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What Are the Different Types of Hand Saws?

By C. Ausbrooks
Updated May 16, 2024
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Hand saws are used in woodworking to cut wood into different shapes. They consist of a blade of small, sharp teeth attached to a handle. The saw is operated by holding the handle, pushing forward, and pulling back, to effectively cut wood or other material. There are many different types of hand saws available, and each is used for a different job.

Crosscut saws are used for cutting against the grain of wood. The teeth are set in a wide, alternating bevel, which can shear through the fibers in wood. They are typically used for rougher cutting jobs, where tearing is not a concern. These saws are medium sized, ranging in length from 20-30 inches (50-75 cm).

Rip cut saws are used for cutting with the grain of wood. They cut on the push stroke, and can produce an extremely ragged cut if used to cut against the grain of the wood. The teeth are sharpened at right angles to the blade so that the top of the teeth do the actual cutting. These hand saws are also of medium size, typically 24-28 inches (60-70 cm) in length.

Panel saws are smaller than other types of hand saws for ease of portability. They are generally used to cut thinner pieces of wood and joints. These hand saws cut on the push stroke, and are usually around 18-24 inches (45-60 cm) in length.

Back saws are primarily used for trim, molding, and woodcutting. They are characterized by a stiff body, and a reinforced top edge made from steel. This edge prevents the saw from kinking while being used. The teeth are smaller in size than other types of hand saws, and they can be quite long. Back saws range in size from 8-30 inches (20-80 cm) in length.

Compass saws are distinguished by their thin, pointed blade, which is mounted on a handle made from metal, wood, or plastic. They are used for cutting holes or small, tight, curves in wood. These saws cut on the push stroke and usually feature 10-12 teeth per 1 inch (2.5 cm) of blade.

Hacksaws are used for metal cutting. They have thin, disposable teeth and very fine blades. The blade is held into the frame under tension by pins in the front and back. A screw is used to add or remove tension to the blade, as needed. The teeth of these saws face away from the handle, and the blade cuts on the push stroke.

Other common types of hand saws include the pruning saw, wallboard saw, and bow saw. The pruning saw is used for cutting green wood, and has a straight or angled blade used for quick cutting. The wallboard saw features a thick, pointed blade mounted on a turned handle, and is used for puncturing wall boards. The bow saw is shaped like a bow, must be operated by two people, and cuts on both the push and pull stroke.

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Discussion Comments

By anon341937 — On Jul 16, 2013

Which of these handsaws is the least important?

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