Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 26

Thread: Accuracy of handsaws

  1. #1

    Accuracy of handsaws

    Hi,

    In the recent handsaw threads, some folks have mentioned choosing to use handsaws when cuts really matter. Tom King posted some examples of trimming cedar shakes and a porch railing.

    I'm curious, due to my lack of experience, why some find a handsaw to be more accurate than a powered miter saw. It seems that the marking would be the critical part. Sawing to that marked line, whether with a handsaw or powered miter saw, seems like it would produce similar results based on skill level. At my skill level, the powered miter saw produces more consistent results. I'm curious what trouble or disappointment those that prefer the handsaw find with the powered miter saw. I'm not interested in a discussion of preferred work methods or any arguments, curiosity truly begs the question rather than a "right" or "wrong" approach.

    Thanks!
    Jonathan

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Elliott View Post
    Hi,

    In the recent handsaw threads, some folks have mentioned choosing to use handsaws when cuts really matter. Tom King posted some examples of trimming cedar shakes and a porch railing.

    I'm curious, due to my lack of experience, why some find a handsaw to be more accurate than a powered miter saw. It seems that the marking would be the critical part. Sawing to that marked line, whether with a handsaw or powered miter saw, seems like it would produce similar results based on skill level. At my skill level, the powered miter saw produces more consistent results. I'm curious what trouble or disappointment those that prefer the handsaw find with the powered miter saw. I'm not interested in a discussion of preferred work methods or any arguments, curiosity truly begs the question rather than a "right" or "wrong" approach.
    If I really wanted super precision, and I had a lot of identical parts to cut, I'd use a crosscut sled on the table saw. But if I only have a couple of pieces to do, a hand saw is faster (and cuts to the line just as well IMO) when you include setup time. A miter saw is louder and dustier then both, and is intermediate in setup time. Of course it helps to be able to cut a straight line.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    4,502
    I answered your question, but somehow got the threads mixed up, and put my answers, along with some pictures, in the other thread on "taper in handsaws". Sorry, I think I got mixed up when I went looking for pictures.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    20,582
    Blog Entries
    1
    I'm curious what trouble or disappointment those that prefer the handsaw find with the powered miter saw.
    My trouble is there isn't a powered miter saw in my shop to compare to my handsaws. Like Doug mentioned, the quiet nature of the handsaw and a quick set up has left me not wanting a powered miter saw.

    Once one has some experience a handsaw's results and consistency can rival that of a powered set up:

    Clean Edges.jpg

    The knifed line is visible all the way around this piece with a fairly smooth surface left by the saw.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  5. #5
    Power miter is faster and more accurate for me. Every handsaw I own drifts to the right. I have to ‘play the slice’ as golfers say and the use a shooting plane to straighten things up to get comparable accuracy with hand tools. (Dear Knowledgable Kneanderthals: Please do not try to help me with my handsawing technique. I am being facetious about it being the saws’ fault and I do know how to saw.)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
    Posts
    8,320
    There are some Mitersaws out there....that do not make a lot of noise....
    DVD Cabinet, miter a foot.JPG
    And are "cordless" Set up time? mark a line, make a cut....
    Poplar Box No. 2, start up.JPG
    As for handsaws?
    Atkins saw, in use.JPG
    Atkins No. 65, 8ppi, 26" length....trimmimg Ash
    Atkins saw, results 1.JPG
    There is a D-8 in the shop...
    Disston D-8, handle refinished.JPG
    With 11ppi. 26" length. Makes a bit finer cut cut than the #65....

    DVD Door Build, drop the plank.JPG
    When a plank comes down to the shop....sometimes the ONLY way to cut it down to size is with a handsaw....
    DVD Cabinet, nasty wood.JPG
    This is what I use for dovetails, and finger joints....and even a tenon or 2....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
    Posts
    109
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Elliott View Post
    Hi,

    In the recent handsaw threads, some folks have mentioned choosing to use handsaws when cuts really matter. Tom King posted some examples of trimming cedar shakes and a porch railing.

    I'm curious, due to my lack of experience, why some find a handsaw to be more accurate than a powered miter saw. It seems that the marking would be the critical part. Sawing to that marked line, whether with a handsaw or powered miter saw, seems like it would produce similar results based on skill level. At my skill level, the powered miter saw produces more consistent results. I'm curious what trouble or disappointment those that prefer the handsaw find with the powered miter saw. I'm not interested in a discussion of preferred work methods or any arguments, curiosity truly begs the question rather than a "right" or "wrong" approach.

    Thanks!
    Jonathan

    With limited disposable funds available in retirement I'm not able to purchase the mega-bucks powered miter saws that have next to little or no play on the blade and/or that has a blade that is smooth cutting. Not to mention the noise and dust extraction required. I'm happy with my Japanese saws that I use while seated and sawing vertically and giving me more accurate results. It is also more transportable and takes up lots less space.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    Posts
    5,463
    To achieve mechanical advantage, lateral travel of the sawplate must approach zero. Jeff Miller built a device to make cutting tenons in this manner.

    https://www.popularwoodworking.com/w...ble-tenon-jig/

    In practice, it's easier to freehand cut and plane (or chisel) the fit for precision.

    A properly tuned saw should track straight in most North American wood species. Saws that "wander" might need a tune-up.

  9. #9
    I prefer to do precision cuts on the powered miter saw or miter gauge on the table saw. It is just quicker and more accurate for me. I do occasionally break down long boards with a handsaw, for the same reason, quicker and more accurate. I like hand tools, but I don't feel the need to use them just to use them. I'll occasionally do some handsawing to stay in practice though, just not where I need to hit a 1/32.

    I tend to do more handsawing when I am doing field repairs at the family biz. It's just faster and easier to grab a hand saw or the Swede saw to cut a couple 2x4s rather than drag out the miter saw, extension cords, set up, take down, etc. Plus there, accuracy isn't quite as important. Most things are rough carpentry and working to +/- 1/8.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    153
    For as much satisfaction as I get from hand tool work, Iím in Andrewís camp on this one. Except for dovetail or mortise and tenon joinery, I donít do much hand sawing anymore. My CSMS and radial arm saws are precisely tuned; with their Forrest blades the cuts are as smooth and accurate as if they were planed with a shooting board. In other words, no additional fitting or clean-up is required.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    4,502
    I put my post, that were supposed to be a reply to this thread, in the wrong thread. Here is a link to the page in the other thread that has my replies to this:
    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....-it-make/page2

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    20,582
    Blog Entries
    1
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    I put my post, that were supposed to be a reply to this thread, in the wrong thread. Here is a link to the page in the other thread that has my replies to this:
    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....-it-make/page2
    Some of the images in your post reminded me of cutting the ends from the top of the legs of saw horses and saw benches after assembly. Also the bottoms of the legs were marked and cut after assembly. That is a compound angle that would might be difficult to set up on a miter saw when trying to support a cumbersome item.

    With a hand saw all one needs is a line and cutting small pieces can be unsafe on a power saw.

    This is the build of one saw horse:

    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?146777

    Dang, that was 9 years ago. All the saw horses in the picture are still in use. The ones that spend winters out side are getting a little ragged. Maybe it is time for a coat of paint.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  13. #13
    As Jim points out not all cuts can or should be made with power saws. If you go to the trouble of making a 1st class cut the cut off a back saw or even a hand saw will be cleaner than that from a power saw (provided correct TPI for the cut). I have no problem using power saws for "rough" work but if I want a clean joint if will be done without power.

    ken

  14. #14
    Thank you to all that have responded and shared your experiences. I'm really enjoying the different perspectives. As mentioned in the initial post, I currently fall in the power-saw-for-accurate-cuts camp but look forward to having the confidence to use a handsaw when it really counts, I can see the advantage.

    Jonathan

  15. Thanks for posting this one Jonathan - it's something I've been wondering about as well. For me, achieving consistency and acceptable accuracy with my hand saws is a challenge. I have access to some power tools (none mine, and with a possible move in the future for me, I won't have access to these forever!), including a sliding compound miter saw, table saw, and band saw, which all produce very accurate and consistent results with the right set up. The compound miter saw needing the least set up for square cross cuts. Of course, without a jointer, the final accuracy of the cut depends on me jointing an edge straight and square by hand, which I feel pretty confident about at this point.

    As far as cross-cutting with hand saws goes, I've yet to have that "aha!" moment. Maybe my expectations for accuracy and consistency are too high from using the power tools? Right now I'm working on acquiring some better saws, and learning to sharpen. I also need to get more practice with the saws I do have.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •