It’s possible that you could do almost all your carpentry projects using a circular saw, power miter saw, or jigsaw and never miss a handsaw. However, there are times when using a handsaw is easier, more convenient, and produces better results. Handsaws also provide the do-it-yourselfer a cost-effective alternative to the higher price of power tools. For every power saw available today, there is a handsaw available that was originally used to make the same type of cut.
There are many differences between handsaws. When you shop for a saw, look for one that’s designed for the type of cutting you plan to do. Differences in handle design and the number, shape,
and angle (set) of the teeth make each saw work best for specific applications.
For general carpentry cuts, use a crosscut saw with 8 to 10 teeth per inch. Crosscut saws have pointed teeth designed to slice through wood on the forward stroke and to deepen the cut and remove sawdust from the kerf on the back stroke.
Always use a handsaw for its intended purpose. Misuse of a handsaw will only damage the tool, dull the blade, or lead to injury. When saw blades become dull, take them to a professional blade sharpener for tuning. It’s worth the extra cost to ensure the job is done right.
Handsaws are less important today than they were a couple of generations ago. But keeping a few at hand is a good idea. A basic set includes a hacksaw, a coping saw, and a crosscut saw (preferably one that fits in your toolbox). A backsaw and miter box will expand your skills.