There’s a multitude of power saws on the market, and choosing the right one to add to your toolbox can be a bit of a minefield. Compared to using a hand saw, a power saw is far superior in terms of speed, accuracy and ease of use - but only if you purchase the right one for the job at hand. In this extensive guide we’ll go through some of the most popular types of saws on the market and explain the differences between them.
As with many power tools, you’ll find several variations of power saw, all designed for slightly different applications. There’s plenty of overlap between what each type of saw can do, so before you make your investment, you’ll need to know the sort of jobs you want to tackle around the home and garden. As with anything, the more ambitious your DIY projects, the more variants of power saw you’ll end up needing.
Choosing a Power Saw: Material and Type of Cut
We’ve put together this quick selection table to help you choose the right type of saw for the specific cut you want to perform. The table features four of the most popular power tools on the market; jigsaws, reciprocating saws, circular saws and mitre saws. We’ve rated each tool in each category depending on how suitable it is for the cut in question. We’ll go into detail about each type of power saw later in the guide.
|Wood/ MDF & Plywood||Straight line||Good||Fair||Excellent||Fair|
|Shape||Excellent||Good||Not possible||Not possible|
|Bevel cut||Some jigsaws||Poor||Some circular saws||Excellent|
|Metals||Straight line||Good||Good||Not possible||Poor|
|Shape||Good||Good||Not possible||Not possible|
|Piping||Fair||Fair||Not possible||Some mitre saws|
|Shape||Good||Good||Not possible||Not possible|
|Aluminium||Straight line||Good||Good||Not recommended||Not recommended|
|Shape||Good||Fair||Not possible||Not possible|
|Pipe||Good||Good||Not recommended||Not recommended|
|Masonry||All||Not possible||Special blade||Not possible||Not possible|
Types of Power Saw
Now we’ve paired up a tool with a type of work, we’ll take a look in detail at the main types of saw. Features of power saws vary from brand-to-brand, so be sure to make sure the tool you’re looking at is right for the job before you reach for your wallet.
What is a Circular Saw?
More information about circular saws:
- Want to learn more about circular saws and how to us them? Check out our simple how-to guides here.
- Need help choosing a new circular saw? Take a look at our buyers guide now.
What is a Jigsaw?
More information about jigsaws:
- Want to learn more about jigsaws and how to use them? Have a look at our Jigsaw How-To guide now.
- Need help choosing exactly the right Jigsaw blade? We’ve got a whole section for that too!
- Would you like help choosing a new jigsaw? Take a look at our Jigsaw buyers guide now.
What is a Reciprocating Saw?
What is a Mitre Saw?
More information about mitre saws:
- Want to know how to use a Mitre Saw? Check our quick start how-to guide here.
- Wondering what Mitre Saw you need? View the buying guide here.
Corded or Cordless Power Saws
Now you’ve managed to choose between the different types of power saw, your next big decision is whether you want a mains powered tool or a battery powered tool. It was once the case that if you wanted a powerful tool, you needed a corded saw, but with a new generation of lithium-ion powered battery tools, you have a bit more to choose from.
Most standard power tools with come with a pretty short cord, maybe under a metre long. Trailing cables and extension leads can be dangerous, especially when you’ve got an incredibly fast moving saw blade in your hand. There's no risk of damaging your power saw cable with a cordless option.
Being free from electrical outlets will give you far more options for where you can carry out a project than a corded alternative. If you want to be able to carry out a job in your home, attic, shed or the bottom of your garden with an equal amount of ease, a cordless option might be right for you.
When you’re actually making a cut, you’ll find that a cordless option is easier to follow a cut line without trailing cables or an uneven weight distribution. This means that your sawing might actually be more accurate with a cordless tool.
The potential draw backs
Batteries run out - which can be less than convenient during longer DIY jobs. Be sure to get yourself a couple of batteries and have one on charge while you work with the other. Lithium cells charge very quickly (some Ryobi batteries charge in as little as 20 minutes), so you shouldn’t be waiting around for long.
The initial start up costs with battery tools can put people off from investing in a cordless alternative. A new tool, plus a couple of batteries and a charger will normally cost more than a simple plug-in-and-go style power saw. This extra cost can be offset by the fact many power tools have interchangeable battery systems, such as the Ryobi ONE+ range. All the Ryobi 18V batteries fit all the 18V home and garden power tools - and there are over 50 of them in the range. This means that you can buy a reciprocating saw and batteries, then later add a circular saw to your arsenal and simply swap around the batteries. Once you’ve purchased your batteries, you’ll find “body-only” units can be cheaper than corded alternatives. You can see the entire Ryobi ONE+ range of tools we stock here.
If in doubt, ask the experts...
Hopefully now you’re ready to choose exactly the power saw you need, regardless of how ambitious your DIY project is. As your collection of power tools grows, we’re sure you’ll add more and more cutting tools to your collection. If you have any questions about any of the tools we’ve talked about in this selection guide, or you require some sales advice, please feel free to contact our technical team through our online contact form here, or call us on 01332 576 850 - we’ll be happy to help!