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Get To Know Your Power Saw

Ready to level up from your collection of hands saws to include a power tool or two? Power saws give you the freedom to execute a whole new world of DIY projects, and while there are a wide range of specialty power saws out there, we suggest starting right here, with the three all-purpose saws that’ll get you through most of your projects with ease.

Types of Power Saws

Circular Saw

So named for its round blade, the circular saw is an all-purpose power saw found in many workshops. Can be battery powered or electrical and handheld or table-mounted. It’s used for straight cuts, rip cuts, and cross cuts. There are a variety of blades available for specialty applications, from different types of wood to metal and concrete. 


Miter Saw

A miter cut is an angled cut across the width of a board. Miter saws can also make simple straight across cuts (when you’re simply cutting for length) and bevel cuts, which are cuts that go through the thickness of a board. Finally, miter saws can make compound cuts, which combine miter and bevel cuts into one. Miter saws come equipped with gauges that lock into different angles, making it simple to get the same, correct cut every time.


Jigsaw

Keeping one of our favorite winter activities in mind–the jigsaw cuts intricate shapes and curves into wood. The base of the jigsaw (the shoe) rests directly on the board and cuts with an up-and-down motion activated by a trigger on the body. It’s easy to adjust both speed and angles as you work. Jigsaws offer an orbital cut, which means the saw cuts both up and down and forward at the same time. Alternatively, a straight cut just uses the up-and-down motion, which offers a more delicate, smooth cut. 


3 Types of Saw Blades

Combination

Makes cuts both with the grain and against. The best all-purpose type of blade.


Ripsaw

Makes cuts with the grain of wood.


Crosscut

Makes cuts against the grain of wood.


How to Choose a Saw Blade

Teeth Per Inch (TPI): Indicates the number of teeth per inch (obviously) on the cutting edge of the blade. Fewer TPI creates rougher cuts while more TPI is best for precision work. A low TPI is good for demolition while a higher TPI is perfect for woodworking.

Additionally, saws with larger teeth are best for heavy duty projects while saws with finer teeth are best for detail work. 

The “set” of the teeth on the cutting edge refers to the way they’re bent, which can sometimes be in alternating directions. 

Kerf tells you the width of the cut left in the board by the saw’s blade. The kerf is determined by the width of the blade plus the “set” of the teeth, and the wobble of the blade. Knowing the kerf of the blade is most important in finer carpentry work, when precision is paramount and being “off” by fractions of an inch would have consequences to a project.

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