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There are many kinds of hand saws. They can be used to achieve different results. The main reason for using different hand saws is that they make a particular job easier to do.
For example, a rip saw will allow you to cut along the grain with ease. Let’s look at what makes one saw different to another. We will also look at some specialized saws designed for specific purposes.
One of the main factors that makes one saw different from another is the pattern of the teeth.
A good saw will have its teeth slightly bent out from the rest of the blade. This is done to avoid the blade from bending during sawing.
If you want to know if the saw you are buying has this feature you should ask the sales person how the teeth are ‘set.’
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The saw also cuts away a certain width of the wood. This is called the ‘kerf.’ The other distinguishing features of a saw are the size and shape of its teeth, which differs according to the result the saw is meant to achieve.
A saw meant for fine detailing will have smaller and finer teeth that are placed close together. On the other hand a ‘rip saw’ meant to cut a wood along the grain will have large and widely spaced teeth. The density or how closely the teeth are placed together is called ‘teeth per inch’ (TPI) or ‘points per inch’ (PPI). The height of the teeth from the tip to its base is called the ‘gullet.’
Thankfully, you don’t have to check all these things when buying your hand saw. Different saws are called by different names. So if you want a saw to rip a board, you ask for a ‘crosscut saw.’ If you want to make curvatures by hand, you ask for a ‘coping saw.’
Let’s go ahead and look at some common saws and what they do.
- Rip Saw – A rip saw has large teeth placed wide apart as much as 5 per inch. It’s meant to cut wood along the grain and the fibers of the wood. Therefore, you don’t need to slice the wood really. Instead, the saw chisels its way through with the large teeth cutting very quickly with each stroke.
- Crosscut Saw – A cross cut saw is the right opposite of the rip saw. It is designed to cut against the grain of the wood. Since this saw is meant to cut through the fibers of the wood it has sharp small teeth set very closely together. This ensures that the saw can cut against the grain without tearing it up.
- Panel Saw – A panel saw is similar to the cross-cut saw with even finer teeth, set closer together. The main purpose of this saw is to cut through plywood. The reason there exists a different kind of a saw to cut ply board is due to its structure and make. If you have read our post on “all about wood,” you will know that a ply board is made in different ways, using different wood components. Therefore, its not as solid as wood, which in turn makes it easy for it to split or crack during cutting. Therefore, a panel saw with fine and closely set teeth ensure the board is cut cleanly.
- Frame Saw. Technically speaking this one saw can serve the purpose of the above-mentioned 3 saws. I’m sure you’ve seen one of these saws. They have a metal frame that allows you to put different blades on it. You can easily change from a ripsaw blade, to crosscut, panel and many other variations.
The only thing is that it feels a little different to holding a full saw. Some wood workers actually prefer using the frame saw because it allows you to get more of a grip on it. You can easily hold the top of the saw by gripping the frame part with your free hand.
- Back Saw. A very popular and well-used saw in a woodshop is the back saw. It has fine, closely put together teeth, which are meant to make fine and precise cuts. But the other thing that makes this saw a precision saw is the stiffened bond running along the top of it. This makes the entire blade stiff and prevents it from folding up at any time. Therefore, this is a great saw for making finer cuts like joints.
- Coping Saw. A coping saw has fine teeth and the blade is a very narrow strip. This allows you to turn the blade during cutting and make curved cuts. The structure is similar to a frame saw. The narrow blade is mounted on a metal frame. By gripping the frame by one hand and turning it you can make curved cuts. A scroll saw does the same thing but has a few differences in design.
- Japanese Saw. The final handsaw to get a mention here is the Japanese saw. One may consider this a fairly new addition to a woodworker’s arsenal. A Japanese saw is different from a regular saw in many respects. It has a very thin blade with incredibly fine teeth. The teeth are straight and long and very closely set together. The Japanese saw is designed to cut on the back stroke instead of the front push. All in all, this is a saw designed for one purpose and that is to make very clean and fine cuts. You may be able to try one out at the store before deciding to buy one. It takes a little getting used to in the beginning.
That’s it for hand saws. We will be talking about portable power saws next. So stay tuned it. Thank you for reading.
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