Page 2 of 5 FirstFirst 12345 LastLast
Results 16 to 30 of 74

Thread: Saw advice

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Borger, Texas
    Posts
    1,418
    Blake, you may already know the following, and I am sure that almost all of the folks on this site know the following hand saw basics, but thought it would not hurt to list some basic information for the very small number who do not. When you ask a question about saw choices you will get a lot of answers because not everyone has the same likes and dislikes, and there are many different types of woodworking done. Obviously folks who build a lot of wooden toys will use different tools than the person who is a cabinetmaker. That said, there are a few basics that we all know:

    Generally speaking larger saws are a better choice for working with larger dimension lumber. Likewise larger tooth sizes cut more quickly on thicker wood than do saws with smaller teeth. This in many ways due to the gullet sizes of the teeth. Smaller teeth have smaller gullets, and these will fill up with sawdust more quickly than larger gullets, and when full the saw no longer cuts as the full gullets prevent most of the tooth length from reaching the wood. Thus, if you are ripping 12/4 oak, you will want a 3 to 4 1/2 point saw, if cross cutting that oak you may want a 6 point cross cut. Of course there is a price because as always there is no free lunch. The coarser toothed saw will cause more tear out on the underside of the board you are cutting and also leave a rougher surface. Because the longer saw blade allows you to take longer cutting strokes, the longer saw allows for faster cutting.

    Rip saws require larger tooth sizes for the same thickness of lumber than do cross cut saws. My finish rip saw is a 7 point but I like a 12 point for a finish cross cut. This for 3/4" stock. For rough cutting lumber to size you generally want a relatively fast sawing saw, thus for ripping of 3/4" lumber, a 4 to 5 point rip is a good choice, as is an 8 point cross cut. Remember, I am thinking in carpenter terms. Most of the carpenters I knew used those two sizes for framing, etc., back when you still did a lot of sawing with hand saws. (I haven't worked full time as a carpenter in over 40 years, but do almost all of my own carpentry, help the kids on their houses, help friends, and do some carpentry for our church.) A good number of carpenters used a 10 point for finish work, and a number of others used a 12 point, I am a 12 point guy. All of the carpenters I knew, and I didn't know a lot, used an 8 point for framing, because an 8 point cross cut worked well for crosscutting 2X dimension lumber stock as well as 3/4" stock, and also worked well for cutting plywood. Back then those guys typically used a hand saw a lot more than most hobby woodworker normally will.

    With regard to set, soft woods do better with more set than do hardwoods. You will like less set on the hardwoods. Framing lumber is usually kiln dried, but it is often only kiln dried down to maybe 16% moisture, whereas in our dry country it will eventually air dry down to probably something like 8% moisture or perhaps even 6% moisture at times. In more humid areas it won't air dry down to those moisture levels. Treated lumber, even if stamped "kiln dried" will be much wetter than that 16% moisture. Why is this important? Simple: wetter lumber needs a saw with more set.

    With regard to size, guys who do mostly fine woodworking will do fine with a panel saw (one 24" or shorter), and a 20" or 22" will do fine. You don't cut up that much lumber, as opposed to a framing carpenter that uses a hand saw a lot. If I am going to make trusses or something that requires a lot of sawing, like the overwhelming majority, I will use a circular saw, but for when working on something that requires a modest amount of sawing I use a hand saw. For that work, I want a 26" saw, and since all of my handsaws were bought used or inherited, most are 26" saws because that is the size most carpenters and even hobbyist and home owners used in days gone by.

    That said, for years I got along just fine with 3 saws, 8 & 12 pt cross cut, and a 7 point rip, doing most of my sawing. That said, I did have a ratty corroded 4 1/2 point rip, but when young I put way too much set in it, and never got back to fixing the set. I ought to restore it sometime and fix the set, because if i had a good 4 & 1/2 point rip, I would use it a lot more than I do. I use the 4 1/2 point once in a while as is, and have used a 6 point rip some. The fact that I still use my 7 point rip for almost all of my ripping tells me that, for what I do, it is a good choice. It also is the case that I don't do tons of ripping.

    Thus, most of us have to make compromises because we can have the perfect saw for every task. I now have quite a few saws, most bought cheap years ago at garage sales or inherited, and could set up several to fit the "ideal" saw for lot of tasks, but I don't because I can get buy pretty well with the 4 types of saws I described. That said, I do have more than I need. I probably use somewhere between 8 and 12 of the saws I have, but again, could get along just fine with 4, and if only using 1" stock, or thinner, could do very nicely with just 3. Even when I use some of the less used of those 8 to 12 saws, most have the same tooth sizes that I have listed, the main other difference is length, and I do have duplicates that get used quite a bit.

    Regards,

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 05-24-2020 at 4:31 PM.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Odessa, Tx
    Posts
    117
    What is the correct terminology for saws? There are so many and I think I mix them up. Dovetail, tenon, carcass, backsaw, panel, and the 26 inch ones, are they just saws?

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Connecticut Shoreline
    Posts
    86
    A fair bit of confusion and overlap here, sort of like all beagles are dogs, but not all dogs are beagles.

    They are all "hand saws" as opposed to "power saws" but the term "hand saw" generally refers to what everybody thinks of as a saw, namely a 26-inch rip or crosscut saw that cuts on the push stroke.

    "Back saws" can refer to any saw with a reinforced back (folded or slit brass or steel) from your list this includes Dovetail, tenon, and carcass saws. It also includes huge miter box saws and general purpose "backsaws" like you can buy at a hardware store. Dovetail, and tenon saws are usually filed for rip cuts. Dovetail saws are generally small, tenon saws are larger. Carcase saws are often filed crosscut, and larger than dovetail saws.

    Panel saws are typically smaller hand saws 20 inch or thereabouts.

    I believe the differences in nomenclature are due to regional differences as well as difference in the trades, joinery saws used by furniture makers as opposed to carpentry saws used by house carpenters for example.

    There, that was my stab at it! ;-)

    DC

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    21,657
    Blog Entries
    1
    Great write up Stew.

    Rip saws require larger tooth sizes for the same thickness of lumber than do cross cut saws.
    Because a rip saw is cutting with the grain a lower tooth count can still leave a smooth surface. A crosscut saw is breaking the grain and that is why a low tooth count leaves more tear out.

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

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Borger, Texas
    Posts
    1,418
    Blake,

    David did a great job of describing the various types of saws, doing a good job with 1/3rd of the words it would have taken me. A couple of thoughts. If you do a search for "back saw" and look at the "images," you can see what they look like. Same with the rest of the terms, except for "panel saw," as the type of panel saw that shows up is the type of power saw used to cut plywood sheets to size, not the hand tool panel saw.

    One small difference of view with David, is that I usually consider panel saws to be any of the traditional hand saws (carpenters type of saw), that are 24" or less in length.

    Again, David did about as well in describing the types of saws as is possible.

    Thanks and regards,

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 05-26-2020 at 9:13 PM.

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Odessa, Tx
    Posts
    117
    Thank you guys for the education. One last bit, I see the terms "heel" and "toe" used in saw descriptions. Is there any particular reason for the differences? I mean I see pictures of 2, 26 inch saws, both might saw crosscut, one looks thinner at one end or fatter towards the handle.

    Sorry for the wording lol.

  7. #22
    The term panel saw originally meant a saw with fine teeth for cutting a thin panel. The panel saw in Nicholson has finer teeth than the crosscut saw or the rip saw, but is 26 inches long. I can't see a use for a short saw in cabinetmaking that does not have a back. We don't do "finish cuts" with a hand saw in cabinetmaking.

    Here are the saws in the chest of cabinetmaker Benjamin Seaton in 1796, along with his names for the saws:

    hand saw 5 teeth per inch 26 inches
    pannel saw 7 teeth per inch 26 inches

    back saws:
    tonond saw 10 teeth per inch 19 inches
    sash saw 13 teeth per inch 14 inches
    carcass saw 14 teeth per inch 11 inches
    dovetail saw 19 teeth per inch 9 inches.

    I use a rip saw 4 1/2 tpi , a crosswcut saw 7 tpi, and four back saws.

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Borger, Texas
    Posts
    1,418
    Blake,

    As you probably already know. The "toe" of the saw is the corner area where front tip of the saw blade and the tooth line meet.....the end furthest from the handle on the bottom of the blade. The "heel" is the bottom corner area of the saw blade where the tooth line and the back edge of the saw meet. This is the bottom corner of the saw below the handle. I can guess where the names came from, probably the same guess you would make, but I do not KNOW where the names originate.

    Regards,

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 05-26-2020 at 10:23 PM.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    21,657
    Blog Entries
    1
    I mean I see pictures of 2, 26 inch saws, both might saw crosscut, one looks thinner at one end or fatter towards the handle.
    A saw with a low profile at the toe likely means it has been sharpened many times.

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

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Connecticut Shoreline
    Posts
    86
    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Mickley View Post
    I can't see a use for a short saw in cabinetmaking that does not have a back. We don't do "finish cuts" with a hand saw in cabinetmaking.
    I use a 20-inch "panel saw" (7 point rip) all the time at the bench. Most recently to reduce a cherry panel in width by a half an inch. I also have a 20-inch, 12 pt crosscut saw. That doesn't get as much use because as you point out there are other back saws for that work.

    My bench is narrow, and against a wall. If I were to hold the panel in the shoulder vise to rip an edge with a 26-inch rip saw, I would hit the wall.

    I have the full set of Seaton saws (Wenzloff) and the one I use least is the tenon saw, too big and unwieldy for me. Most of the tenons I make fit the sash saw better. But when I was building my carving bench, the tenon saw got a lot of use.

    DC

  11. #26
    Thanks for the reply, David. I have not done ripping in a vise; I generally do ripping on a trestle as in this picture.
    joiners 1.jpg

    I would find a 19 inch tenon saw clumsy also. I don't think we have a good handle on how this saw was used. This is the only back saw in the Seaton chest that is filed with fleam, suggesting it was used for crosscuts.

    Nicholson (1812) says that the tenon saw (14-19") was used for crosscutting, "cutting wood transverse to the fibres, as in the shoulders of tenons". He used a 26 inch "hand saw" for the rip cuts of tenons. I think there is some mystery here.

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Odessa, Tx
    Posts
    117
    If you buy used and or vintage, like a lot of us have done. What years are the best? Or, when did saws start to lose quality?

    For the most part I would think a 5 dollar saw that needs minimal cleaning from a yard sale is worth it. Right?

  13. #28
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Connecticut Shoreline
    Posts
    86
    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Mickley View Post
    Thanks for the reply, David. I have not done ripping in a vise; I generally do ripping on a trestle as in this picture.
    Normally, I would too, but I have recently moved into a tiny shop space and have abandoned all power tool use. I'm in the middle of building a pair of saw horses that fold flat (in the interest of preserving floor space). When I moved into the shop all I brought with me were the two 20-inch handsaws and the Seaton backsaws. But I do rip short pieces and trim widths often enough in a shoulder vise (Scandinavian style).

    I really like the picture you posted, I've seen it before, maybe in Jay Gaynor's book?

    DC

  14. #29
    +1 on one of Mike's saws, I have a few and they are great saws but there is an option not mentioned. A Stanley Hard Point saw gets lots of use in my shop. For a guy starting out there is a lot to love, cheap, no need to know how to sharpen, and works about as well as one of my "good" saws. About the only real downside is it is a little overset so the kerif is a little wide. The wide kerif is no real problem, the overset can be overcome with good technique.

    ken

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Connecticut Shoreline
    Posts
    86
    Quote Originally Posted by Blake M Williams View Post
    If you buy used and or vintage, like a lot of us have done. What years are the best? Or, when did saws start to lose quality?

    For the most part I would think a 5 dollar saw that needs minimal cleaning from a yard sale is worth it. Right?
    You'll likely get a lot of different answers to this question. First you would have to define what it is you mean by "quality." Usually what is meant is a saw that is well designed, carefully made, using the best available materials. There is a lot of wiggle room there. In terms of design, the handle shape to me is important. If you are really doing serious stock breakdown and sawing for long periods of time, an uncomfortable handle is a misery.

    In terms of the saw plate, I've not experienced poor quality steel in any of the saws I own. But other's have. I have no opinion on the merits of straight backs vs. Skew. I have both and really can't tell the difference.

    I believe that in general, up until WWII, tool companies tried to compete with one another by making the best products that they could, for fair prices. Once the companies became large, publicly-traded corporations, however, they competed by trying to become more profitable.

    When accountants run the firms, focused on profitability, they reduce costs without the intrinsic understanding of what actually makes a quality tool. Brass fittings turns to pot metal, apple wood and beech handles turn to maple and plywood, carved wheat designs turn to silkscreened decoration, taper grinding disappears. They throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    These are the opinions of one guy... me. Take it for what it's worth.

    So I would say look for Disston or Atkins saws made between the world wars. For users, I happen to really like Disston D7s and D8s. The handles fit my large hands comfortably, the steel is good and they work well if kept sharp and clean.

    If you can find a nice one of these, in restorable condition for $5. Go for it!

    DC

Posting Permissions

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