Hand Saws

Handsaws are an essential part of any DIY'ers toolbox. Even if you have one or more power saws there are still jobs for which a handsaw is crucial. And for some small jobs, setting up a power saw isn't worth the while when you can grab a handsaw and get cutting straight away!

Panel Saw

As the name implies, Panel saws are used mainly for cutting sheet materials, although they also cut natural timber perfectly well. They have a tapered steel blade that's typically 500-550mm long (20-22in), and a wooden, plastic or bi-material D-shaped handle. The saw's teeth will be between 7 and 11 teeth per inch (TPI) - the more TPI, the finer the cut, the fewer TPI , the more aggressive the cut.

Most saws used today by trade Professionals and DIY'ers are Hardpoint saws. These have specially hardened teeth for better cutting performance and longer life. Hardpoint saws are not designed to need re-sharpening after each use. Some saw blades are coated with a non stick surface to aid smoother cutting.

Toolbox Saw

This saw can best be described as a Mini Panel saw. They are the same shape and design but have a shorter blade -typically 350mm or 14in. TPI range from 11 upwards.

Tenon Saw (Back Saw)

The Tenon, also known as the Back saw, is short with a rectangular blade, typically 250-300mm long and stiffened along its top edge with a folded steel or brass strip. The handle may be wood or plastic, and the saw will have up to 20 TPI giving a fine cut that's ideal for working across the grain of wood - for example, when cutting a halving joint or the tenon part of a mortice-and-tenon joint. A Tenon saw is also used with a Mitre Box for cutting mitre joint angles.

Apart from cutting joints, this saw will also cope with most general-purpose cutting to length, but the back strip restricts its cutting depth. Again, saws with Teflon-coated blades are available.

Mitre Saw

This is a fine tooth saw blade mounted in a metal jig that can be set to any angle required. It's ideal for cutting cornice, pelmet, dado rails and all wood or plastic materials up to the maximum size capacity of the jig. Size capacity varies from 75 x 75mm to 125 x 125mm.

Coping Saw

This saw has an open steel C-shaped frame and blade holder at each end of the C that takes a thin steel blade 160mm long and with about 15 TPI. Once the blade is fitted, the saw handle is screwed up to tension the blade ready for cutting. The blade holders can be rotated through 360°, allowing it to cut in any direction. It's ideal for making curved cuts in wood and man-made boards.

Another feature of this saw is its capability to make internal cut-outs if the blade is fitted into the frame after passing it through a hole drilled inside the cut-out. The distance the blade will reach from the edge of the workpiece depends on the depth of the frame - usually between 120-170mm.


The Fretsaw resembles a Coping saw in design, but has a frame of up to 300mm deep and takes a shorter, lighter blade that is held in tension by the spring of the frame. It's ideal for cutting thin sheet materials and the deep frame allows it to work well away from the edge of the workpiece.


This saw has a straight or D-shaped handle to which a slim, straight tapered saw blade is fixed. It is perfect to use in places where other types of saw cannot be used - for example, to cut a keyhole, a letterbox opening or a hole for a switch or socket outlet mounting box in a plasterboard wall. The replaceable saw blade comes in a range of lengths from 150-300mm, and usually has about 10 TPI.


Designed for cutting metal, the standard Hacksaw has an open tubular or flat metal frame with blade holders at each end. Its saw blade is held under tension between two blade holders - some frames also have a 45 degree blade holder. The handles are made from either steel or Bi-Material. The commonest blade length is 300mm, and blades are available for coarse, medium and fine cutting.

Midi hacksaw - this is a smaller version of the larger tool, with a D or C-shaped plastic handle and an adjustable blade tensioning device. It takes slim 150mm long blades.

Junior hacksaw - is an all-in-one tool with a steel rod frame and handle, and the 150mm blades are held in place solely by the tension of the frame.

Universal Saw

Also known as a Multi-purpose saw the Universal has teeth designed to cut wood, boards and soft metal. Its blade is replaceable when it becomes blunt, and can usually be set to a variety of cutting angles by loosening a retaining nut on the handle. The blade is normally about 315mm.

Pull Saws

With a Japanese Tooth configuration these saws are designed to cut on the upward pulling stroke, as opposed to the traditional downward cutting stroke. They have a plastic handle and are available in a variety of TPI and blade lengths. Blades are replaceable when they become blunt.

Floorboard Saw

As the name suggests, these are used to cut floorboards which have already been installed. The size of blade length is between 300-400mm and the shape is rectangular with a rounded front that has teeth to enable the user to start a cut in an already installed floorboard. The handle is D-shaped and normally plastic.

Tiling Saw

A Tiling saw is an all in one steel rod framed saw. The blade is 150mm long and is an abrasive rod designed to cut masonry or ceramic material. It's ideal for cutting curves or cuts that cannot be easily made with a traditional tile cutting wheel, for example, cutting a square or rectangle out of a tile to accommodate the corner of a light switch.

Bow Saw

This has a large C-shaped frame and is made from tubular steel. Blade lengths vary from 530-760mm and the TPI is typically 4 or 5. They are designed for heavy garden work, such as cutting logs or thick branches.

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