Types of Saws - Hand & Electric Saw Buying Guide UK 2017

If you have ever needed to buy a saw, then the choices can be truly bewildering. Most people will be familiar with the normal hand saw. However, there are a full range of other types of saw, that are available on the UK market.

Almost always saws are used for cutting wood. That can be any type of wood including the popular soft woods and hard woods. There are however saws for cutting metal, plastic and even masonry.

types of hand saws and electric saws

Hand Saws vs Electric Saws

For almost every cutting option, there is a hand or manual saw. With great improvements in technology, there are now electric versions of these available.

As an example, you can make a normal straight cut with a hand saw. However it is faster, and more accurate to make that same cut with an electrical circular saw.

Likewise a coping saw can be used manually to cut curves into wood. However an electric jigsaw, is a much faster way to achieve the same task.

In this article we will examine all of the saws that are available, and what they are used for. We shall cover off the manual options first, and then underneath those, we shall look at the electric options.

Hand Saws

Hand saw picture

This is by far the most popular of all the saws that you will find around the home, garage of shed. If you simply want to cut a piece of wood, then nothings is quite as handy as a standard hand saw.

These come in different sizes, and they are normally measured in teeth per inch.(tpi) The more tpi the finer a cut that you can get. These are good saws for doing normal straight cuts.

You do however have to do the cutting manually, and that can take a fair bit of effort. Nevertheless, it is always a great idea to have one of these hanging up in your shed or garage.

Folding Saws

Best folding saw picture

These are a great utility saw, that can be used for some basic wood cutting, and they are very popular with gardeners. So whether you want to make some firewood, or curtail the growth of some unruly shrubs, then these are ideal.

Most people tend to use these for trimming branches on trees. They do however have plenty of other uses. The fact that they fold closed protects the blade, and keeps it safe if there are children around.

It also makes them easy to store as well. They are not an expensive buy, and again, a handy saw to have around.

Tenon Saws

Tenon saw picture

This is a more specialist saw, and will mainly be used by joiners and carpenters. Its main use is to help make fine cuts, used for woodworking joints. It makes straight cuts and is often used in larger pieces of sheet wood.

The edge of the saw is usually made from brass, and has around 13 teeth per inch. Some people refer to this as a back saw.

Coping Saws

Draper coping saw picture

This is a hand saw that can be used to cut more intricate shapes in wood. Again this will mainly be used by joiners and carpenters. Its main use these days is to cut mouldings, and create what are called coped joints.

It has a very thin blade which is stretched quite tightly, between a U-shaped frame, which is then attached to a handle. The blades are easy to change and can be easily adjusted.


stanley hacksaw picture

A hacksaw is used to cut metal. As you can see from the image above, the blade is attached to a strong tubular metal frame. Although designed to cut metal, they are used regularly by electricians and plumbers to cut conduit and pipes.

The word "hack" does of course refer to quite a rough cutting action, but the reality is that a good quality hacksaw, makes a very fine and neat cut.

In the home these can be handy to have for cutting bolts, or cutting conduit for electrical work, or pipes for plumbing work. The blades come in a couple of lengths 25 cm and 30 cm.

The number of teeth can be between 14-32 teeth per inch. The more teeth the finer the cut.

Junior Hacksaws

Picture of a junior hacksaw

This is simply a smaller and a cheaper version of the hacksaw shown above. Many plumbers and electricians want to try and keep their tool bag light.

Rather than carry the heavier full size hacksaw around, they opt for this lighter junior style.

The blade on this type is really small, and it makes it ideal for cutting plastic pipes. The cut is also really neat and tidy. The blades are also cheaper to buy. It is worth noting that the teeth face away from the handle. Because of that, the junior hack saw cuts on the push stroke.

Circular Saws

Circular saw picture

There are a lot of different electric power saws on the UK market. The circular saw is probably the most popular of all of them. Essentially all there is to it, is a small circular blade, which is powered by a motor.

These are all about quickly cutting through wood, and they make straight cuts. A guard protects the blade. These can be used as a portable saw, but quite often they are attached to a stand, and the wood is brought to the saw.

Many people also use these as a table saw by inverting them.

Mitre Saws 

mitre saw

The electric mitre saw, as the name would suggest, is designed to cut mitre joints. It is however worth pointing out, that it also can easily act as a circular saw as it does straight cuts as well as mitre cuts.

On many of the models, they can also do single bevel and double bevel cuts, ideal for those of you who like to do woodworking.

They can then combine both a bevel and a mitre to make a more complex "compound joint." So as you can see these are a very useful electric saw to own.

We would recommend buying a sliding mitre saw, as that means you can cut wider timber, making your purchase much more useful.


Picture of a chainsaw

The best of the saw world. These saws can just about take on any cutting task. They are especially great for cutting trees, or larger branches.

Many people use these for cutting down trees or larger shrubs and then using those for firewood.

These are available as corded options, though the majority of people like the idea of a gas powered chainsaw. That is simply because they allow you to take your chainsaw, to wherever you need to use it, without having to worry about an electric supply.


bosch jigsaw picture

These remain very popular with many UK buyers. These can be used to make straight cuts and curved cuts. In many ways they are the electric version of the coping saw.

They are ideal for cutting sheets of wood, and a typical task is cutting a sink shape out of a worktop.

They are available as both corded and cordless. The cordless variety is becoming a lot more popular, but you will find that they are also more expensive.

So hopefully, you are now much better informed about the wide range of hand saws and electrical saws that are available, and what they are used for. Most people will want to own a basic hand saw, and something like a circular saw, or even a mitre saw.

If you plan on doing some work in the home or garden, then we know that at some stage you will need to own a saw, or a variety of saws. The type you need will depend on the task that you want to achieve.

Hopefully we have been able to explain what is available, and what they are used for.

Enda McLarnon

I enjoy writing about tools and gadgets of all kinds. As an electrician and with many years working in the building industry, I have used my fair share of all the leading tool brands. On this website I share my experiences of these along with my colleague Geoff.

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