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How to Use a Hand Saw

by Nathaniel Miller

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Hand saw

Even with today's plentiful assortment of power saws, many carpenters keep a hand saw around for special projects. Hand saws come with a variety of blade lengths and tooth configurations to allow you to cut different wood types. Hand tools require no electrical connections or batteries since you operate them manually, and they are a good back-up option when you're working in an area where electrical power is not available. Using a hand saw is simple, but it takes a little muscle and a bit of technique to cut wood efficiently.

Using a Hand Saw:

  1. Choose the correct saw blade for the job. Large, wide-spaced saw teeth cut soft woods like white pine with ease, but for hardwoods, a saw blade with small, fine teeth will provide a smoother cut.

  2. Measure and mark for your cut. Use a carpenter's pencil to mark the board after you have carefully measured. If you're making a long cut, use a straight edge to draw a perfect line.

  3. Position the saw blade directly on the line that you have marked, about midway down the blade. Apply even pressure on the saw handle, pushing it straight forward to within a few inches of the handle. Then pull back, stopping a few inches from the end of the blade to prevent the saw blade from pulling out of the cut.

  4. Saw. Use a back-and-forth sawing motion to cut through the wood, pulling and pushing the blade. While you can exert slight pressure on the blade, the most important cutting factor comes from the motion. If you press too hard, the saw teeth will stick in the wood, making it difficult to cut. If your sawing motion is too slow, it may also cause the blade to stick.

Hand Saw Tips:

  1. Expect your saw blade to bend slightly when cutting through wood. This flexibility allows you to reposition the blade in the cut for accuracy.

  2. Naturally occurring knots in the wood are difficult to cut with a hand saw, so keep that in mind when measuring your wood.

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