A variety of handsaws are available to the DIY enthusiast, each with a specific use.
The modern panel saw has a beech wood or polypropylene handle and a hardened steel blade about 560mm (22in) long. There are generally about 10 teeth per 25mm (1in). This handsaw can be used to perform several different cutting tasks: to cut timber with the grain; to cut timber across the grain; and to cut large sheets of material such as chipboard and plywood.
Tenon saws are used for accurate, straight cuts in small pieces of wood and have short but deep blades. The fine teeth give a clean cut with the cut edges requiring little sanding. The steel back along the top of the blade increases cutting accuracy.
Hacksaws are designed to cut through metal and consist of a metal arch, a handle and a blade with many fine teeth. The blade of a hacksaw should be replaced regularly with the teeth always facing forward away from the handle. Hacksaws can also be used to cut through plastic pipes.
A junior hacksaw is a smaller version of the hacksaw. It is an excellent tool for cutting smaller pieces of metal. The blades are 150mm (6in) long and can be easily replaced when worn.
Although a masonry saw closely resembles a panel saw it is distinguishable by its large, deeply set teeth. Using a masonry saw is slow work. It will cut through bricks, concrete blocks and stone.
Coping saws are used in carpentry for cutting curves and irregular shapes. A coping saw consists of a very thin blade stretched between the ends of a bow-shaped frame to which the handle is attached at one end. There is a swivel pin at each end of the frame that allows the blade to be manoeuvred to follow the outline of the curve you are cutting.
This is a delicate handsaw of a similar appearance and design to the coping saw. It is used to cut intricate and complex designs. The fine blade is held taught by the sprung loaded U-shaped frame.
The padsaw has a narrow blade that tapers to a point which is used to break through material before beginning to cut. It is generally used to cut holes in plasterboard to accommodate power sockets. Also called a drywall saw.
This is a power saw for cutting curves and intricate shapes in timber and board. It has a short blade protruding from a baseplate. When in operation the blade moves up and down at great speed, with the cutting action being on the up stroke. Designed primarily to cut through timber, blades are available that will cut through metal, rigid plastic and even ceramic tiles. Jigsaws can also be used to cut through floorboards. When buying a jigsaw look for one with adequate power (at least 500W), a variable speed control, a simple mechanism for fitting the blades and a dust bag or vacuum cleaner attachment to collect the dust. Cordless jigsaws are available but are usually more expensive.
A circular power saw is extremely useful if you need to cut a large number of boards or pieces of timber. As its name suggests the blade is circular with teeth arranged around the circumference. The cutting action is produced when the blade rotates at great speed. A depth setting is fitted to the saw to ensure the blade does not go too deep for example when cutting floorboards to avoid cutting through pipes. Different blades are available but a multi-purpose blade will probably be sufficient for most DIY tasks.