Char Miller-King

Choosing a Handsaw

Char Miller-King
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Even if you have a shop full of power tools, you’ll find plenty of times when it’s more convenient to grab a handsaw than it is to plug in a power tool. A variety of saws are available. Here’s a quick guide that’ll help you choose the best one for your work.

Rip saw

Rip saws, designed for cutting with the grain, have a more aggressive tooth pattern. They usually have 6 TPI (teeth per inch). You could crosscut with a rip saw, but the aggressive teeth will tend to tear the wood.

Crosscut saw

Crosscut saws, used for cutting perpendicular to the grain, have 6-15 TPI. If you try to rip with a crosscut saw, things won’t go well. The fine teeth mean the blade has small gullets (the valleys between the teeth), and those small gullets can’t effectively carry away the larger chips the rip cuts create. You’ll get a lot of binding.

Back saw

Also called a tenon saw, back saws have a spine on the top of the blade. This is because this western-style saw cuts on the push stroke, but has a very thin kerf blade. Without the addition of the spine, or back, the blade would tend to bend on the push stroke. These saws are generally used for fine joinery.

Ryoba saw

This is a Japanese saw and cuts on the pull stroke. It’s a great saw to own because it includes both rip teeth and crosscut teeth on its opposing edges.

Dozuki saw

Dozuki saws are also Japanese saws that cut on the pull stroke. The Dozuki has a small blade that is very flexible. This is handy for many trim applications, like cutting a dowel flush with a surface.

More on hand tools

You might choose to do all your woodworking with hand tools, or augment your power tool collection with select hand tools. Either way, WWGOA has lots of great hand tool info for you.

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One Response to “Choosing a Handsaw”

  1. Jim Belknap

    How do you clean up a handsaw that has been around for years? Even though sharpening the saw is important, the cleanliness of the back equally as important. How do clean it?

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