Of all the different types of saws available out there on the market, the handsaw is perhaps the simplest and most pervasive of them all. The handsaw has traditionally been the workhorse of the carpentry and woodworking worlds. Handsaws have been used for centuries, with the earliest examples dating back as far as the Egyptians.
Handsaws most commonly see action in woodworking activities, usually in the making of furniture. A handsaw allows the operator to achieve fine cuts at almost any angle. When shopping for a handsaw, there are a number of attributes to keep in mind. The “rake” of a handsaw is the angle of the teeth on the blade. A positive rake means that the teeth are sharply angled. A rake of zero means that the teeth are flat angled, and a negative rake implies that the teeth are angled away from the cutting direction.
The pitch of a handsaw blade indicates how many teeth you will find per inch on the saw. With more teeth per inch, you can expect a smoother cut along the edge. With fewer teeth per inch, you may be able to cut through the wood with fewer strokes, but the cut will not be as smooth. A handsaw with more teeth is commonly known as a crosscut saw, while a handsaw with fewer teeth is known as a rip cut saw. The length between the points of the saw teeth is known as the kerf, or cutting width of the blade. Select a handsaw with a high kerf for a wider cut in the wood.
The operation of a handsaw is simple enough. Grip the handle firmly and use your thumb and first finger to guide it through the wood. Push and pull evenly, letting the saw do the work for you. If the saw should become stuck, do not attempt to force it through.
You can find handsaws at most any home improvement or hardware store. Prices vary, but most handsaws should be very affordable, varying in the ten to twenty dollar range. If you want to check online, there are some good deals to be found at places like hardwareandtools.com, as well as doitbest.com.
Although power tools may be doing jobs faster these days, the traditional handsaw still has a place in any serious woodworking or carpentry arsenal. For personal or small hobby projects, a handsaw is most likely all you need.