Best Saws

Updated March 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

37 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
455 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best saws

Last Updated March 2020

As with any tool, choosing the right saw for the task at hand is a crucial first step before you get to work. However, if you are unfamiliar with saws, you may not realize how many types are available. For example, a saw that is great for cutting with the wood grain might not produce favorable results when you need to cut across the grain.

To find the best saw for your needs, you must first know how you intend on using that saw. Are you going to cut tree branches or two-by-fours? Will it need to cut flush against a surface or fit into a hole? Do you want to cut a straight line or create something more ornate? These are the types of questions you'll need to ask yourself in order to purchase a saw that will allow you to cut right the first time.

The wide selection of saws on the market can be intimidating, but once you know what type is the right style for your needs, the decision becomes much easier. If you'd like to learn more about the different saw types that are available and how to use them, continue reading our buying guide.

For every cutting need, there is a different type of saw. It won't be impossible to get a job done using the wrong saw, but it will make the task much more difficult while increasing the chances for less than adequate results.

Types of saws

The first step in finding the best saw is knowing what your options are. Every type of saw is designed with a specific type of cut and material in mind, though some types are more versatile than others.

Crosscut saw

This type of saw features sharper teeth and it is designed to cut across the grain of the wood. It typically produces a smoother edge than most saws.

Rip saw

A rip saw cuts with the wood grain. The teeth on this type of saw are more like chisels, so it tends to cut aggressively and leave a rough edge.

Backsaw

This type of saw features a rigid metal piece that runs along the back of the saw to keep the blade straight and allow for more precise cutting. This saw is frequently used with a miter box for moulding and trim work.

Pruning saw

A pruning saw features a curved blade that can easily cut tree branches. These saws also have larger, sharper teeth so they can cut more aggressively than other types of saws.

Hacksaw

When cutting materials other than wood, having a hacksaw can come in handy. Although you can purchase a wide variety of blades, the most common ones are thin and feature fine teeth, making them desirable for cutting metal. These types of saws also work on PVC and masonry.

Coping saw

A coping saw is designed to be used for fine woodworking. It features very thin blades that can be rotated to make intricate cuts. The blade on this type of saw can be inserted through a hole that has been drilled into a piece of wood.

Pull saw

Another saw used for intricate woodwork is a pull saw. The key feature with this type is that it does the cutting when you pull instead of when you push. A pull saw makes it easier for a beginner to cut straight.

Keyhole saw

Because of its thin, pointed blade, this type of saw is best used for cutting curves. Like a coping saw, it can also be used to cut from the inside. It is most often used in areas where the location of the hole (such as in drywall) would make it impossible to use a coping saw.

Drywall saw

This is a long, thinner saw that resembles a keyhole saw but features coarser teeth to facilitate cutting through wallboard.

Flush cut saw

If you have the end of a dowel sticking through a piece of wood, you will need a flush cut saw to cut the dowel, so it becomes flush with the surface of the wood.

Reciprocating saw

A reciprocating saw is gripped like a handheld saw, but it is electrically powered so the sawing motion is done for you. A reciprocating saw is most often used in demolition work.

EXPERT TIP

A dirty saw blade is more likely to rust and become difficult to use. The best thing you can do for your saws is keep them clean and dry and store them in a climate-controlled area.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Saw teeth

There are a few fine points to keep in mind when looking at the teeth of your saw.

Usually, larger teeth are used for softer woods and smaller teeth for harder woods. A coarser blade is going to give you a rougher cut, and the wider the teeth are, the wider the cut will be. If you have trouble starting a cut with a saw that features large teeth, you might want to consider one with smaller teeth.

Handle

You will want a handle on your saw that can easily accommodate your hand. It should also be somewhat comfortable and firmly attached to the blade with no wobble. Most saws feature a molded plastic or rubber grip that is comfortable to hold and gives you good control over your motion.

Powered saws

While most saws are hand saws and are driven by your own elbow grease, many saws are electric or gas powered for highly efficient cutting that is best suited to bigger jobs and thick materials. As with any job, you should consider which tool will get the work done best and won’t require you to do anything over. Not every task calls for a power tool, but electric and gas saws are sometimes the only tool that can cut the materials you’re working with.

EXPERT TIP

To protect your saw blade during storage, cut a section of hose that is equal to the length of the blade, slit it longways, and place it over the teeth of the saw.


Staff  | BestReviews

Saw prices

Inexpensive: If you are just looking for a small, handheld saw, something with a folding blade that is good for lighter duty work or a saw for smaller jobs like a keyhole saw, you can get one for under $15. These may not be the most durable models, but if you're only pruning or doing work where precision isn't the most important factor, you might find what you are looking for in this lower price range.

Mid-range: From $15 to $25, you'll find decent quality saws for most of your needs. Whether it's a crosscut saw or a hacksaw, the average DIY enthusiast will likely be able to find good value in this price range.

Expensive: If you are interested in fine woodworking and want a precise, professional-grade handsaw, you should consider saws for between $70 and $120. The saws in this price range are designed for the serious woodworker and are built to last.

EXPERT TIP

If you ever experience binding — when the kerf pinches against the saw blade and makes it difficult to move — simply place a nail in the kerf to keep it open so that your saw blade can freely move back and forth.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

Even if you have the best, most expensive saw, it doesn't guarantee a straight cut. Following are a few tips to help you saw wood like a journeyman carpenter.

  • Clamp your material. Clamping your material reduces the chance of it moving while you are working, so you have a better chance of achieving that perfect cut.
  • Cut on the outside of your line. Every saw blade removes wood. In order to be absolutely certain you cut at the proper location, always place your saw to the outside of your line, never directly on it.
  • Use your finger. The index finger of the hand holding the saw should be extended along the side of the handle (if there is room) to help direct the saw.
  • Start slow. When beginning your cut, take several shorter strokes to make that all-important first mark that will serve as a guide.
  • Pay attention to where you are going. To get the straightest cut, look at where you need to be, not where you are.
  • Get the angle right. For crosscutting, your saw should be at a 45º angle; for rip cuts, aim for a 60º angle.
  • Think about your form. Keep your elbow close to your body, as this will help prevent twisting the blade. Use long, smooth strokes allowing the saw to do the work, not you.

Other products we considered

There are a few saws that didn’t quite make the cut for our top picks but are certainly still worth considering.

Olson Saw Coping Saw features a hardwood handle, and the blades can be turned 360º to saw in any direction using a push or pull stroke. However, this is just the frame, so you'll also need their coping saw blade assortment to get the job done.

For outdoor work, Corona's Razor Tooth Folding Saw has a durable, 7-inch blade that is designed for pruning branches up to 3 inches in diameter.

For a stalwart carpenter saw, try the Great Neck Saw Crosscut Hand Saw, a 26-inch saw with a high carbon steel blade.

And lastly, for the toughest jobs, there's Bahco's 30-Inch Ergo Bow Saw, which is designed to be used on dry wood and lumber.

Remember, safety always comes first. Keep your fingers away from the blade, wear a dust mask, do not attempt to make cuts near power cords, and be certain no children (or pets) are in your work area.

FAQ

Q. Do saws cut when you push them or when you pull them?
A.
It all depends on the saw. Some saws feature teeth that cut when pushing the blade away from your body, while others feature teeth that are designed to cut when pulling the blade toward you. Additionally, there are saws that are manufactured to cut in both directions. It is important to know which direction your saw cuts so you are not applying effort when there is no cutting being done.

Q. What is a kerf?
A.
The kerf is the slit in the wood that is made by the saw. Some saws create a very narrow slit, while others make one that is quite wide. The width of the kerf is determined by the set of the teeth — wider the teeth are at their base, the wider the kerf. The kerf needs to be wide enough so the saw doesn't get stuck in the wood, but if it is too wide, the cutting action can be sloppy and hard to control.

Q. What is the difference between a crosscut and a rip?
A.
Crosscut simply means cutting across the grain of the wood. Since this is a more difficult task than cutting with the grain (a rip cut), crosscut saws are manufactured differently — the teeth are beveled and angled to provide more of a knifelike edge. Yes, it is possible to perform a rip cut with a crosscut saw and vice versa, but it is always better to use the right saw for the job at hand.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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