An electric hand saw is an absolute must-have in your DIY or professional workshop. Unlike other hand saws that run manually, electric hand saws will very often do the job with wood more precisely and efficiently.
It is important to note that there are several types of electric hand saws, and therefore their purpose varies a lot. When starting a home improvement or DIY project, one of the first things you’ll need to do is choose the right electric saw for the job. In this how-to guide, we will explain how each of them works and, in simple steps, we will explain how you should use them.
What is an Electric Hand Saw and how does it work?
An electric hand saw is a power tool that uses an electric motor to spin its blade. This makes the saw easy and precise to control while making it much faster than manual saws.
The blades of electric hand saws are typically made from steel or carbon, depending on the material you will be cutting with them. The size and design of the blade vary depending on the type of saw.
Electric saws, unlike traditional saws, or those that work on gas, use an external battery or an outlet. They can be corded or cordless and we can say that both groups of tools have their advantages and disadvantages. If you need more power or use the saw mainly in your workshop, a corded saw is probably the right choice for you. If power is not a priority for you or you work mostly outdoors on your project, a cordless saw is a more logical solution.
Types of Electric Hand Saws – When and How to Use Them
There are several types of electric hand saws to suit different purposes: circular saws, jigsaws, reciprocating saws, band saws, and miter saws. Each of them has its own specific purpose and can be used for many DIY projects.
Your project profile will primarily affect the type of electric hand saw you will use. A traditional saw is something that is probably found in every workshop, but if you are working on a more complex project, there are high chances that you need an electric saw.
Another important factor that influences your decision about which type of electric hand saw you need is the mobility of the saw itself.
Before describing electric chainsaws, I should say that chainsaws can also run on gas. They are heavier and louder but provide more power than electric ones.
Either way, their main purpose is to cut wood, but of course, electric chainsaws are being used for smaller pieces of wood.
Electric chainsaws are a great option for outside projects, but they are an ideal choice if you need to cut wood indoors in this way because of the unpleasant smell and burning of fuel provided by gas-powered saws. Another benefit that these saws offer is the comfort of work because of their ergonomics. There are also cordless electric saws, and they only require a battery in order to work.
However, despite this, you should be quite careful in their use because there are a lot of unwanted scenarios that can happen if you don’t prepare yourself before doing the work.
Having explained the basics, we can move on to the steps in using these saws. Let’s get into this in three easy steps:
- Protection. Before any work with saws, outdoors or indoors, focus on having excellent protection before the beginning of cutting. You should always have a “safety first” mindset. If you learn more about all the protection products that you should wear, click here.
- Preparation. In this step, you want to prepare yourself by holding the chainsaw the right way, and the piece of wood that you are cutting. If you are using a corded saw, make sure that the length and the position of your cable don’t make your work uncomfortable, or even put you in danger.
- It is also critical to make sure that the piece of wood that you’re cutting is perfectly stable so you can get the result that you want. Before starting your electric chainsaw, make sure that you grab the handle with your left hand and it should always be able to press the chain brake easily. The right hand should be on the rear handle.
- The balance is also very important. You should place your left leg in front so you can be more stable. In the case of an unwanted kickback, the advice is to place yourself a little to the left so the saw won’t come back directly at you.
- Making the cut. After good preparation, you are ready to cut. You should constantly hold the saw so that it presses hard enough against the piece of wood you are cutting, but the chainsaw should be the one doing the work.
Now we’re moving on to the saw that is an essential tool in your DIY or professional workshop – a circular saw. Their low weight and eminent power characterize hand-held circular saws.
They are one of the most popular electric saws used to cut a lot of different materials, but of course, you must use the right blade for each one. Saws of this type are great for long, straight cuts. However, they can also cut at an angle.
When we talk about circular saws, we come across a few more subtypes. The first is the same as with an electric chainsaw, and it simply refers to whether or not the saw has a cable (corded or cordless). After that, we will look at another important division, and that is sidewinder and worm-drive circular saws.
The biggest and most obvious psychical difference is referring to where the motor is located.
In order to successfully handle a circular saw, you definitely want your workplace to be safe and tidy. This is simply because you don’t want to underestimate the danger of the circular saw and its blade.
In the preparation itself, you want to define the cut line to perform it in the safest and most efficient way. When you are ready to cut, the blade needs to be fully up to speed before it comes into contact with the material you are cutting.
Find a position where you feel as stable as possible and you can watch the circular pass through the line you marked with a pencil. Focus on making the cut as accurate as possible, not on doing it as quickly as possible. This will reduce the chances of the saw moving unwantedly.
You should put the saw away only when the blade has come to a complete stop.
A jigsaw is used to cut curves, especially when we talk about materials such as wood. Because of their construction and the autonomy, it gives you in your work, they are effective even when we are talking about more complicated cuts and when other materials are involved. I should mention that it is important to differentiate between the blade options of these saws.
There are T-Shank Blades and U-Shank Blades. T-Shank Blades are a much more modern option and therefore carry significantly more benefits. It is much easier to change the blade than before, so the process is also much safer than before. However, some older models can only be used with a U-Shank blade, so it’s no surprise that they still exist in the market. In the same way, pay attention to the choice of blade material itself.
Now, let’s check how to use them.
When you put your protective gear on (glasses and dust mask), preparation for this saw really depends on the type of cut that you’re planning. Since you can produce irregular shapes with this saw, you want to set up your adjustable base plate.
Just like the circular saw, mark your line of cut with the pencil.
Carefully follow the line and take your time to make the cut. Check occasionally what is going on underneath the material you are cutting.
As with circular saws, put your jigsaw down only when the blade comes to a complete stop.
If you want to be quick and efficient, reciprocating saws are the right pick for you. The push/pull action the blade does is one of the main reasons this machine-powered saw is essential for some heavy-duty projects. That back-and-forth (reciprocating) movement helps these saws cut through almost everything with ease.
They are easy to maneuver and have a long handle that enables you to hold it in various positions so cuts at any angle could be achieved. It could be a great addition to your collection, whether you’re a pro or just a “Do it yourself” type of person.
Depending on the surface you want to cut, you need to pick the correct blade for the job. Keep in mind, your saw should always be turned off when you’re changing the blade, so you don’t injure yourself by accident. After you do that, you should also make sure the blade you picked is at least 2-3 inches longer than the thickest part of the material you’re cutting through, to prevent the blade from moving around.
A button or a lever unlocks the blade compartment, probably on the side of a saw, but if you have any trouble finding it, you could just check the manual you got with the saw. Make sure the blade is pointing towards the handle after you’ve inserted it in the slot unless you want to cut something that is on the floor. In that case, it is easier to cut it when it’s pointing to the opposite side. Give it a light tug to be completely sure you have inserted it properly. After adjusting the blade to your preferences, you can finally start cutting your material.
For the materials, you should always trace the line along where you want to cut. If you have the conditions, you could clamp the material onto something to make your job easier. Attach the C-clamp, tight enough so the piece you plan on cutting is not moving. If it keeps moving, though, add another clamp for more support. After that, take your saw, firmly and with both hands, the dominant one at the handle and the other one used to support the weight just below the chuck. Be sure your finger is not on the trigger before you’re planning on starting the cut.
Use the shoe at the front of the saw to stabilize the cutting process. It should be flat on the surface, with slight pressure so it doesn’t slip. By pulling the trigger, you’re making the saw go to its full speed, which is what you need for clean and fast cuts. Once the blade is in the material, you shouldn’t force it through the material but let it do its job. Just make sure the blade is straight so you can prevent possible breaking.
After you finished your cut, slowly lift the pressure off the trigger and carefully pull the saw out of the material. Never pull the blade out before the saw has stopped working since it could get stuck and you could get hurt. After you’re completely finished, take the battery out of the saw and store it on its side, or if you’re using a wired one, unplug it as soon as you’re finished. Make sure you store it on its side, blade parallel to the ground, to be sure it won’t bend or possibly break. If you’re worried about breakage, though, remove the blade completely when storing, just to be sure.
How to cut shapes with a Jigsaw?
Jigsaws are a great option for cutting shapes within the material itself relatively easily. However, this does not mean that there are no situations where you need to be extra careful.
In order to cut a shape inside a material, you need a drill to make the starting hole for your jigsaw work. Sometimes it will be easier if you use the saw more than once.
However, if you do not own a drill or simply do not have enough time, you will apply a rougher type of cutting – known as a plunge cut. It won’t be as precise as if you were starting from the very edge of a material. Also, you should be careful because kickback is not a rare phenomenon here.
You definitely want the blade to reach full speed before contacting the material, and if the blade is the right length, you’ll reduce the chance of unwanted saw movement.
After that, you should cut in a direction opposite to the blade rotation. This prevents it from bogging down and will create cleaner cuts. Also, remember to take your time – there’s no need for haste when cutting shapes with a jigsaw.
Finally, when working on a curved shape be sure not to force the saw – let it adjust and do the work itself. This means you should always keep a slight pressure while guiding the saw along curves, as too much will cause kickback and possibly ruin your material.
A Few Final Tips
To wrap things up, here are few final tips for choosing and using the right type of electric saw for your DIY project:
- Make sure to use the right type of electric hand saw for the job.
- Trace a line along where you want to cut.
- Use a C-clamp to secure the material and avoid movement.
- Firmly hold the saw with both hands and turn on the switch.
- Apply pressure with the shoe at the front of the saw for stability.
- Pull the trigger to start cutting and let the blade do its job.
- Pull the saw out of the material after finishing and turn the switch off.
- Store the saw properly afterward.
- For cutting shapes, make a starting hole or use the plunge cut technique.
- Cut in the direction opposite to blade rotation and take your time.
- Avoid forcing the saw when cutting curves and apply slight pressure while guiding.
Follow these steps and you’ll be able to make perfect cuts every single time!