A hand saw is the right tool for so many projects, from fine carpentry and woodworking to basic home chores and maintenance. But you want to be sure that you’re using the right saw for the job. Here are a few commonly used hand saw types, with our recommendations for which are best.
Types of Hand Saws
All hand saws are not the same, and you should be sure to pick the right saw for your project. Every hand saw has a unique feature and advantages.
A rip saw is designed to cut wood parallel to the grain. The teeth are angled backward and cut like a chisel. Rip saws cut on the down, or push, stroke. It’s a common saw but very good for cutting length smoothly of a board and while cutting the board it keeps control to the cutter.
Cross cut saw
A cross cut saw is for cutting wood across, or perpendicular to, the wood grain. Crosscut saws vary in size, with small teeth close together for fine work like woodworking or large teeth further apart for rougher work. The teeth alternate and slice wood like a knife blade. The teeth are usually smaller than a rip saw.
A keyhole saw has a tapered blade designed to cut curves, with one end of a narrow blade fixed in a handle. Also called compass saws, keyhole saws come in a variety of sized, from fine to course. They also cut on the down stroke. The two main types of keyhole saws are fixed blade and retractable. The fixed blade type is cheaper and more commonly used, but the adjustable retractable blade is useful when working in shallow spaces.
A backsaw has a stiffening rib on the back, the edge away from the teeth. Because they are stiffer, backsaws havebetter control and are designed forthe precise work needed for cabinetry or joinery work.
A panel is a small, lightweight, fine-toothed handsaw, usually less than 24 inches long. There are two types of panel saw; vertical & horizontal.
A wallboard saw is a special type of push hand saw with a sharp tip for puncturing wallboard, plasterboard or drywall.
A flooring saw is used for cutting across one floor board without damaging the boards around it. It’s used to replace boards or fix damage to a wood floor.
The hacksaw was originally designed for cutting metal. It consists of a C-shaped frame with a blade spanning the opening, held in place by tension. The blades are replaceable when they wear out or for a specific job. The blades can attached for either push or pull stroke cutting.
A bow saw is a special type of hacksaw used in woodworking. It can be used for straight or curved cuts, and large ones are good for cutting logs.
A coping saw is a small bow saw used to cut intricate external shapes and interior cut-outs in woodworking or carpentry.
A Japanese saw is a pull stroke saw made of very thin steel. It is known for faster cutting and less mess.. Japanese saws are ideal for precision cutting.
A pruning saw is designed for trimming trees or large bushes and might have a tapering straight or a curved blade. Pruning saws can be attached to pole to reach treetops or high branches.
How to Choose the Best Hand Saw
Before you invest in your own hand saws, think about how you’re going to be using them. Understand your needs, and match that to the types of saws above. Choosing the correct type of hand saw for your specific job will help ensure that you can get the job done right.
What type of wood (or other material) are you cutting? What size? Do you want a rough cut or a neat edge? Depending on what you’re cutting, you’ll want to consider the size of the saw and the Teeth-per-Inch (TPI).
The length of the blade determines the size of the saw. Unless you’re doing fine woodworking, you’ll probably want a saw with a 24-30 inch blade. Lower TPI will “bite” more and cut through wood faster, giving you a rougher cut. Higher TPI will give you a finer cut, mostly used for finishing or decorative work.
Recommendations to buy:
1. Shark Corp 10-2312 12-Inch Carpentry Saw
The Shark 12” General Carpentry Saw is perfect for everyone, regardless of skill level. If you’re only buying one rip saw, get this one. At 14 TPI, the blade cuts nearly everything on your to do list, including hard and soft woods, construction woods, and even plastic piping.
The blade is made from Japanese high carbon spring steel with triple diamond ground teeth that are treated to stay sharp and cut clean, and the patented pistol grip handle is designed for comfort and safety. The blade is easily removable for replacement or storage.
Shark Corp 10-2312 12-Inch Carpentry Saw has a 4.7 out of 5 star rating on Amazon.com.
2. Vaughan BS240P Pull Stroke Rip Handsaw
Vaughan & Bushnell’s Bear Saws are designed for precision work. Cutting on the pull, rather than the push, stroke, this rip saw uses a thin 17 TPI, 16-1/2” long blade for ease, speed and accuracy with less sawdust. All Bear saw blades are made of durable spring made in Japan and assembled in the USA.
Cross Cut Saws
3.Stanley 20-045 Fat Max Cross Cut Hand Saw
The Stanley FatMax 15” saw is a great all-around saw. It can cut nearly everything you might need cut, and thanks to Stanley’s SharpTooth TM technology, it can do up to 50% faster (than conservative STANLEY Saws). The FatMax’s Induction hardened teeth stay sharp up to 5 times longer rather than regular standard teeth and the substantial grip is designed for safety and comfort. As an added feature, the back of the saw can use 45° and 90° angles for marking purpose.
4. GreatNeck N2610 – 26 Inch Cross Cut Hand Saw
The GreatNeck® N2610, with its 26 in. long and 10 TPI carbon steel blade is your workhorse for your rough wood work. You’ll get superior cutting ability from the precision set and sharpened teeth, and the dark-stained hardwood handle is weather-resistant to last you for years.
5. Crown FLINN1 10-Inch Dovetail Saw
Crown Hand Tools of Sheffield, England, make beautiful, quality saws in a variety ofstyles and sizes. Crown prides itself on its high standards and their tools are finished with either Rosewood or Beech handles.This Dovetail Saw is designed for finished joinery work. It has crosscut teeth, 17 TPI, with a blade depth of 1-1/2 in. This saw would make an excellent addition to any craftsman’s toolbox.
6. Ryoba 24-inch 22TPI Double Edge Razor Saw
This Ryoba Double Edge Razor Saw is a must for your fine woodwork. The 9-1/2” long, .018˝ thin blade has two cutting edges: a 22 TPI cross-cut edge, and a 9 TPI rip cut edge. The impulse hardened teeth give you a smooth, accurate cut, and are ideal for cutting decorative hardwoods, including maple, oak, teak, and exotics.
As you can see, there is no one hand saw that is right for everyone or every job. The size of the grip or the stiffness of the blade can make one person’s preferred blade hard to use for someone else. You’ll have to try out a variety of blades to learn what is best for you. And you will eventually want a collection of the different types of blades to ensure that you always have the right saw for the job.
So where to start?
If you’re starting out and need to pick just one hand saw for your first purchase, we recommend the
IRWIN Tools Universal Hand Saw.
The IRWIN Universal Handsaw’s 15” blade will get your job done faster, and the unique patent-pending handle-to-blade design keeps your cuts straighter with more comfort, less fatigue, and virtually no binding. IRWIN’s patented Universal Tooth Grind cuts though nearly any material rapidly, removing materials cleanly and quickly. The blade profile is designed for stability and improved clearance, while the .85mm thickness makes your cuts faster and more controlled. This saw also features 45° and 90° angle markings. For versatility and ease of use, get the IRWIN Tools 15” Universal Hand Saw.