We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By clicking the Dismiss button on this page, you are giving your consent for us to set cookies. Privacy Policy


Handsaws have 14″ to 26″ blades. Fineness of cut depends on the number of cutting teeth per inch and tooth shape. A coarse crosscut saw with seven or eight teeth per inch is best for fast, rough work or for use on green wood. A fine-tooth crosscut saw with 10 or 11 teeth per inch is best for smooth, accurate cutting on dry, seasoned wood.

Some handsaws are available with special “aggressive-design” teeth-three cutting edges instead of the conventional two. They cut on both the forward and backward stroke, thereby cutting several times faster than saws with traditional teeth. They may also have the teeth induction hardened to help keep them sharp longer.

Quality features in saws include:

  • Tempered alloy blades. Lower grade steel quickly loses sharp edge but is easy to sharpen.
  • Rust-resistant or Teflon-S blade finish. Teflon-coated handsaws reduce many binding and residue buildup problems inherent to wood cutting. Reduced friction or drag makes for smoother, easier cutting.
  • Hardwood or sturdy plastic handle.
  • Special aluminum or plated-steel nuts and bolts to fasten blade to handle.
  • Taper-ground blades, thicker at the cutting edge, to prevent binding in the cut.
  • Bevel-filed teeth evenly set in two alternate rows, one row to the right of center, one row to the left; produces a groove or kerf slightly wider than the thickest part of the blade; prevents or reduces binding while sawing.


ripsaw has large, chisel shaped teeth, usually -1/2 teeth per inch, and is made to cut with the wood grain. Blade lengths measure from 24″ to 28″. Teeth are cross-filed to assure that the chisel point is set square to the direction of cutting for best performance. This saw is best held at a 60° angle to the surface of the board being cut. The ripping action of the saw produces a coarse, ragged cut which makes the saw unsatisfactory for finish work.


Bow saws Bow saws consist of a tubular steel frame and a saw blade for fast cutting of all woods.

The bow saw’s frame is important, since the thin blade, usually 3/4″ wide, must be held under high tension for fast cutting.

Advantages of this general-purpose saw are its all-round utility and light weight.

Quality features include a tension-lever clamp for fast blade insertion and replacement, and hardened, tempered steel blades for longer life.

In 21″, 24″ and 30″ lengths, bow saws normally have teeth placed in groups. Within each group, distance between teeth varies, insuring a smooth, vibrationless cut. Wide gullies provide ample space for sawdust to accumulate without binding the saw.

In the 36″, 42″ and 48″ lengths, the most popular toothing pattern provides for two cutter teeth to each raker tooth. This combination of teeth ensures maximum cutting ability in these longer lengths, regardless of wood hardness.

“Hard-point” blades, with tips as hard as an ordinary file, eliminate resharpening. Base of teeth and body of blade have normal hardness. Because blade stays sharp, cutting is faster and easier.


Keyhole or compass saws cut curved or straight-sided holes. Saw blades are narrow, tapered nearly to a point to fit into most spaces. Blades come in three or four styles that can be changed to fit the job.

Turret-head keyhole blades can be rotated and locked in several positions for easier cutting in tight, awkward spots.


Hacksaws are fine-toothed saws designed to cut metal. The saws consist of a blade held in a steel frame with relatively high tension.

High-tension models (with tension to 32,000 p.s.i.) are also available. High tension holds the blade more rigidly straight, which enables the user to make fast, straight cuts. Blade life is also increased. Look for a quick-release blade change mechanism, tension guide and rugged frame on these models.

Blades come in several designs; among them are coarse, medium, fine and very fine-toothed.

Regular or standard blades are used for general-purpose cutting; high-speed or bi-metal blades are for cutting hard, extra-tough steel.

The medium blade has 18 teeth per inch and is good for cutting tool steel, iron pipe and light angle iron.

A fine blade, which has 24 teeth per inch, cuts drill rod, thin tubing and medium-weight materials.

The very fine blade, with 32 teeth per inch, is used for extra thin materials, light angle irons, channels, wire rope and cable.

As a guide to selecting the right blade, find out what material will be cut; then suggest a blade that will have at least three teeth in contact with the material.

Frames vary in style and price. Most can be adjusted to hold various blade lengths. Some have both horizontal and vertical positions for blades. Others provide blade storage.

A close-quarter hacksaw holds and positions a hacksaw blade so it can be used effectively in narrow spaces and slots.

Quality models of these saws may also have induction-hardened teeth for longer life without sharpening.


dovetail saw blade is constructed with the same reinforced ridge found on a backsaw, giving it added rigidity and greater precision.

This saw cuts a true, smooth, narrow kerf. It has a straight handle for precise, positive grip. Teeth are very fine for smooth work. Dovetails are used in picture framing, cabinet work, toy making, etc.


Coping saws cut irregular shapes and intricate patterns. They consist of a saw blade and steel tension frame. The blade is removable. Blade sizes range from the rotary or wire type to 1/8″ wide.

Interior cuts, such as an entry hole for a birdhouse, are made by first drilling a hole, then threading the blade through it and attaching it to the frame. On the frame are clamps, called pawls, with slots into which the blade fits. Some blades are made to turn on the frame; other blades, called spirals, have the advantage of being able to cut in any direction without turning the saw.


This saw resembles a kitchen knife in design. It will cut plasterboard in the same fashion as a keyhole saw and is used for sawing holes for electric outlets, switchplates, etc. The saw is self-starting with a sharp point for plunge cuts.

Wallboard or drywall saws may also have induction teeth for longer life without sharpening.


Veneer saws are specially designed for sawing thin materials such as wood paneling. The blade is curved downward at the end, with cutting teeth on the curved part of the back to saw slots or grooves in the panel with minimum damage. Standard saw lengths are about 12″-13″, with 14 teeth per inch.


Rod saws are a form of hacksaw-type blades, used in regular hacksaw frames and capable of cutting through most hard materials-spring and stainless steel, chain, brick, glass and tile.

The blade consists of a permanently bonded tungsten carbide surface on a steel rod. Because the blade is round, it can cut in any direction.


Most commonly used crosscut saws are 10 to 12 point for fine work and 7 or 8 point for faster cutting. Ten teeth per inch is considered general purpose, 12-point being used for cabinet work. Teeth are shaped like knife points to crumble out wood between cuts. Best cutting angle for this saw is about 45°. Blade lengths range from 20″ to 28″, 26″ is most popular.


A large, two-man logging saw another form of crosscut saw-a long steel blade with wooden handles on both ends. Cutting is done as the loggers pull the saw back and forth between them across a tree or log.


backsaw is a thick-bladed saw with reinforced back to provide the rigidity necessary in precision cutting. It varies in length from 10″ to 30″ and is found in tooth counts from seven to 14 teeth per inch.


Miter boxes are used to help cut exact angles for wood trim, rafters, etc. Better models provide a mechanism for a backsaw.

Quality boxes provide more accuracy for deep cuts and have exact adjustments and calibrations. They have length gauges to aid in duplicating pieces and stock guides to allow for proper cuts on intricate molding. Other marks of quality are roller bearings in the saw guide and grips that hold the saw above work so both hands can be used to position the piece.

Some boxes feature magnetic mount guides. The magnets grasp and hold the saw to the miter box saw guide or hold the saw blade to the plane of the saw guide. This helps assure an accurate miter cut without impairing the saw stroke.


Most saws become dull with use and need periodic filing and resetting. A saw set is used to reset or bend teeth back to their original position so teeth will make a cut wider than the blade to avoid binding in the cut or kerf.

Most sets are made with a pistol grip and designed so the saw teeth are visible during setting. A good saw set should have enough calibrations to ensure an even set to each tooth. Saw sets can be used on back-, hand- and small circular saws with 4 to 16 points.


Utility knives are designed to cut heavy materials such as carpet, flooring, roofing, cardboard cartons, laminates and plastic. Blades can be replaced by disassembling the handle or ejecting them by depressing a spring-release button on the handle. Some knives swivel open to permit blade replacement.

Aluminum-bodied knives have superior strength and durability for heavy use. Locking features that hold blades securely between knife halves are available.

Extra blades can be stored in the handle. In many models, the blade is retractable so the knife can be carried in a pocket. Some models have “breakaway” points that keep scoring and cutting edge sharp. Miniature, pocket and hobby knives are available in various styles and sizes for whittling, modeling and trimming.


Circle cutters cut circular holes in sheets of metal, wood, plastic, hardboard, brass, copper, mild steel, aluminum or composition materials.

The cutter features a regular center drill with a cutting tool mounted on an adjustable bar. Diameter of the circle is regulated by a setscrew adjustment on the cutting bar. Downward pressure is applied as the regular bit pulls into the material and forces the cutting tool down in a slowly lowering circle.

Ground, hardened cutting tools assure clean, even cutting in a variety of materials. Cutting edges available on hole cutters include high-speed steel bi-metal, carbide grit and diamond grit. Each cutting edge is designed to work best on specific materials. Bi-metal for metal, wood, plastic, etc.; carbide for tile, brick, fiberglass and hard composites; diamond for glass, ceramics and other abrasive materials.

Due to the unbalanced load inherent in the design of these tools, for safety’s sake, they must be used only in drill presses or drill stands and never with a handheld drill.

Keep Cutting Tools Sharp
Six basic rules apply to redressing chisels and other tools with a cutting edge:
1. Always wear safety goggles.
2. Tool must be returned to its original shape.
3. Discard any tool with cracks or chipping.
4. Temperature must be kept low.
5. A medium or fine whetstone file should be used.
6. Wheel direction should always be from the cutting edge toward the body of the tool. This directs heat away from the cutting edge.
Cold chisels are generally hardened about 1-1/2′ back from the cutting edge and about 3/4″ back from the head. Redressing should be kept within these limits. The correct cutting edge bevel may vary from 55° through 90°. for all around use, 70 degrees is a good compromised. Soft metal bevel may be as low as 55 degrees and hard steel bevel as high as 90 degrees.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.