Saws and Sanders

No deck can be built without good quality saws and sanders to give it a clean finished look.

Here is a fairly comprehensive list of the kinds of saws and sanders available to make your final deck project look great.  Of course, all of these tools are useful for a ton of other household projects as well.

Saws and Sanders For Building Decks

Miter Saw (Chop Saw)

These saws are expensive but a dream to work with if you plan to do a lot of building over the coming years. They used to be just a chop saw because they cut only up and down, limiting their usefulness.  Now, they are more properly called Miter Saws because they can rotate multiple angles and do so very accurately.

Building decks requires all kinds of cross cutting so a miter saw is used all the time.  It is an essential tool for any builder. Buy a decent one preferably with a 12" blade and you will be able to easily cut right through 4x4s. You will own this saw forever and use it more than any other power tool in your shop.

Circular Saw

Circular saw

These saws are also a must for deck building. The 7 1/4" blades are not bad as long as they are sharp but an 8 1/2" blade is better. You will find that the quality of the saw is usually better once you get into the larger blade sizes.

The base should be wide, thick and feel solid. It should sound smooth too. Cheap circular saws are loud, over heat, wobble and break down over time.  You end up always having to compensate for the cheaper tool.

A saw with about 12-13 amps will give you the right amount of power for sustained cutting and ripping. Get a decent circular saw.

Router

A router is very useful when building a deck because it can be used to soften edges of deck boards, top rails, stair stringers. It just gives your deck and related components a smooth feel and very professionally finished look.

You don't necessarily need the full on 3hp multi speed plunge router, although they are awesome for  all sorts of other jobs too.  That said, even a small single hand held router can do wonders.

Handsaw

Hand saw

Get a handsaw.  They are cheap and entirely useful when you least expect it. You never know when you will need to make a quick cut and don't feel like untangling electrical cords, plugging in a tool and having to hear the noise electrical tools make.

Learn how to use a handsaw properly. They work best when you keep the blade sharp and let the saw do the work for you.

Orbital Hand Sander

An orbital palm sander is a great tool for quickly smoothing larger areas like hand rails. These sanders are much faster than a block sander and require less muscle. A nice little extra to put on your wish-list.

Saber Saw

A saber saw is sometimes referred to as a jig saw. It's a very useful saw for building a deck when you have to create curves or a radius corner on the decking or something of that nature.

Reciprocating Saw (Sawzall)

This kind of a saw is great for cutting protruding beams below the joists and deck structure. It's really difficult to get a circular saw or handsaw in that area and hold it firm due to the awkwardness of the position.   

Belt Sander

Powerful sanders like this can really smooth deck boards quickly. But be careful because if you fall asleep at the wheel they can also cause a lot of damage quickly. Let the sander do the work, not your muscles.

Sanding Block

Good old fashioned hard work is what is required to make this sander work. But a sanding block is indisensible. You will need it for all kinds of little jobs.

There you have it, a fairly comprehensive list of what is required from the cutting, sawing and sanding perspective.

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