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Last updated on January 14th, 2021
Electric saws are types of saws because they are less laborious compared to handsaws and they do not pollute the environment like the gas-powered saws. They also cut fast and have a high degree of accuracy due to their smooth running motors. Some electric saw types are battery-powered while others require a connection to a power source. However, you can use either type to cut material in your woodworking, joinery, or any contractor and DIY projects.
Besides their power source, electric saws are also classified into different categories based on their preferred application and how they operate. This guide covers the most common types of electric saws, where to use them, and their pros and cons. It will help you make a more informed decision on the type of power saw you need for your project.
1. Electric chainsaw
An electric chain saw is an electric saw type for cutting tree trunks and firewood, felling trees, cutting ice, pruning, carving or sculpting stones. It uses a linked chain with numerous specially designed razor-sharp ripping teeth. This type of electric saw a motor that rotates the cutting chain around a strong metal guide bar. The chain rotates at a callosal speed so that it can cut through the material. The guide bar also plays an important role in the operation of a chain saw because it guides the chain precisely through material without causing a lot of friction. The guide bar is also strong enough to allow the chain saw cut through even the hardest wood.
Although electric chainsaws are powerful and easy to use, most professionals prefer to use gasoline types. Gasoline chainsaws are more powerful than electric alternatives. However, these engine chainsaws have some challenges such as carbon emissions, the need for regular maintenance, and the troublesome mixing of oil and gas. Gas chain saws can also be difficult to start at times.
Electric chain saws pros and cons
Advantages of electric chain saws
- Electric chain saws are easy to start. The motor runs at the press of a button.
- Light and compact
- Require minimal maintenance
- No mixing oil and gas
- No gas emissions
- Not as loud as gas chain saws.
- Useful for light jobs such as pruning and cutting firewood.
Disadvantages of electric chain saws
- Electric chain saws are not as powerful as gas chainsaws
- Corded chain saws are limited to 100ft radius while cordless hardly cut for more than an hour before recharging.
- Struggles to cut large tree trunks
- Not effective for commercial use.
2. Circular saws
A circular saw is a versatile handheld portable sawing tool that uses a motor to rotate the circular saw blade that makes cuts. It is an example of a power tool with rotating blade. because it uses a circular blade to cut. Circular saws use blades of different diameters, typically between 7.25 inches and 9 inches. The blades also have varying numbers of teeth and different teeth designs to suit various applications. Depending on the blade you are using, you can use a circular saw to cut a range of material including wood, plastic, metal, stone, ceramics, and other soft and hard materials. However, circular saws are most commonly used in woodshops to cut lumber, sheet boards, and other wood stocks.
Electric circular saws can be classified into either corded or cordless. The corded type is powered from the mains while the cordless has a high capacity lithium ion battery. Both types are powerful and get work done effectively. A circular saw is also a great tool for woodworking beginners and DIYers because it is inexpensive and can make all the major cuts a table saw makes. You can use it to make cross cuts and rip cuts and other intricate cuts such as bevel cuts, miter cuts, plunge cuts, and dado cuts. Some DIYers even make DIY tables saws using a circular saw.
How to use a circular saw
To make a cut using a circular saw, first rest the shoe or base plate of the saw flat on the workpiece. Ensure the blade does not touch the workpiece. Pull the trigger and let the blade rotate to full speed before pushing it smoothly through the material. Continue pushing the saw slowly through the workpiece until the cut is complete. Once you are done, release the trigger and let the blade spin to a complete stop. Make sure the workpiece remains stationary when cutting. You can use G-clamps to hold it firmly. For safety reasons, ensure that the offcut is free to fall to avoid possible kickbacks or jerking of the tool.
Pros and cons of a circular saw
- Portable and easy to transport to the job site
- Compact and lightweight
- Makes a variety of cuts including rips cuts, cross cuts, and other intricate woodworking cuts.
- Less strain to the user during the cutting process as it can be moved anywhere.
- Can be difficult for a beginner to make straight and accurate cuts
- Plunge cuts require you to use both hands; one on the handle and trigger and the other on the blade guard.
- Precision and accuracy of cuts depend on how the user holds firmly the workpiece. However, for more precision and accuracy, you can use sit the saw on a guide rail. A guide rail allows you to slide the circular saw in a straight line so that you can make precisely straight cuts.
3. Table saw
A table saw, also known as a sawbench or bench saw is a professional power saw for cutting wood or composite material. It is also a type of power tool with circular saw because it uses a circular saw to cut. The saw assembly mounts onto an arbor underneath the table surface. The arbor allows you to adjust the saw’s cutting depths and angles. You can raise or lower the blade to different heights depending on the workpiece you are working on. You can also slant the cutting blade vertically up to 45 degrees to make bevel cuts. A table saw also has a miter gauge that allows you to make miter cuts on workpieces.
Unlike a circular saw, a table saw offers you more control on a workpiece and as a result, you get more accurate cuts. A table saw also cuts fast and that is one of the reasons it is used commercially. There are several types of table saws including benchtop, job site, contractor, cabinet, hybrid, mini and micro tablesaws. Table saws are widely used in the woodworking industry. You can use it to cut wood, plywood, plastic, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and even soft metals such as aluminum. With a table saw, you can make just about any type of cut including dados, rip cuts, rabbet cuts, cross cuts, angled cuts, tenon cuts, and other complex types of cuts.
Pros and cons of a table saw
- Powerful and versatile
- Table saws are available in different sizes and configurations to meet various needs
- A table saw makes basically any type of cut for different applications including joineries such as dadoes, tenons, and rabbets.
- Makes rip cuts on stocks more safely.
- A table saw is versatile with the types of cuts you can make
- Table saws are quite expensive. A good one goes for not less than $400
- The most powerful tables saws are less portable.
- If you are not careful, a table saw can result in serious kickback injuries. Learn how to prevent kickbacks on your table saw.
4. Jigsaw electric saw
A jigsaw is a small handheld electric saw for making straight cuts and intricate curved cuts in wood and metal. You can also use it to make cuts on a range of other materials including fiberglass, laminate, tiles, and drywall if you have the right type of blade. This is what makes the tool very versatile and why you should have one for your projects. Generally, a jigsaw is very useful for craft projects and hobby projects that involve cutting various patterns and other non-straights cuts such as curves and circles.
A jig saw is not one of the power tools with circular blades. It uses straight cutting blades with teeth on one side. Jig saw blades are of different types depending on their application. Some common types of jigsaw blades include the scrolling blade, downcut blade, sheet metal blade, cleancut blade, tile cutting blade, and wood blade. All these blades have different numbers of teeth per inch (TPI) and the teeth have different shapes to suit their application. Jigsaw blades are also classified according to how they fit onto the tool. You can have a jigsaw tool that accepts T-shank blades or straight U-shank blades.
Jigsaws are available in different electrical configurations. Some are corded while others are cordless. You can choose the one that suits your needs. However, if you have difficulty choosing between corded and cordless jigsaw, check our guide on how to choose between corded and cordless tools.
Pros and cons of a jig saw
- Jigsaws are versatile and cut a range of materials including wood and metal.
- Comfortable to use
- Portable and easy to transport to the job site
- Compact and easy to store
- Operate relatively quietly
- They cut efficiently including the very tight curves and patterns.
- Jigsaws can make angled cuts
- Cordless jigsaws make brake in the middle of a job while corded jigsaws are limited by the length of the cord and availability of an outlet.
- Jigsaws are not the best for cutting long straight lines
- Ineffective for cutting thick lumber.
5. Reciprocating saw
A reciprocating saw is a handheld electric saw that uses a straight blade to cut just like a jig saw. The blade moves back and forth to cut material and there is a variety to choose from for different materials. Although a reciprocating saw resembles a jig saw by how it cuts and the type of blades it uses, it is designed for different applications altogether. Unlike a jig saw which is designed for precision cutting of curves, a reciprocating saw is designed for rugged applications such as demolition projects which do not need a high degree of accuracy. In fact, it is called a demolition saw because of the exclusive use in demolition work. A recip saw cuts through metal, wood, and plastic with so much ease. You can also use it to cut cast iron and other hard material with the right type of blade.
If you are a remodeler, a reciprocating saw is your go-to tool for demolishing fixtures and old furniture. It slices through nail-embedded wood like a piece of cake. You can also use it to cut metal and plastic pipes, and other materials using a variety of reciprocating blades. Recip saws can also be used to trim tree branches and to make plunge cuts into workpieces. Like other power saws, you have the freedom to choose between corded and cordless reciprocating saws.
Pros and cons of a reciprocating saw
- Cuts through a variety of material without a problem
- Accepts a variety of cutting blades
- Can work as a circular saw to take on overhead cutting tasks
- Quickly tears through material such as metal pipes and wood embedded with nails.
- Not good for making precision cuts
- Cannot make perfect angled cuts
6. Miter Saw
A miter saw is a type of portable electric saw for making accurate crosscuts and miter cuts. This tool also makes bevel cuts and some variations of it also make rip cuts on short pieces of wood. A miter saw belongs to the family of power tools with circular blades just like the circular saw and table saw because it uses a round teethed blade to cut. In fact, the blades are interchangeable among the three types of electric saws. However, the difference is that a miter saw works on a stationary workpiece. That’s why it cuts so accurately. Instead of moving the stock, you move the blade towards the stock to make a cut. You also tilt the blade assembly vertically or horizontally to make angled cuts while the rest of the tool is stationary.
Miter saws are classified into three different categories based on power source, miter saw type, and bevel type. As far as the source of power is concerned, you can either have a corded or cordless miter saw. In the miter saw type category, you choose between a compound miter saw and the sliding compound miter saw. The sliding compound miter saw is able to cut workpieces that are wider than the blade size. It slides back and forth to make longer crosscuts or rip cuts. Lastly, the bevel category has single or dual bevel miter saw. The single bevel slants in one direction whereas the double or dual bevel slants on both sides to make bevel cuts.
Miter saws use circular blades typically of diameter 10 – 12 inches. The blade is mostly made from carbon steel so it lasts longer. Miter saws also have a dial pad that is calibrated in angles so that you can select the angle of cut.
Pros and cons of a Miter Saw
- A miter saw is the ultimate power saw for making accurate miter cuts, cross cuts, and bevel cuts
- A miter gauge fence helps keep the workpiece stationary while cutting for increased accuracy.
7. Band saw power saw
A bandsaw is a precision power saw that uses a thin continuous loop toothed saw blade to cut material just like a jig saw. This power saw differs from a jig saw in that it uses a looped blade while a jig uses a reciprocating saw. The band saw serrated looped blade cuts by moving continuously in a loop between two pullies as the workpiece is slowly fed into it. This tool has a tabletop on which you place your workpiece and a fence for guiding the workpiece through the blade accurately. It also has multiple control features such as the variable speed controller, job selector dial, and a feed controller that increase its effectiveness and safety.
Band saws have multiple uses but the most common ones are cutting curves and circles, splitting lumber and beams, ripping wood, cutting accurate notches, and repurposing left over wood into useful pieces. Like a jigsaw, you can use a band saw to cut other materials such as metal when you install the correct type of bandsaw blade. There are also bandsaws designed primarily to for metal cutting and others for cutting glass.
When buying a bandsaw for your trade, you choose between a vertical and horizontal model. You also choose either the bulky stationary bandsaw or the portable small size bandsaw. The former is good for commercial purposes while the latter is good for light cutting tasks and DIY projects.
Pros and cons of bandsaw electric saws
- A bandsaw is good for cutting precise curves and circles in small and large pieces of wood and other materials.
- Cuts more than wood if you have the right cutting blade
- Makes precise cuts with minimal wastage due to the smaller kerf than a table saw or jig saw.
- The thin kerf makes a bandsaw ideal for splitting wood planks by the depth with minimal loss in size.
- Provides better control on a workpiece than a jigsaw
- You can adjust the blade height to accommodate stock of different sizes
- Cuts downwards to keep the worktop clean and the user safe from flying debris and saw dust.
- Allows the use of jigs for accurate and faster cutting
- A band saw is versatile with the materials it can cut but not with the types of cuts it can make.
- Unlike a table saw, band saws leave behind rough edges
8. Scroll Saw
A scroll saw is a type of electric saw with a very thin reciprocating saw blade for cutting circles, intricate curve and contours, decorative pieces, and spiral lines. This tool cuts by scrolling the thin toothed saw up and down as you push the workpiece into the blade. A scroll saw has a tabletop on which you place your workpiece. You can tilt the table or the blade to make angled cuts.
Scroll saws are very accurate tools and very popular in creating wood art, wooden toys, dovetails, and other artistic designs with very tight curves and angles. They are fairly safe and easy to use and hence perfect for introducing your kids to woodworking. A scroll saw is also a great replacement for a coping saw.
Find various types of scroll saws on Amazon
Pros and cons of a scroll saw electric saw
- Operates relatively quietly
- Cuts downwards thereby creating little dust
- Designed to capture fine details
- Fairly safe to use
- Leaves a nice surface finish that requires minimal or no sanding
- Not designed for very large workpieces
9. Panel saw
A panel saw is a type of power saw for cutting sheet goods such as plywood, melamine, laminate, MDF boards, particle boards, and even aluminum. It is also known as plywood saw because many woodworkers use it to cut plywood. A plywood saw can have a stand or you can mount it on a wall, hence the name wall saw.
Panel saws have an incredible cutting capacity. They crosscut like a large sliding miter saw with a big width capacity and rip cut large panels as a table saw does on small workpieces. They are accurate and safer than any other power saw on large sheet goods. A typical panel saw has a rotating circular saw on a carriage assembly and a large frame assembly. You can move the carriage assembly up and down to set the height of the cut and rotate the circular saw to cut vertically or horizontally. The large frame, on the other hand, allows you to feed large sheet goods of an average size of 4ft by 8ft or larger. The maximum cutting thickness of most wall saws is hardly 2 inches.
Panel saws are either horizontal or vertical. Horizontal panel saws are large and require a lot of space while vertical panel saws require less floor space but need more headroom. However, both of them can get the job done perfectly and you can get either of them for your cabinet making projects, sign making, and crate & box making among other applications. If you operate a lumber yard, a panel saw is a great machine to have. Most if not all panel saws are corded so that they can deliver heavy-duty industrial performance.
These are our 5 best panel saws
Panel saw pros and cons
- Cuts sheet goods quickly and accurately
- Very safe to use because of the minimal chances of blade injuries and kickbacks
- One-man operation tool. You can operate the panel saw alone and still do an excellent job.
- Limited to cutting sheet goods. Cannot cut lumber.
- Occupies a large work area whether vertical or horizontal panel saw
10. Flooring saw
A flooring saw is an electric saw used for flooring installations. It has the capabilities of a miter saw and table saw with the advantage of being lightweight. A flooring saw delivers various cuts in a variety of flooring materials including wood flooring, laminate, vinyl siding, vinyl plank flooring, and other flooring materials. It uses a circular saw to cut just like the other electric tools with circular saw blades. Some of the cuts you can make with this tool include rip cuts, miter cuts, and crosscuts.
The advantage of a floor saw over a table saw is that it is highly portable. So, instead of moving the flooring materials from the job site to the workshop for cutting, you move the tool to wherever you are installing the floor. You can choose to operate the tool on the floor or on a stand. I prefer to use mine on the floor because it is convenient and easy to set up.
A flooring saw is a great jobsite power saw. It keeps you from having to transport your table saw and miter saw to the worksite. It also increases job site productivity and efficiency.
Flooring saw pros and cons
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Makes a variety of accurate and clean cuts including crosscuts and rip cuts.
- Helps to speed up floor installation jobs
- Perfect replacement of a miter saw and table saw for flooring installations
- Compact and easy to move across rooms.
- Leaves behind a trail of dust. You would need a vacuum cleaner to collect the dust.
- Quite loud when used indoors. You would need ear protection when operating it.
11. Tile saw
Tile power saws are used for cutting thick tiles without chipping their edges. This is known as flooring. You can also use them to cut glass, ceramic, porcelain, and stone depending on the type of blade. One thing you need to know before using a tile saw is that you should wet the material first. This reduces the amount of dust produced when cutting and prevents the blade from getting damaged prematurely.