Hand saw vs. circular saw

In the realm of woodworking and construction, choosing the right saw is akin to selecting the perfect tool for the job. Among the myriad of options, two fundamental contenders often come into focus: the hand saw and the circular saw.

These two saws represent distinct approaches to cutting, each with its unique set of advantages and applications. In this comparative exploration of “Hand saw vs. Circular saw,” we will delve into the essential differences, considerations, and scenarios where one may outshine the other.

Whether you’re a professional tradesperson seeking precision and power or a DIY enthusiast looking for versatility and control, understanding the distinctions between these two saws is crucial.  

Circular Saws and Hand Saws: The Basics

1.     Overview: Circular saws are power tools for cutting various materials, mainly wood and plywood. They are versatile and can make both straight and angled cuts.

2.     Types:

  • Corded Circular Saws: These saws are powered by electricity and are suitable for heavy-duty tasks.
  • Cordless Circular Saws: These run on rechargeable batteries, providing portability but slightly less power than corded saws.

3.     Components:

  • Blade: Circular saws have circular blades with sharp teeth designed for cutting specific materials (e.g., wood, metal, or masonry).
  • Motor: The motor powers the blade’s rotation.
  • Base Plate or Shoe: This part of the saw rests on the material you’re cutting, helping guide the saw in a straight line.
  • Angle Adjustment: Many circular saws allow you to tilt the blade to make bevel cuts.

4.     Safety Precautions:

  • · Keep hands away from the blade and use a push stick or guide for narrow cuts.
  • · Secure the workpiece to prevent movement during cutting.

5.     Common Uses:

  • · Rip cuts (cutting along the grain).
  • · Crosscuts (cutting across the grain).
  • · Bevel cuts (angled cuts).
  • · Dado cuts (grooves or channels in wood).

Hand Saws

1.     Overview: Hand saws are manual tools for cutting wood, metal, plastic, and other materials. They are quieter and safer than circular saws but require physical effort.

2.     Types:

  • ·        Crosscut Saw: Designed for cutting across the wood grain.
  • ·        Rip Saw: Used for cutting along the grain.
  • ·        Backsaw: A specialized saw with a reinforced back for precision cuts.
  • ·        Hacksaw: Used for cutting metal and plastic.
  • ·        Coping Saw: Designed for intricate curved cuts.
  • ·        Japanese Pull Saw: Known for its fine, precise cuts.

3.     Components:

  • ·        Blade: Varies in size and tooth configuration depending on the type of hand saw.
  • ·        Handle: Provides grip and control.
  • ·        Spine or Back: The blade’s top edge adds rigidity and support.

4.     Safety Precautions:

  • · Maintain a firm grip on the handle.
  • · Keep fingers away from the cutting path.
  • · Use a sawhorse or clamp to secure the workpiece.
  • · Choose the appropriate saw for the material and type of cut.

5.     Common Uses:

  • · Hand saws are ideal for precise and controlled cuts, especially in smaller woodworking projects.
  • · Crosscuts, rip cuts, mitre cuts, and other customized cuts are possible with different hand saws.

Similarities of Circular Saws and Hand Saws

Circular saws and hand saws are both tools designed for cutting various materials, and while they have many differences, they also share some similarities:

  • Cutting Function: The primary purpose of circular and hand saws is to cut through materials, such as wood, metal, plastic, or masonry, to create desired shapes or sizes.
  • Precision: With the correct technique and skill, circular and hand saws can achieve precise cuts. Hand saws, in particular, offer fine control for intricate and detailed work.
  • Blade Types: Circular and hand saws can be equipped with different blades suited for specific materials and cutting applications. Blades can be changed or swapped to adapt to various tasks.
  • Safety Measures: Both saws require safety precautions to minimize the risk of accidents. Users should wear appropriate safety gear, keep their hands from the cutting path, and secure the workpiece to prevent movement.
  • Maintenance: Circular and hand saws require regular maintenance to ensure they function correctly. This includes keeping blades sharp, lubricating moving parts, and checking for wear and tear.
  • Cutting Guides: Both saws can benefit from cutting guides or fences to ensure straight and accurate cuts. These guides help maintain consistency in the cutting process.
  • Portability: Some circular saws, particularly cordless models, offer portability similar to hand saws, allowing for use in remote locations or areas without easy access to power outlets.
  • Crosscut and Rip-Cut Capabilities: Both circular and hand saws can be used for crosscutting (cutting across the grain) and rip-cutting (cutting along the grain). However, circular saws are often preferred for longer rip cuts.

Differences between Circular Saws and Hand Saws

Circular saws and hand saws are distinct types of cutting tools with several key differences:

1.     Power Source:

  • Circular Saw: Circular saws are power tools that run on electricity (corded) or batteries (cordless). They are motorized and require a power source to operate.
  • Hand Saw: Hand saws are manual tools that do not require any external power source. They rely entirely on the user’s physical effort to make cuts.

2.     Speed and Efficiency:

  • Circular Saw: Circular saws are generally faster and more efficient than hand saws. They can cut through materials quickly, making them suitable for large or repetitive cutting tasks.
  • Hand Saw: Hand saws are slower compared to circular saws. They require more time and effort to make cuts, which can be tiring for extended use.

3.     Ease of Use:

  • Circular Saw: Circular saws are relatively easier to use, especially for beginners, as they rely on the tool’s power to make cuts. They offer greater precision and require less physical exertion.
  • Hand Saw: Hand saws demand more skill and physical strength to achieve precise cuts. They may be more challenging for beginners, leading to less consistent results.

4.     Portability:

  • Circular Saw: Cordless circular saws offer portability, allowing users to work in areas without access to electrical outlets. However, they still have some weight due to the battery.
  • Hand Saw: Hand saws are inherently portable since they are manual tools and do not rely on power sources. They are convenient for use in remote locations.

5.     Noise Level:

  • Circular Saw: Circular saws tend to be noisier due to the motor, making hearing protection advisable.
  • Hand Saw: Hand saws are much quieter as they do not produce noise from a motor, reducing the need for hearing protection.

6.     Precision and Control:

  • Circular Saw: Circular saws are excellent for making straight cuts, especially with the help of cutting guides or fences. They offer good precision and control for various cutting tasks.
  • Hand Saw: Hand saws offer fine control and are suitable for detailed and intricate cuts. They are preferred for precision work and when the user needs complete control over the cutting process.

7.     Cutting Depth:

  • Circular Saw: Circular saws can be adjusted to cut at various depths, allowing for versatile cutting applications.
  • Hand Saw: The cutting Depth of a hand saw is limited to the length of the blade, making it suitable for thinner materials.

8.     Maintenance:

  • Circular Saw: Circular saws may require more maintenance due to the motor and moving parts. Blades need to be sharpened or replaced periodically.
  • Hand Saw: Hand saws are low-maintenance tools, typically requiring blade sharpening and occasional cleaning.

9.     Cost:

  • Circular Saw: Circular saws are generally more expensive than hand saws due to their motorized components and versatility.
  • Hand Saw: Hand saws are typically more affordable and accessible to most users.

Circular Saw vs. Hand Saw: Which of the Two Should You Use?

The choice between a circular and a hand saw depends on various factors, including the specific project, skill level, available resources, and personal preferences. Here are some considerations to help you decide which tool to use:

Use a Circular Saw When:

1.     Speed and Efficiency Matter: Circular saws are faster and more efficient than hand saws, making them ideal for large or repetitive cutting tasks. If you need to make numerous long cuts quickly, a circular saw is a better choice.

2.     Precision and Consistency are Required: Circular saws are good for making straight and consistent cuts, primarily when used with cutting guides or fences. If you need precision and accuracy in your amounts, a circular saw can provide that.

3.     You’re Cutting Thick Material: Circular saws can easily handle thicker materials thanks to their powerful motors and adjustable cutting depths. They are suitable for cutting through thick lumber or plywood.

4.     Portability is Needed: Cordless circular saws offer portability and can be used in locations without electrical outlets. They are great for outdoor or remote projects.

5.     You’re Comfortable with Power Tools: A circular saw can be a more convenient choice if you are experienced and comfortable using power tools.

Use a Hand Saw. When:

1.     Precision and Control are Critical: Hand saws offer excellent control and are ideal for precise and intricate cuts. A hand saw is preferable if you need to make detailed or customized cuts.

2.     You Have Limited Access to Power: When electricity is unavailable or using a cordless circular saw isn’t practical, a hand saw is a reliable choice as it doesn’t require power.

3.     Noise and Vibration are a Concern: Hand saws are much quieter than circular saws and produce minimal vibration. A hand saw is a good option if noise and vibration are issues, such as in a shared workspace or when working with delicate materials.

4.     You’re a Beginner: Hand saws are generally easier for beginners to use, as they have a different level of power and risk associated with circular saws. They allow you to develop cutting skills gradually.

5.     Portability is a Bonus: Hand saws are inherently portable and lightweight, making them convenient for on-the-go or remote projects.

6.     You Have Limited Resources: Hand saws are more affordable and have minimal maintenance requirements compared to circular saws.


Using a handsaw for undercutting door jambs is common during flooring installation, especially when installing hardwood, laminate, or tile floors. Undercutting door jambs creates a clean and seamless transition from one room to another. Here’s when and how to use a handsaw for this purpose:

1.     When to Use a Handsaw:

  • Flooring Installation: Undercutting door jambs is typically done when installing new flooring, especially if the new flooring material is thicker than the existing one. This ensures the flooring can slide underneath the door jamb, providing a finished look.
  • Transition Between Rooms: When the floor in one room is at a different level than the floor in an adjoining room, undercutting the door jamb helps create a smooth and visually appealing transition.
  • Architectural Details: If you want a professional finish or if the door jamb has intricate details or mouldings that need to be preserved, using a handsaw allows for greater precision than using a power tool like a jamb saw.

2.     Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Handsaw: Choose a fine-toothed hand saw, such as a backsaw or a pull saw, for more control and precision.
  • Safety Gear: Wear safety glasses and consider wearing gloves to protect your hands.
  • Marking Tools: Pencil or masking tape to mark the cut line.

3.     Steps to Undercut a Door Jamb with a Handsaw:

  • Mark the Cut Line: Place a piece of the flooring material (e.g., a plank) against the door jamb and mark the flooring height on the jamb. Alternatively, use a level to transfer the height to the jamb. This will be your cut line.
  • Make a Guide Cut: Start by making a horizontal guide cut along the cut line using a utility knife. This helps prevent splintering when you use the saw.
  • Cut with the Handsaw: Hold it vertically and align it with the cut line. Start cutting by making a vertical cut along the guide cut. Be careful to stay within the marked area.
  • Test the Fit: Periodically test the fit of the flooring material against the cut area to ensure it fits snugly. Make additional cuts if needed to achieve the desired height and fit.
  • Finish the Cut: Once you have reached the desired height, make a horizontal cut across the bottom of the vertical cut to create a rectangular notch. This allows the flooring to slide under the door jamb.
  • Install Flooring: Proceed with installing the flooring material, ensuring it fits neatly under the door jamb.


Rigid foam insulation is a building insulation material known for its high thermal resistance (R-value) and durability. It is commonly used to insulate walls, roofs, floors, and other parts of buildings to improve energy efficiency and reduce heat transfer. Here’s an overview of rigid foam insulation:

Types of Rigid Foam Insulation:

1.     Extruded Polystyrene (XPS):

  • · XPS foam boards are manufactured using a continuous extrusion process.
  • · They are known for their high R-value and moisture resistance.
  • · XPS boards have a closed-cell structure that provides good insulation even in wet conditions.
  • · Common brand names include Dow Styrofoam and Owens Corning FOAMULAR.

2.     Expanded Polystyrene (EPS):

  • · EPS insulation is made from expanded beads of polystyrene foam.
  • · It is lightweight and has a lower R-value compared to XPS.
  • · EPS is a more budget-friendly option often used in residential construction.
  • · It has an open-cell structure and is more susceptible to moisture absorption.
  • · Common brand names include Styrofoam and Insulfoam.

3.     Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso):

  • · Polyiso insulation has a high R-value and is often used in commercial and residential construction.
  • · It is lightweight and offers good fire resistance.
  • · Polyiso boards have a closed-cell structure and are effective in various applications.
  • · Common brand names include Johns Manville AP Foil-Faced and Atlas EnergyShield.

4.     Phenolic Foam:

  • · Phenolic foam insulation is known for its excellent fire resistance and high R-value.
  • · It is less common and expensive than other rigid foam options.
  • · Phenolic foam has a closed-cell structure and is often used in speciality applications.

Advantages of Rigid Foam Insulation:

  • 1.     High Insulating Efficiency: Rigid foam insulation materials have high R-values, providing excellent thermal resistance and energy efficiency.
  • 2.     Durability: They are resistant to moisture, mould, and pests, making them a long-lasting choice for insulation.
  • 3.     Lightweight: Rigid foam boards are lightweight and easy to handle during installation.
  • 4.     Versatility: Rigid foam insulation can be used in various applications, including walls, roofs, foundations, and under slabs.
  • 5. Space-saving: Rigid foam insulation is thinner than other insulation materials, allowing more space in walls and ceilings.


1.     Cost: Rigid foam insulation can be more expensive upfront than other insulation types. However, its long-term energy-saving benefits may offset the initial cost.

2.     Installation: Proper installation is crucial to maximize the insulation’s effectiveness. Gaps, seams, and joints must be sealed correctly.

3.     Environmental Impact: Some rigid foam insulation materials are made from petrochemicals and can have environmental concerns. Look for options with higher recycled content or consider alternative insulation materials if sustainability is a priority.

4.     Fire Safety: While most rigid foam insulation materials have good fire resistance, check your project’s specific fire ratings and requirements.


Repairing holes in sheetrock (also known as drywall) is a common DIY task. The method you use will depend on the size of the hole. Here are steps for repairing different sizes of holes:

Small Holes (1/2 inch or smaller):

1.     Clean the Hole: Remove any loose or damaged drywall around the hole using a utility knife or sandpaper.

2.     Fill the Hole: Use a lightweight, fast-drying spackling compound to fill the hole. Apply a small amount with a putty knife and smooth it flush with the wall’s surface. 

3.     Sand and Paint: Lightly sand the spackle to smooth the surface once the spackle is dry. You may need to apply a second coat if the hole still needs to be filled. After sanding, paint over the repaired area to match the surrounding wall.

Medium Holes (1/2 inch to 2 inches):

1.     Clean the Hole: Remove loose or damaged drywall around the hole.

2.     Patch the Hole with Mesh Tape: Apply self-adhesive fibreglass mesh tape over the hole to reinforce it. Press the tape firmly to ensure it adheres properly.

3.     Apply Joint Compound: Use a putty knife to spread a layer of joint compound (also known as mud) over the mesh tape. Extend the mixture beyond the edges of the video to feather it out. Allow it to dry.

4.     Sand and Repeat: Sand the patched area smooth, and apply additional layers of joint compound as needed, feathering the edges to blend with the wall—sign between coats for a smooth finish.

5.     Prime and Paint: Once the patched area is smooth and matches the surrounding wall, prime it and then paint it to blend.

Large Holes (Over 2 inches):

1.     Clean the Hole: Remove loose or damaged drywall around the hole.

2.     Insert Backing: For larger holes, it’s often necessary to insert a piece of backing material, such as plywood, into the hole. Screw it into the surrounding drywall to provide support for the patch.

3.     Patch the Hole: Apply joint compound and mesh tape to the seams and feather it as described in the medium hole repair steps.

4.     Multiple Coats and Sanding: Feather the edges to create a seamless repair.

5.     Prime and Paint: After achieving a smooth and seamless repair, prime and paint the patched area to match the rest of the wall.


Repairing holes in sheetrock or drywall is a straightforward DIY task. Clean and patch small holes with spackle, sand, and paint. Medium-sized holes require mesh tape, joint compound, sanding, and painting.

Large holes necessitate backing material, patching, multiple coats of joint compound, and careful blending for a seamless finish. You can restore your wall to a smooth and visually appealing state with the right tools and techniques.

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