How to Work a Hand Saw


Whether you're cutting latticework, constructing shelves for your greenhouse or pruning stubborn tree branches, you may need to know how to work a hand saw. This tool is much less expensive than power saws, can get into small places that a large power tool can't, and, when used properly, is safe and effective.

Step 1

Put on shatter-resistant eye protection and work gloves to protect your hands from splinters.

Step 2

Support whatever you're sawing across a saw horse, a table, or securely clamped to a solid surface (like a heavy work table). Ideally it should be between knee and mid-thigh height. If you're sawing tree branches, you'll need to use a stepstool or ladder to carefully climb up to the appropriate height, and take great care not to lose your balance.

Step 3

Grip the handle of the saw firmly and hold the blade against the far edge of the wood where you want to cut it, aligned at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Bend at the waist and use your free hand, with a straight arm and body weight behind it, to help hold the object you're sawing steady. The saw should be aligned just off the axis of your body and legs, so that if it were to somehow slip through the cutting surface it would pass beside your legs and body instead of cutting into them.

Step 4

Pull lightly on the saw, "pulling" the teeth against the surface to be cut. Reset the saw where it originally was, then repeat, doing this a few times until the saw starts to bite into the surface to be cut.

Step 5

Continue sawing back and forth using light pressure. Try using push strokes instead of pull strokes and, as the saw bites more than 1/2 inch into the wood, lengthen the strokes as much as comfortably possible.

Step 6

Shorten your strokes as you approach the end of the cut. Make sure that you're using light pressure and standing properly--body and legs out of the saw's path--just in case it slips.


  • Popular Mechanics
  • This Old House
Keywords: work hand saw, use hand saw, operating a saw

About this Author

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.