Hand saws initially appear to be straightforward tools. They appear to be nothing more than a handle-mounted piece of malleable steel with sharp teeth.
However, the majority of woodworkers who are unfamiliar with hand tools rapidly become perplexed when attempting to comprehend which hand saw (or which hand saws) they require for woodworking, as well as what all the complicated terminology implies.
However, hand saws are essential for constructing traditional furniture, so it's crucial to comprehend the various kinds of woodwork saws and how to utilise them.
In this article, I'll try to make everything easier for you by outlining the hand saws you'll want to get started, the ones you can put off until later, and the ones you most likely won't ever need.
Different Types Of Hand Saws
First, let’s go through the different types of hand saws available so you can get a better understanding of which one will meet your needs.
Panel Saws are hand saws without a hardback or frame that have a thin metal saw plate. Panel saws are typically used to swiftly rough cut panels to width and length and have bigger teeth.
These hand saws are widely available, frequently affordable, and were produced in huge quantities. A panel saw is just a hand saw that is small enough to fit inside the upper panel of a tool box.
To be clear, this kind of saw is simply referred to as a hand saw. But we frequently just refer to all of these saws as panel saws to avoid any confusion with the general category name.
These saws are used to make precise wood cuts because of their sharp teeth and narrow metal saw plates. To prevent the plate from flexing and to offer rigidity, they have robust brass or steel backs.
The cut is finer the shorter the saw teeth are. Back saws, which are often more expensive than standard hand saws, were formerly largely employed by joiners and cabinetmakers.
These saws are sometimes known as "turning saws," tighten the blade across two arms using tension.
This type of saw could be used for chopping wood when a wider blade is introduced, and it works well for cutting curves when used with a thin blade (much like a power bandsaw).
Frame saws are available in a variety of sizes, from those with smaller teeth which work well when completing fine woodwork to those with huge teeth for harsh cutting.
The Tooth Shapes Of Hand Saws
Typically, hand and back saws have blades which are honed to one out of two tooth setups called crosscut or rip. With the aid of saw sharpening tools, any saw's tooth profile can be altered.
When you can only buy one hand saw, there is also a mixed tooth setup termed a sash tooth arrangement that is halfway in between the rip and crosscut shape, although it is less effective at cross-cutting or ripping.
The grain of the board will be sliced when using a hand saw with rip style teeth. It's called "ripping" a board when you do this.
Each tooth is straight across and designed like a chisel used in woodworking. As a result, the teeth chisel at the wood.
"Cross Cut" hand saws cut against the grain. A board is "cross sliced" in this situation. In order for the teeth to neatly break the wood grain, much as if you were using a knife, every tooth is cut with two angles to give it the shape of a knife blade.
Although a board can be ripped with a rip saw and crosscut with a cross-cut saw, this isn't the best option if a precise cut is needed.
When employing really small saw teeth, especially with backsaws, it becomes less of an issue.
The Tooth Count Of Hand Saws
Another important aspect to consider when choosing a saw for a specific task is the quantity of teeth per inch.
The wood will be quickly cut through by a hand saw with large teeth, but the surface will be uneven.
Although small teeth may be cut precisely and delicately, they are not suitable for cutting long pieces or wide pieces.
Rip teeth are often larger than Cross Cut teeth when using standard hand saws and frame saws. Rip or crosscut teeth in back saws can be different sizes.
The quantity of teeth for every inch is typically stamped onto the saw plate and is indicated as the teeth or points per inch.
While TPI is calculated by counting all of the teeth, PPI is calculated by counting from a position to another.
The more popular method for counting teeth is PPI. Additionally, you can modify the tooth count while sharpening.
Where Is The Best Place To Buy A Hand Saw?
It's challenging to choose just one top hand saw maker from among several vintage and contemporary saws. The excellent thing is that you could purchase excellent vintage saws for as little as $5.
A brand-new or valuable vintage hand saw can cost several hundred dollars. Additionally, this guide's goal is to teach you how to get the greatest hand saws for your money.
The majority of inexpensive hand saws produced following World War II, with the exception of few high-quality current models, should be avoided, particularly if they are purchased from a hardware shop.
After World War II, tool quality drastically fell off. Since many inexpensive contemporary hand saws now feature impulse-hardened teeth that cannot be resharpened, they should only be used once.
What hand saw brands ought to you be on the lookout for? Because saws were simpler to construct than hand planes in the past, there were many hand saw manufacturers.
When looking for a hand saw manufacturer today, you should search for a reputable company (you can find this with a little research online).
Check their reviews, product descriptions, and policies to make sure you get the hand saw you need for your requirements.
Create Hand Saws On Your Own
Building a homemade hand saw is a different pastime that is gaining in popularity. Anybody who wants to master this ancient technique and build the best custom hand saws may easily find hand saw components and templates.
Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of tutorials online you can find to help you build your own hand saw.
You can follow video tutorials, read DIY books, or ask a professional to teach you. Make sure to follow tutorials carefully and step by step.
Which Hand Saw Should I Buy First?
Get a rip saw first if you can only initially afford to purchase one panel saw. A rip saw can perform cross cuts, as I previously said, but it'll be a little messy.
However, using a cross-cut saw to cut a long board is far more challenging. It will require a lot of time. Because you just need to file across the teeth, as opposed to filing at an angle, rip saws are also simpler to learn how to sharpen properly than crosscut saws.
Today, there are many general-purpose hand saws for cutting metal, wood, and plastics available for purchase.
They differ significantly from the traditional saws used by trained craftsmen in the past who were experts in material properties for furnishings, metal work, etc. The tooth spacing (also known as pitch) is crucial when choosing a hand saw.
The pitch in millimetres or the TPI (number of teeth per inch) are used to describe this gap. Use "fine toothed" saws when sawing thin sheet materials; otherwise, the saw would tear and rip the material instead of cutting it cleanly.
Consider the depth and toughness of the workpiece material when selecting a saw, and if at all possible, seek the assistance of a knowledgeable craftsman.