition. They are your go-to tool when crossbars and hammers don’t get the job done.
Imagine you’re trying to restore an old house and there is plenty of stuff to pick apart before trying to piece them back together. This is the job of reciprocating saws.
When you need to cut through and remove plasterboards and joists or the materials around your doors, you’ll need a reciprocating saw. They can cut through adhesives like mastic and scrape. They can also cut through:
- Wood and nails
- Scour metal
- Plumbing pipes
- Trees and scrubs
Choosing the Right Blade
The degree of success you can achieve with a reciprocating saw blade on your DIY projects depends on the type of blade you choose.
If you need to cut wood with some nails on it, a demolition “demo” blade is a no-brainer. They are long and allow you to plunge in and cut through large materials. If you’re working on roofing or remodeling a basement, you’ll need the demo blade.
However, if you need to cut through strong materials like steel, a carbide tooth blade should do the trick. They are shorter than demo blades but considerably stronger. But if you’re cutting trees and shrubs, the ugly blade provides the aggression you need for the job.
Jigsaws have short blades and cut through material with a rapid up and down movement. They are commonly found in the toolkit of many home DIYers. If you need to cut curves, you’ll need a jigsaw.
They come with a metal breastplate which is also called a foot. This base plate allows you to place them on flat surfaces.
With jigsaws, you can effectively cut through metal, wood, and laminate flooring. You can also cut plywood, chipboard, and acrylic. Jigsaws can cut at angles, straight lines, and curves.
Their ability to make straight cuts means you can use them to make dining room tables. Also, you can make a hanging planter box, wooden cutting board, and even a mini bookshelf.
Choosing a Jigsaw Blade
Jigsaws accept two types of blades – U-shank and T-shank blades. Most woodworking professionals recommend buying T-shank blades. Unlike U-shank blades, T-shank blades do not require any tool to install them and they slot into your jigsaw easily and stay secure.
Just like in reciprocating saws, your DIY project will determine which saw you’re getting. If you’re cutting a material like framing lumber and need your cuts to be fast, you’ll need a blade with a low TPI. However, if you need to make more precise cuts, get a blade with a higher TPI.
Circular saws are one of the most popular power saws on the market. Their working mechanism involves varying sizes of a circular blade that spins inside a baseplate. The baseplate rests flat against the surface of the wood you’re cutting.
Circular saws are quite similar to table saws. The difference? You feed a material through a table saw but pass a circular saw through a stationary material. Circular saws are portable and perfect for DIYers who don’t have a lot of workspaces for a table saw.
Circular saws can make crosscuts, rip cuts, and miter cuts. You can use them to cut metals like steel, bronze, and brass.
Although circular saws are primarily designed to cut at different angles, they can also make straight cuts. Using a blade with more teeth, you can make 90-degree cuts with circular saws. They can also cut bevels although table saws offer more precision.
For DIY projects, circular saws can cut logs into firewood. You can also use them to remove damaged floorboards and trim door bottoms and stiles.
Choosing a Circular Saw Blade
There are two types of circular saws: the worm drive and the sidewinder.
- Worm Drive: The worm drive circular is heavy, has large gear teeth, and has a good load-carrying capacity. It’s named the worm drive because of the worm gear that turns the blade. Its motor is in-line with its blade. This allows it to deliver plenty of torque that’s capable of cutting through wet lumber and concrete. Hence, worm drives are the perfect tool for framing and renovation projects.
- Sidewinder: The sidewinder is smaller, lighter, and has smaller teeth compared to the worm drive. However, they spin faster. They carry a speed of over 6,000 RPM compared to worm drives that can only deliver about 4,250 RPM. Unlike the worm drive’s motor that’s behind the blade, the sidewinder’s motor is right next to the blade. If you need to cut logs into firewood really fast, a sidewinder will do a better job.
Overall, worm drives are better for tougher projects like cutting large lumber while the sidewinder is best reserved for lighter work.
Hand saws are used to cut the wood into different shapes. The hand saw is a bit like a tenon saw. Although its edge is sharper and flatter.
Unlike the other saws on this list, you’ll probably exert more energy using them. However, they don’t require electric circuits or batteries to work. Hence, they’re reliable and useful in scenarios where power saws don’t work.
Hand Saws are used for cutting lumber. DIYers use hand saws for the following projects:
- Prune Trees
- Cut logs
- Cut fine woodcraft and trimming
- Cut greenwood
- Install baseboard molding
- Cut wooden dowels
Choosing a Handsaw
There are different kinds of hand saws that are each designed for different uses. If you’re buying a handsaw for a specific project, it’s important to choose the right saw. Here’s a list of the different handsaws and what they’re used for:
- Rip Saw: As its name implies, a rip saw is designed to rip through wood and it has chisel-like teeth for that purpose.
- Crosscut saw: This hand saw has teeth shaped like knives. Unlike rip, a crosscut saw is simply designed to cut wood.
- Panel saw: If you’re a hobbyist that likes to make delicate frames, the panel saw is the right tool. It’s designed to cut small pieces of wood.
- Coping saw: A coping saw is designed to cut detailed patterns on your wooden material. It comes with a narrow blade that allows you to turn the saw when cutting.
- Japanese Saw: These saws are made with thin steel. They also have straight long teeth that are perfect for making fine, clean cuts on softwood and hardwood.
Miter saws are used to create precise miters and crosscuts in materials. Unlike the other saws on this list that are handheld, miter saws are mounted on a board or table. They come with a large circular blade. This blade is mounted on an arm that can be turned in different directions. Hence, miter saw blades can cut from different angles which makes them ideal for bevel cuts and crosscuts.
Miter saws are mainly used for making precise crosscuts and bevel cuts. You can use them for the following projects:
- Cut frame materials
- Cut wood trim
- Cut plastics and metals
You can also use them to make ledges, gates, and boxes. Miter saws are an essential tool in a woodworker’s toolbox.
Choosing a Miter Saw
There are different types of miter saws that produce varying degrees of results in application. They are:
- Basic Miter Saw: These types of miter saws can make cross cuts and miters. However, they can’t make bevel cuts. They’re light and best reserved for simple projects.
- Compound Saws: The compound saw is more popular, versatile and has a bigger market compared to the basic saw. It can make both single and dual bevel cuts. This allows it to create different cuts including cross cuts, compound cuts, miter cuts, and bevel cuts.
- Sliding Compound: This is a compound miter saw that comes with a sliding arm. It can cut larger workpieces and is generally more expensive than the other types of miter saw.
You can use different types of blades with miter saws including crosscut blades, carbide miter saw blades and combination blades. Crosscut blades are better for crosscuts while combination blades are used for hacking through materials like plywood. Meanwhile, carbide miter saw blades can cut through thick wood with ease and precision. They are commonly used for cutting tiles.
Some of the saws listed above can easily be operated by beginners while others like the compound miter saws are better handled by professionals. The good news is that you’ll find a simple, easy-to-use tool for most of your DIY projects.
What is the most important feature to look out for in a saw?
The most important feature of a saw is the blade’s teeth. Blades with higher teeth per inch(TPI) cuts slowly but with precision, while blades with lower TPI cuts faster but with less precision.
Are hand saws power saws?
No, hand saws aren’t power saws. They don’t require electricity or batteries to work.
What is the best saw for cutting wood straight?
Circular saws are the best power saws for cutting wood straight.