For home projects, both electric and manual saws are a necessity. But you cannot simply purchase one saw for all uses. Saws generally address only a limited number of types of projects, whether it be demolishing a wall, cutting crown molding, creating a hole in drywall, cutting door trim, or cutting tile and artificial stone. Buy the saw that best fits your needs, both for efficiency and for safety.
The reciprocating saw has become an indispensable tool in the home remodeler's workshop. Once known only by the trademark of Milwaukee Tools' Sawzall, the reciprocating saw is now produced by virtually all toolmakers, in both corded and cordless models.
Reciprocating saws are excellent for making rough cuts. You cannot use a reciprocating saw for cutting precise lines in a piece of trim, but it is a trusted ally in demolition and even some moderately precise work.
- Makes fast, powerful cuts
- Will not make plunge cuts
- Can be difficult to control
Electric Compound/Miter Saw
An electric miter saw, also called a compound saw, uses an electrically powered single circular blade to make angled cuts.
You can use your electric compound/miter saw as much for rough chop-off work as for fine 45-degree angle cuts on crown molding. Make room for it on your workbench and keep it plugged in at all times. Your electric miter saw will find its way into so many of your home projects.
- Precise cuts
- Uses up a lot of space on your workbench
Manual Miter Box and Saw
A miter box and saw is a mated combination (often sold together) for making angled cuts in smaller pieces of work material such as trim.
Miter boxes and their accompanying miter saws are often ignored in this world of fast, powerful, and cheap electric miter saws. But miter box/saw combinations are even cheaper. Sometimes you need that precise touch when cutting a piece of delicate trim. This tool set is a great way to hold your work and ensure a nice 90-degree angle cut.
- Precise cuts
- Easy to transport
- Limited number of angles
- The saw can wobble within miter box frame
Corded Circular Saw
A corded circular saw is a saw with a single rotating circular blade. It is powered by regular household 120V current.
A corded circular saw is exactly what you need to rip through two-by-fours and greater sizes with ease, when cordless won't do it.
- Heavy cutting
- Cuts well for long periods without giving out
- Cord can be bothersome
Cordless Circular Saw
Cordless circular saws use lithium-ion batteries to provide power to turn the saw blade. Other than the cordless aspect, these saws work the same as their corded companions.
Use cordless circular saws for exterior work where it can be difficult or bothersome to run extension cords.
- No cord to get in the way
- Expands the radius of your work far beyond electrical outlets
- Heavier due to the attached battery
- Power capacity is limited
Oscillating Multi-Tool (Saw Attachment)
Oscillating multi-tools have a vibrating (oscillating) head that can accept any number of attachments for different uses.
Oscillating multi-tools usually come with a few saw blades, good for undercutting door jambs when installing flooring, nipping off nails close to the surface, and even stripping paint.
- Best way to make fine plunge cuts for trim
- Multiple uses beyond saw cuts
- Blades wear down quickly
- Good only for minimal cuts
A jab saw is a hand saw with coarse teeth on one side of the blade.
Jab saws are used almost exclusively for drywall work: to create holes for boxes. It can also be used to cut rigid foam insulation.
- Best hand tool for cutting drywall
- Coarse blade rips drywall paper
- Creates much drywall debris
Twin Blade Saw
A twin-blade saw is a circular saw with two blades next to each other that turn in opposite directions, facilitating plunge cuts.
You can use a twin-blade saw to create grooves in wood, make plunge cuts for windows or doors, or to cut difficult materials like metal.
- Opposing blades keep saw steady
- A limited-use tool
- Creates wide cuts
A spiral saw is like a router and jigsaw, combined. Unlike a router, it will cut slim lines. Unlike a jigsaw, it will plunge into the material and it does not require you to turn the tool as you go around the lines.
Use the spiral saw for cutting holes into tile for faucets or for plunge-cuts into drywall for electrical boxes, among many other uses.
- Makes quick plunge cuts, just like a drill
- Kicks up a lot of debris
- Difficult to control
Wet Tile Saw
If you want to cut tile or artificial stone, a wet tile saw is a great help. The continuous flow of water holds down dust and keeps the blade cool. For small amounts of tile installation, you can even get by with the much cheaper snap tile cutter.
Use a wet tile saw for cutting ceramic and porcelain tile, as well as manufactured veneer stone.
- Straight cuts
- A limited-use saw
- Requires steady flow of water