Power Saws 101

power saw blade

We covered Hammers 101 in our last post. Today, we discuss power saws.


Whether you are cutting studs out from plates or under-cutting a door jamb in order to add new tile or floorboard, there is always a perfect tool to handle the job. A saw meant to handle a particular job isn’t important because it is expensive, refined or beautiful: but because true success is really about taking the right steps with a perfect tool.


This tool was invented by Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation around 1950 and was branded Sawzall. It is designed for demolition. Though generally, the word is a curse in the context of restoration, I have seen many beautiful old homes being chopped into rental rooms where former doors are now dry-walled and studded up. Also there are some original basements which are modernized with terrible 1970s paneling, landscape being littered with metal sheds.

Most times when you are trying to restore an old house, you will have to take few things apart and bringing down few walls before having a shot at bringing them together again. The perfect tool for this sort of work is the reciprocating saw.


The circular saw is a tool which is designed for any project. There are two kinds available: worm drive and sidewinder. Sidewinders are smaller and lighter, and have the motor on the left side while the blade is positioned on the right.

A worm drive is an in-line saw that is heavy at the front, with a name due to the worm ear which rotates the blade inside. I love the worm drive-with great configuration which helps me cut quicker-but both varieties will handle the job.

Rough carpentry is often required for restoration projects- a porch falling apart; the framing of a bathroom floor destroyed by plumbers; a floor damaged as a result of a leak. The circular saw is the perfect tool to rip cross-cut sheet stock and framing members like plywood.

The circular saw is my first pick for trimming stiles and doors. The saw can be set to create precise cuts through very old doors to create new openings. The in-line body of the worm drive passes easily the clamps which hold down the straight-edge –which sometimes is not possible when using the sidewinder.


A miter saw is very necessary in your tool setup. While it designed to cross-cut framing, slam through fire-blocks, or angle pergola rafters, it is majorly a finish tool which I depend on to trim-casing, base, crown, chair rail – and the 12” bevel sliding miter saw is my standard.

But then, the miter saw is not magic. It has to be properly set up in order to actually shine – not being on the floor with bricks on both sides – for holding up 12 inch length of crown mold. I have built a custom table for my saw; you can buy a stand or build yours with a sheet of ¾ inch plywood, a few 2×4 blocks, and some 2x4s.

Whichever option you choose, what makes the miter saw effective is the out-feed and in-feed support (surfaces on the right and left that help accurate cutting).

Finally, if you are very serious on woodworking or cabinet packages, a job site table is not a powerful enough tool. The heavy iron or a cabinet saw will be better. Good luck!