Choosing a saw
With the right power saw, you’ll never struggle to cut a straight line or slice through tough materials. As long as you know the basics about how to pick the right saw and how to use it properly, there is really no cutting job that you shouldn't be able to take on with confidence.
What kind of power saw do I need?
A circular saw is a heavy-duty tool that’s perfect for the quick, accurate and straight cutting of any type of wood. It’s especially good for cutting sheet materials.
With circular saws, you can choose from an assortment of interchangeable blades capable of handling any material, so you’ll be able to cut everything from nail-embedded wood and bricks to solid concrete blocks.
Circular saws come in different sizes, and the cutting capacity is directly related to the diameter of the blade. All circular saws have a maximum cutting depth, which depends on the angle that's being cut.
A jigsaw (sometimes known as a bayonet saw or sabre saw) is a versatile handheld electric saw that’s perfect for a range of different DIY jobs, including cutting shapes in wood and other sheet materials. A jigsaw features a reciprocating saw blade (one that goes backwards and forwards), providing a cutting motion similar to a handsaw.
With a jigsaw, you can cut angles up to 45 degrees, making them useful for cutting mitre joints. Jigsaws are available in a range of sizes, and different blades are available for a wide number of different materials and cutting jobs.
At Homebase, we stock a wide range of jigsaws to cover every requirement, so whether you are a novice or a DIY expert, you’re certain to find something that matches your needs perfectly.
A reciprocating saw has an unusual cutting action, which is characterised by a push and pull 'reciprocating' motion. Suitable for heavy-duty cutting work, this powerful tool is often used in the construction and demolition trades and is sometimes called a recipro saw or sabre saw.
The large blade resembles a jigsaw with a handle oriented to allow the saw to be used comfortably on vertical surfaces.
A mitre saw is used to make accurate crosscuts, which are also known as mitres. Suspended on rollers or slides in a metal guide that works with a mitre box, the mitre saw enables you to cut fine angles used in precision woodworking jobs like picture framing.
A table saw is a large, bench-sized saw that is perfect for bigger jobs, like those that involve large sheet materials.
Sometimes called a sawbench, the blade is a large circular saw driven by an electric motor either directly by belt or by gears. The blade sticks up from the surface of the table, which supports the materials as you make the cut.
With a table saw, you can vary the depth of the cut by moving the blade up and down, and control the angle of the cut by adjusting the blade.
What else should you look for in a power saw?
Once you've chosen the style of power saw, there are a few other things that you need to take into account.
The strength of the motor and how many RPM (revolutions per minute) the blade spins round at are important. Generally, the higher the wattage, the more RPM you get, and the greater the RPM, the greater the power and control you’ll get from your saw.
If you need to cut through materials of varying thicknesses, like floorboard tongues, then it’s a sensible idea to go for a saw with a depth adjuster, which will enable you to make more precise cuts.
This is useful for improving the accuracy of your straight cuts, by providing a guide at a set distance from the edge of the material you’re cutting. This feature comes as standard on most circular saws.
Handheld saws need to be controlled properly, and going for a saw with both front and rear handles will enable you to get a better grip for more comfortable and safer cutting.
No matter which type of saw you pick, you need to have the right blades for the job at hand, and you'll need different blades for different materials, such as hardwood, metal and masonry.
Saw blades come with different teeth settings, for cutting along or across the grain. The more teeth the blade has, the finer the cut. Tungsten carbide tipped (TCT) blades last longer and cut faster than standard steel ones.
Saws can be very dangerous, so make sure you wear the right safety equipment when using them, and look out for saws with additional safety features. Most saws have some kind of safety switch or lock off button to stop them starting up accidentally, and a soft start switch that sets the blade moving at a slower speed so the initial cut is easier to make.
It's also a good idea to use an RCD plug-in safety adapter with any electric saw.