When it comes to DIY projects, it helps being able to use tools correctly
Whether you are just trying to build some shelving, or you want to take on a bigger wooden project, one tool you will need is a handsaw
If you have never used a handsaw before it can be a daunting prospect. They are a big tool and if you aren’t sure how to use one correctly you may find you struggle cutting straight! Here are our top tips for how to use a handsaw properly.
If you have to go out and buy a handsaw before you start on your project, there are a few things you can do to make your life easier.
When you pick up a sharp handsaw, be very careful, but lightly run your thumb across the teeth, you’ll know if it feels sharp. Then look down the blade and make sure it is straight, a blade that is even slightly bent will make your job far more difficult.
Check the flex of the saw, it should easily bend when you apply force to it and then it’ll quickly straighten when you let go. If the saw doesn’t flex or straighten correctly, then move on until you find one that does.
Holding The Saw Correctly
Once you have picked your perfect saw, you now want to make sure you are holding it correctly. If you don’t hold it in the right way, you’ll find that you will struggle making cuts and the saw may get caught in the wood.
Remember when you were a kid and you used to make finger guns? Do exactly that motion with your hand but have the saw in it.
Hold the saw with all but your index finger and have this finger resting on the side of the saw, pointing down the length of it. It should be perfectly in line with your forearm until your elbow bends at around 90 degrees. There are few more things you can read and remember from Tools Diary, which is a site that has a wealth of tools related information on.
Making The First Cut
Now for the best bit, you’ve found the saw and you’ve got holding it correctly down, now its time to make the first cut.
We’re assuming that you’ve either marked out where you are going to cut, or you’re having a few dry runs first.
The first cut can be tricky, especially if you apply too much pressure, you’ll find that the blade will jump around and it will be difficult to get that smooth stroke. Use the heel of the blade (the part that is closest to your hand) and have the saw angled up. From here, slowly and lightly pull the blade back. You should find that the saw starts making a very small incision where you intend to cut.
If you want, you can also use your other thumb to keep the blade straight and on the cutting line, but you don’t need to do this.
Get Some Help
Now you have your first cut, you’ll be ready to start cutting through the wood. If you are cutting a big piece, you may find that you need someone else to help. They can either hold down one part of the wood, or they can hold the smaller piece that will fall off. Make sure that when they hold it, they aren’t pulling the wood up. If they do this, you will find that the blade gets pinched and you won’t be able to move the saw.
Once you are all set up with the other person if you need it (and you have made your incision mark) you can start sawing.
One of the main points to remember is that you don’t need muscle to do this. The more force you put into it, the more you will struggle as the teeth will bed in. This will make the entire process far more drawn out than it needs to be, and you won’t get a straight cut.
Push and pull the saw through the wood without a lot of force keeping your arm loose. You’ll find that the saw moves through easily and doesn’t get stuck. If you are working to a line, look over the saw with both eyes open so you can guide it. Using two hands may seem instinctual, but only use the one.
Finishing The Cut
When you get close to the end of the cut, you want to slow down your cutting speed. If you cut too quickly you may find that the wood at the end snaps. Keep the cuts long and smooth and if you have someone else who can hold the end of the wood while you make the final cuts, that would reduce the chances of it snapping.
If you don’t have the option of having another person there, just slow down your tempo and let the saw do the work. You can even reduce the size of the cuts to give you a clean edge.
Using a handsaw isn’t difficult but it does help to know the proper technique. When it comes to using a handsaw, let the saw do the work and don’t apply too much pressure.
If you have access to someone else who can help you support the wood, this would be helpful, especially when making the final cuts. Once you start using a handsaw, you’ll wonder why you avoided it for so long, they aren’t as intimidating as they seem and they give you excellent results when used correctly.