Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Best hand saw for cutting through thick hardwood?


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    Jim Sculley

    I have spent the past week or so ripping 8/4 (approx 50mm thick) hard maple boards using a Disston D-8 rip saw (5 TPI). I started with the shortest pieces and worked my way up to the longest. Last night I ripped an 84″ (approx 2m) board in about 45 minutes. I have found that the best way to keep myself from wandering away from my line is to flip the board periodically, as you noted. However, more important for me was to, as Paul says in multiple videos, ‘drop my hand’. I started out cutting with the saw nearly vertical (the boards are horizontal, resting on sawhorses. I could follow the line quite well on the top face and could saw 8-10″ (200-250mm) per minute. However, when I flipped the board over, the cut would be way off, as much as 1/4″ (6mm). I had zero luck correcting this at first.

    My ‘Aha!’ moment came when I thought back to Paul’s winding stick video where he had to rip the raw stock down the middle to split it into the two separate sticks. He tells you to start the cut with the saw almost horizontal and and then ‘drop your hand’, until the saw tip is pointing toward the ceiling. The hand dropping does three things. First, it lets you follow the line more easily, Second, and most important, it puts more inches of saw length inside the cut which decreases the amount by which the saw can rotate in the cut. Third, when you go to flip the board over to continue cutting from the other side, it is easier to get back to your line (if the cut wandered) because the remaining material in the cut comes to a sharp point instead of a line.

    So, once I realized this, the trick was to translate what Paul did on a smallish board in his vise to a large board laying on saw horses. I start the cut with the saw at about 30-45 degrees but quickly rotate it more and more horizontal. I can get to the point where the saw is engaged with about 6 inches of board (150mm) length along the top. I saw for a bit, with the outcut side moving along at most a couple inches (50mm). Then I flip the board, and start with the saw nearer to vertical, cutting quickly through the point left by the cut from the other side and along the board a few inches. Then I start ‘dropping my hand’ again getting several inches of saw length aligned with my line just as I did on the other side. Flip the board, and repeat.

    For me, this worked best with me sitting or kneeling on the board with the saw centered in front of me using two hands on the handle. The right (dominant) hand is pushing and pulling while the left hand is ‘dropping’ and keeping the saw on the line.

    Waldo Nell

    Thanks for the help – I am learning a lot. I decided to get a 22″ Pax rip saw (4 tpi) as well as a bandsaw as I do not think I can accurately rip 8″ wide stock (which I will need for my table top) by hand. All my stock is 1″ thick (except the legs which is 2″) so I have to resaw as I need 1/2″ thick stock for lots of my table.

    Will also give feedback how the Pax rip saw works.

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