The 10 Best Electric Hand Saws
Reciprocating And Circular Saws Explained
Reciprocating saws have a handle that is oriented to allow for comfortable use when cutting though vertical surfaces.
Electric saws may just be one of the greatest inventions on earth. Before the days of the powered saw, cutting through wood and other materials was an extremely laborious job. What might have previously taken 10 minutes or longer of brute force, can now be accomplished in a matter of seconds, without you ever having to break a sweat. Handheld electric saws come in many different forms, but they can all be broadly classified into two different categories based on their motion: reciprocating or circular.
Reciprocating saws move the blade in a push-and-pull action. You may commonly hear people referring to the reciprocating saw as a Sawzall. While Sawzall is actually a trademark of the Milwaukee Tool Company, it has become an eponym used to refer to all reciprocating saw brands, much like Kleenex for tissues or ChapStick for lip balm. Reciprocating saws have a design similar to a jigsaw — and in fact jigsaws are a type of reciprocating saw, though are rarely referred to as such — in that they feature a shoe at the base that can be rested against your stock to help you control the blade.
Reciprocating saws have a handle that is oriented to allow for comfortable use when cutting though vertical surfaces. Since they are larger and more powerful than the average jigsaw, they are intended for two-handed use and will have a second grip area closer to blade. Reciprocating saws are very powerful and, with the variety of different blades available, can cut through almost any type of material. They are perfect for rough cutting and demolition work. If you need to make smaller and more intricate cuts, then you may want to opt for a jigsaw instead.
Circular saws make use of an abrasive or toothed disc spinning in a rotary motion to cut through materials. Unlike with reciprocating saws, circular saws usually produce a very clean, straight cut and leave behind smooth edges. They are easier to control than reciprocating saws, making them better for applications where a strong kickback could cause damage. There are a variety of blades available for circular saws, allowing them to be used on a range of different materials. As with reciprocating saws, a trademarked term is commonly used to refer to circular saws, in this case Skil saw.
The Right Blade For The Job
Achieving the perfect cut isn't just about having the right saw, but the right blade, too. To identify the perfect blade for your needs, you will need to know a few things. When buying a new blade, consider your intended application. Most blades are purpose built for specific materials, though there are some designed for general purpose use. It is important to note, however, that you'll always get the best cut when using a blade specifically designed for the material you are working on. If cutting through wood, a traditional steel blade is usually all you need. For cutting through tile, you should use either a dry or wet diamond blade. When working on metal, a carbide grit blade is often required. While you could potentially use a diamond blade to cut though wood, more than likely the cut would wind up crooked and with rough edges.
This can result in chipping, though, particularly on denser materials.
After you have decided on the type of blade you need, you should look at the number and size of the teeth. The more teeth and the smaller they are, the smoother the cut, since each one will be removing a tiny amount of material. The downside to this is that they may not cut as quickly. Ripping blades, which are intended to quickly tear through wood, have fewer teeth than styles that are intended for slower, more precise cuts, such as crosscut blades. Another thing to look at is the gullet. Gullet refers to the space between each tooth. The larger the gullet, the bigger the chunk of wood each tooth will take out, and the rougher the cut.
The angle of the teeth also plays an important role. Blades with teeth that lean forward are referred to as having a positive hook angle or rake. The higher the positive angle, the more aggressive the blade will cut, as it will be pulling itself into the stock. This can result in chipping, though, particularly on denser materials. Negative hook blades cut more slowly, but allow for more control and are less likely to cause any chipping. This means it is often a good idea to use aggressive, positive-hook blades for ripping and tearing, but negative-hook blades when performing finishing cuts that may be visible on a finished piece.
Corded Versus Cordless — Which To Choose?
There are many reasons one might want to choose a corded saw. Unfortunately, there are just as many reasons a cordless saw could be a better choice. There really is no cut and dried answer we can give as to which is best. It really comes down to what is more important to you: power or convenience.
Corded saws offer consistent power, cut after cut, all day long.
Saws require a lot of power, especially when cutting through thick or dense material. And while battery technology has come a long way, cordless models just can't quite match the consistent power of corded saws. That's not to say that a cordless model with a freshly charged battery won't be able to cut through all of the same material as a corded saw, but rather that it won't be able to consistently do so for as long, without having to change or recharge the battery. Corded saws offer consistent power, cut after cut, all day long.
On the other hand, cordless models offer unmatched convenience. You won't need to search around for an outlet, which can be especially handy when working outside or on a home that doesn't have the power connected yet. Sure, you could probably run a 50-foot extension cord from a working outlet somewhere nearby, but this presents its own set of problems. Also, with corded models you have to worry about the cord becoming damaged, or accidentally cutting it with the saw while you work, which happens more often than you might expect. Most corded saws don't have a removable cord, which means if it gets damaged, you'll need to buy a whole new saw.