Must have Tools for the Beginner forum: Tools I think everyone should have. HAND SAWS and POWER SAWS

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Feb 17, 2010 10:10 PM CST
Name: Ric
Cincinnati, Oh
They have evolved rapidly in my tool collection.
I still have and always will a selection of Hand Saws.

Why break out the power tools for one cut or even two?
Grab the saw, make the cut and move on....
before you could get the case open, blade mounted, cord untangled and plugged in.

You must have a CROSS CUT SAW.
It's the saw you use for basic across the board cutting.
(With a Hand Saw that is what you will be doing the most.)
Here you don't want to skimp w/ poor quality.
Poor quality means dulls fast and bends easily.
And that means more work and ragged cuts.
Go to a big box store or Sears and check out the brands....
better is more expensive... but in the long haul a bargain.
Remember these cut on the Push.

BUT you don't have to pay a lot.
Just make note of the brands and prices.
Hand Saws are everywhere these days as people go for More Power.
Garage/Yard Sales are a great place to find these for a fraction of their original price.
I just bought two 40 dollar saws for 3 dollars a piece.

Back Saws are for finer and more precision cuts.
Usually rectangular, the back has a reinforcing strip to stop the saw blade from buckeling.

The Back Saw you will mostly likely use is a Tenon or Dovetail Saw, usually combined w/ a Miter Box
If you plan on making frames, cutting Trim, Molding, etc. you definitely need these.
Just a cheap combo to start w/ is fine.
As you progress buy a Good Quality Saw and make your own Box.

Thick pointed blade w/ very coarse teeth.
Used for punching through dry wall then sawing out a hole.
Crucial for installing electric receptacles or making test holes.

If you are going to do any home repairs that involve repairing or opening a wall then I'd get one of these.
Mine sits for months... but when you need!
A mid range saw is fine.
Harbor Freight type works fine, but if the blade flexes you don't want it.

Used for cutting metal.
A Frame Saw w/ an interchangeable metal blade held under tension.
Make sure the teeth are facing away.
Cuts on the push.

This one is another MUST HAVE.
Might be for a striped nut and bolt.
Might be for a piece of pipe that needs cut, the list is endless.
But when you need it there are very few options.
Buy a good solid frame but VERY GOOD Quality Blades.
This is another one you can find cheap at Garage Sales.
Make sure the wing nut and threads in the tensioner are not stripped.

“The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That's the deal.”
C.S. Lewis
Feb 24, 2010 11:17 PM CST
Name: Sunny
NW Tennessee
So since I'm tool illiterate, I had to look all of these up to get pictures :) I never knew how many saws there are...geesh.

My question:

Many of these saws come in different blade lengths. Can you tell me what determines the size of blade that I should purchase? Is it the project that determines the length, or the user of the saw itself?

Thank you for the great overview. I am starting to understand why tools are so dear to so many guys. It is like being well armed :)
Feb 25, 2010 12:06 AM CST
Name: Linda
Zone 9a, Houston, Tx. (Hobby)
Godspeed & Good Harvest!
I tip my hat to you.
Feb 25, 2010 6:38 AM CST
Name: Melissa E. Keyes
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Zone 11
Without tools, you can't do anything. And with cheap., bad tools you get murderously frustrated trying to do something.

Sometimes I marvel at a spoon, or a fork. Such refined, wonderful eating tools! I am so happy that I don't have to peck food off the ground like chickens must.

And a pot! Perfect for boiling something in water! hahaaa!

I had to get rid of a cookbook once. Everything was blender this and blender that. I didn't have a blender.

Feb 25, 2010 9:29 AM CST
Name: Ric
Cincinnati, Oh
Sunny I don't think I've ever though of saws graded by length.
I've just grabbed the one for the job w/o thinking.

The most common cross cut saw is about 26". (blade length)
I have 20" for smaller jobs and 26" for cutting 8" boards.
As I usually use them for cutting 2 x 4's I'd say get a 20".
And remember most saws cut on the push stroke.
What's more important to me is grip feel and sharpness.

Here's a link on using them.
It seems obvious when you pick one up but there are tricks.

These are usually very cheap at garage sales,flea markets, etc.
I have a friend who paints them and she gets them for a couple of bucks each usually.


“The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That's the deal.”
C.S. Lewis
Feb 25, 2010 9:59 AM CST
Name: darius
SW VA Blue Ridge Mountains
Top of my 'must have' manual saw list is my Japanese saw. They cut on the PULL stroke. Mine has fine teeth on one side, and coarse on the opposite side, and the big box stores carry a knock-off for under $25 that works just fine. (The blades are replaceable but the box stores never carry the blades.)

One thing to know if you've never used this kind of saw... they are SHARP, the blade is thin, and I have cut myself many times!

Mine is like the middle one here, but I also have one with a blade about 6" long for delicate work.
Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of Dragons, for You are Crunchy and Good with Ketchup

ComeVisit my Blog!
Feb 25, 2010 10:01 AM CST
Name: darius
SW VA Blue Ridge Mountains
I should have said I also have a collection of old hand saws, cross-cut and rip. It's difficult to find anyone anymore to sharpen them and re-set the teeth.
Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of Dragons, for You are Crunchy and Good with Ketchup

ComeVisit my Blog!
Feb 25, 2010 10:04 AM CST
Name: Ric
Cincinnati, Oh
Thanks Darius!

Love my Pull Saw but there is a technique learning curve.
There are several cheaper and a bit thicker ones at Lowe's/HD now that are very good.
And as Darius said be careful!!!

“The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That's the deal.”
C.S. Lewis
Feb 25, 2010 10:58 PM CST
Name: Ric
Cincinnati, Oh
Before I even start talking POWER SAWS there is one MAIN thing to remember.


When using Power Saws ALWAYS Wear Ear and Eye Protection.

Never wear loose fitting clothes. They can get caught by the Blade and drag you in.
Same w/ gloves.... skin tight. No Cords or Drawstrings.
I don't usually wear gloves when using saws.... except a Chain Saw.

Read and understand the manual that came with your Saw.

Know and understand how the Guards work,
that they are in good working order AND USE THEM.

Norm and the others look cool running wood through a Table Saw w/ no Guards.
That's for the TV Shot and he and the others should be Shot for doing it IMHO.
One of the DIY women contractors had a 2 x 4 kick back on her and almost ruptured her spleen.
A simple splitter, which was NOT on the saw would have stopped that accident.

Use the specific aids for each Saw.
Clamps, Pusher Blocks and Sticks, Feather Boards, Sleds, Jigs, Fences, etc all have a purpose.
To let you turn out quality and Work Safely away from the Blades.
A Table Saw cuts at around 3600 RPM....
that's 60 revolutions a Second
w/ 20 to hundreds of teeth whipping by on each revolution.

.Make sure it's Sharp!
Like w/ knives more accidents occur from dull blades than sharp ones

Know how to use each type of Saw you own.
Don't be afraid to ask for instruction..... not here....... I don't do that.
There are thousands of sites and videos on Safe Tool usage.
Hands on teaching is the best. Have a seasoned vet teach you.
You can tell if they are good by counting their fingers....
10 is Great.... 9 OK accidents happen....

The # 1 most dangerous tool in the workshop is You!
Respect your Tools.
Don't work rushed, when overly tired, obviously not when you are impaired, bored or distracted.
If you feel comfortable and in the groove.... stop and walk away.... get your focus back.
Your focus needs to be 100% on the job you are doing.


“The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That's the deal.”
C.S. Lewis
Feb 26, 2010 9:30 AM CST
Name: darius
SW VA Blue Ridge Mountains
I'm going to chime in here, too.

Weight matters, as does quality! Here's my take on power circular saws:

Being a 5'3" woman, I don't have the same kind of muscleature as a man. I can use the average power saw, but it shortly takes a toll on me. Besides, a better saw makes it easier for me to make better cuts. 'Better' does not necessarily mean just more expensive. To me, 'better' means several things: quality of materials in the motor, guard, housing, replacement brushes, weight, balance and design.

Back when I might be the sawyer all day on a job, I soon found out that the quality of a saw is as important as the weight. After I wore out several saws, I figured out a better quality saw was far cheaper in the long run. Several folks tried to convince me to buy a worm saw (one that is driven by a worm-gear and cuts on the opposite side where you can see the cut line better) but frankly, the weight is too much for me to handle.

I finally decided to have my hardware store order the lightest weight saw of the best quality for me, and I've never regretted the decision nor the price. I've had it for 20+ years now and it needs nothing other than very occasionally new brushes, and keeping it clean. Oh, and the right blade for the job... but that's another entire topic.

My sis has an average circular saw and I can't use it worth a Tinker's Dam. It's hard to see where the blade is actually cutting; it weighs 2+ pounds more than my saw, and the balance is terrible. I don't see how a novice could learn to make good cuts with that saw. I feel certain it would intimidate and discourage many newbies (esp. women) from doing more projects needing a circular saw. I think it is saws like those that are dangerous.

The saw should do the work, not your arm. If you have to force any saw, you are not doing it correctly, just like using a hammer properly... but sometimes that's the fault of the saw as well as the operator. If you just lightly guide a good saw, the saw will cut effortlessly... and split the line if that's what you want.

I do not let anyone else use my saw because I cannot afford to replace it. And I seldom will use someone else's saw unless I have no other choice.

Having said all that... I do not mean to discourage anyone if all you have, or can afford, is not the best saw in the world. What I am saying is that it is easier to learn with and use a better saw. For years I didn't know there was a difference, and I managed.

I'll give you my take on bench saws and table saws later.
Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of Dragons, for You are Crunchy and Good with Ketchup

ComeVisit my Blog!
Feb 26, 2010 11:22 PM CST
Name: Ric
Cincinnati, Oh
I agree 100% w/ you Darius.
I like the saw I have now, but have used a Dewalt that I loved!
Unfortunately cost keeps me from getting it.

On Contractor's Saws.... I have yet to use a cordless one worth a damn.
For now if you get one go corded.
Make sure it's a long cord too! Or super short and use the proper extension cord.

You also want several features.
Accurate Depth adjustment. Scaled and click locked at common angle side tilt.
Laser sight is nice nice!
Not so much to follow the lines but to see if you are running straight.
If you are ripping a 4 x 8 sheet w/o a fence or guide the laser keeps you true.

Forget getting a worm drive of raftertail saw. Too heavy and too expensive.
Forget any kind of dust collection device.

You will be throwing a ton of sawdust. No built in system can keep up.
That said if you are using the saw indoors though. Do wear a dust mask!
You don't, you will be yacking dust for hours.

“The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That's the deal.”
C.S. Lewis
[Last edited Mar 1, 2010 8:23 AM CST]
Quote | Post #81497 (11)
Feb 28, 2010 10:20 PM CST
Name: Kathy Parker
SE Ohio
Darius, I bought one of those Japanese pull saws last summer, wonderful things!!! Such nice smooth cuts! If you're ever in the mood to get another circular saw, they now have models with a laser light that shines on where your cut line is. It's on our list to get when we start the next re-do..

Ric, you forgot an important tool for the toolbox and/or collections: A Permanent Marker or engraver to keep the 'other half' from claiming the good tools!!!!! When we got married 2 yrs ago, I moved here with as many tools (hand and power) if not more, than he did. 3 toolboxes of my own, and somehow my good pliers and screwdrivers seem to mosey over to his on a regular basis. And I use tools more often than he does! Of course, it doesn't help that we both spend time in Lowe's tool dept way more than we should, like kids in the toy section..
I definitely need to find my engraver, I think he hid it on me! Hilarious!
Feb 28, 2010 10:44 PM CST
Name: Ric
Cincinnati, Oh
I ran into a plumber once who had all pink tools.
Never had a tool stolen from him!

“The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That's the deal.”
C.S. Lewis
Mar 1, 2010 7:55 AM CST
Name: Kathy Parker
SE Ohio
funny stuff, at least he thought ahead...
Mar 10, 2010 5:17 AM CST
Name: Sunny
NW Tennessee
Loved that Japanese saw set Darius. But mercy, not only do I have to learn about the tools, but all of the lingo that goes along with it....pfffft. I need to locate all of our tool boxes and find out what I already have before I go traipsing through the tool aisle and waste a bunch of money that I don't have. So much to learn, so little time!

I'm really enjoying this cubit, even if I don't understand half the stuff that is said...LOL! Just not spending as much time online now that the weather is decent and I have a new garden to build up. I'm lurking at times, even if not posting.
Mar 10, 2010 7:44 AM CST
Name: darius
SW VA Blue Ridge Mountains
Hey, Widder King ... I just found your blog yesterday, almost didn't recognize you in girly clothes instead of boots, denim and mud! You have a talent for writing, and I enjoyed reading it.

I hope to collect all my tools in one place and take inventory when it warms up. I may have some duplicates you can have... mostly small hand tools and gadgets. I know I have to replace a few things that grew legs and walked, but I also know I don't need 3 T squares... the big ones for sheetrock.

I'm thinking to sell some tools, but not the kind you'd need. Things like my gas (cannister) powered Paslode 16d framing nail gun, and portable 10" bench saw.

It's a Catch 22. I want to add on a room or better yet, start on a small out building, but I have no money for materials. If I sell some tools I'd have some money towards materials, but no longer have the tools. Besides, what woman 70 years old needs to be digging footers and hanging joists?
Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of Dragons, for You are Crunchy and Good with Ketchup

ComeVisit my Blog!
Mar 11, 2010 11:55 PM CST
Name: Sunny
NW Tennessee
Well thanks for the kind words regarding my blog D. Yeah, I do try to get out of the denim/boots/mud mode a few times during the year; gets harder to do the more responsibilities I have around here though.

I appreciate you thinking of me regarding the extra tools; thank you.

I'd say that any 70 year old woman that CAN, should be digging footers and hanging joists...haha! (now to go look up what those are......snicker)
Mar 19, 2010 6:52 PM CST
Name: Carol Corry
Santa Ana,Ca.
zone 10- Sunset zone 22
I agree
Mar 19, 2010 7:20 PM CST
Name: darius
SW VA Blue Ridge Mountains
Well, this 70 year old woman played in the yard today. I can barely walk this evening so I know tomorrow will be a bear... and I wasn't even doing anything heavy like construction, LOL. (Although that may be soon...)
Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of Dragons, for You are Crunchy and Good with Ketchup

ComeVisit my Blog!
Apr 26, 2010 4:20 PM CST
Name: NancyAnn
Jonesboro Ark
I used to work in construction--the only female on the crew. It was my favorite job ever! I learned a lot and even built my own house, with some help from my brother. I learned that you can do anything if you have the right tool. And I have most of the right tools--power saws, nail gun, air compressor, etc.

A nail gun is probably my favorite tool. If you have one, the only thing you need a hammer for is to pull a nail if you nail something together wrong.

My next favorite tool is my compound miter saw. It's big and heavy and electric. I keep it set up in my storage building on a countertop. I keep an extension cord on my porch next to the electrical outlet, so it's a simple matter of just plugging in the extension cord and I'm ready to saw--no moving the heavy saw. It will cut straight cuts, mitered cuts and beveled cuts. It has a 10" blade and will saw thru 2 x 6s and 2 x 8s as well as 2 x 4s. To do 2 x 10s and 2 x 12s, I have to flip the boards over and make a second cut, but no big deal.

A friend recently helped me build some pergolas and a gazebo in my gardens. He prefers just a plain old Skil saw and he laughed at me because the thing scares me! He couldn't believe I was quite comfortable with the more powerful 10" miter saw but was terrified of the 7" skil saw. But the skil saw always kicks back on me; the miter saw doesn't.

I also love my reciprocating saw (sawz-all). With the way I construct stuff, the sawz-all is great for deconstructing my mistakes. It will saw right thru nails with no problem.

I personally don't have a preference in names. I use a lot of cheap brand tools. I think they're just as effective unless you're using them daily in an industrial manner. My friend thinks only name-brand tools work. He was perfectly happy with my brand new Task Force (lowe's brand) "skil" saw and used it for a couple of weeks, until I cleaned out my storage building and found my 20 yr old Craftsman. He ditched the new saw in a heartbeat for the Craftsman. Personally, I can't tell the difference between the two. The Craftsman is heavier so maybe it makes him feel like a big strong man. Who knows? My miter saw is some off-brand also, which I've had for 10 years. Friends swear by Dewalt, but my brand (can't even remember the name) built my house, storage building, pergolas and gazebo with no problem.

If you're working on a big project or several small ones, invest in the right tools and learn how to use them. But be warned! If you do, you'll see how quick and easy you can complete projects, so you'll be adding many more projects to your to do list!


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