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Hand Saws
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement

Hand saws have been a homeowner's loyal friend for some time now. Yes, power tools have taken over for the most part, but consider the benefits of a handheld saw. Let's face it, often times, for small cuts, it is easier to pick up a hand saw then to find an extension cord. Plus, they are made in various shapes and sizes and for many uses. It is, however, important to know which saw to use for certain jobs and how to use them.

Before using a handsaw, first consider the type of cut you will be making. Are you ripping? Or will you be crosscutting? Rip cuts are when you are cutting along the grain. When making a rip cut it is best to hold the saw at a 60 degree angle to the wood and make smooth, full down strokes. Try to avoid making short, choppy strokes that make use of only a few teeth. Also, don't use too much pressure for this may cause the blade to bend or bind. Make sure to hold the wood at a relaxed height on a sawhorse or two. You can keep it in place with either clamps or the weight of one knee.

Cross cuts go against the wood grain. You will want to use the same idea as with rip cuts when it comes to smooth, full strokes. However, it is often more difficult to begin the cut against the wood grain so you will want to start the cut by pulling your hand saw up two or three times, or until the direction of the cut is established. Next, you will want to push the saw blade forward at about a 45 degree angle. The initial break of the cut can often be messy so it is suggested that you begin your cuts on the side of the wood that will show the least. You can also apply masking tape to the cut line to reduce the amount of splintering.

Depending on what you are cutting, you should always consider tooth size. Saws with more teeth work best with finer cuts, but also work slower. You should also consider the blade. Conventional blades often have a skewed top edge that helps to improve balance. To reduce binding, some blades are ground thinner towards the back.

Hand saws also require a certain amount of maintenance to ensure the lasting quality and service. It is recommended that a handsaw be wiped down with an oily rag after you are done using it. This will extend the life of your saw. Also, be sure to use the tooth cover that your saw came with, or if you do not have one, make one out of a hose.

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