The backsaw is a must have in any arsenal of carpentry or woodworking equipment. A backsaw is used when the job calls for an extra degree of precision in the work. Backsaws are great for the detail work that is commonly required in such activities as cabinetry or joinery jobs. The backsaw is much like any other handsaw, with a couple of important exceptions.
As backsaws are most commonly used to achieve a higher level of detail in the carpentry, they have a cross cut style blade. With a cross cut blade the saw has many closely spaced teeth, and in the case of the backsaw, relatively little to no set. The set of the blade is the space between the points of the teeth and determines the kerf or width of the cut being made. With little to no set, the backsaw is appropriate for very precise and narrow work.
Backsaws are able to achieve their fine cut because of the narrow blade that they sport. A backsaw also provides precision by giving the operator a blade that will not wobble or shift at all as a cut is made. A rigid backing can be found welded over the steel of the blade itself, with this backing running into the handle to provide stiffness.
The backsaw can come in a couple of different varieties suited for particular purposes. Tenon and dovetail backsaws usually come with a pistol style grip. For extremely detailed work, often times seen with model railroads or aircraft, the razor backsaw is used. A razor style backsaw has a very small blade with many fine teeth.
When the accuracy, or angle, of the cut is very important, a mitre box is commonly employed. Using a mitre box, the operator can make consistent cuts at a precise angle. This comes in handy when doing precision work such as cutting out a picture frame or working on cabinets. A sharp knife is also a good tool to complement a backsaw with. Before you begin cutting with the backsaw, it is usually a good idea to make a light cut using a knife on the surface. This will prevent the backsaw from splintering the wood as you attempt to make the first cuts.
Backsaws can be found at most home improvement and hardware stores by such manufacturers as Stanley. If you want to look around online for deals, places such as hardwareandtools.com offer a wide selection. On the more expensive end, you can find fine backsaws at such vendors as woodworking.com.