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Howe To buying guides

Saw Buying Guide


Saws: 30-Second Buying Guide

Our most popular saws:

Things to consider when buying a saw:

  • Cut type – can the saw make straight or angled cuts
  • Power Source – is the saw cordless, 110v (for work sites) or 240v (for home use)
  • Portability – how easily the saw can be moved around
  • Cut size – what is the depth and length of cut that can be made
  • Material – the materials each type of saw can cut are shown in the table below

Saw use by type:

Saw category Cuts wood? Cuts metal? Cordless option? Mains Powered option? Material Taken to  Saw?
Reciprocating Saw  
Alligator Saw    
Circular Saw Yes, dependent on saw Yes, dependent on saw  
Plunge Saw    
Mitre Saw  
Table Saw  
Flip Over Saw    
Portable cut off saw    
Watch: Bosch GST 150 BCE 240v Jigsaw - top handle


Saws: Something To Get Your Teeth Into

Types of saw
  • Jigsaws: can be used to make vertical cuts in a wide range of materials. Typical materials that a jigsaw can cut are woods, metals, plastic and even foam and rubber. The correct jigsaw blade must be purchased for the desired cutting material. Jigsaws tend to come in two different configurations, top-handle grip, and body grip. With a top-handle grip you are able to wrap your fingers around the grip, which arguably gives more control than using a body grip where you only have the ability to push against the machine with your hand.

    Our most popular Jigsaw: MAKITA DJV180Z (£173)

  • Reciprocating Saws: are general purpose saws used in a wide range of applications to cut wood, metal and plastics. Reciprocating saws are also known as recip saws, shark saws, cut saws, sabre saws and sawzalls. These saws cut by creating a push and pull (or reciprocating) motion on the saw blade. Reciprocating saws are similar to jigsaws in that they can create vertical cuts, however are bigger machines that are often used to make bigger cuts with slightly less precision. Uses include gardening, demolition work and cutting materials in awkward locations, for example, where tools such as circular saws cannot reach.

    Our most popular Reciprocating Saw: MAKITA DJR186Z (£81)

  • Alligator Saws: are primarily used to cut Poroton blocks, although they can also be used to cut wood, plasterboard, aerated concrete and plastic. These saws feature two parallel reciprocating blades, which help hold the material being cut in place. They typically have much larger cutting blades (both in length and depth) than reciprocating saws and, as such, are used for more heavy-duty work.

    Our most popular Alligator Saw: DEWALT DWE397 (£348)

  • Circular Saws: are mainly used to make long, straight cuts in wood, worktops and laminates. They can also be used to make mitre cuts. There are also metal cutting circular saws available, which can be used to cut sheet metal and other metals such as aluminium and stainless steel with a specialist circular saw blade. Unlike jigsaws, circular saws and alligator saws, which all cut using a reciprocating motion, circular saws cut by the rotation of a toothed cutting disc. The depth of cut of a circular saw is determined by the size of the saw purchased. The smaller the circular saw, the more precisely it can cut, but the depth of cut will be shallower than with a larger saw.

    Our most popular Circular Saw: MAKITA DHS680Z (£167)

  • Plunge Saws: are similar to circular saws in that they cut using a rotating toothed cutting disc. However, when using a circular saw the cut must begin at the end of the material, where as with a plunge saw the cutting disc is brought down onto the material being cut, enabling the cut to start at any point. Plunge saws can also be run along a rail or track, creating very straight and clean vertical cuts. This saw is commonly found in the tool arsenal of carpenters, jointers, kitchen fitters and cabinet makers.

    Our most popular Plunge Saw: DEWALT DWS520KT (£322)

  • Mitre Saws: have the ability to make angle (mitre) cuts and straight cuts in materials. They use a circular cutting disc similar to circular saws and plunge saws, however, with a mitre saw the material is brought to the machine for cutting. Mitre Saws operate in a similar fashion to plunge saws, with the cutting blade being brought down onto the material. A slide mitre saw is a variation of the mitre saw, but with a rail attachment that allows the blade to moved through the cutting material horizontally as well as down onto it vertically as with a standard mitre saw. Mitre saws are typically used in workshops but they are also designed to be portable, so they can be taken to work sites by professionals. Mitre saws are generally used by carpenters for cutting wood for window and door frames, picture frames and skirting and mouldings.

    Our most popular Mitre Saw: MAKITA LS1018L (£374)

  • Table Saws: are saws that are used to cut wood. They have a circular cutting blade that is kept within the table and which is raised through the cutting surface to create the desired depth of cut. The material to be cut is then drawn across the table and through the cutting blade.

    Our most popular Table Saw: MAKITA MLT100X (£455)

  • Flip Over Saws: offer a combination of the cutting abilities of a table saw and a mitre saw. This means the saw is can make a number of different cuts, including cross, angle (mitre) cuts along with straight and bevel cuts in wood, laminates and aluminium.

    Our most popular Flip Over Saw: DEWALT DW743N (£827)

  • Bandsaws: are available in both fixed models that are used workshops and portable models that can be taken to work sites by professionals if required. Bandsaws have a continuous metal cutting band with a serrated edge, which is partially exposed for cutting purposes. In terms of function, a bandsaw can make intricate cuts in wood, metal and laminates. One of the advantages of a band saw is that it is good at making irregular shaped cuts.

    Our most popular Bandsaw: MAKITA 2107FK (£329)

  • Portable Cut Off Saws: are also known as chop saws and are used for cutting metal. Some portable cut off saws also have an abrasive blade, similar to an angle grinder. Portable cut off saws are operate similarly to a plunge saw, in that they have a circular blade that comes down onto the material. They differ because with a cut off saw the material is brought to the machine, rather than the machine to the material. In addition, cut of saws are usually bigger and more powerful machines that are used to cut materials such as pipe. If a tungsten carbide tipped (TCT) blade is fitted to the saw, then it is also possible to cut stainless steel.

    Our most popular Portable Cut Off Saw: MAKITA LW1401S/1 (£158)

Key Considerations When Buying A Saw

Bosch circular saw

The cuts you want to make: A circular saw is perfect for vertical, straight cuts in wood as are plunge saws. For angled cuts in wood (mitre joints) then a circular saw, mitre saw, or a flip over saw, could be used. Other variations of the mitre saw, such as the slide compound mitre saw can also make cross cuts and bevel cuts which make the tool very flexible. Jigsaws and bandsaws are good for free-form cuts or when irregular shaped cuts are required. 

Power source: For the majority of the powered saws we stock, you have the option as to whether to purchase a corded or cordless model. Cordless saws offer great manoeuvrability and reduce the risk of the cable being cut or tripped upon. The downside is that if you plan to use the cordless saw for long periods, the Li-ion batteries may need to be re-charged frequently. If you are going to keep the saw in the workshop, or primarily in one location, a corded model would likely be the best solution as this will ensure consistent power to the machine. 110v corded saws are required for use on work sites, and 240v corded saws are fitted with a plug and designed for use at home.

Portability: Jigsaws, reciprocating saws, alligator saws, circular saws and plunge saws are the most portable of the powered saws on this page. This is because, for each of these saws, the power tool is taken to the material to cut. All other types of powered saws on this page require the material to be taken to the machine to be cut, which generally means they are less portable and larger machines. The advantage of portability may come at a cost however, as typically if the material is taken to the saw, a better cut will often result.

Size of the cut: Once you have selected the saw you require for the job, the next step is to ensure you purchase the saw that will make the correct size of cut. Typically a small saw will make more precise cuts, but they will be more shallow or short. Whereas a larger saw will be able to make deeper, or longer cuts, but the cut may not be as clean. This is usually because smaller saws will use saw blades or discs that have more teeth than the blades designed than larger saws.

Material to be cut: Whilst all of the saws discussed on this page can tackle wood, not all of them can be used to cut metal. Please refer to our comparison table in the "Saws: 30-Second Buying Guide" above. In addition, because all our saws come with an interchangeable cutting blade or disc, you will need to ensure that you purchase the correct type of blade or disc for the material you are cutting.

Saw Safety Tips

Bosch mitre saw

Saws by their very nature are designed to make light work when cutting materials, therefore it is extremely important to use them in a safe manner.

Safety gear and clothing: Saws typically have very sharp and fast-moving blades. This means that clothing should not be loose as it could accidentally get caught in the blade. It is common for saws to ‘kick-up’ materials when cutting, therefore safety goggles should always be worn, and gloves are recommended, when operating a powered saw. Finally, some saws such as circular saws can be extremely loud, so it is advised to wear ear protectors when using the tool to avoid damaging hearing.

Handle with care: When carrying, or picking up a saw, avoid holding the saw by the trigger to ensure it doesn't start up and cause injury. In addition, keep the blade covered during transport. We stock several types of stacking cases that can be used to store the more portable powered saws safely. Also take care to keep well away from the blade or disc when plugging in a saw to the mains.

Inspect blades before use: Most saws have replaceable blades which can be changed. It is important to replace the blade in good time, when the blade starts to wear out, or becomes damaged. The reason for this is to avoid damaging the material being cut, or from experiencing a catastrophic blade failure, such as a snapped or broken blade.

Secure the material or the saw:  When cutting objects where the saw is brought to the material, where possible, the material should be secured to avoid it moving when being cut. Alternatively, for saws where the material is bought to the saw, then it is important to secure the saw and ensure that the saw is located on a flat, even surface.

View our range of Saws and find the lowest prices online at Howe Tools.