Over the past few months, local homeowners, Melissa and Bruni, have generously shared their hard-earned knowledge with DIY Del Ray about advanced projects involving tools for working with wood and about their experience building a green roof shed. In this post, they schooled us on the many saws you can choose from depending on the job at hand.
Chop saw/mitre saw. This saw is handy for crown molding because it turns both directions. You can use it to quickly make accurate end cuts (up to 6” wide), at any angle. Melissa and Bruni have a compound mitre saw, which means you can have angles both across and through the cut (length and depth). “I don’t know anyone who can put up crown moulding without a compound mitre saw,” says Melissa. ” You could rent one if that was your only project, but they are also handy to have for cutting materials to length.”
A reciprocating saw (Sawzall brand). The Sawzall is the go-to tool for cutting through tough materials, like nails and wire, for example, during a demo. Melissa and Bruni even used it to take out a slender tree in their backyard. Elin and Peter bought one to demo the 1950s kitchen they renovated in their row house. And my husband borrowed one recently to cut up the worn couch we needed to remove from our basement — the only way we could get it up the stairs.
Jigsaw. Melissa and Bruni use it for making curved cuts, although it doesn’t make perfect curves. It takes some skill to use a jigsaw with a lot of accuracy, because they are so sensitive to any movements of your hand as you are cutting. Melissa and Bruni used their jigsaw to shape the curve in their living room archway. They also used it for small inside cuts, such as cutting the hole for an electrical box — the jigsaw blade is so small you can simply drill a hole, drop the blade in, and start cutting (you don’t have to start from an edge).
The tile wet saw. Melissa and Bruni used the tile wet saw for cutting tile in their kitchen renovation. It’s basically a small table saw, outfitted with a blade that cuts ceramic, and a tray to pull water across the blade and material. The one they bought was less than $100, and allowed them to work at their own pace with the kitchen tiles.
Mitre saw or backsaw. As you move into woodworking and carpentry, you’ll encounter situations where you need to make a very specific kind of cut, often small enough to handle by hand. A mitre saw or backsaw has a rigid piece of metal along the back of the blade, which holds it very straight — it’s often used to make small angled joints, such as you use to install shoe moulding. These are usually used with a mitre box, which guides and holds the blade at the desired angle.
Japanese hand saws. These, on the other hand, have very thin, flexible blades, so they allow for making a flush cut (such as trimming a dowel even with the surface of a cabinet), and reaching where the body of another saw would interfere.
Table saw. The table saw can be considered a “final investment.” It’s among the most dangerous tools in a workshop — it can do a lot of damage, very quickly, and requires some skill and training in safe use. Melissa completed online exercises on how to use a table saw and she bought the saw stop safety feature.
The table saw allows you to cut sheet materials (such as plywood or MDF) into the correct size for shelving, cabinets, and similar projects. It is more accurate than a circular saw and straight-edge saw, and allows for some fancy work (bevelled cuts, dado joints) that most folks can’t do well with other tools. You can also pay to have this work done at Smoot lumber.
Melissa invested in a table saw that has a safety feature in which it completely shuts off if it touches flesh. You can spend between $200 and $2,000 on a table saw; hers was the most expensive model due to the safety technology, but well worth the investment. “I figured I paid the cost of replacing a finger,” she jokes.
In our next post featuring the dynamic duo, DIYers Melissa and Bruni, we will take a closer look at how they set up their workshop, cheaply and most functionally.
Posted by Leslie