Hand saws, like other staple tools, seem to be very simple and ordinary at first glance. But let's face it, they are indispensable tools you cannot do without as a woodworker. Just like wood joints, the hand saw is a versatile cutting tool, with sharpened saw teeth and a solid handle, that is absolutely essential for making furniture and cutting wood/metal pieces into different shapes.
If you’re a woodworker, a landscaper, or work quite frequently with metal, then you need to check out the best hand saws available in the market. The following guide will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.
What Factors Should I Consider Before Buying a Hand Saw?
Before hitting the market for a new hand saw, there are certain factors you must take into account. You definitely don’t want to spend money on a tool that doesn’t serve your needs.
This is probably the most important feature to look out for when buying hand saws. The type of task you’re looking to perform will determine the kind of blade that’s suitable for you. So, when buying, ensure that your chosen hand saw has the desired tooth count, orientation, and shape of the blade. You should also check out the blade thickness of hand saws to be sure it’s ideal for your kind of work. Most comes with more than eight saw teeth per inch, a universal orientation allowing both left-hand and right-hand users to work with it, and a thin blade thickness that provides impeccable sharpness.
If you are thinking of cutting wood perpendicular to the wood grain, opt for a cross cut saw. The sawtooth patterns have four cutters. Cross cut saws also include saws with smaller hands that are used in carpentry. On the other hand, go for a rip saw if you looking forward to cutting wood with the grain. A rip saw is an all-purpose woodworking tool that specializes in making rough cuts. The rip saw teeth have cutting edges that are 90° to the blade.
What’s a good blade design without a solid build quality? While sifting through hand saws, make sure you prioritize durability over all other factors. No amount of reasonable force that's exerted on the tool with daily use should be able to break it easily. It should be solid enough to withstand the pressure that comes with everyday use. Usually, hand saws that have a one-unit construction offer such strength and durability and provide long-lasting durability. If you are able to find an excellent blade but it has poor construction, it is likely to break very quickly and render the hand saw completely useless. Hence, durability is critical!
Using a hand saw can become exceptionally tough if it does not provide a good grip on the handle. While you want to ensure your saw is sharp enough to split up wood and metal with ease, you should also confirm its grip is good enough to improve efficiency. A poor saw grip poses a greater threat than just a decline in the quality of cuts. It can also result in chronic discomfort and cause the user to suffer from severe blisters. A handle that is not slip-resistant can also result in accidents.
Typically, a good hand saw handle should have a rubberized grip that is soft and slip-resistant, providing a firm grip to your hands that feels comfortable even after prolonged sessions of cutting wood.
Consideration for size is not usually a strict one, and here’s what that means: whether you are going for a big hand saw or you’re buying a much smaller one, what matters is you’re buying one that suits your task and your work environment. The size of your hand saw does not exactly determine its quality. A saw with a smaller hand can work just as effectively as a bigger one, provided it is used for the right task. Of course, you cannot expect a small hand saw for cutting wood.
Though this relates more to particular types of hand saws, it is yet essential to discuss. On some designs, the saw blades are usually interchangeable and can be replaced to suit specific cutting jobs. But, before opting for a saw that provides interchangeable blades, make sure you need this feature as it can be an added cost that you may be able to avoid by choosing a simpler hand saw.
Unlike a coping saw that cuts on the pull stroke, the hacksaw has teeth that are pointed away from the handle. The coping saw blade is removable by partially unscrewing the handle. Though not as efficient as a hacksaw, the blades of the coping saw can also cut through aluminum tubing and other metal objects.
Here’s the feature that makes hand saws very easy to carry and store. If you’re a remote worker or one that hauls equipment from one site to another, you may want to look for a foldable hand saw. These hand saws are much safer to carry as the blade completely hides inside the rubberized handle. Opt for more saw teeth blades if you are looking for a smoother cut, while blades with fewer saw teeth remove material faster.
Check the video from This Old House where woodworking expert Tom Silva talks about various types of hand saws and their best uses.