Hand Saws (wood)

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Hand Saws (wood)


What type of saws do we have?

Most of our saws are European, meaning they cut on the push stroke, but not when you pull back

  • Hand saw

    • The classic long, tapering saw
    • This is a good all-rounder, but not the most precise tool
  • Tenon saw

    • Rectangular blade
    • Blade tends to be shorter, firmer, and better for making precise, straight cuts where precision is more important
  • Coping saw

    • Can be used for very precise or curved cuts
    • Removable blade means you can to cut a section from inside a piece of wood by drilling a hole, threading the blade through, and re-attaching to the saw.
    • Narrower blade are better for tighter corners, whereas deeper blades help you keep a straighter line
  • Japanese Saws
    These cut on the pull stroke. Great for very precise fine work.

Condition Notes


Induction and Training


  • Look along the teeth of your saw - they are angled from side-to-side a certain amount - the amount/style of the angling is called the “set”.
  • The wider the set (the more pointy-out-sideways the teeth), the more easily the saw can clear out the particles of wood as it cuts through. This can make it quicker and easier, but give you a rougher finish.
  • The narrower the set, the less easily the saw will remove particles - you may need to clear out by pausing and blowing - but you’ll get a cleaner finish.
  • Having more, smaller teeth per inch along the blade will also make your cut neater, but again the teeth will find it harder to clear particles

Crosscut vs. Ripcut


  • Rip cut = a cut along the grain of the wood.
  • Cross cut = a cut across the grain of the wood.
  • Remember that wood is a very compact mass of stringy fibres, all running in the same direction - this is the grain - when the tree was living wood, moisture flowed up these fibres from the roots out to the leaves
  • Look closely at the teeth on your saw - the front edge, that is cutting into the wood - it should either be flat, or bevelled alternately from side to side
  • If a flat edge is cutting into the wood, a bit like a series of tiny chisels, then it is a Rip cut saw. This means it is designed to cut quickly along the grain, mostly pushing *between *the fibres, and tearing out a thin passage. It will give a very messy finish if you cut across the grain, as it doesn’t cut *through *the fibres very well.
  • If a bevelled edge is cutting into the wood, then it is a Cross cut saw. The bevels act like a series of tiny knives, neatly doing the hard work of cutting *through *the wood fibres. This means it gives a very neat finish when going across the grain, but as it’s therefore less efficient at tearing out material - so if you cut along the grain it will work fine, but take you a lot longer than a rip saw!
  • Some saws have special teeth designs to make them good at cutting both ways

Some of our saws look fancier than others…

Most of the space saws fall into one of two categories:

  • Plastic-handled hard-point saws

  • Have hardened teeth, which are very sharp when new, but can’t be sharpened, so gradually wear with use until the saw is no longer usable

  • Can be used on any sort of wood - including MDF, chipboard, second-hand wood and just before the end of their life, plasterboard. However, the sharpest saws shouldn’t be used on the more abrasive materials, use a more worn one for MDF and plasterboard.

  • Relatively cheap

  • These are the best saws for beginners

  • Boxwood handled re-sharpenable steel saws

  • These have softer steel teeth - which means they are re-sharpenable, but also easier to blunt (especially through mis-use). They a much more solid, high-quality construction, so they are better for very precise, professional carpentry and cabinet making.

  • Should not be used on MDF, as it is an abrasive material and will quickly blunt the saw.

  • These are a valuable professionals tool which can last a lifetime

  • As a beginner, you won’t need these! When you’ve got some experience, ask a woodtech to show you how to use them properly.

  • Please only use these if you are willing to contribute to keeping them sharp

How to use:

  • Make sure your material is securely clamped or held in a bench hook
  • Mark the full length of your cut - if you don’t need to go all the way through your material, remember to mark the depth you need to cut to.
  • Using a stanley knife to mark your cut.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, looking in the direction you want to cut.
  • Hold the saw with you index finger pointing down the blade
  • Place the teeth nearest the handle of the saw on your mark, at a corner/edge
  • Use your non-sawing hand to hold the material firmly, with the heel of your hand against the blade, to help hold it in place as you start
  • Make sure your elbow is loose and straight, so the saw is like an extension of your forearm. You want to keep your forearm moving smoothly in a straight line.
  • Make an initial short, slow, backward stroke - just a few inches. Put the saw back to your starting position, and repeat a few times to make a small initial opening in the material, enough to guide the blade.
  • Now move your non-sawing hand an inch or so further away from the cut
  • Begin making longer, smooth strokes - remember that your saw cuts properly when you push, not when you pull

Using a Mitre Box

  • A mitre box is used to cut at specific angles - usually 0, 30, 45 and 60 degrees.
  • Place your piece in the box and clamp, hold to box as necessary.
  • Place the saw through the appropriate angled slots
  • Start sawing, making sure you don’t pull the end of the saw out of the mitre box wall.
  • As you get close to the bottom of the mitre box, remove your work from the box so not to damage it - you will have essentially created enough of your own mitre cut in the wood to finish off accurately.



Risk Assessment

Hand Saws Risk Assessment

Before Use

During Use

After Use



eg. instruction manuals, tutorial videos etc.