What Handsaw Should You Choose?

Choosing the right tool for the job is especially important when using hand-powered tools. The collection of handsaws below can perform just about any cutting task you’re likely to encounter in your workshop.

8 to 10 TPI Cross cut saw for general cutting of dimension lumber or sheet good.

Backsaw for miter-cutting.

Hacksaw for cutting metal.

Wallboard saw for making cutouts in wallboard and other soft building materials.

Flush-cutting saw for trimming wood plugs and through tenons.

Dovetail saw great for cutting dovetail joints.

Japanese saw (cuts on the pull stroke) for quick trim-carpentry cutting.

Fret saw for making delicate scrolling cuts.

Coping saw for curved cuts in trim carpentry.

How to Choose Hand Saws 

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva walks through the various types of hand saws and gives tips on how to utilize them.

  1. For cutting through metal, use either a hack saw, which can accept a 10” or 12” blade, or a mini-hack saw, designed for cutting in tight areas. Tom shows off a hack saw to cut through all kinds of metal.
  2. To change the blade on a hack saw, loosen the wing nut at the base and extending the bow to your desired length. Insert the new blade and tighten the wing nut. Be sure to put the teeth facing away from the handle.
  3. When cutting through drywall, use a jab saw. Place the piercing tip on the drywall and then hit the handle with the palm of your hand to drive it into the drywall. Once the saw is in the material, you can use it to cut.
  4. A flush cut saw can cut screws or dowels flush to the material and the handles are often reversible.
  5. A double edge pull saw has a flexible blade that can sit flat on material and is can be used to cut trim or casing when patching flooring. Use the flooring as a height gauge. Cut the trim to allow the flooring to slide underneath.
  6. A miter saw and miter box can be used for straight cuts and to cut angles.
  7. A traditional a hand saw can be used for rip cuts and cross cuts. The more teeth on a blade, the finer the cut will be. Finer blades are used for cross-cutting, coarser blade is used for ripping wood.
  8. For the most control, it’s important to hold your body in front of the blade when cutting and line up your shoulder and hand should line up.

Different Types of Hand Saws and Their Uses

A “Quick” over view of Saws and some information needed to make your first few purchases. We will cover tooth sizes. PPI and TPI, Grip styles, plate types and what each saw is intended to cut.

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