A hand saw is a slim but large-scale steel blade that has sharp teeth at the bottom that tends to cut into the wood on the push stroke. If it's a Japanese hand saw, then it will use the pull stroke to cut wood.
In terms of function, all the handsaws out their work in the same principle. The sharp teeth dig into the material first, and as you push and pull the saw, the blade starts to cut. The sharper the blade, the cleaner the cut will be.
With a few pointers and a little practice, it's simple to master the basic technique of using a handsaw. Here's how a hand saw function.
You're going to start by getting a small notch going. Now, the saw will leave a kerf, which is the grove left behind by the blade teeth.
So, start a bit to the waste side of the cut line. You can always sand down the edge if it's a little too long.
Hold your saw correctly about a 45-degree angle to where you're cutting. Keep your elbow close to your body to keep the cuts straight and prevent the blade from wobbling.
Pointing out your forefinger along the grip helps get a more accurate cut. Make sure to keep the blade straight. Take long strokes to use the full length of the blade.
Don't press down heavily on the saw, or it will bind. Let the saw do the work for you. Here are a few more tips.
- Clamp a scrap of wood along your cut line. It helps keep the blade in line and protects the surface if your hand saw skips.
- If the wood is pinching in or behind the cut, the saw can bind. Stick a nail in the kerf as you go to prevent this.
- Cut with a shallow angle when you're cutting wet wood or when you get toward the end of your cut to finish it off smoothly.
- Use a sharp blade, and make sure you're using the right saw for the job.
Hand saws, like the rest of the hand tools out there, do require some effort and muscular strength to operate. The technique doesn't take that long to learn, but it will a while to master.
The challenging aspect of a hand saw is to master straight cuts. Also, don't apply too much pressure. Let the blade length and long strokes to do all the work.