Types of hand saws

Hardpoint, coping, tenon and hack saws used for carpentry work

So many different types of hand saws available for Carpenters to choose from. Having and knowing the right saw for the job will save you loads of time and effort!

Angled Compound Mitre saw.

angled compound mitre saw

If you don't have a chopsaw or are cutting small decorative mouldings then you can use a mitre saw. Great for cutting skirting, architrave and even stairparts and is adjustable left, right and vertically up to 45 degrees.

Hardpoint panel saws

hand saw

The most common of all types of hand saws, panel saws are available in 20 or 22 inch length. I prefer the 22, you get more teeth for your money :-)

TPI stands for the number of teeth points per inch. The more teeth there are the finer and slower the saw will cut. For fast and rough work around 8tpi is good, and for fine work 12tpi+. A good all round saw has 10tpi.

Saw set refers to the angle the teeth are bent over in either directions (out to the sides). This is so the cut is wider than the blade itself, and is important in order to prevent the timber pinching the blade during sawing, making cutting much more difficult. Blades are also 'taper ground' which means they are thinner at the top than the bottom - again to help prevent binding.

I use one of the new types of hand saws made by Bahco. With interchangeable blades, it has an 'ergonomic' handle shaped much more like the inside of your hand than a regular carpentry hand saw. It's much more comfortable and easier to control. It's not cheap though and most reasonable quality handsaws are OK for day to day use, my only recomendation would be to choose the right one for the job, a fine saw for finish work and a rough one for framing jobs for example. Neither works well or for long in the wrong environment. If you are cutting laminated materials get a saw purposely designed to be used with them because man made boards with glue etc in them take the edge off blades really quickly.

Coping Saw

A coping saw has a small thin blade that can be rotated so the frame doesn't get in the way whilst cutting. It's great for tight turning and intricate cuts, the most common job I use it for is when scribing internal corners on mouldings like skirting boards.

Some people prefer to cut on the push stroke, but I prefer the blade to have the teeth pointing toward the handle and it therefore cuts the wood on the 'pull' stroke. This ensures that as I cut timber, the blade is being pulled tight at the same time, so it stays more rigid. The downside of this though is you are pulling the teeth towards you and so the face of the timber could break out if the blade isnt sharp. Eclipse and Stanley both make types of hand saws like these essential for 2nd fix finishing carpentry work, for jobs when a jigsaw is too powerful/cumbersome.

Pad saw / Keyhole saw / Sabre saw

Several names for essentially the same tool (although the 'keyhole' version would have a much thinner blade for getting into er.. keyholes) it consists of a wooden handle with a blade directly attached and used like the name suggests, when cutting keyholes for mortice and other types of locks. The 'padsaw' types of handsaws are more often used these days for cutting plasterboard holes and notches for cables etc. during the first fix stages of carpentry work. Electricians probably use these most out of anyone on site.

Hack saw


A hack saw is designed for cutting metal but is good for cutting plastic too, like guttering lengths and fittings. It's available in the size pictured above or as a junior version for smaller jobs. I use mine mainly for cutting bolts and things, and carry a small portable vice to hold them in while I'm cutting. If you don't have one of those, you can drill a hole in a piece of batten or other similar timber and push the bolt through that to hold it still while cutting it to length.

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