12 Types Of Hand Saws and What They’re For

Types of hand saws

After considering a purchase of a new handsaw for my garage toolkit, I came across a wide variety of these tools that I could choose from. Not sure where to start, I decided to compile a list of 12 main categories and come up with a comprehensive guide on what each one is used for to help myself make a decision.

What are the different types of hand saws and what are they for? There are 12 main types of hand saws: back, bow, coping, crosscut, fret, hack, Japanese, keyhole, pruning, tip cut, veneer, and wallboard saws.

They all serve different purposes, ranging from small, precise incisions to larger and rougher cuts for chopping wood. You can find hand saws in all different shapes and sizes, some of them look like nothing you have ever seen before. With the ability to make fast cuts or get into small areas with the blades, the possibilities are endless.

When it comes to cutting Into almost any kind of material, a handsaw tool can usually help. Whether you are using it in your garage or backyard or at your business location, you might have found use for one of these handy tools at one point or another.

While considering the purchase or use of any kind of hand saw, it is important to understand what all of your options are. Since different tools will yield specific results, you will have a lot to think about before you make your choice. Keep reading to get all of the information that you need in order to do so effectively.

12 Types Of Hand Saws And What They’re For

When it comes to choosing the perfect handsaw for the purpose that you need, there are a variety of factors that must be considered. Just like almost any other kind of tool, there are tons of categories and types of handsaws that are available to purchase.

On top of that, each one comes with special features, which makes them ideal for their own category and level of tasks.

For example, one hand saw might have a thinner and more precise blade for small incisions, while another might have wide teeth on the blade for the purpose of roughly separating materials only.

The type of hand saw that you choose will really depend on your personal preferences and your needs as an individual, there is really no hand saw that is better than the others. It is just about which one will be best of for the task at hand.

Since you are probably looking for the right type of hand saw for you, just like I was, I have put together a quick outline of the main types of handsaws. They are placed into 12 main categories, and will each be explained in detail shortly after.

Keep reading this section to discover all of the different types of hand saws that exist, as well as what you might need to use them for.

12 Types Of Hand Saws:

  • Back Saw
  • Bow Saw
  • Coping Saw
  • Crosscut Saw
  • Fret Saw
  • Hacksaw
  • Japanese Saw
  • Keyhole Saw
  • Pruning Saw
  • Tip Cut Saw
  • Veneer Saw
  • Wallboard Saw

The first type of hand saw that we will get into is the back saw. This is a very short saw that possesses a narrow and thin blade to go along with it.

The blade itself is reinforced along the edge on the top of the saw, which is why it is called the “back saw”. The user will use the handle that is positioned at a diagonal in this location.

Back saws are usually utilized with miter boxes, to give you a quick reference of where you might use or see one of these. However, they are really used for straight and fine lines that need to be cut into any material.

The bow saw, on the other hand, is classified as a type of crosscut saw. This is normally used for outdoor tasks, instead of on the inside of a home. There is a pretty extended blade attached to these types of saws, with tons of teeth that cut through material while also moving from side to side to separate the surface.

The teeth on the blade of the bow saw are crosscut. These are most commonly used for cutting trees, logs, and pruning. If you ever use a bow saw, you should be prepared for a rough cut.

The coping saw also has a narrow and thin blade, and is ideal for making small and precise cuts into almost any material. They are normally used out in the job field by furniture makers, carpenters, plumbers, and many other similar occupations.

The crosscut saw is very similar to the bow saw that was previously discusses, due to the fact that there are several beveled teeth across the blade.

This type of saw is also used to cut wood in a rough manner, using a thick blade and very large ridges on top. There is another design of this saw that is made for two people to hold onto either side and saw lumber down together.

Very similar to the coping saw, the fret saw is constructed in a manner with a very long and narrow blade that is made for prevision cutting. However, the blade of this type of saw is not able to be rotated, meaning that the user will have to move it around a lot or reposition their body in order to execute certain intricate angles and positions while cutting.

Out of all of the above choices that were described, the hacksaw is probably something that you have actually heard of before. This type of saw Is normally used for cutting pipes and thick tubes, and also happens to be one of the most common types of saws.

Besides its recognizable name, this type of saw is easy to maneuver and can be used for almost anything, from wood to metal and plastic. There are special teeth on the blades that work for different types of material on a hacksaw, with several of them existing per inch.

The Japanese saw is a single-handled saw that possesses a thin yet strong blade coming out of the other end. Although the back saw is very precise in the delicate lines that it can achieve, the Japanese saw is actually even more accurate.

With the small and versatile blade, this type of saw can reach almost anywhere, even when other saws fall short. You can get a Japanese saw in three types: ryoba, kataba, or dozuki).

The keyhole saw, on the contrary, is another single blade with a handle. However, this type of  blade is increasingly thin and narrow. In fact, it almost looks like you could put it through a keyhole and use it to pick a lock.

These types of saws are most commonly used for removing drywall inside of a house when a power tool is not available or feasible.

The pruning saw is another unique type of hand saw. With a curved blade that comes from a handle that is shaped just like a pistol grip, there are several rough teeth that cut in both directions as the user operates the saw.

This type of saw might be in the homeowner’s toolkit of you or someone that you know. However, they can also be used by landscapers, lawn caretakers, and the people who cut down and trim the branches of trees.

Also confused with the hand saw on many occasions, the rip cut saw is great for wood faming. There are only a few teeth for every inch of the blade, but they are each very sharp and specially designed to cut through wooden materials. This is also the primary use for this type of saw.

The next uniquely shaped handsaw is called the veneer saw. This tool looks very similar to a small handheld garden hoe.

There is a blade with a double edge that has less than 15 teeth for every inch that is covers. It is normally used for tasks that require prevision, but not much else. If you try to use a veneer saw for anything but small jobs, you won’t have much luck.

Last but not least, the wallboard saw is a tool that looks very similar to the keyhole saw, if you could picture it from the previous description.

This one has a short and wide blade, with a fewer teeth count along the edge. These types of saws are usually equipped with double-edge blades, and are used for anything from cutting drywall, paneling, and making pilot holes in a variety of surfaces for nails and screws to follow.

How To Use a Hand Saw

Now that you have learned almost everything that there is to know about the 12 different types of hand saws that exist, as well as what you might need to use them for, you might be wondering how you can actually use them.

In this section and the next, we will be covering the topic of how you can use a hand saw, as well as some safety tips that you should follow in doing so.

Since there are tons of unique shapes of handsaws and the instructions of use for each one couldn’t possibly fit in this section,  we will go over the most basic concepts of how to use any type of handsaw.

Take a look at the list down below to get a general idea of how you can operate one of these manual tools, no matter which one you choose to purchase.

How To Use a Hand Saw:

  1. Make sure that your material is secured to a workbench
  2. Use a ruler and pencil to mark the line that you would like to cut along
  3. Equip yourself with the proper safety gear
  4. Take the handle of the saw and place the blade on top to the wood (about a half inch away from where the line is drawn)
  5. Grip the handle firmly, but relax the muscles in your hand to prevent strains
  6. Check your posture and foot stance before you start cutting
  7. Use your other hand to hold the wood in place carefully
  8. Begin using a back and forth motion while applying a light amount of pressure onto the saw
  9. Check your work after every few motions, make sure you are cutting in a straight line
  10. Keep sawing until the material is ready to break apart on the line that you cut, this will be your cue to slow down and go easier on the pressure
  11. Place your saw down carefully and pull the two pieces apart

Before you begin doing anything with the handsaw, you will need to make sure that your material is secured to a workbench. No matter what the material is that you are cutting, you will need to make sure that it stays in one place and that it will not move when you start maneuvering the saw on top of it.

When you are making a cut with a handsaw, it can be difficult to hit on the exact point that you are envisioning in your head. Although you might have a general idea of where you would like to make the cut, you might get carried away and end up cutting at a slight angle, which is not what you want at all.

In order to avoid this problem before it occurs, you will need to use a pencil and a ruler to mark the exact line that you would like to be cut by your saw. That way, you have something to follow along with, and you will be able to check your work as you go along to meet your goal.

As you get closer to actually beginning the cut, you will need to equip yourself with all of the necessary safety gear, which will be discussed in detail in the next section.

Take the handle of the saw in your dominant hand and place the blade on top of the wood, about a half inch away from where your line is drawn on either side. It can be difficult to cut exactly where you want to using a hand saw, which is why you should give yourself some extra room.

Otherwise, you will probably cut off too much material, even though you started on the exact line that you drew for reference.

Grip the handle firmly so that you have a nice grip, but don’t hold it too tightly to where you will strain the muscles in your hand. Check your posture and foot stance before you start, making sure that you are standing firmly on the ground and you can use your strength and balance to execute this task correctly.

Use your other hand to hold the end of the material that is opposite the saw, and begin moving the the blade in a back and forth motion. This should be slow and gentle while applying enough pressure to actually make a dent into the material.

Check your work after every few motions, making sure that you are staying accurate to the line that you drew. Keep sawing until you notice that the surface is about to completely separate, and ease up on the pressure.

If you are cutting wood, now would be a good time to hold the end that is about to fall off in order to prevent splinters and uneven cuts.

Finally, you will place your saw down carefully and separate the two pieces if they have not done so by themselves already.

Safety Tips For Using Hand Saws

To elaborate more on the information that was offered in the previous section about how you can use almost any type of hand saw, there is one more related topic to discuss: safety tips for completing this task.

While it is good to know how to do something, and you might feel like a handsaw expert already just from the previous section, it is important not to get ahead of yourself.

Even though it might seem like an easy task, there are many things that could go wrong if you are not careful and aware of them. Take a look at the list of safety tips down below for using hand saws.

Safety Tips For Using Hand Saws:

  1. Wear all of the proper safety equipment (safety goggles, durable gloves, closed toed boots or shoes)
  2. Begin with a test cut to make sure that your cutting material is secured
  3. Keep your hands away from the path of the saw (with your fingers curved inward at all times)
  4. Make sure that you are using the right kind of saw
  5. Keep the blades sharp at all times

As mentioned in the previous section, you will need to wear all of the proper safety equipment before you begin operating a handsaw. This equipment includes safety goggles, durable gloves, and closed toed boots or shoes.

All of this apparel will help to protect the body parts that you will be using to complete the task at hand, while preventing any injuries that could happen if anything fell toward your feet.

In addition to the formal safety gear and closed toed shoes, you will need to wear the proper apparel that will protect your arms and legs from anything that you might come in contact with. This does not have to be anything special, it can just be a long sleeve shirt and some pants.

Before you start applying pressure to the blade, you should begin with a test cut to make sure that everything is secured and it will not move when you start sawing. If you move the saw in one direction lightly without pushing down and the material shifts, you need to readjust before you proceed.

Keep your hands away from the path of the saw at all times, including the hand that is holding the material down. To make sure that you will not suffer from any accidents, keep your fingers curved inward.

When you are holding the material with your non-dominant hand, it should look like you have half fingers because you are tucking them underneath your palm.

In addition to your technique, always make sure that your blades are sharp. If they are too dull, you will need to push extra hard on the saw to make the cut into the material.

With added force on the tool, you might end up shifting your form in a way that is incorrect and unsafe. In the worst case scenario, you could push it too hard and cause it to come in contact with your fingers or another body part.

To stay away from this before you have to deal with it, make sure that your blades are constantly sharp, and replace them whenever needed.

Finally, you need to make sure that you are using the right kind of saw. If you are trying to use a tiny veneer saw for a large tree trunk, it will not work, and you might end up hurting yourself.

Refer back to the first section to find out which saw should be used for which purpose, and be careful not to get them confused.

How To Properly Maintain a Hand Saw

To tie up this entire conversation about the different types of hand saws and how you can safely use them, we will conclude on the topic of how to maintain them. While it is true that you can purchase a handsaw and use it safely and properly, we have not yet gone over how you can keep your new tool in good condition.

Depending on the type of handsaw that you choose to purchase, you could end up spending a good amount of money to acquire it. With that being said, there is no reason to knowingly waste your funds by not caring about the maintenance.

Just like you need to know how to use your tool and replace the blades the right way, you will also need to know how you can keep it clean and in good working condition. If you neglect the maintenance of your hand saw, you won’t be able to enjoy it for long.

So, follow along with the maintenance tips that are outlined in the section down below, along with the rest of the details that are directly underneath. This will help you to take great care of your new hand saw and ensure that both of you will have a long and happy life together.

How To Properly Maintain a Hand Saw:

  • Clean it before and after use
  • Store it in a cool and dry place
  • Keep the blades sharp
  • Replace the blades as needed

First and foremost, you should always be cleaning your hand saw before and after you use it. When you use this tool to cut into anything, there will inevitably be dust and debris that will come off of it.

This can consequently get stuck in between the teeth, depending on how fine they are, or larger chunks of wood or metal can be resting or building up on the surface of the blade.

No matter what you have been cutting into, the last thing you want is rusting, damage, or discoloration on the blade of your hand saw. As a result, you should always keep it clean and dry between uses and whenever else you see fit.

Speaking of dry, your handsaw should also be stored in a cool and dry place. Instead of leaving it outside to become damaged by the sun, or allowing it to rest in a location where there is a lot of water, you should place it inside of its own case or in a larger tool box. You can even create a custom rack in your shop or garage to hold it up.

If you don’t care about where you leave your handsaw lying around, then you won’t be able to complain when you find it rusting and eroding. Since this is something that nobody wants to deal with, it is best to avoid all together.

In addition to keeping everything clean, safe, and dry, you should always make are that your blades are sharp and precise. If they begin to dull prematurely, you can cause a lot of damage to your saw due to the added pressure that you will have to put into it to make any cuts.

Replace the blades as needed, in order to prevent any safety issues or premature wear and tear that can come with dulled hand saw blades.

As you can see, there are so many different types of hand saws that are available, and they all serve their own unique purposes. Depending on the task at hand, you should be able to select the right hand saw for you and use it in an effective and safe manner, thanks to all of the helpful tips and pointers that you grabbed from this article.

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