Hand saws are, or should I say could be, a vital part of your workshop. They can do anything from cutting lumber to size all the way to making beautiful corners on projects. Among the saw family you have regular hand saws (rip saw, crosscut saw), dovetail saws, coping saws, bow saws or frame saw, and timber saws.
We will start with the beginning of the process of making projects beginning with standing timber. Out in the field today guys use chainsaws with short blades all the way up to some crazy long blades to cut down trees. Back in the day lumberjacks used saws called timber saws. They could be manned by one or two guys. The blades range in different sizes, but most of the blades are very aggressive to cut through the trees quicker.
Next up, how to get the lumber into workable sizes. I’m talking about getting lumber down to 8/4, 4/4, things of those sizes. Yes you could use a rip saw, but probably not the best saw to use to achieve to goal. My best bet would be to use a frame saw. It has a thinner blade and more TPI (teeth per inch) making it cut better. Now granted, length of a cut would be an issue due to the design so if you had an extremely lengthy cut then a rip saw would probably work better.
Now after you get all the thicknesses cut it’s time to cut your lumber to length. This is where a rip saw or crosscut saw would work. Is there a difference? Well of course there is. One is made to cut across the grain (hense the name crosscut) and one is made to go along with the grain (which would be the rip saw). The teeth are not created equal. On rip saws, the teeth are more chisel like as the front edges of the teeth are flat and the angle is on the back side. This helps with keeping in a straight line so you don’t wander off course following the grain as you rip a board. Crosscut blades are different as the teeth are more knife like. Tear out is a big problem when cutting across the grain and the action created using a crosscut saw prevents this.
Ok, so we are ready to start getting fancy now. How about making some nicely jointed corners using dovetails? What about making that curve? Yeah, that’s right, we can do that using….you guessed it, more saws. First up lets talk about the dovetail saw. What exactly is a dovetail? Plain and simple it is at the end of your board. It is small angled pieces cut out on the joining boards that create a strong joint. The angled pieces are called pins and tails. Now to cut them you will need a dovetail saw. How is a dovetail saw different? It is shorter and stiffer. The blade is thinner and has a higher number of TPI to make a smoother cut. At the top of the blade there is a “cap” to make the blade unbendable. Due to the design of this saw, you have better control while cutting these pins and tails.
On top of that beautiful box you just made you want a lid with a curved handle. To do this you want to use a coping saw. These have a U-shaped frame that has a blade stung on the bottom from the handle towards the “front” of the frame. The TPI is important when dealing with coping saws. The higher the TPI is the tighter the radius the cut can be. Most coping saws have between 12 and 15 TPI. There are specialty blades that have higher and low TPI depending on what the job is you are doing.
These are not all the hand saws in the woodworking industry, but is a good start on making basic cuts and projects. I hope this helps in some understanding and knowledge of the basic hand saws. If you have any questions or more information, please feel free to leave a comment.
Tags: article, coping, crosscut, dovetail, hand, joinery, lumber, rip, saw, timer, tool, trees, wood