There are a plethora of reasons to choose a hand saw over an electric in certain situations. You can use them to get cleaner cuts, better detail, or might need them when you don’t have access to electricity. Also, if you’re budget-minded, certain hand saws make a whole lot more sense than their powered (and pricier) counterparts.
Some woodworkers are actually dedicated to crafting their pieces in the old style, with no power tools whatsoever. But if you want to get going with hand saws, there are some things you need to know. Here are ten tips to get you on your way.
Clamp Down your Work
Not only does this tip make sense in terms of safety, but it will make your cut easier and cleaner with all the wiggling you'll cut out. If you take the time to set it up right, you'll save time when cutting.
Coping Saw: The Poor Man's Scroll Saw
With its deep throat and fine, flexible blade, the coping saw can cut curves and turn tight corners with ease. You can even do intricate plunge cuts by drilling a hole and threading the blade through before you start. Most of these cuts are small, so it's a great economical alternative to a scroll saw.
Hacksaws: They Don't Cut Both Ways
The hacksaw is THE saw to cut metal, but did you know it only cuts in one direction? Mount your blade so it cuts as you pull, and you'll get the most control and the best results.
Keep it Sharp
Whether it's a saw, razor knife, X-acto blade, or even a kitchen knife, keeping your tools sharp is the right thing to do. It provides a more consistent cut, and makes it safer since you'll use more muscle power on control rather than downward force.
Hand Saw Lubricant
My poppa always taught me to put a glob of 3-in-1 oil on a blade before cutting, but it seems the general wisdom today is different. Most hand saw lubricants are now made of wax, and make cutting easier.
Proper Razor Knife Use
This goes for X-actos too: If you need to brace the material you're cutting, do it on the opposite side of your cutting direction. This will keep you out of a "knuckle-busting situation."
Cross-cut and Rip: Know the Difference
I'll be the first to admit I haven't maintained these saws very well. Mea Culpa. But here's the take away: the longer one is a rip saw. Use it to cut along the grain. The shorter one is a cross-cut saw. Use it to cut across the grain.
Brace the Saw When Starting a Cut
When first cutting in, hand saws have a tendency to skip around a bit before settling. Brace the saw with your thumb to get a groove going on your mark, then get that thumb out of the way.
Japanese Pull Saw: Just Get One
I took out a few teeth on mine when accidentally cutting through a couple of staples, but my pull saw still cuts smooth as silk. The thinner blade allows for a small kerf (cut width), and the smoothness of the cuts are unparalleled in my opinion.
Sharpening your Saw
It may seem a bit intimidating, but sharpening your saw is fairly simple. All you need is a metal file and a bit of knowledge. Do some research online to learn how to sharpen the type of saw you have. Your hands and arms will thank you.