Buying a Power Saw
- Types of power saws
- Uses and applications
- What should I look for when shopping for a power saw?
- How do I use a power saw?
- Brands of power saws
Woodworking is one of home improvement’s most difficult projects. The wood can be tricky to work with and with so many tools out there designed to do a myriad of possible tasks, which tool is right for you and your project?
Like amateur and professional woodworkers already know, a power saw can help make your larger projects much easier, and lessen the scope of the work that must be done.
Types of power saws
What is a power saw anyway? It’s a tool powered by electricity or battery used for cutting wood and other materials. Power saws available at Build.com include:
- Band saw
- Circular saw
- Chop saw
- Jig saw
- Miter saw
- Reciprocating saw
- Rotary saw
- Table saw
Uses and applications
Here’s a brief description of the different types of power saws and what each is designed for.
Circular saws are great for making straight cuts, including cross or angle cuts. They can be either right- or left-handed, depending on which side of the blade the motor sits, and are the most popular and most versatile cutting power saw, especially in residential applications.
A band saw can be used to cut curved or straight lines. They typically come in two sizes: portable and a floor-type model. These are useful for executing irregular cuts, as well as more intricate curves and cuts.
You can cut just about anything with a reciprocating saw. For cutting through lumber of nearly any size, drywall, pipes, and vinyl and aluminum siding, this is your tool. Like all hand-held power saws, a reciprocating saw has ideal portability and comes in your choice of high-speed electric or cordless. This type of power saw is used mostly for construction or demolition jobs, and the act of cutting is achieved through a push-and-pull reciprocating motion of the blade.
A jig saw is used for cutting arbitrary curves into wood. This hand-held power saw (also called a saber saw) is portable and lightweight, and its small, thin blade is ideal for creating stenciled designs or other custom shapes. In fact, the first jigsaw puzzles were made using this kind of power saw.
A miter saw, also referred to as a chop saw, is designed to make rapid and exact cuts. A circular blade spins and is lowered down in a short, controlled motion. Miter saws are ideal when working with wood for framing and when your project calls for matching up corners with molding.
Like the name implies, table saws feature a large, flat work area and a circular saw blade. Also referred to as a bench saw, a table saw makes straight and precise cuts. Different types of table saws include benchtop, contractor, cabinet, and hybrid.
What should I look for when IN a power saw?
With such a wide range of power saws, here are some universal features.
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.
- Alignment features will help you match up the blade with your proposed cutline.
- Look for a table saw with easily replaceable blades and/or attachments.
- A jig saw with orbital action is helpful when cutting different materials. This way, you can easily adjust your cuts for different applications.
- Some jig saws feature tiny dust blowers near the blade so debris won’t block your sightline.
- Sliding compound miter saws offer more versatility. The sliding feature allows you to do longer cuts, and the compound feature means it can pivot to do bevels.
- Also, some models feature a laser alignment system to help guide the blade for an accurate cut.
- Look for a shoe (located at the base of the reciprocating saw, opposite the handle) that adjusts and pivots with the surface you’re cutting to maintain stability.
- A reciprocating saw with a handle that rotates 360 degrees will allow you to use it even when you’re in a tight or hard-to-reach place.
- Choose a reciprocating saw with minimal vibration and a sturdy grip. You’ll need these after the minutes and hours pile up tearing down drywall.
Back To Top
How do I use a power saw?
In a word, carefully. Because of the inherent dangers (huge spinning blades, sometimes massive weight, flying debris, etc.) power saws pose, safety must always be your top priority.
- 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
Another significant danger to look out for is 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.
Back To Top
Brands of power saws
Build.com carries the industry’s top brands of power saws and accessories, like Bosch, Milwaukee, and Skil, and over a dozen others.
Power saws are a vital part of any amateur or professional woodworker’s arsenal. Trading in your old hand saw for a new power saw will help cut down on time and energy spent on your project.
Back To Top