Just think how long projects must have taken in the days before the power saw! These days, there are more flavors of power saw than there are ice creams at the local Baskin Robbins. But how are you to know which one is best for your application?

While we can't go over every last variation of the power saw in this quick article, we can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular ones. Let's take a look at the saws you'll get the most out of and when to use them.

Crosscutting and Cutting to Length: Circular Saw

The saw you're most likely to find in any DIYer's collection is the circular saw. This popular disc-shaped cutting tool is ideal for slicing across large boards or ripping lumber to length. Many popular circular saws include guides that make it easy to trace a line you've laid down on your lumber.

Another feature offered by these saws is the ability to change blades. You might use a specific blade for cutting against the grain or even cutting masonry and concrete .

Cutting to Width: Table Saw

The table saw is the big brother to the small-but-effective circular saw. When cutting with, rather than against, the grain, or when cutting wide pieces of wood down to width, this is your go-to tool.

The large platform of a table saw allows you to lay big pieces of wood down to be run over the circular blade. Some saws may have adjustable guides and markings to indicate the angle at which you are cutting, and many will allow you to adjust the depth of the cut by moving the blade up and down. Because you get your hand close to the blade with these, many have high-tech safety features .

Angle Cuts: Mitre Saw

A miter saw is one of the coolest-looking saws around because of its hinged blade. It features a large, round blade like a circular saw but is designed to move through a large arc at an angle defined using adjustments on the saw's base. The piece of wood you want to cut is placed between the blade and base, and then you lower down the running saw like a butcher carving off a slab of meat. It's another must-have for the weekend carpenter.

Custom Work: Jigsaw and Reciprocating Saw

The jack-of-all-trades of the saw world, these two feature smaller blades and can be used for work in small spaces or forming custom shapes. What they gain in maneuverability they give up in precision , however, so make sure you have a good idea of what you're trying to cut before you pull these out.

Jigsaws feature a base that allows you to guide it along a track, which is good for detail work and edging. The reciprocating saw, which you might recognize by the well-known Sawzall brand, is great for demolition , as it can be used in open quarters and moved freely.

Ready to Get to Work?

If you don't currently own a single power saw today, adding these five to your collection is a great way to feel confident you can handle just about any DIY job. Of course, that's a big investment! So if you're looking to invest specifically in what you'll use tomorrow, we hope this guide points you to the proper tool. Is there a specific saw you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments section.

Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter  @SMHuntington