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How to choose the right power saw for the job

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Power saws are handy tools that can be used for many D.I.Y. tasks, including cutting timber skirting boards and slicing metal pipes. They are quicker and more efficient than hand saws.


Here’s our guide to selecting the right power saw for your project so you get a great result every time. Let us know if you need a hand choosing a power saw. 

Different types of power saws


There are many power saws available. Some are designed for specific purposes, while others are more versatile.


Below are some common types of power saws and a summary of what they are best used for.


Circular saws

Circular saws have a shielded, rotating circular blade, and are used for the vast majority of cutting jobs.


When choosing the right circular saw for your needs, look for its blade diameter. Blade diameters can determine the saw’s cutting depth or capacity. Typically, a saw’s cutting depth is less than half of its blade diameter. For example, a saw with a 165mm blade will have a maximum cutting depth of around 57mm. Choose the saw which gives you the closest cutting depth you require for your projects. 




Jigsaws have a small blade protruding from their base. They are used primarily on panels and boards and can cut perfect circles and other shapes. They are also often used for scribing skirting at corner joins. 

A jigsaw is often used to cut circles.A jigsaw is often used to cut circles.


Like circular saws, there are a range of blades available for different materials. It is very important that the blade you use is suitable for your planned cuts.


Reciprocating saws

Often called demolition saws, reciprocating saws are used for tree pruning and cutting soft or hardwoods, including timber. They can also be used to cut various metals, plastics, bricks, blocks or non-reinforced concrete.


Reciprocating saws are perfect for sawing in difficult areas and tight spots. They are invaluable during demolition work as they can easily saw through many materials and nails without disturbing surrounding areas.


Reciprocating saws are similar to jigsaws, but have larger blades designed for heavy cutting.

Sliding mitre/compound mitre saws

Sliding or compound mitre saws are designed to make precise angled cuts. They are generally secured to a stand or bench and 

Sliding compound mitre saws are designed for precise, accurate cuts.Sliding compound mitre saws are designed for precise, accurate cuts.

have a pivoting arm that can be adjusted easily to make tricky cuts or compound angles. The saw head can also be pulled forwards so you can cut wider materials accurately.


These saws are ideal for trims, picture frames, door frames or window casings.


Table saws

A table saw is a fixed circular saw that is mounted on a bench. These saws are ideal for trimming long lengths of timber. They are most commonly used for cutting skirting boards. We recommend using table saws for accurate, consistent cuts and a professional milled finish.


Plunge saws

These are hand-held circular saws generally used to make long, clean, accurate cuts in surfaces like benchtops or floorboards. Plunge saws are lowered into surfaces, as opposed to starting from an edge.


Scroll saws

These bench-type saws use a fine jigsaw blade that moves in an up and down sawing motion. They have a built-in circular bench to allow the material to stay level whilst making accurate and intricate cuts, including curves and circles. They are only designed for use on thinner materials and are typically used for making different types of crafts.


Band saws

Unlike scroll saws, band saws move in only one direction. They are ideal for projects that require super straight and accurate cuts, especially when working with large pieces of timber. There are also hand-held band saws available that are designed mainly for pipe cutting. Some are also equipped to cut metal.


Tile saws

Tile saws apply water to the cutting surface to keep it cool. They also use a diamond-tipped blade that is designed to cut ceramic tiles cleanly. When fitted with the correct blade, hand-held tile saws can also be used to cut compressed fibre cement sheeting and weatherboards.

Use a handheld wet saw for dust-free fibro cutting.Use a handheld wet saw for dust-free fibro cutting.


Brick saws

Equipped with a very powerful engine, brick saws are ideal for cutting bricks and pavers. They come with a sliding carriage that holds the brick or paver being cut. They must be connected to a water source that can help prevent the blade from burning out.

Metal cut-off saws

Designed to cut large metal posts and pipes, metal cut-off saws come with a built-in clamp that secures the material being cut. They pivot downwards into the material, and typically generate a lot of sparks while cutting. Some models use specialised, spark-free metal cutting blades. They are not designed to cut angles.  


Corded versus battery-powered power saws


Choosing between a corded or a battery-powered power saw is a key step in shortlisting the right power saw for your needs.


Battery-powered power saws are very popular, and have become more efficient over time. Thanks to brushless motors, their ability to deliver high-power under load has dramatically improved. 


In comparison to their corded counterparts, battery-powered power saws are also easier to manoeuvre and offer greater flexibility and portability.


However, there are certain situations in which we recommend going for corded power saws. These include:


  • When major power and cutting depth are needed. For these projects, we recommend going for a heavy-duty corded circular saw which features a 235mm blade and offers over 2000W of power. 


  • When you need to make many precise or angle cuts. In these cases, a corded compound mitre saw, or a drop saw, will be your best choice.


When choosing a battery-powered saw, you also need to consider the battery’s runtime and power efficiency.


Battery capacity is measured in Ah (amp hours), which tells you how much power the battery can provide over one hour. For example, a 5Ah battery will typically allow your saw to operate for much longer than a 3Ah battery.  Similarly, a 5Ah battery will typically allow your saw to deliver more power, so it will be a better choice if you need a saw for cutting through tougher pieces of timber.


How to choose the right type of blade saw

Determining the type of cuts you need to make and selecting the right type of blade can help make your power saw more efficient and safe to use. 

Most saws come with a generic, all-purpose blade that is great for cross-cutting. This is a basic and most popular type of cut, often across your material’s grain. These blades are also designed for ripping, which is an end-to-end cut along the material grain.


You may wish to invest in a speciality blade if your project requires any other special types of cuts. Note that the more teeth your blade has, the cleaner the cut. For example, a fast-cut 165mm framing blade may have around 24 teeth whereas a 165mm fine or blade will have 40 or 60 teeth.


Here are some other types of blades:


  • Demo and demolition blades. Designed for heavy-duty use, they make an ideal blade when renovating or when working with reclaimed timber.


  • Aluminium and plastic blades. Use them when you are working with non-ferrous metals like aluminium, copper and brass and plumbing plastics. They should not be used on ferrous metals.


  • Metal blades. These are great for spark-free cutting of mild steel ferrous metals, like threaded steel cyclone rods, ceiling or roofing battens and steel framing studs.


  • Fibre cement blades. These blades are used for cutting sheeting and cladding. It is critical that you wear breathing protection.


  • Speciality blades. There are specialised blades available for various purposes, including sawing different types of laminate floorboards and when cutting composite decking boards.


How to saw efficiently and safely

Here are some tips for staying safe and getting a great result when using a power saw:


  • Always wear suitable protective equipment. Your eyes, ears and feet should always be covered. When cutting metals, gloves are strongly recommended. Breathing protection must also be worn when sawing fibre cement.

  • Know your saw. Read the operation manual that came with it, including any safety recommendations.

  • Check your saw before every use. Make sure the blade is sharp and properly secured and that guards are in place and working. Nothing should be loose.

  • Ensure your blade is suitable for your task.

  • If using a cordless saw, ensure batteries are fully charged.

  • If using corded equipment, ensure there is a safety cut-off on the lead you’re using. Your extension lead should also be of adequate length to avoid any stress on it.

  • When cutting material, clamp it down firmly to avoid any movement. Clamp materials down while cutting.Clamp materials down while cutting.


  • Whenever possible, support the material to be cut using saw horses or benches.


  • Support the material close to the cut, so the excess falls away after opening up the cut. If you support the material too far away from the cut, it will close on the blade and jam the saw, potentially causing dangerous kickback.


  • For circular saws, set the blade’s cutting depth before cutting. For safe, efficient cutting, only the teeth should penetrate from the underside of the material being cut.


  • Circular saws normally come with an adjustable guide. Use this whenever making long cuts and rips.


  • Make sure a saw is spun up to maximum speed before you start moving into the material to be cut.

  • For circular and reciprocating saws, keep both hands on the saw while operating.

  • Do not use saws up a ladder. Instead, set up platforms. Keep both hands on the saw while cutting.Keep both hands on the saw while cutting.


  • Never force a saw. Let the blade do the work.

  • Always keep the saw plate flat against the work surface. If you need to cut angles, then set the angle adjustment on the saw.

  • Ensure any offcuts can fall safely without hitting or damaging anything.


More helpful tips for using tools 


The Bunnings Workshop community team has also shared these useful guides as part of our tools series: 


Need more help?


The Bunnings Workshop community is here to assist if you need a hand in choosing the right power saw for your project. Don't hesitate to hit the Start a discussion button and let us know your needs.


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