The Most Common Saws and Their Uses.

In this article we present the most common saws used in DIY. The're are well over 30 types of saw but we narrowed the list down to the ones a homeowner or amateur woodworker might actually need. 

Hand tools

Hand tools, as the name suggests, are tools you use with your hands. As opposed to power tools which are electrically powered.

Hand tools are often viewed as more boring and time consuming than their electric counterpart. But I personally have used hand tools exclusively for a surprisingly long time. Hand tools make significantly less dust than power tools, and if you are building your projects in a tiny apartment like I did then, it is a important factor to take into account (in general the higher the power, the more dust you will get). It is also a different feeling. While it does take more time than with power tools, I find it provides a deeper experience. It is a great way to understand the job better before moving up to a powerful machine.

Hand saw

This is the ultimate saw. It dates back to the Bronze Age (3.000 BC). It is used to cut across the grain (crosscut).

Rip saw

A rip saw and a hand saw look very similar but are used differently. The rip saw is for ripping the wood, which means cutting wood lengthwise with the grain.

How to tell a rip saw from a hand saw? The rip saw has less teeth per inches (TPI), an average of 5 TPI versus 12 for a hand saw.

Back saw

On a back saw the top edge is reinforced which make the blade easier to steer. The back saw offers more control and is therefore more precise.

 

Japanese saw

The Japanese saw (or Nokogiri) cuts on the pull stroke instead of all the European saws mentioned previously which cut on the push stroke. The advantage of this technic are that the tension keeps the blade straight, allowing for a more precise cut.

Coping saw

The coping saw is a thin blade tensioned in a C-shaped frame. It is used to cut curve lines and circles.

Hack saw

The hack saw is, like the coping saw, a thin blade tensioned in a C-shaped frame. Except the C is less deep and the blade has different property. It is made for cutting metal, aluminium or plastic. It is actually more comparable to a back saw for metal in that sense.

 

Power Tools

Power tools are often an investment but they do make the job easier and faster.

 

Jigsaw

A jigsaw has a small blade that moves up and down. It allows to move blade to move freely in any chosen direction, making it especially useful for cutting curves and circles. In addition, a jigsaw in an experienced hand can make almost any type of cuts.

You can set up various type of blades: fine or rough cuts on woods, metal, plastic.

Band saw

The band saw is a stationary version of a jigsaw, or you might say an electric coping saw. A long sharp blade is stretch between two wheels. The width of the blade allows to cut very fine curves with minimum kerf (waste).

 

Circular saw

A circular saw has a circular blade, cutting on the way down as it spins. It is great to make cross and rip cuts. It is a great and fast way to make rough cuts. For precise cuts it is advised to set up a track along which the saw can slide.

The circular saw is the basis for all the tools that follow. They are basically a sophisticated variation of a circular saw, focusing on one specific use.

Miter saw

It is a circular saw on a stationary platform. The saw can move at different angles which allows you to very precise cross cut at any angle you like.

Table saw

It is basically a circular saw attached under a table. It is one of the most powerful woodworking machine. Instead of moving a circular saw along the wood, you are feeding the wood to the table.

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Panel saw

This is the one you see at the hardware store. It is a big machine used to cut panels to size. Imagine resting a panel on the wall having a circular saw sliding up and down to make the cuts.


Essential Toolbox

Do you need a toolbox?

If you own a house, or even rent one, chances are at some point there will be something that needs to be taken care of. In this journal we aim to give you proper guidelines and instructions to perform those tasks yourself and become a confident DIYer.

Before taking on this journey you will need to set up your toolbox. For now, only the essentials.

What does an essential toolbox look like?

Although there are many articles online about this, they are rarely relevant to our clients' needs - anyone asking this question probably does not need many tools. There is a saying in the woodworking community that you never have enough clamps but if you are starting in DIY or just want to maintain your house, I honestly doubt you will use one.

I believe an essential toolbox should have as few tools as possible and be versatile. As you develop skills you might add more specialised tools to do the job quicker (for instance switch the crescent wrench for a socket wrench), but this comes much later. And by the time you get there you will know exactly what you need.

An essential toolbox should also be affordable. A popular belief is that you must invest directly in high quality tools. But since you might use your tools only a few time a year, I advise to start with affordable tools. When they break, if they ever do, it means you are using them enough to invest in a better version.

The complete toolbox I am advising costs only 60€ (+115€ if you get the hammer drill, screw and wall plug) and will get the everyday person through most of the tasks. I am linking to products I have personally used and can recommend.

Tools

1. Tape Measure

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The tape measure is an absolute essential. The tape measure simply ensures everything will be exactly where it should be. Remember: "Anything worth doing is worth doing well.". So don't eyeball it. Take your time and use your tape measure.

Pro tip: Always measure twice.

Here is the one I currently use - Price: 2,40€

 

2. Level

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It is a quick and easy way to check if your frame is straight. You may also use the iPhone built-in app (open the compass and swipe right).

This one will do just fine. - Price: 3,60€

 

3. Screwdriver with bits

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You probably have a picture of a screwdriver in your head now. Do not buy this one. The classic screwdriver does not have the versatility we are looking for here. Furniture is sold with many different types of screws so you will quickly end up with a collection of screwdrivers tips.

Instead, look for a screwdriver with changeable bits. It is a single handle on which you can fit all sorts of bits. That is an all-in-one, saving you money and space.

Plus, you will now have the perfect bit for IKEA furniture and won't be using their annoying little tool ever again.

Here is it. - Price: 10,00€

 

4. Crescent wrench

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Following the same logic, you can simplify your toolbox by having a crescent wrench.

A crescent wrench has a sliding jaw that can be adjusted to the size you need. It will grip a great variety of nuts. One size fits all (well, most).

Pro tip: To reduce backlash, place the moveable jaw on the side towards which you are rotating.

Heavy duty wrench - 7,80€

 

5. Hammer

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There are over 20 types of hammer. Each one has a specific use.

The one I regularly use is called a French cabinet-maker hammer. Although pretty standard in France this design is not common in other countries.

The French cabinet maker hammer has a smaller head. It is compact, it is light, it is easy to manipulate.

I recommend this size - 5,90€

 

6. Combination plier

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There are pliers for every use too, but buying a combination plier instead of a full set of pliers will keep your toolbox light. 

Here is a good one - 8,50€

 

7. Voltage tester screwdriver

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Small electrical work, such has plugging a celling light on an screw terminal, is easier than you would think. There are just a few rules to know and follow, as we will explain in a future article.

A voltage tester screwdriver works this way: when the tip of screwdriver touches a wire under tension, the small light bulb turns on. You should always make sure to turn off the power before touching a wire. The voltage tester screwdriver is an added safety, if you switched the wrong circuit-breaker it will light up. Work on the terminal only when the screwdriver does not light up.

As you probably understood by now, the screwdriver is a protection between you and the electric current so don't be cheap on that one.

This one is from FACOM. The brand guarantee free replacement without time limit. - Price 8,25€

 

Extra: Hammer Drill and bits

I would suggest buying a hammer drill instead of a regular drill. 

While a regular drill will do fine on wood, tiling, steel and plasterboard, the hammer drill has an switch-on hammer function that allow to drill brick and concrete as well.

A cordless hammer drill is better but it will cost twice the price with the battery.

Bonus. All drills also work as a driver.

I have not personally tested this Ryobi but I have read good reviews. It comes with the drill bits - Price 99,99€

Hardware / Supplies:

1. Pen

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This is one is easy.

I personally use a mechanical pencil for their accuracy.

A simple BIC Matic Original 0.7mm is perfect. - Price less than 1€ (no link)

 

2. Masking Tape

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That is a trick of the trade. Before marking your wall, apply masking tape where you plan to mark. If you made a mistake, remove the tape and leave no trace on the wall. It also helps a lot on dark surfaces.

Here is it - Price 9,90€ for 3 items

 

3. Nails

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You will need nails to hang frame and light decoration. Nail diversity is unbelievable! There are different kinds of nail heads, lengths, diameters, etc. They all have a specific use.

I won't get into this, it is probably not worth your attention yet. Just buy these:

I love black nails. Price - 3,25€ pack of 80 nails

 

Extra: Screw and Wall Plugs

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Heavier items (wall lamps, big pictures, trophies and whatnot) will require a steadier hold. For those you will need screws and wall plugs. Drill a hole, put the wall plug in and screw your item (I will give more detailed instructions in another post). Never use a screw directly into a wall.

There are 3 size of wall plugs you may need: 6, 8 and 10. The matching screw for each wall plug should be in varying length, so you can choose depending on the item you are hanging.

This one has the basics - 14,75€

Toolbox complete!

That is it. Nothing more for now.

Once you get better, here are some additions you can make to your toolbox.

Here is a directory of retailers in your country of residence.