How To Choose a Power Saw
This guide explains the basics for purchasing a power saw for your next project.
Types of Power Saws
- Great for cutting through lumber, drywall, pipes, and vinyl and aluminum siding
- Mostly used for construction or demo jobs
- Cuts through by a push-and-pull motion of the blade
Having an adjustable shoe, located opposite of the handle, maintains stability while cutting. Consider a handle that rotates 360 degrees will allow you to use it in harder to reach places. Some saws have minimal vibration and a sturdy grip, which makes continual use more comfortable.Shop All Reciprocating Saws
- Also called a saber saw
- Cutting arbitrary curves into wood
- Thin blade is ideal for creating stenciled designs or custom shapes
Consider a jig saw with orbital action in order to cut different materials, and you can easily adjust your cuts. Some come with dust blowers near the blade so debris won’t block your straight-line.Shop All Jig Saws
- Also called a bench saw
- Features a large, flat work area and a circular blade
- Makes straight and precise cuts
Consider a table saw with alignment features to match blade with preferred cutline. Also, saws with easily replaceable blades and attachments make maintaining your saw easier.Shop All Table Saws
- Also called a chop saw
- Makes rapid and exact cuts
- Circular blade pins and is lowered down in a short, controlled motion
- Ideal when working with wood for framing or matching corners
Consider a miter saw with a sliding compound for more versatility; this helps you make longer cuts and the saw can pivot to do bevels. Some saws offer a laser alignment system to help guide the blade for an accurate cut.Shop All Miter Saws
- Great for straight cuts, including cross or angle cuts
- Either right- or left-handed, depending on the side the motor sits
- Most popular and most versatile power saw
- Makes curved or straight lines
- Comes in either a portable or a floor-type model
- These can execute irregular cuts and intricate curves and cuts
- Also called masonry saws
- Makes straight cuts through clay and porcelain tile
- Wets tile ad blade to keep blade cool and minimize dust and debris
- Operate by electricity
- Battery or power cord required
- Operate by gasoline
- Typically a two-stroke engine, where you have mixture of gasoline and oil.
- Operate by fluid and pistons
- Requires updating new hydraulic fluid as needed
- Operates on diesel fuel
Note: You should never run out of gas on a diesel engine because you can damage the system.
- Determines distance the distance the blade travels in operation.
- Longer stroke lengths determine quicker cutting
- Smaller stroke lengths allow for confined working areas
Cordless vs. Power
Because they rely on batteries, cordless power saws tend to be a bit heavier than their electric counterparts, and won't generate as much power. But even larger power saws are incredibly portable.
One and two speeds are nice, but if you want to maximize your power saw's potential, opt for something that offers more.
Carbide-tip blades are the preferred type of blade for most circular saws, table saws, and miter saws. Look for blades that measure 7 ¼ inches and have 24 teeth. Also, keep these blades as sharp as possible.
Some power saws (like circular saws and miter saws) feature positive stops. These are points that stop at commonly used angles (15, 30, and 45 degrees) and help eliminate guesswork for smooth and accurate cuts.
Invest In the Best
Power saws and their accessories are not cheap. And while you might be tempted to purchase something less expensive, that tack could backfire (in a very bad way) in the long run. So, if you can, shell out the extra cash for a power saw or carbide-tip blade you know will remain safe effective for years to come.
Safety First When Using A Power Saw
- Wear eye and face protection
- Maintain sharp blades
- Keep hands at a safe distance from the blade while in operation
- Cut on an even surface
- Be wary of cutting poor lumber
- Watch for Kickback – This happens when the blade catches a piece of wood (or other material) and throws it viciously back to the rear of the power saw (in other words, at you). This can be a fatal mistake, as the wood can get thrown back at tremendous speed.