Early man realized that he needed a way to more easily cut wood than with a stone ax. So, some clever cave man noticed a jagged edged rock, rubbed it back and forth across a branch, noting that it would cut through with less effort than using an ax.
Fast forward some years, to when metals had been discovered, the cave man’s ancestor figured a way to manufacture a blade of steel with teeth, thus producing the woodworking hand saw.
Hand saws really haven’t changed much during all their years of existence, although blades have been made of better steel than the earlier saws and saws are available with tempered teeth, to help them hold an edge longer.
Although many woodworkers have power tools on hand, many still grab the trusty woodworking hand saw for a quick cut or two. There’s nothing like make smooth, hand powered cuts, without any noise but that of the saw zipping through the wood.
The 3 Best Hand Saw
Uses For Hand Saws
Woodworking hand saws are designed for one job, to cut wood. Although seemingly simple, there’s a little more to it than that, but not much, as there’s really only three types of cuts.
When a woodworker needs only a section of a board, or needs to cut a board down in length by a few inches, a cross cut is made. Cross cutting is basically what it sounds like, cutting across the board. Of course, angled cuts across a board are still cross cuts.
Now, when the woodworker has a board that’s wider than necessary he’ll make it narrower by cutting down it’s length, this is known as ripping. Have a 6” board, but need a board 4” wide? Grab your ripping saw and rip it to width.
Re-sawing is the method for making two thinner pieces out of one board. Say you need two pieces of wood 3/8” thick, but only have a 1” thick board, you can slice the wood into to thinner pieces by cutting down the middle, making the two pieces. This is not the same as ripping, as you’re not cutting down the width of the board, but through the thickness instead.
Different Hand Saw Types
So, what kinds of woodworking hand saws are there? Good question. Actually there’s quite a number of designs for various purposes, but for this article we’re only going to look at the basic hand saw. Coping saws, dovetail saws, back saws, and others, are for later discussion.
The ripping saw has teeth designed specifically for cutting with the grain of wood. The teeth have a total angle of 60 degrees, with the front edge of the tooth 8 degrees from perpendicular and the back edge 52 degrees from perpendicular. The cutting edge and back edge are 90 degrees to the side of the blade.
Although ripping saw teeth are designed to chisel out wood as they cut they still do a pretty good job cross cutting, although the cuts won’t be as smooth as when done with a cross cut saw.
Ripping saws would also be the choice for re-sawing lumber.
With that, if you’re only going to buy one woodworking hand saw, the ripping saw is an excellent choice.
Cross Cut Saw
Like ripping saws, cross cut saws have teeth specifically designed for their purpose. Cross cut saws also have a total tooth angle of 60 degrees, with the front edge at 15 degrees and the back edge at 45 degrees. Cross cut saw teeth are also beveled edges, providing for teeth that sheer the woof fibers when cutting across the grain.
These beveled edge teeth do not do well when trying to rip wood, so the cross cut saw is not a good multi-purpose saw.
Multi-purpose saws have hybrid teeth that incorporate designs to allow them to perform both cross and rip cuts. There is a bit of a trade of with this design, but they do serve the woodworker well.
Points or Teeth Per Inch
Although not a type of saw, points per inch or teeth per inch are important, also. The smaller number of teeth per inch makes for a more aggressive cutting saw. For fine cuts, or smoother cuts, choose a saw with a larger number of teeth or points per inch.
3 Best Woodworking Hand Saws
BAHCO 2700-24-XT7-HP 24 Inch Ergo Superior Handsaw with XT Toothing
BAHCO is not as familiar a name as Stanley, or Great Neck, but how about Snap-on? Snap-on warrants this saw, so if it’s backed by Snap-on, you know it’s also a quality saw. Definitely a bit different from the other two saws, BAHCO’s offering features a polymer handle and a thicker than usual blade, both designed for aggressive cutting.
More expensive then the other two saws in this list, BAHCO’s saw is still not overly priced and would make a good addition to any woodworking shop. Included in the cost is a reusable blade guard, an added bonus.
Unlike the other two saws, BAHCO’s saw features a polymer handle with smoother contours. This well made handle will guarantee splinter free use for its lifetime. The handle is angled a bit more than most saws, designed to provide for better pressure when cutting.
The 24 inch blade features 7 teeth per inch with bevel ground teeth for aggressive cutting. This is a hard-point saw, featuring hardened teeth on a thicker blade which reduces power consuming blade vibrations.
BAHCO’s saw is another great choice for any woodworker, although a bit more in cost compared to the other two offerings. The polymer handle and quality blade should provide for a lifetime of woodworking, so if you break it down, the cost per year is still a great deal.
Great Neck N2610 26-Inch Hand Saw-Wood Handle and Chrome Nickel Steel Blade
Great Neck is also known for reasonably priced, quality tools. The chrome nickel steel blade and carved and stained handle provide for a handsome saw that not only looks good, but performs to match its looks.
Great Neck’s saw is also reasonably priced, with the reach of any woodworker. The life time warranty is another great offering. It’s something that saws that look and perform so well don’t cost 2 to 3 times the amount.
The solid wood handle is comfortably shaped, providing a confident grip. The warm tone of the stain gives this saw a richness in appearance. Hey, looks don’t do the work, but they’re a nice added bonus.
The blade is of high quality chrome nickel steel which will resist rusting and will hold up throughout a woodworker’s career. This cross cut saw features a 10 point per inch blade, which will provide for smooth and accurate crosscuts.
Great Neck’s offering is another great choice for the woodworker. They produce quality tools at reasonable prices and you can’t go wrong with a life time warranty.
Stanley 20-065 26-Inch 12 Points Per Inch Short-Cut Saw
The Stanley Short-Cut saw is a good choice for any woodworker’s tool cabinet, as Stanley has been making well priced quality tools for years. The wood handles are comfortable and the blades long lasting, and Stanley offers a Limited Lifetime Warranty on this saw.
This saw is reasonably priced and won’t set the woodworker back too much. You’re definitely getting your money’s worth with this saw.
The wooden handle is not only comfortable, but decorative as well, embellished with carvings, similar to saws from decades ago. The handle is finished well with a clear coat and has just enough edges to provide for a confident grip.
This multipurpose saw features induction-hardened teeth with three cutting surfaces. Stanley advertises that this provides for cuts 50% faster than conventional Stanley saws. The induction-hardened teeth should stay sharp up to 5 times longer than standard teeth.
The Stanley 20-065 26-Inch 12 Points Per Inch Short-Cut Saw is a great all around saw, with a good length of 26 inches, providing for more comfortable sawing. Stanley’s quality and reasonable prices are great for the new and veteran woodworker.
You also can check our articles about circular and band saws.