Best Hand Saws for Woodworking – 2020 Top Picks & Reviews

Definitive Guide to the Top Hand Saws in 2020

A hand saw is the ultimate in convenience when you need a tool for quick jobs or for use in a small space. The best hand saws are simple and affordable. You’ll also find a variety of types, so you can match the product with the job. Let’s begin with the basics and move onto what you should look for in these tools.

PRODUCT FEATURES
WilFiks Hand Saw - Definitive Guide to the Top Hand Saws in 2020WilFiks Hand Saw
  • Tooth Per Inch: 9
  • Blade Length: 16 inches
  • Weight: 13.6 ounces
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AIRAJ PD-3498 Hand Saw - Definitive Guide to the Top Hand Saws in 2020AIRAJ PD-3498 Hand Saw
  • Tooth Per Inch: 9
  • Blade Length: 18 inches
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
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Shark 10-2312 Carpentry Saw - Definitive Guide to the Top Hand Saws in 2020Shark 10-2312 Carpentry Saw
  • Tooth Per Inch: 14
  • Blade Length: 12 inches
  • Weight: 8 ounces
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Tabor TTS-13 Pruning Saw - Definitive Guide to the Top Hand Saws in 2020Tabor TTS-13 Pruning Saw
  • Tooth Per Inch: n/a
  • Blade Length: 13 inches
  • Weight: 0.6 pounds
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Suizan Ryoba Japanese Hand Saw - Definitive Guide to the Top Hand Saws in 2020Suizan Ryoba Japanese Hand Saw
  • Tooth Per Inch: 9 & 15
  • Blade Length: 9.5 inches
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces
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What Can a Hand Saw Do?

The term hand saw generically means any non-electric cutting tool where you supply manual power (elbow grease). Many are well-suited for rough cutting, either with or against the grain. Some saws have other specific uses, such as pruning shrubs and trees as part of their annual maintenance. You’ll also find products for more delicate work and intricate cuts for fine woodworking. These tools are specialized enough that it can make sense to have more than one in your toolbox for DIY projects.

What Are the Benefits of a Hand Saw?

Hand Saw Benefits

The primary benefits are convenience and safety. If you’re working in close quarters, a smaller hand tool is a godsend. They can be used anywhere without worry about wires or power. The other essential factor is the price. Specialized tools aside, you can find many affordable choices, especially if you need an all-purpose product.

Hand Saw Types

One of the first things you’ll probably notice when shopping for this tool is that there is literally one for any kind of job. Manufacturers tweak the designs to create products specifically made for certain tasks like detailed woodworking, metalwork, or simple woodcutting.

Hand saws are categorized into two general types based on the structure of their teeth and, consequently, the type of cutting you can do with them.

Rip saws are ideal for rough cuts that go with the grain of the wood for jobs where the purpose is just cutting. The edges don’t have to be perfect nor is precision a big deal. The teeth are often angled to dig in.

Cross-cut saws are ideal if you want a cleaner edge for cutting against the grain. They don’t go through the wood with the same force as a rip saw, which means more strokes to get it done. These tools have straighter teeth versus the previous type.

The backsaw is a third type you’ll see for more precise work, such as cabinetry or dovetails. They are a combination of the rip and cross-cut saws. The design will vary with the specialization and differ from the isosceles-triangle shape that you may associate with a hand saw.

Hand Saws Specs

Several specifications will give you a handle on the performance of a particular saw and whether it’s suited for the job.

Teeth Per Inch (TPI)

One you’ll likely see with any product is teeth per inch (TPI). You’ll often find this figure on the product near the handle. The lower the number of TPI, the larger each is to fill the space. It is also an indication of how and what the hand saw will cut best. Rip saws, for example, typically have a TPI of 4 to 7. That makes them ideal for softwoods like pine. Cross-cut saws, on the other hand, range from 8 to 11. The closeness of the teeth gives them an edge for hardwoods like oak.

Product descriptions often include descriptors like fine, medium, or coarse cuts that correspond with the TPI. Precision saws may have a TPI as high as 30.

When you cut into a piece of wood, the resulting incision is called the kerf. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that it’s wider than the blade. That’s because the individual teeth may alternate in how they jut out from the center of the saw blade, referred to as the set. It’s an essential feature to keep your saw from sticking into the cut.

Blade Length

This spec is straightforward, and the length you need will vary with the job. A typical length is 24–26 inches. However, you may see specialty products going as low as 5 inches long. You’ll also see a cutting depth figure, which is essentially the height of the blade.

Blade Material

Stainless steel is a common material for saws that is affordable and durable. Its primary drawback is that it’s only rust-resistant even if it has a protective coating. Tungsten or carbide products have greater longevity and strength, but they are more expensive.

Handle Construction

We’d suggest opting for a hand saw with an ergonomically designed handle. It’ll make the work easier for you and help prevent blisters. You’ll find them more comfortable than the plain wooden handle of older products. A grippy surface is also essential to prevent slipping for added safety. All these features will help you avoid hand fatigue.

Key Questions

  • What type of wood or material do you need to cut?
  • Do you need a coarse or precision cut?
  • Does the saw have a comfortable grip?
  • Is the product backed by a guarantee and warranty?

Safety Tips

We’d strongly urge you to wear gloves and eye protection whenever you use a hand saw or any tool. Also, think through the cut to avoid mistakes. Likewise, examine the materials for nails or other foreign objects before you start; you might just save your blade.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the number one safety tip—regular maintenance. You should clean your saw thoroughly after each use to prevent rust. Also, keep it sharp. You’re more likely to get injured using a dull blade than a sharp one because of the added pressure you’ll put on the saw. That increases the risk of it slipping. Also, don’t do what this guy is doing:

Hand Saw Safety

Our Top 5 Hand Saw Reviews

Our roundup of the top-rated hand saws includes products with a range of uses to help you select the right one for you. You’ll be surprised to learn how versatile these items are. We focused on our favorite saws that can handle a variety of different jobs.

WilFiks Hand Saw

The WilFiks Hand Saw is probably what you envision when you think of this type of tool. A standout feature is its ability to cut through a variety of materials, including PVC pipes, which is important if you’re looking for an all-purpose product. It is well-constructed with a 16-inch carbon steel blade, induction-hardened teeth, and a 5-inch cut depth. The overall length is 19.5 inches.

The handle is ergonomically designed, providing a comfortable hand feel, and is securely attached. The saw is also lightweight at just over 13 ounces, making it an excellent choice if you’re cutting overhead branches or will use it for long stretches. It has 9 TPI to give you ample cutting power through harder materials. There are three cutting surfaces, which creates a wider kerf for safety against binding.

WilFiks Hand Saw
    It's a good option for an all-purpose tool for DIY projects where a rip saw is an appropriate choice.

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AIRAJ PD-3498 Hand Saw

The AIRAJ PD-3498 Hand Saw is made from manganese steel. The overall length is 22 inches with an 18-inch blade and weighs in at just over 1 pound. It has a 9 TPI with three cutting surfaces for wider kerfs and less binding. The gullets, or gaps between the teeth, are deep enough to flush out the wood chips for clean cuts.

The handle is ergonomically designed for added comfort and less hand fatigue. Its aluminum construction contributes to the lighter weight of this cross-cut saw. You can use it for trimming branches and other materials like drywall. While not a contributor to its performance, we appreciated the hole at the toe of the blade for convenient storage.

AIRAJ PD-3498 Hand Saw
    The saw is well-designed for comfort to tackle smaller jobs quickly.

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Shark 10-2312 Carpentry Saw

The Shark 10-2312 Carpentry Saw differs from other products we reviewed with its unique pistol-grip design. It has a good hand feel even if it’s unlike other saws we’ve used. Some may find the resulting pull stroke easier to cut through harder materials. It has a 14 TPI for smooth cuts where you need cleaner edges. The blade is high-carbon spring steel for greater strength and durability.

The blade is shorter than other products we reviewed at only 12 inches. That gives you a lot of control where precision matters. It’s also flexible for intricate designs. Unlike a lot of hand saws, you can replace the blades. It’s worth noting that it’s a tool for wood and softer materials only. It’s lightweight, which combined with its grip, makes it a breeze to use with little risk of wrist strain.

Shark 10-2312 Carpentry Saw
    This pull-stroke saw can handle soft and hard wood in a compact size with a comfortable handle.

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Tabor Tools TTS-13 Pruning Saw

The Tabor Tools TTS-13 Pruning Saw is an example of the specialization you can find in these products. The 13-inch blade is curved for easier access to branches up to 4 inches in diameter. It is composed of high carbon tempered steel with three-angled teeth for faster cutting with a pull-stroke action. The impulse-hardened teeth have deep gullets between them for quicker and cleaner sawing.

The handle has a good hand feel and follows the curve of your grip on it well. The saw weighs only 0.6 pounds, which belies its cutting power. The product is well-suited for tree pruning. You can get it with or without a holster. The handle has a hole at the end for easy storage when not in use, which helps keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

Tabor TTS-13 Pruning Saw
    This saw makes short work of pruning hedges and trees with an uber-sharp blade that cuts through wood quickly.

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Suizan Ryoba Japanese Hand Saw

The Suizan Ryoba Japanese Hand Saw is probably the most unusual and eye-catching product on this list. It has an unmistakable cultural design, which you may not associate with a utilitarian object. It has a 9.5-inch steel blade with a 13.5-inch, cane-wrapped, polypropylene handle, which gives you a very long reach.

The 0.02-inch thick blade has teeth on three sides and is replaceable. It has both rip and cross-cut edges. While it may appear thin, it is actually quite sharp and offers precise control. It has a 9 TPI for the rip action and 15 TPI for cross-cut. It strikes a fine balance between flexibility and rigidity for versatile use.

Suizan Ryoba Japanese Hand Saw

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Final Thoughts About Buying a Hand Saw

A saw is a must-have in any DIYer’s toolbox. Which you pick depends entirely on what you want to do with it. Our pick for an overall smart buy is the WilFiks Hand Saw for its versatility and powerful cutting action. It’s a wise choice for an all-purpose tool. The comments below are open if you want to tell us your experience with any of these saws.

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