Using a hand saw
Keep a hand saw on course by guiding the side of the blade with your thumb and pointing your finger along the line of the blade, but keep them away from the cutting edge itself.
Start a cut by pulling backwards slowly and use several light strokes to start the cut.
Reduce splintering on the underside of a board or plank by lowering the saw angle to 25-35 degrees. If there is still a problem, use a saw with smaller tooth size.
Wedge open a saw kerf (the cut section) on a long piece of material to stop the blade binding.
Wax the sides of a saw blade when cutting wet or very resinous woods.
Let the saw do the work and don’t use too much force. Use as much of the saw’s length as possible and increase the pressure slightly at the ‘handle end’ of the cut.
Use the angular handle of a hardpoint saw to mark out mitres or right angles for rough cutting board.
Always cut to the waste side of the line, rather than actually on it.
Using a tenon saw
Keep the saw at a shallower angle than with a hand saw (around 20 degrees) and use a bench hook or mitre box to guide your work if possible.
Cutting a tenon
Angle the wood at 45 degrees, facing away from you and keep the saw blade parallel with the benchtop as you make the first cut to the shoulder line.
Flip the workaround to angle towards you and make the second cut.
Finish the cut by holding the work upright and sawing down to the shoulder line. Complete the tenon on a bench hook.
Looking after saws
Keep saws hanging on the workshop wall or in a storage rack, away from other metal tools which may damage the set and sharpness of the teeth.
Hardpoint saws are designed to cut wood, manmade board, insulating material, plastic and even light building blocks. They cannot be re-sharpened.
Cut tubing straight
Wrap masking tape around wood dowelling or metal pipework to give you a straight guide for cutting
Power saws allow you to make accurate cuts with a lot less effort than with hand saws. They can be guided with battens or fences to ensure straight cuts even across large boards.
As with all power tools, follow the manufacturers’ safety instructions, and unplug the saw when not in use. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes and, if the machine is noisy, ear defenders.
Make sure that the blade is clear of any obstructions – particularly underneath the wood being cut, and keep the electrical lead well out of the way.
Circular saws use a motor to drive around blade at high speeds. The saw teeth protrude through a slot in the bottom plate of the tool and can be raised, lowered and tilted from side to side.
Saw tables are also available so that the portable saw can be bolted underneath to form a small saw bench.
Straight cuts across timber and boards
Cramp a timber batten securely across the timber at right angles and push the saw firmly along its edge to make the cut. For cuts close to and parallel to the edge of a board, use the side fence. Align the blade with the waste side of the marked cut line and adjust the fence to run along the edge of the timber.
Circular saws: What to look for
Powerful motor for easy cutting
Thick soleplate for rigidity
TCT (Tungsten Carbide Tipped) blade with at least a 46mm (1 7/8th in) depth of cut
Comfortable grip and good balance
Long guide fence
Jigsaws have a smaller motor than circular saws and the power is used to move the thin straight blades in an up and down motion to saw through the material for shaped cuts. The small blade size allows the tool to cut curves and intricate shapes and to remove waste from the middle of a board by drilling a starter hole and inserting the blade.
The bottom plate of the saw tilts to allow angled cuts and some jigsaws also have a scrolling action which allows the blade to be turned without turning the whole tool. As for all power equipment, buy the most powerful motor you can afford so the tool will cope with larger projects in the future.
Generally, jigsaws are safe provided you follow the manufacturers’ instructions. Make sure the protruding blade under the workpiece is clear of obstructions and keep the electrical lead well out of the way. Also, make sure that the wood is firmly fixed so that it doesn’t judder as the saw is used.
These vary according to the type of cut to be made and the material to be sawn. Thinner blades can make more acute angles and tighter curves.
Cutting an irregular shape
Secure the board to a bench and follow the cut line with the jigsaw, working at reduced speed for intricate shapes. To cut a circle, fix an accessory called a trammel bar to the soleplate of the saw or attach a straight timber batten with a nail driven through the other end into the centre of the marked circle.. With the saw against the end of the batten, pivot the batten around the nail to cut a circle.
Jigsaws: What to look for
High power motor
Variable speed for use in metals and plastics
Large depth of cut
Scroll action for efficient cutting
Comfortable handle shape
Tool-free blade-changing for convenience