Under 2 hours
There is a wide assortment of hand saw types. Using a hand saw is necessary in some cases and can be more convenient than a power tool. Although there are general purpose saws and blades, each type of saw is usually designed for a particular use or material. There are hand saws for cutting wood, drywall, metal and plastic. Even though hand saw uses vary and choosing the right saw for the job is important, the basic technique for using a hand saw is the same.
This guide teaches you how to use a hand saw and offers tips on using the tool, including hand saw safety.
Measure and Mark
An accurate measurement from a tape measure and precise cutline marks are essential for getting good results when using a hand saw. To make the cutline, use a combination square placed across the face of the board to ensure a straight line that is square to the edge. You can also measure and mark each side of the board, and use the edge of your hand saw to connect the points for a straight cutline.
Use a sharp pencil to make your mark, and then measure again before you begin cutting.
Tip: Your board can shift if not secured to your workbench or saw horse. Use clamps placed near the cutline to stabilize your workpiece before sawing.
Adjust Your Grip and Stance
- Grip the saw with your thumb and three fingers. Keep your index finger pointing down the side of the blade.
- Have the wood at a comfortable height.
- Keep the saw at about 45-degrees to the face of the wood. Use a steeper angle for aggressive cuts; a lower angle is better for fine cutting.
- Your wrist, arm and shoulder should be aligned with the blade. Keep your elbow close to your body to help prevent the saw blade from tilting to the side.
- If you are right-handed, stand with your left foot forward when sawing.
Tip: Don’t cut directly on your cutline. Align the blade next to your mark on the waste side of the cut. You cannot add length to the board after cutting but you can use a sander if you cut a little too long.
Make the Cut
- Place the saw’s teeth that are closer to the handle at the cutline on the far edge of the board.
- Use the tip of your thumb that isn’t holding the saw to keep the blade steady and in position along the cutline.
- Draw the saw toward you with a short motion to make a small notch or groove in the edge.
- Lift the saw and reposition it into the groove. Make another short stroke with light force to deepen your starting cut.
- After a couple of back cuts, continue cutting with forward and back motion to work the saw along the cutline on the board face.
- Use long, easy strokes so all of the teeth can cut.
- Let the saw do the work. Don’t grip to tightly and don’t use too much force.
- Near the end of the cut, shorten your strokes and increase the cutting angle for a clean finish.
- If you veer away from the cutline, stop sawing. Remove the blade and begin cutting again where you got off track.
Tip: Use a scrap piece of a 2- x 4-inch board or other stock to serve as a guide and help ensure a straight cut. Clamp the piece onto your workpiece along the cutline, and keep the saw blade flush against the scrap as you are sawing.
Practice Hand Saw Safety
Hand saws are generally safe to use but thes teeth on the blade are sharp. Handle your hand saw with care to prevent injury. Wearing goggles will help prevent saw dust from getting into your eyes.