How to Saw Wood With a Handsaw

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A clean cut depends on a steady hand. Follow these steps for cutting wood safely with a handsaw.

Things You'll Need

  • Sawhorses
  • Work Gloves
  • Measuring Tapes
  • Handsaws
  • Clamps For Woodworking
  • Safety Goggles
  • Dust Masks
  • Portable Vacuums
  • Measure the wood with a tape measure and mark it with a straight edge for cutting. Draw a line along the desired cut - this is your "cutline."

  • Clamp the wood to a workbench or sawhorse with the area to be cut easily accessible.

  • Rest a handsaw on the far edge of the cutline, with most of the teeth past the wood. Angle the saw's tip down slightly. The handle should be slightly above the level of your elbow.

  • Grasp the saw's handle with one hand; maintain a firm but relaxed grip.

  • Hold the wood steady with your other hand, keeping your hand a safe distance from the saw - this will be your guide hand.

  • Loop the thumb of your guide hand over the top of the wood.

  • Pull the saw toward you once, pressing down firmly. Pick up the saw, replace it in your original position, and pull toward you a second time.

  • Repeat until you have cut a notch in the wood's edge.

  • Level the saw slightly and continue sawing back and forth.

  • Press down less heavily as you come to the end of the task to avoid splintering the wood.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you lose sight of the cutline in the sawdust, stop sawing, close your eyes, and blow the dust away before continuing.
  • For milled lumber, use a small-toothed saw. For tree limbs or wood that can be cut roughly, use a saw with bigger teeth.
  • Avoid cutting through knots in the wood whenever possible.
  • Watch your fingers.
  • As you finish cutting, be careful not to drop the saw through onto your leg.

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