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The Basics on Hand-Held Saws

Before power saws were invented, intricate cuts had to be made by hand. With enough patience, you can master the task. Check out these hand-held saws capable of a variety of cuts.

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hand held saws are capable of a variety of cuts

Crosscut saws, seen here, have 10 to 16 teeth per inch. Most crosscut blades are beveled to slice cleanly through wood. To use a crosscut blade, place its heel on the waste side of the line you want to cut. Support the blade with the thumb of your free hand, and carefully draw the saw backward with a few short pulls.

Ripsaws have a flexible blade and 5 to 12 teeth per inch. When using a rip saw, cut in the direction of the grain, not across the grain. Place the saw's teeth almost flat against the work piece and carefully push forward. Then raise the saw to a comfortable cutting angle (usually between 45 and 65 degrees), and cut with long, rhythmic strokes.

Back saws are designed for making smooth, precise cuts. A back saw has fine teeth on one edge for crosscutting or ripping wood, and on the other edge a metal strip to keep the blade rigid. Back saws are often used for making cuts through a miter box.

Compass saws are frequently used for cutting curves and circles. The compass saw's 12" to 14" blade tapers from handle to tip and usually has 8 to 10 teeth per inch set in a crosscut pattern.

Coping saws are used for detail woodworking and cutting arcs.

The ryoba saw is a Japanese hand tool that is pulled instead of pushed. One side of a ryoba saw is designed for rip cutting, the other side for cross cutting.

The dozuki saw — another Japanese tool — has an adjustable blade for flush cuts or cross cuts. It's also a pull saw.

Pruning saws have big teeth for cutting lumber and timber.

The all-purpose saw has a reversible blade that can make flush cuts or cross cuts.

The special PVC saw has a flat blade that's useful for cutting plastic pipe.

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