All About Handsaws

Although traditionally associated with cutting wood, many types of handsaws can cut through a variety of building materials, including metal and stone.
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©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Panel Saw

In the past, you needed a ripsaw to cut with a wood grain, a crosscut saw to cut across the grain, and a panel saw to cut large sheets of plywood. The crosscut teeth on a modern panel saw combines all three functions because it cuts on both the push and pull strokes. When the blade gets dull, don't throw it away, use it to cut softer materials such as drywall or insulation sheets.

Tenon Saw

Used for detailed woodworking, or extremely accurate cuts, a tenon saw's fine teeth provide a clean cut and edges that require little sanding or smoothing. It has a relatively short but deep blade. A tenon saw is excellent for making mitered cuts, which need an accurate joint.

Drywall Saw

This saw can cut irregular shapes. It's best used for cutting holes in drywall for electrical outlets and the like. The blade is narrow and tapers away from the handle to a point. Use point to break through material and start the cut.

Coping Saw

This tool is used for cutting irregular shapes or curves because the narrow blade can be coaxed around corners and the extended handle can move around objects. Coping saws are often used for cutting molding and trim. The blades can break easily, so buy extra.

Fret Saw

This is a common type of frame saw that is used for very fine work. It has a very thin blade held in position on a bow-shaped frame and should be used in exactly the same way as a coping saw. The bow-shaped frame keeps fine blade under tension. The blades are easily replaced.

Hacksaw

A hacksaw can be used to cut metal. Like the coping saw and fret saw, its blade is housed in a frame. However, it has a deeper blade that is not designed for cutting curves. A hacksaw's teeth are very fine, and cutting through metal is always a slow process. Replace blades at regular intervals and always fit the blade so that its teeth are facing forward.

Junior Hacksaw

This smaller version of a hacksaw fits easily into a toolbox. It is often used for general fine-cutting jobs. It has a hardened steel blade with fine teeth. The forward-facing teeth create a fine cut.

Miter Saw

A combination of a saw and a miter box, the miter saw is a tool that can make accurate cuts at any angle. The saw is housed in a frame that enables you to shift the blade to the angle required. A clamp is used for holding the wood in place.

Miter Box

A miter box has channels to guide a saw (usually a tenon saw) through a material at precisely the correct angle for a mitered joint. Fasten the miter box in place so the box does not move while cutting.

Understanding Saw Teeth

The size, shape and frequency of teeth on a saw blade dictate the kinds of materials that it is able to cut. Teeth along a blade are measured in teeth per inch (TPI). The larger the TPI figure, the finer the cut, but the longer it will take. A saw with a high TPI is designed for precise cuts. Conversely, a low TPI saw is designed to cut quickly but less accurately. A saw's teeth are slightly offset, so the groove cut by a saw is slightly wider than the blade. This groove is called the kerf, and it enables sawdust to leave the cutting area, helping the saw blade to move easily. The angle and design of teeth vary according to the saw's use. Saws that cut metal have very fine teeth, whereas a rough, general-purpose saw has larger teeth.