Backsaw Vs Handsaw | What Is The Difference?

Backsaw Vs Handsaw | What Is The Difference?

Do you have a DIY task to complete and want to know whether you should use a backsaw or a handsaw?

Maybe you have found yourself wondering what the difference between these two saws is. Or are you curious and want to know more about them?

No matter what your question is, we have the answer for you! 

We know how tricky it can be to decide what saw you should use, especially if you are new to the world of saws and DIY!

You can quickly find yourself stressed and overwhelmed, unsure where to turn or who to trust.

The last thing you want to do is choose the wrong saw and make the job ten times harder than it needs to be. So what can you do?

Well, you can stick with us! Today we will walk you through what a backsaw and handsaw are, the differences between them, and which one you should choose today!

Just keep reading to find out everything you need to know about these saws. 

What Is A Backsaw?

A backsaw is a saw with a stiffening rib on its back. Backsaws push against or pull the wood grain when cutting, making it ideal for long and straight cuts.

When you use a backsaw, you tend to push away from yourself as you cut through the wood. 

Backsaws require less push strength than other saws, as they will do most of the work cutting through the longer pieces of wood with ease.

However, you can get pretty tired when you use a backsaw for extended periods, as you continue to push the saw away from you.

For one or two pieces of wood that need cutting, it’s great, but if you need to use it for most of the day, your arm is sure to get tired! 

There are different types of backsaws, such as dovetail saws, miter saws, and tenon saws, which feature fine teeth.

Backsaw Vs Handsaw | What Is The Difference?

What Is A Handsaw?

And what about a handsaw? Well, these saws don’t have a stiffening rib on their back, so they aren’t as sturdy as other saws.

When you use a handsaw, you tend to pull the saw towards yourself, meaning your arm is working hard!

It is easy to get tired quickly when using a handsaw, as you need more tension to cut through the wood. 

It's a physically demanding saw, but one that does come in handy when cutting wood thanks to its sharp teeth!

A handsaw tends to be easier for beginners to master, as you can make shorter cuts or curves to your wooden surfaces without too much hard work!

There are three types of handsaws - a rip saw, crosscut saws, and panel saws. Rip teeth help the saw blade cut against the wood grain.

Back Saw Vs Hand Saw: What Is The Difference?

Now that we have briefly established what these saws are, let’s take a look at what the differences between them are!

The biggest difference in these saws is their design.

A backsaw is a type of handsaw that features a stiffening rib on its back that offers extra support, with the blade running parallel to the handle. 

A handsaw, however, doesn’t have a stiffening rib and uses tension when cutting the wood, which it gets from you pulling the blade towards yourself.

They tend to be less efficient than a backsaw and can cause you to get tired quickly when using them. 

Another difference between them is when you will use the saws too.

A backsaw is typically used when you are working with larger pieces of wood or projects, as they allow you to cut straight lines with large pieces of wood easily. 

The stiffer crosscut teeth on a backsaw make them ideal for straight line cuts, without requiring too much work from you! 

A handsaw is better suited to cut tight curves where you don’t need too much push strength or shorter cuts where you are pulling the blade towards yourself.

The saw is better suited to these shorter jobs, thanks to its fine teeth, allowing you to work quickly and on more intricate pieces of wood.

However, some types of hand saws have larger teeth per inch, which is handy for cutting wood and tree limbs.

Just be sure to use lubrication like a machine or mineral oil. These will help to reduce friction and help you get a smoother cut!

You can make a lubricant at home or purchase a pre-made one if you are looking for a quick solution! 

Backsaw Vs Handsaw | What Is The Difference?

Should I Use A Backsaw Or A Handsaw?

So which saw should you use? Well, this all depends on the task at hand. If you have a large project that requires precision, then go for the backsaw.

You can still cut curves and angles with this saw, but with increased accuracy and control compared to the handsaw.

But, just be mindful that you are likely to experience some fatigue when using the saw, so stop for regular breaks and to stretch your hand and arm if necessary. 

If you are working with a smaller project, or in a tight space, then the handsaw will be the better option for you.

It does require a little more strength from you as it relies on tension from you, so when working with it for longer periods you might find yourself getting fatigued.

A handsaw is also a good option for curved edges or more intricate cutting and designs, as the saw is smaller and can maneuver these tight spaces easily. 

It’s important to note that the saw you choose will depend on the task at hand and your preference too.

Some people only like a handsaw, whereas others will make a backsaw work for them no matter the situation.

We do think that having both and alternating between them depending on the project you are completing and the space you have is the best approach, and often the one that has the least mistakes! 

For beginners, both saws are a good option.

Some beginners will prefer a handsaw if they are undertaking small projects with shorter cuts or curves, but others might prefer the less tension required when using a backsaw. 

Again, it is all down to you and what you think is best for you! It might be that you use a scrap piece of wood to practice using both a handsaw and backsaw to see which works best for you.

Often, trial and error is the best way forward! 

Tips For Using A Saw 

No matter which saw you use, whether it's miter saws, rip saws, wood saws, metal saws, back saws, or even a dovetail saw, you will want to check out the tips below to make your job even easier!

We have an easy-to-read list that you can follow along with now! 

  • Mark your cuts in pencil beforehand to ensure you cut in the right place.
  • Measure your wood before cutting, and measure again for accurate cuts! It is better to double-check and be safe than need to grab more wood!
  • When cutting your wood, start in the middle of the board for easy cutting, and work toward the edge as this helps to prevent splintering.
  • Add grip tape or sandpaper to the handle of your saw to prevent sweaty hands from slipping
  • If your saw sticks when cutting, turn the screws on top of the handle counterclockwise slightly to loosen the tension. It can take some trial and error here to get the right tension for you. 

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it, the biggest difference between a bandsaw and a handsaw is how they are used!

If you are cutting long pieces of wood, then opt for a bandsaw, but for smaller, curved pieces, a handsaw will work well for you. 

Just be sure to be safe while using the saw and wear protective equipment where necessary. 


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