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how to cut properly using a hand saw? Answered

well i tried using a hand saw to cut a piece of plywood, but instead of getting it cut at 90 degrees to the edge it just cut in an angle, how do i control this ??


And always use the full length of the saw. Many newcomers tend to use just the middle teeth, which do all the work and the saw is thus "worn out" even if the end teeth have never been used.

I'm no good at this, so I use a bunch of tricks instead -

  • Measure twice, cut on- ...oh, the heck with it, I might as well measure again, just for luck :).
  • Run a line of masking tape along the "good" side (the side you're going to keep) of the cut. It keeps the wood from splintering, and it helps guide the saw. If you're not just cutting off what will be a scrap, lay the masking tape down first, along what will be your cutting line, then mark your cut on the tape itself.
  • Using a straight edge, score your cutting line into the wood with a stanley knife or something similar. This helps guide the saw blade along the correct line.
  • Like Prfesser said, clamp your work. The more solidly (and conveniently) your workpiece is held down, the better your cut will be.
  • The first few strokes are key - they set the angle of the cut. Place your saw carefully, smooth easy pressure on the downstroke, let up on the backstroke (this also helps allow the sawdust to fall out of the cut).
  • Check the cut after a stroke or two - this is your one chance to (maybe) reset the cutting angle if it's a little off.
  • Slow and steady does the trick. Firm and easy on the downstroke, light and easy on the back stroke. That cutting line you drew and scored before is your best friend.
  • As the cut gets very deep, it may tend to bind, especially if you haven't been able to clamp the workpiece as well as you'd like. Gravity and the sawing pressure tend to push the cut faces toward each other, where they grab onto your saw blade and make trouble. Proper carpenters might not do this (I don't really know what proper carpenters do), but I turn the piece over so that the uncut portion is on top and the saw pressure is tending to push the cut faces apart. Then I re-start the cut, keeping as straight and true as I can. The two cuts seldom match up quite perfectly when I'm done, but I just sand off the difference.
  • If at all possible, use a good sharp saw. A dull blade will foul things up no matter what you do.

Good luck with your project. :)

Use the "three finger grip" - thumb and three fingers around the handle with the index finger pointing straight in line with the blade. I find the index finger acts as a sensor, which helps keep the saw steady. No force is being exerted by the index finger, it is just touching the handle. Try it both ways while watching the handle and I think you will find the handle is all over the place with the index finger is wrapped around the handle. I have also found that with the saw close to my body (as if I'm constantly trying to sight down the blade to ensure a square cut) never works. I consciously move my body away from the hand saw a bit and I get much better cuts.

"a dull blade...' if you hit a nail with a blade, and the teeth lose their edge on just one side, the saw will forever cut in a circle :( 100% agree with that statement.

A very common error in sawing is beavering the saw back and forth very fast. If you're new to sawing, you want one full second or longer for each full stroke. Going too fast actually slows the cutting action. Another error is applying force on both the forward and back stroke. Push the saw into the work on the forward stroke, then ease up on the backstroke. Little or no cutting action occurs on the back stroke anyway. Both of these actions give you more control, and you should be able to keep to the line a little better. Practice on scrap. Oh, and clamp down the work, especially if it's small. Good luck -- Prfesser