Handling Your Hand Saw

By Bob Vila | Updated Sep 16, 2020 7:18 PM

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How to Use a Hand Saw

Photo: wikimedia.org

How to Make a Crosscut
Crosscuts are cuts that go against the wood grain. Once you’ve properly measured and marked your piece of wood, guide the side of the handsaw blade with the knuckle of your thumb. Start the cut by pulling your hand saw up two or three times, then push the saw blade forward at about a 45-degree angle. It is preferable to begin your cuts on the side of the wood that will show less when the project is complete.

How to Make Rip Cuts
Rip cuts are cuts that go with the wood grain. After proper measurement and marking has been made, carefully use your thumb to guide your saw with two or three short upward strokes. Once the cut is started hold the saw at a 60-degree angle to the wood and make smooth, full downstrokes. If making a long cut, use a wedge to spread the wood apart, to help prevent any binding.

How to Saw a Splinter-free Cut
Here’s a fast and easy way to reduce the amount of splintering that occurs when cutting wood with a hand saw. Apply a strip of masking tape along the cutting line on the backside of the piece. You’ll notice a significant improvement. Another way is to use a utility knife to score the cut. This will give you an accurate measurement and make the cut smoother.

More Teeth or Fewer Teeth?
You should choose a hand saw based on the type and size of solid wood you’re cutting. Saws with fewer teeth per inch provide a faster, but rougher cut. When cutting thicker pieces, a saw with more teeth per inch will produce more debris than it can handle, causing it to clog and bind. That same saw, however, will do a superb job on softer, thinner woods.

Hand Saw Maintenance
Quality hand saws are designed to provide years of good service. By wiping the entire surface of the saw blade with an oily rag, you will maximize your saw’s performance and extend its life. Craftsman hand saws come with a protective tooth cover. Don’t throw this away. It will protect the teeth from any harm that could occur in a busy workshop. If you can’t find this cover, cut and slice open a piece of an old garden hose and use it to cover the entire length of the blade.