How to use a hand saw
Before you begin
Should you push or pull?
Some hand saws cut on the push stroke only, others will cut on both the push and the pull stroke.
If the saw cuts on the push stroke, you should only apply pressure to the saw when pushing it through the material. If you use a lot of force when pulling the saw as well, it won't cut any quicker and you will simply tire yourself out.
Get the correct angle
When cutting wood across the grain, you should hold the saw at a 45 degree angle to the material being cut.
When cutting wood along the grain, you should saw at a 60 degree angle to the material.
Starting your cut
Once your material is in place and you have marked out the area you want to saw, you can make your first cut.
Some people like to place their thumb along the line they want to cut, resting the blade against their thumbnail. This helps to guide the saw, but great care must be taken when doing so.
Step 1 - Rest blade against material
Start by placing the heel of the saw against the far edge of your material.
Step 2 - Pull saw towards you
Pull the saw slowly back towards you, applying very little downward pressure in one long, slow stroke.
Build speed as you build confidence
As the cut starts to develop, the sawing process will become easier, and you can increase the speed until you have a steady sawing rhythm.
Try and use at least three quarters of the blade when working, moving the saw back and forth in smooth, slow strokes rather than short jerky movements.
Use the force, but not too much
You must apply some pressure to the saw or the teeth will never cut through the material, but apply too much and you could end up losing control of the saw, and messing up your cut.
If you're not an experienced hand saw user, getting a feel for the amount of force needed can take a bit of practice, but don't be put off. Test out your sawing technique on some scrap material to get an idea of how much pressure to apply and the speed at which you feel comfortable.
If you mess up a cut, don't throw a tantrum - Try, try, try again!