Hand Saws

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    Small teeth designed to sever fibers cleanly before removing the wood let this saw excel in crosscutting wood.  It has alternate set teeth with about 8-12 teeth per inch.


    These saws have large, aggressive cutting teeth and so are better suited for ripping cuts, where the saw approximately follows the wood grain.  They typically have widely set teeth with 4-6 tpi.

Flush Cutting:

    There are two varieties of flush cutting saw.  one has a 8"-10" blade attached to the handle in such a way that the handle can be flipped to the opposite end of the blade.  This allows left or right handed cutting.  The other variety of saw has a thin, flexible 5"-7" blade and no set on the teeth.  The blade flexes to lie flat on the base piece and will cut on either stroke, allowing right or left hand use.  The teeth have no set so as to not mar the workpiece.


    A 10"-15" saw with fine teeth (13-15tpi) and a spine along its back edge to stiffen the blade.  Used for accurate cutting of joints and miters.


    A small backsaw with fine teeth (14-20 tpi), designed for accurate, smooth cuts, such as are necessary for dovetails.  The spine stiffens the blade and the teeth have only a slight set, so the saw will cut in a perfectly straight line.  Length: 8-12".

Keyhole Saw:

    A keyhole saw blade tapers in width from about 1" to 1/8", to allow very tight turns and starting cuts in a very small hole.  Typical length is about 12".

Frame Saw:

    A thin, wide (~1"-1 1/4") blade held under tension in a wooden frame.  These usually can be fitted with various blades of different coarseness, and were once the tool of choice for long ripping cuts.  A special variety of this saw, the veneer saw, has a fence fitted to regulate the thickness of veneer being cut.  Blade lengths are most often 18"-27", with 4-11 tpi.


    A smaller, 12" version of the frame saw with a narrower blade for doing curved cuts, and 8-16 tpi.

Coping and Fret Saw:

    The hand tool equivalent of the modern scrollsaw, consisting of a springy metal frame holding a very narrow (less than 1/8"), 10-30 tpi blade.  Used for intricate or tight curved cuts.  Coping saws have a 4"-5" throat, fret saws have a 8"-12" throat.  Jeweler's saws have a 2"-3' throat, adjust for blade length, and take blades as fine as 64 tpi.

Veneer Saw:

    This is a curved saw with fine teeth designed to start cuts in the middle of the veneer, and can be used against a straightedge.

Japanese Saws:

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    Japanese saws can easily be distinguished from western style saws by their much sharper teeth, which cut on the pulling stroke.  Japanese saws also tend to have less set on the teeth, and since the blade is under tension when cutting, it is thinner.  This reduces the amount of wood which must be removed from the kerf as the saw cuts, making for generally cleaner and easier cutting than with western saws.

    Types of Japanese saws include the anahiki, or large rip saw; the ryoba, a back to back combination of rip and crosscut saw; the azibiki, a smaller version of the ryoba with curved cutting edges for starting mortises in the middle of a board; the kamabiki, a tight quarters version of the azibiki, often used in making sword scabbards; the kugihiki, or flush cutting saw; the dozuki, or dovetailing saw; and the hikimawashi, or keyhole saw.


    A general purpose saw for joinery, it has crosscutting teeth on one edge, and ripping teeth on the other.  Due to the larger set on ripping teeth, crosscut depth is limited to a few inches to prevent the ripping teeth interfering with the crosscut.  Used mostly in forming tennon joinery.


    This flush cutting saw has fine teeth with no set and a very thin, flexible blade to cut projecting dowels and tennons absolutely flush without marring.


    This is the japanese version of the dovetail saw, having a stiff spine, thin blade, and fine (32 tpi) teeth.  It is my personal favorite for ultra-precise joinery and smooth cutting, especially as it often has a disposable blade for easy "sharpening".

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