A quick guide to saws
Just a quick look in a DIY store shows you that there are lots of different saws out there and no one could blame you if you weren’t sure what’s what.
However, by finding out what the different types of handsaw are used for, the chances are you’ll make choices that will not only save you time and money, they’ll improve your finished project.
Basically, the rougher and quicker the cut you need, the fewer teeth the saw needs to have. So, it makes sense that for intricate work, smaller teeth will give a smoother and neater finish. A good all-rounder would be a saw with about 10 teeth per inch (10tpi).
Panel saws tend to be around 22 inches long and are used for fairly rough, straight cutting of larger timber such as that used for roofing or building, including chipboard.
A coping saw is a small saw with a fine, thin blade. The blade is held under tension at each end of a U shaped frame with the teeth pointing towards the handle so that the wood is cut on the pull stroke. Because it’s so thin and fine it can be turned easily for more intricate curves.
Cutting a hole by hand requires a saw that is a bit like a thin knife in shape with the blade attached to the handle. They are known as hole saws, sabre saws, jab saws, keyhole saws or pad saws and are very useful if you’re doing any plumbing or electrical jobs that need holes cut in chipboard or plasterboard.
Hacksaws are specifically designed for cutting through metal though they work well for cutting plastic guttering or pipes. They come in a full size version or a junior version that can be used for smaller jobs. The blades – between 18tpi and 30tpi – are hand tightened into the frame.
Mitre saws are specialist saws which are used for creating mitre joints. They have a smooth, fine cutting blade and can do intricate work as the saw’s cutting angle is adjustable up to 45 degrees, left and right, and can move up and down.
General care of your saws means keeping them clean and dry after use and protecting the teeth to minimise knocks and blunting. As always, using the right tool for the job is more likely to get satisfactory results.