Beginner - Hand Saw Advice

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Forum topic by Ryan M. posted 12-03-2012 02:30 AM 4690 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ryan M.

2 posts in 3342 days

12-03-2012 02:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: beginner question hand saw

Hello all,

I am new to woodworking, and I’m still accumulating tools. For now, I would like to work exclusively with hand tools.

I currently have only one saw. It is an inexpensive 15” 8-pt saw that was probably purchased at one of the big box stores (it was a gift).

A few weeks ago, I purchased a Bailey No 5 plane. I used it to square one face and edge of a section of 2×10 yellow pine that is 24” long.

What is the best hand saw to use in order to rip this board into 3 or 4 pieces, each 2.5” wide? Is my 15” 8-pt saw sufficient, or do I need something else?

Recommendations for purchase are welcome. I don’t mind vintage tools, but I don’t think I’m in a position right now to restore anything. For now, I need something that I can have confidence in. Later on, after I get the feel for hand tools, I may be more interested in restoration.


5 replies so far

View Mosquito's profile


11480 posts in 3632 days

#1 posted 12-03-2012 02:41 AM

Depending on how the iron in the #5 is ground (straight edge, or with a camber) I’m sure you could rip with the saw you’ve got, assuming it’s decently sharp, and then clean them up and get them down to 2.5”.

If it were me, however, I’d opt for something a little longer, just because then you can take fewer long strokes instead of more short ones(changing direction is surprisingly energy consuming). I’ve got a cheap Irwin saw I picked up from a big box that’s 22” long, and some triple ground blah blah blah. It works fine for ripping, and I’ve used it to rip through 1” of red oak for 4’. Not the best cut ever, but that’s what planes are for :-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 5254 days

#2 posted 12-03-2012 03:41 AM

there are two kinds of saws – rip and crosscut. Mostly what you find in the big box stores will be a crosscut. The teeth are filed differently on the two saw. A crosscut has to sever the fibers on either side of the blade and then remove the chip in the middle, so you’ll see the teeth sharpened alternating from right to left and at an angle.

A rip saw has teeth like chisels – the teeth are file straight across, because it cuts with the grain, it needs to only scoop out the middle, the fibers of the wood will naturally tear away at the edges.

It is possible to rip with a crosscut, but it will be very slow and guiding it is more difficult.

Look for either a saw which explicitly says it is a rip saw or find a nice used one ( warning, even used ones are fairly hard to find!)

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 3486 days

#3 posted 12-03-2012 03:43 AM

Is this what you have?

Chris Schwarz actually recommends that saw as a good cheap option. Ripping a 24” board should be well within its capabilities. Ripping with a hand saw is not the most enjoyable activity though. I have one of these that I use for ripping:

It’s a ryoba style pullsaw. The teeth on one side are coarser and filed rip and the teeth on the other side are finer and intended for crosscutting. It works pretty well for knocking lumber down roughly to length and width and then I use planes to true them up.


View Ryan M.'s profile

Ryan M.

2 posts in 3342 days

#4 posted 12-03-2012 04:13 AM

The saw I have is a Vermont American. It is not the same as the Stanley link that you sent, but it looks similar.

Thanks to you all for the advice. It sounds like the saw I have will work, even if not ideal. I’ll give it a shot next chance I get and see what I end up with.

I just watched the Woodwright’s Shop episode on sawing from 2010. They had a great demonstration of the difference between crosscut and rip saws using a broom. Neat.

The ryoba style saw is interesting. Will it leave a cleaner cut than what I’m using now? I’m getting an ugly edge and a lot of tear out on the bottom, although I’m sure much of that is lack of skill.


View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 3486 days

#5 posted 12-03-2012 04:20 PM

Cleanliness of cut is generally a matter of the type of cut you’re doing and the sharpness of your saw. A dull saw leaves a crappier looking cut and has more tear out. In general, ripping leaves a rather ugly surface. Rip saws usually have fewer teeth, which contributes to an uglier cut.

There are some things you can do to reduce tear out. One of the main things I do is put blue painters tape along the line I’m cutting. This supports the wood fibers on the outside and helps to reduce tear out. Make sure your board is well supported as close to your cutting line as possible. As you’re nearing the end of your cut, change the angle you are sawing at to make it shallower. Make sure the offcut is always supported.


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