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Which are the best handheld power tools for cutting timber sections and sheet? - a longer discussion

I'm sure that most people will say saws and that would be right, however, some power saws are better for cutting sections and others sheet, but which?

Let's start with what we mean by hand held power tools for cutting timber. There are many different types of power saw but only some are suitable for handheld use. These can be listed as:


Reciprocating saws

Circular saws

Chain saws

Band saws

Alligator saws

This discussion focuses on the first three saw types.

Jig saws

Many of us are familiar with jigsaw puzzles but a jigsaw is not one of these. It might be possible to use a jigsaw to cut a sheet of wood into a jigsaw puzzle though, although this isn't how most jigsaw puzzles are made, they are normally cut with fine bench mounted band saws. So what is a jigsaw? A jigsaw has a relatively small saw blade which is mounted at one end on a shaft that slides up and down at right angles to the surface to be cut. The blade extends beyond the base of the jigsaw which includes a flat foot that mostly helps to keep the blade perpendicular to the work surface.

So what is a jigsaw best used for? Cutting plywood, chipboard, sterling board and other similar sheet materials. A jigsaw is easy to start cutting with, little preparation is required, and is particularly useful for cutting curves. It can also be used for cutting angles on edges. A jigsaw is a very useful power tool but not the easiest to use to cut straight lines.Some jigsaws include a pendula action which moves the blade forward and back, in line with the face of the sheet material being cut, as well as the up and down action, for much faster rough cutting.

The KwikPro power tool system includes a very clever jigsaw head which has a unique, very rigid folding foot for easy carrying including hands-free on the dedicated KwikPro tool belt.

Reciprocating saws

There is quite a lot in common between a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw. Both use the sliding up and down, in and out, back and forth reciprocating cutting action. Reciprocating saws are also sometimes known as sabre saws and haxalls. The reciprocating saw is used in a different way to a jigsaw. The reciprocating saw is intended for making shorter cuts across thicker sections and is normally held with the blade almost horizontal to the section to be cut. The mechanical parts of a reciprocating saw are more substantial than those of a jigsaw as is the blade which is not intended for cutting curves.

So what is a reciprocating saw best used for? Cutting across sections of timber, metals and plastics, and many other materials. Reciprocating saws are not ideal for cutting sheet materials unless the materials are very firmly clamped down. Under these circumstances corrugated metal wall and roofing metal or plastic sheet can be quite quickly cut with a reciprocating saw. As with the jigsaw, reciprocating saws are not the best for cutting accurate straight lines.

The KwikPro power tool system includes a reciprocating saw head which cuts through most materials easily. It also fits neatly on the dedicated KwikPro toolbelt along with a motor handle, batteries and a range of KwikPro power tool parts, for easy hands-free carrying.

Circular saws

The handheld circular saw is a very different power tool to the jigsaws and reciprocating saws previously discussed. As the name suggests, there is a circular aspect to this saw, the shape of the blade. Circular saws are very good for fast cutting straight lines but they are more difficult to handle than either jigsaws or reciprocating saws and less versatile. However, they are good for cutting angles on edges. Like jigsaws, circular saws also have limited cutting depths and so tend to be used for cutting sheet materials, in the main. Circular saws require very powerful motors to be effective otherwise cutting performance can be laboured and slow going in anything other than very thin sheet materials.

Initially the KwikPro power tool system will not include a circular saw but we have plans to introduce a special circular saw tool head in due course at a later date.

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