When it comes to understanding how hand saws work, it is best to have a detailed look at their fundamental design. Generally speaking, all varieties of handsaw bring together two distinct components. These are the handle and the blade itself. The blade front is the underside of the tool and is lined with teeth that are essential for cutting. The point of the blade, that being the side furthest from the handle, is referred to as the toe. The part of the blade that fuses with the handle is referred to as the heel. Many varieties of hand saw utilise a tapered blade. This tapering, meaning the blade gets slimmer from heel to toe, is crucial in ensuring that the saw doesn’t become stuck firm in materials when cutting.
The back of the blade, sometimes referred to as the spine of the blade, is the upper edge of the saw. Many types of hand saw have a reinforced spine, namely tenon saws. This reinforced spine is essential in ensuring that the relatively thin width of the blade doesn’t become distorted when carrying out heavy-duty cuts. Almost every hand saw features alternately set teeth. In other words, the teeth on the underside of the blade are alternately facing leftwards and rightwards. The reason for this is that the overall cutting edge of the hand saw is wider than the thickness of the blade itself. As with tapering, this prevents the saw from becoming stuck in materials when making cuts.
Main Varieties of Hand Saw
There are numerous types of hand saw available on the market. The most common variety is simply referred to as the handsaw and is the most commonly encountered manual saw around. It’s a go-to for cutting panel materials and workpiece boards, with a design that allows cuts to be made on the push. Compared to other types of saw, the handsaw usually utilises thicker blades and a tapered design that narrows toward the toe of the blade. This allows the finished tool to benefit from being more lightweight and narrow and therefore easier to handle. This user-friendly design is further ensured by the inclusion of a large handle that allows for a secure grip. Handsaws come in a few different varieties. You can find handsaws tailored toward making cross cuts as well as saws intended for making rip cuts. Additionally, you can find handsaws that combine the two, allowing you to make both types of cut with a single saw.
Another instantly recognisable variant on this classic tool is the tenon saw. Tenon saws offer the user more control when carrying out cuts, allowing for a more precise result. Generally speaking, tenon saws are smaller in design than conventional handsaws, with the blade element also thinner. Tenon saws cut on the push, which is why this type of saw also includes a reinforced spine. This reinforcement ensures that the blade doesn’t buckle when being used. Most tenon saw blades are made from robust materials like brass. Not only do they support the blade as it cuts, they also add essential extra weight to the saw. It’s worth noting that this reinforced spine restricts the depth at which a tenon saw can cut at. However, it does mean that much finer cuts are possible. Just like traditional handsaws, tenon saws include a generous D-shaped handle to make the tool easier to grip and more user-friendly.
Things to Consider When Buying a Hand Saw
One key thing to think about when buying a hand saw is the kind of cuts you want to make with it. We’re specifically talking about cross cutting and trip cutting here. With cross cutting, you’re looking at a cut that goes across the grain of the material. By contrast, a rip cut goes against the grain of the material. In both cases, the effectiveness of a cut is significantly determined by the amount of teeth your saw features. When it comes to cross cut saws, you’ll find that the blade teeth are bevelled in design. The shape of these teeth are intended to slice through material fibres as you make the cutting motion. Cross cutting saws generally have more teeth than a rip saw. With rip saws, the teeth are shaped in such a way that the material you’re cutting is splintered in order to facilitate the cut. As we’ve mentioned previously, there are some hand saw models that allow for both types of cut to be made. The number of teeth found with one of these combination saws is greater than the average rip saw, but less the top limit of cross cut saws.
Number of Teeth
If you’re looking to make finer cuts, then you will want a saw with a blade with a higher number of teeth per inch as a rule. However, you should also take other things into consideration in this regard, namely the type of material you’re looking to work. If you are using more supple materials, such as varieties of softwood, pick a saw with a blade with no more than six teeth per inch if you are using a ripping saw. If you are using a cross cut saw, you never want to be using a blade with more than 14 teeth per inch when working with softwoods. The reason for this is that the greater number of teeth, the more debris you’ll be creating. This will impair the effectiveness of the saw and produce inferior cutting results.
Because of their fixed blades, you should carefully consider a hand saw and its longevity before you splash out on a new purchase. If you are seeking something that will hold up well after repeated use, go for a hardpoint saw. This type of saw boasts teeth that have been hardened to maintain their integrity and sharpness for longer. Hardpoint saws do have a distinct disadvantage, however. Because of the hardening process they undergo, the teeth cannot be sharpened at a later date. As such, once a hardpoint saw becomes blunted to a significant degree, it becomes useless and needs to be disposed of. If you have the budget to work with, go with a saw blade that can be resharpened. Although they cost a fair bit more than a hardpoint saw, they can be used for years and years if properly maintained and used correctly.
Most hand saws that aren’t of a Japanese design will utilise a pushing stroke in order to make their cut. This simple motion places a compressing force on the blade itself in order to make the cut. However, this type of force should in theory cause a blade to buckle and distort. To combat this, saws designed to be used with a push stroke are generally made from more robust materials and boast a thicker width, otherwise known as the kerf. With some hand saws, including tenon saws in particular, a reinforced spine is a must in order to alleviate the chance of buckling. Other types of saw make use of the pulling stroke in order to function and make the cut. The blade is automatically tensioned on the pulling stroke, making this type of saw a good choice for when you’re looking to make narrower cuts.
Looking for a manual saw that won’t let you down? We’ve put together a premier pick of hand saw options for you to consider. Below, you’ll find a great line-up of hand saws from tried and tested manufacturers, with options to suit all budgets.
The Spear & Jackson Predator B9822 is a good bet for those after a universal wood saw with wide applications. This general purpose saw can be used to make cuts both along and across the grain, delivering precise and clean cutting action as standard. Suitable for use with all manner of materials, including MDF, hardwood and timber, this saw has a blade that has been reinforced to minimise whip and vibration while working. It’s also a very user-friendly option, with a soft-grip ergonomic handle that includes a finger guided to further enhance accuracy when cutting. In terms of price, it’s also a very affordable option.
The Bahco NP-22-UZ is a great choice for those seeking a hardpoint hand saw that won’t break the bank. Designed to a high standard, this hand saw boasts universal teeth with long-lasting sharpness guaranteed. With a total length of 550 millimetres and a robust construction, this saw is also easy to handle and comfortable for use come long sawing sessions. If you’re looking for something very affordable and are seeking a saw that requires no maintenance, this Bahco model is a great way to go.
This STA 120101 hand saw from Stanley proves why the manufacturer is such a reliable name in the manufacturing of manual tools. The induction hardened blade provides fine cutting performance, while also ensuring you’ve a saw that will hold up well for a long time to come. Hardened and tempered teeth come as standard here, while the bi-material handle has been specially designed for comfort and enhanced accuracy. What’s more, the handle comes with a finger rest to improve levels of cutting precision further. This is a very robust design as well, with the blade firmly bolted to the handle in three places to ensure the utmost in stability while sawing.
If you’re after a more robust choice of hardpoint hand saw, the Bahco 2440-22-U7-HP will make a worthy addition to your tool line-up. This universal tooth saw has been specially hardened to provide you with a hand saw that delivers up to five times the longevity of comparable options. You can also enjoy the freedom to carry out rip cuts and cross cuts alike, with this saw able to handle all manner of materials, including hardboard and chipboard workpieces. The secured handle also includes a finger guide for added accuracy while sawing.
The STA515594 from Stanley is the way to go if you’re after a hand saw that scores top marks in terms of precision, comfort and security. The bi-material handle has been tightly screwed and welded to the blade itself to offer you a very robust saw, with the utmost in comfort and stability assured as you cut. What’s more, the teeth have been precisely set to give you superb cutting performance. Triple-sided precision ground teeth provide you with razor sharp edges, giving you top performance at every stage of the cut. Although this saw is relatively cheap, you don’t need to worry about it losing its edge quickly. Induction hardened teeth come as standard to ensure they stay sharp twice as long as similar models on the market.
Presch Hand Saw 450mm – Wood Saw with 11 TPI 45° and 90° Stop – Professional Universal Saws for Wood and Laminate – Crosscut Saw
This 450 millimetre hand saw from Persch is a premium choice for those looking to take their tool box essentials up a notch. Specially hardened teeth ensure this foxtail saw can handle even the most robust of materials, while still delivering precise cutting results. Also included in the design are a centimetre measure and angle stop so you can ensure higher levels of accuracy as standard. A bi-material handle ensures comfort while working, with non-slip rubber coating to ensure stability as you saw. What’s more, this saw includes a blade cover to protect those essential teeth when not in use. Slightly more expensive than other options on this list, this Persch hand saw is definitely worth the added investment.
Looking for a tenon saw that won’t disappoint? The Irwin 10503534 is well worth a look. From the Irwin Xpert range, this tenon saw is a super-efficient choice that delivers high levels of precision, every time. Optimised to deliver superior cutting performance on both push and pull strokes, this saw is a go-to for those looking to undertake carpentry jobs and tasks requiring finer levels of precision. This tenon saw can be used with a mitre box for seriously impressive results. What’s more, a soft-grip handle provides added levels comfort as you saw and helps to further ensure good levels of accuracy.