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9 Different Types of Circular Saws & Their Uses (with Pictures)

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types of circular saws and their uses

A circular saw is any saw that has a circular blade. They come in many shapes and sizes to be used for different kinds of materials. Circular saws are not all made to cut the same types of materials. You may need to have more than one model to meet your needs. To keep from breaking the bank, determine what your needs are and find the saws that can cover multiple functions.

There are many kinds of saws and a vast variety of brands and options within each type. We are going to give you a rundown of some of the most used saws in hopes that you can narrow your window of which ones to consider.

List of 9 Different Types of Circular Saws:

1. Worm Drive Circular Saws

A worm drive saw

Worm drive circular saws are common. The differences between it and other saws are where the motor is mounted and how the gears are arranged.

The motor of a worm drive is mounted at the back of the saw, making it longer, but thinner than sidewinders. The longer blade makes plunge-cutting easier and is excellent when cutting wider boards. The blade is usually located to the left of it, while the bulk of the weight is on the right. The substantial part of the saw is located over the part of your project that you’re cutting off, giving you a better sight line.

The gears are often placed at a 90° angle to each other and transfer the power to the blade. The gear configuration slows down the blade’s speed, but produces more torque.

These saws are much more cumbersome and more durable than other circular saws. They have larger teeth and more power, allowing them to handle more substantial jobs.

2. Sidewinder (In-Line) Circular Saws

A sidewinder saw

Sidewinders are also known as in-line circular saws. In-line saws are more compact than worm drives because their motors are mounted parallel (in-line) to the blade on the side of the saw. The blade is on its right, and the main weight is on the left. This puts the heavy side on the solid side of your project, instead of on the part you’re cutting off.

These saws run much faster than worm drives because the motor is in line with the blade. They are lightweight and compact, making them easy to take with you when needed, and perfect for making overhead cuts. Another thing that makes them convenient is that they don’t require oil to keep things lubricated. They are available cordless, too.

3. Hypoid Circular Saws


Hypoid saws can be mistaken for worm drives because their motors are also located at the rear. The transmission and gear alignment are entirely different, though. Hypoids also have motors that are completely sealed and don’t require oil to keep running correctly, while worm drives do require oiling.

This type of saw has a hypoid gear. This is a bevel wheel with teeth that engage a spiral gear that is mounted at a 90° angle to the wheel’s axis. This alignment increases the blade contact, making it more powerful and more efficient, even though the motor is smaller.

There are a couple of other similarities between the two. Both of the engines are placed to the left of the blade, giving you a better sight line. They both also turn out more torque that’s better for cutting more substantial or wet pieces of wood.

4. Abrasive Saws

Abrasive saw

Abrasive saws are designed to cut hard materials with a composite friction disc instead of teeth.

They do wear out quickly unless you get one made from cubic boron nitride or diamond.

These saws come in different forms. Some are set up as table saws for cutting tile and metals. Others are freehanded saws that are used for cutting pipe, concrete, and asphalt.

Abrasive saws are set up differently than other saws. The handle and the motor are closer to the user than the blade is, so that the object being cut is being pulled toward you. This gives you excellent control over the object being cut.

Abrasive saws can make certain cuts harder to make than other saws, because they create a lot of heat from the metal-on-metal action that expands both the blade and the piece you’re cutting.

5. Biscuit Joiners

Plate biscuit joiner

Biscuit joiners are used to join wood pieces without any visible nail holes or other marks.

The biscuit joiner cuts a slit in the same position on the side of both boards that are being joined. These slits are just long enough for an oval-shaped “biscuit” to fit into. Once the slits are cut, they are filled with wood glue, and the biscuit is inserted into one side. The second board is lined up so that the biscuit can be pushed into its slit. The boards are then clamped together until the glue has time to dry completely, bonding the two boards together.

6. Carbide Circular Saws

Carbide refers to the material that the blade is made of. The teeth on these blades are made with cemented carbide that’s designed to cut rigid materials. They can come with horizontal or vertical slides, or a pivot, depending on what you’re cutting.

Horizontal slides have blades that are mounted on the gearbox. They are the most common carbide saws and are used as billet saws.

Vertical slides are taller, allowing the user to stack items up and cut multiple pieces at one time.

You can use a pivot saw as a billet or a layer saw, but pivot saws are mostly used to cut small tubes.

7. Concrete Circ Saws / Grinders

a concrete saw

Concrete saws, also known as slab saws, are used for cutting different kinds of solid materials. They can be handheld or in a chop-saw form, and the motors can use fuel, hydraulics, or electricity, or be pressurized. These saws can use many different types of blades, but the most common one found on concrete saws is a diamond blade because it cuts through the hardest materials better than any other.

The kind of blade to get depends on several factors. First is the material you’re cutting: concrete, asphalt, tile, brick, etc. Next is whether you will be using water to cut the material. Cutting with water is safer for some products because dry cutting can cause the material to break, possibly causing injuries to the user.

The power output to the blade will determine how fast the blade will spin. The faster the spin, the more heat is created, and the faster the blade is worn out. Slower-running blades last longer.

Cutting solid materials takes a lot of friction and can generate a great deal of heat. You will need to cut a little and take a short break to allow the blade to cool down. This will make it last longer and will cut down on the amount of dust and debris.

8. Flip-over Saws

The flip-over saw acts as both a mitre saw and a table-saw. The miter saw function makes crosscuts at precise angles just as a dedicated miter saw does. The table saw feature can cut any material that you would use a typical table saw for.

The blade is mounted so it pokes out through the table that’s made to hold and move the piece you’re cutting.

The flip-over saw can handle a multitude of cutting needs; there isn’t much that it can’t do. Since it all comes in one compact unit, it doesn’t need a lot of storage space either.

9. Metal Cutting Circular Saws

Metal circular saw

You can cut metal with any circular saw with a blade that’s good for cutting metal, but some saws are explicitly made for doing just that.

Metal is more rigid than wood and is tougher to cut. You also have to worry about sparks from the metal-on-metal contact, and metal shards that are being thrown from the blade. Saws that are made for cutting metal are designed in a way that offers better protection from those sparks and shards.

These saws generally cut more slowly than wood-cutting saws because the blades are quite a bit smaller than those on standard circular saws.


We have given you a great deal of information on several types of circular saws. There is a lot to take into consideration. Hopefully, we have cleared up any questions you may have had about which one is best to meet your needs, and pinpointed the best place for you to start your search.

Featured image credit: Capt. Holly Hess, U.S. Air Force