The Trick to Cutting Concrete is Choosing the Right Saw

When it comes to concrete construction jobs, choosing the right concrete cutting saw is key to getting the job done right. Whether that job calls for cutting out windows and doorways, cutting through floor slabs and walls, cleaning out or replacing control joints, drilling perfectly round holes or even cutting straight lines and decorative designs into concrete, there’s a concrete cutting tool specifically designed to get the job done.

Walk-Behind Concrete Saws

Operated much like a lawnmower, walk-behind concrete saws are generally used for sidewalks, driveways, basement and warehouse flooring and even asphalt. They offer much higher horsepower and faster cutting than their handheld counterparts, with blade sizes ranging anywhere between 14 to 32 inches, like this heavy-duty walk-behind air saw featuring 20 inches of blade capacity.

You’ll also find a few different types of walk-behind concrete saws, including early-entry, joint clean-out and crack-chasing saws. Early-entry concrete saws are designed to be much lighter than conventional sawing equipment so they can be used on younger concrete, often as early as the concrete has set.

For jobs that call for cleaning out control joints or routing out cracks, opt for a joint clean-out or a crack-chasing saw. Join clean-out saws are designed for cleaning out existing joints, preparing new joints or removing deteriorating joint material, and can also be used for removing epoxy, polyurea and polyurethane joint filling material. Crack-chasing saws, like the CC-100 model from U.S.SAWS, are ideal for jobs that require routing out random cracks in concrete or asphalt surfaces prior to filling with sealant.

Handheld Concrete Saws

As the name suggests, handheld saws are operated by hand, making them more lightweight and portable than walk-behind saws. They are often best used for smaller jobs, like cutting wall openings, or for quick cuts that don’t require a certain level of accuracy. Handheld concrete saws are further categorized into two different types: chainsaws and hand saws.

Concrete Chainsaws

When it comes to making plunge-cuts for creating joints, cutting out windows and doorways and cutting through floor slabs and walls, the concrete chainsaw is a major contender. Designed to be used just like a wood-cutting chainsaw, these handheld saws use specially designed chains for cutting through concrete, including standard concrete chains used for dry-sawing, like the TwinMAX-32 Plus from U.S.Saws, and diamond chains used for wet-sawing, like the 20″ ProForce Concrete Diamond Chain. In terms of power options, you’ll find plenty to choose from, including heavy-duty gas-powered models like this beauty or like this beauty and air-powered chainsaws like this model by U.S.SAWS.

Concrete Hand Saws

Also known as cut-off saws, concrete hand saws are often the go-to tool for most concrete cutting jobs. Available in gas, hydraulic, electric and air-powered models, concrete hand saws are preferred for their speed, portability and accessibility. Air-powered hand saws, like this model from U.S.SAWS, serve as an environmentally-friendly and safe alternative to their gas-powered counterparts but also deliver less power. For jobs that require exceptional power, a gas-powered concrete hand saw is the way to go, like this Husqvarna K1260-14 7.8hp Saw featuring an impressive 7.8 hp output and 14-inch blade guard.

Types of Concrete Saw Blades

In addition to choosing the right saw for the job, another trick to concrete cutting is choosing the right blade for the job. Just chainsaws, concrete hand saws can be used for both dry-sawing and wet-sawing, and each method requires a specific type of blade.

Designed to prevent overheating during dry-cutting. abrasive blades are commonly used for jobs requiring shallow, intermittent cutting and are the preferred choice for indoor jobs due to easy cleanup. However, they also reduce in size with continued use, making them better suited for smaller jobs.

Unlike abrasive blades, diamond blades do not reduce in size with continuous usage, making them ideal for bigger jobs but prone to overheating and unsuitable for dry-sawing. Best used for wet-sawing, diamond blades feature layered segments of diamond particles that drop off with each use to reveal a fresh row of particles until the blade is ready to be replaced. They’re often preferred for their precise cutting abilities, durability and minimal dust production with the wet-sawing technique, but also require more clean-up due to the sludge-like mixture accumulated by dust and water.

More Concrete Cutting Tools

Some concrete cutting jobs require a tool with a specific set of skills. For example, a concrete hand saw could be an option for cutting straight lines or etching designs into concrete, but would also require extremely steady hands and a high level of accuracy. And when it comes to cutting perfectly round holes into concrete, none of the aforementioned concrete saws are fit for the job. This is where core drillers and decorative concrete saws come in.

Concrete Core Drillers

When the job calls for running cable lines, HVAC ducting and sprinkler systems through concrete structures, a concrete core driller is the best tool for the job. Specifically designed to cleanly drill holes into concrete, these handy tools come in a few different options, including electric-powered models like this high precision drilling machine from U.S.SAWS, and cordless models like the Cordless Core EZ Kit, complete with batteries, a battery charger, a gearbox and wheeled case for easy portability.

More on Concrete Construction Tools

Concrete cutting saws aren’t the only tools to consider when planning a construction job. When it comes to grinding down uneven concrete slabs, leveling out joints, removing stubborn glue, smoothing and polishing surfaces, or even cleaning industrial contaminants, a concrete grinder is another solid investment. Learn more in our guide to choosing the right concrete grinder.


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