Hand Saw Buying Guide

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Power tools can be a lot of fun, but there are going to be times when you need more precise cuts or a little less power. That’s when you want to reach for the best hand saw you can find. Despite the fact that a hand saw appears straight-forward there are many details to know when choosing the right handsaw. Here’s a complete hand saw buyer guide to help you get the most out of your cuts and your tools.

Sawing Basics

Here are some basics that will get you started!

  • Always saw with light pressure. By taking your time, you allow the saw to do the work.
  • Be sure not to twist the blade but instead keep it perpendicular to your work.
  • Apply long, even strokes. This will make straighter and smoother cuts. It also helps to keep the blade lasting longer.
  • If completing a 45 of 90-degree angle is essential, use a miter box.
  • Clamp your work and keep it supported at all times. Also, it pays to check the material to ensure you don’t cut anything lying behind it by accident.
  • Remove all nails or staples that might be on the cut line.
  • Apply masking tape along both sides of your cut and run a utility knife over it before you saw. This will minimize splintering.
  • To ensure a straight cut, pay more attention to where you want the saw to go instead of where it currently is.

Different Varieties of Saws

There are several available varieties of saws that you can choose from. Each offers a specific purpose and helps to achieve a unique cut.

Carpenter Saw
This is your stereotypical hand saw, but not always the best choice for a job. It offers a long, slightly tapered blade and a large handle. Use this for the general cutting of soft materials if you don’t have a better saw available.

Best Carpenter Saw

Stanley 20-526 SharpTooth

Our pick for best carpenter saw is the Stanley 20-526 SharpTooth Hand Saw. Featuring an excellent design that is easy to yield for quick, accurate cuts, this hand saw is sure to be a staple in your woodshop.

  • Sharper for Longer
    Induction-hardened teeth last five times longer than standard saw teeth.
  • Welded Handle
    No screws to deal with! The handle stays strong year after year.
  • Great Grips
    Ergonomically designed handle covered in high-impact, slip-resistant rubber.

Back Saw
A backsaw is similar to the carpenter saw but is shorter. It also features a reinforced top edge which helps to reduce flexing. The blade is thinner and fine-toothed offering an easier to control saw. Use this saw for creating dovetails, tenons or other joinery.

Best Back Saw

Stanley FatMax 17-202

The Stanley Fatmax 17-202 Back Saw is our recommendation for the best back saw you can buy. Reasonably priced with great quality, this saw is an ideal choice for cutting dovetails, miters and tenons. This push stroke saw is great for fine finishing work and cuts clean and fast.

  • It Stays Sharp
    Induction-hardened teeth for high durability and teeth sharpness.
  • Fast, Clean Cuts
    Cuts 50% faster than conventional back saws due to the three-sided tooth design.
  • Great Grips
    Ergonomically designed handle covered in high-impact, slip-resistant rubber.

Hack Saw
This light and cheap tool is great for the toolbox because it can be used on light-duty metal cutting. You will find them in two shapes. The bow is generally more popular and can hold longer blades. The mini hacksaw is just a handle for the hacksaw blade. This is great for tight spaces but can be difficult to use. Use these saws for cutting metal, tile, masonry or glass. They can also be handy for soft plastics.

Best Hack Saw


The DeWalt DWHT20547L 5-in-1 Hack Saw is easily our top pick for best hack saw that your money can buy. The saw is extremely rugged and fits easily in tight spaces, it's ruggedness allows it to remain stable during cuts, especially in those smaller spaces. The saw also feels great in the hands due to the ergonomic handle.

  • Cutting Angles
    45 or 90 degree blade angle adjustment allows for standard or flush cuts.
  • High Tension
    The cutting blade is tensioned at a whooping 330 lbs! Talk about sturdy.
  • Jab Saw Bonus
    The front handle of this saw can be turned into a jab saw, a great bonus feature when on the job.

Japanese Pull Saw
Beginners love these saws because they are easy to use. Instead of cutting during the push movement, they work to cut during the pull stroke. This creates a more accurate and straighter cut. They are thinner saws and provide a way to work with less fatigue. This saw works well to cut with ease and precision.

Best Japanese Pull Saw

Ryoba Double Edge Razor Saw

When looking for the best Japanese Pull Saw you can buy, look no further than the Ryoba Double Edge Razor Saw. An extremely sharp saw that makes finer cuts a breeze and even ripping a breeze. Cuts are super clean and straight and can even cut through thick cedar like nothing.

  • Very Fine Kerf
    Super sharp with a very fine kerf. This saw cuts into wood like butter.
  • Crosscut & Ripping
    One saw to handle both crosscuts and ripping with ease.

Coping Saw
If you need to cut fine details, the coping saw is a great choice. While they excel at cutting tight or complex curves, they aren’t good at straight lines.

Best Coping Saw

Robert Larson 520-2000

The Robert Larson 520-2000 Coping Saw is an excellent choice if you are looking to add a coping saw to your arsenal. The blade can be adjusted to any angle making it easy to approach your work piece. The saw also feels sturdy in your hand which helps you get great, precise cuts.

  • German Made
    You know the germans make great stuff. This saw is high quality.
  • High Tension
    The blade is under high tension and is easy to rotate, a great combination.

Jab Saw
Cutting freeform holes into thin material works well with this thin-wedged blade saw. When you can’t use a coping saw, as in the deep interior of plywood, the jab saw is a great tool. It also works well for cutting holes in pipes or fittings.

Best Jab Saw

Stanley 20-556 FatMax

With hundreds of stellar customer reviews, the Stanley 20-556 FatMax may easily be the best jab saw you can buy. As seen on other Stanley saws, the SharpTooth technology allows this saw to cut 50% faster than other conventional jab saws.

  • Razor Sharp
    This saw is razor sharp thanks to induction-hardened teeth, cutting drywall is no obstacle for this beast.
  • Sharpened Tip
    The sharpened tip is great for poking into drywall to get your cutting started.
  • Ergonomic Grip
    An excenllt thick, rubber grip helps resist slipping in your hand.

Quick Guide to Technique

While each saw will require a variety of techniques in order to use it properly, there are some general guidelines to follow no matter which saw you work with.

First of all, always remember that a saw is a sharp tool and can be quite dangerous. It is wise to always take proper safety measures when working with a saw.

Perfect Your Grip
Gripping your handle properly is essential. A proper grip is going to require you to wrap your thumb and the last three fingers of your hand around the grip. This leaves your index finger pointed forward resting gently alongside your handle. You will need to maintain a firm yet gentle grip on the saw at all times.

Making the Cut
Use your non-dominant hand on the edge of the board. Make sure that your fingers are curled over the edge. With your fingers tight together, move the saw to the line you want to cut. Bring the saw to the touch plate where your index finger is bent. Your knuckle should be touching the plate above the teeth but do not run the teeth along your finger.

Begin to move the saw back and forth. Do this in a short three to four-inch path. Lower the teeth of the saw to the wood. This should only make a small scratch in the wood to start. Once you are ready to move the saw faster, it is wise to move your hand a few inches away.

Maintain body position so you can continue moving in line with the cut. Allow the saw’s weight to do all the work while you maintain the smooth motion.

Saw Maintenance Tips

Keeping your saw in its best shape is important to provide a good cut. Follow these simple tips for your best chance of success.

  • Make sure the blades are sharp and true. Before sawing, make sure the blade is flat, straight and that none of the teeth are bent from the center. Sharpen or replace any bent or dull blades.
  • Keep the saw dry and clean. Dirty blades will rust and bind during work. As long as they are kept away from moisture and remain clean, rust can be prevented. You can also use a light oil on the blade to prevent rusting, just don’t do this with blades for fine woodworking.
  • Protect the blades by slitting a garden hose to slip over the blades when not in use to keep them straight.


Using a hand saw is a great way to make precise and accurate cuts in your projects. If you want to get the job done successfully, you need to pick the right handsaw, use the proper techniques and care for it meticulously. Then, you will be able to move beyond the basics into the professional realm of cutting with saws.

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