How to Saw Wood with HandSaw

The word handsaw is a generic term covering the three main types of saw which are similar in appearance – cross­cut saw, panel saw and rip saw. All three have a thin flexible saw blade which is deeper at the shoulder (handle) end than at the toe end. The back of the blade is often skewed, and the whole blade can be taper-ground (thicker on the blade edge than the top edge and thicker at the handle end than at the toe end). These saws generally come in blade lengths of 20 to 26in – the smaller ones are panel saws and the larger ones generally rip saws. They have blades like the Lenox bandsaw blades which you can also use to cut log woods.

Rip saws are used for cutting along the grain of the timber. They have fairly coarse teeth (about five points) and are especially useful for cutting large or thick pieces of wood.

Cross-cut saws have teeth designed for cutting fairly thick timber across the grain. They usually have seven or eight points per inch.


Panel saws vary considerably. They are designed for cutting panels of man-made boards such as plywood and chipboard. Often the teeth are similar to those on cross-cut saws, but smaller (about nine to eleven points). Sometimes panel saws have cross-cut teeth which are straight-sharpened (like a rip saw). A panel saw is often the only handsaw you need since it can be used to cut both with and across the grain of wood (though it does both jobs more slowly than the individual rip and cross-cut saws) and it can also be used to cut man-made panels which both rip and cross-cut saws have difficulty cop­ing with.

Using a handsaw is quite simple – it should be gripped with the index finger pointing down the blade and pressure should be applied (not too heavily) on the forward stroke only. Keep the saw at an angle of around 60 degrees to the wood when rip cutting and rather less when cutting panels and cross-cutting. When cutting thin panels make sure that the panel is well supported on both sides of the sawing line and take care when finish­ing a cut. Avoid any situation (such as cutting wood between two supports) where the wood will tend to sag and jam the saw blade near the end of a cut, or possibly even split or tear the wood.

Filed Under: Home & Maintenance


About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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