Tips for hand sawing small panels?

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Forum topic by grego posted 05-04-2011 06:10 PM 1608 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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73 posts in 2785 days

05-04-2011 06:10 PM

Hi folks.

Any tips for a struggling beginner trying to accurately hand-saw small (4” x 6”) panels from 1/4” stock for use in boxmaking?

- Hold wood vertically in a vise or do it on a bench hook?
- Should I expect to get it right first time with the saw (after practice) or will I generally need to clean up using a plane and shooting board?
- Mark out panels side-by-side on the stock or leave gaps to allow for kerfs/clean-up?

Keeping the kerf perfectly square and also to the scribed line escapes me so far, but I’m keeping at it!

5 replies so far

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 3084 days

#1 posted 05-04-2011 06:16 PM

I think its probably next to impossible to get perfect straight cuts with a hand saw. I am sure you can but I wouldn’t plan on that. I think rough cutting it as best as you can and then cleaning it up with a plane and shooting board is your best option. Just mark your cuts to allow you some extra room for error.

If you keep a rather straight cut then it shouldn’t take long at all to square it up with a plane and shooting board.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View ChefHDAN's profile


1193 posts in 3053 days

#2 posted 05-04-2011 06:41 PM

I’d also reccomend using a Japanese or simillar back saw, they’re the only hand saws I can cut anything close to a straight square cut with

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View grego's profile


73 posts in 2785 days

#3 posted 05-04-2011 10:22 PM

Thanks guys. Based on your input I’ll definitely get the shooting board organized. I’ll also look into the miter box.

I put together a bench hook oriented properly to use my Japanese pull saw. One problem I’m having though is getting the cut started properly on such a thin board when it’s horizontal. There’s not much room for tilting the saw to get it going right initially.

It seems to go easier if I stand the board vertically in a vise and saw from the top – is this the right way to go? I do have to keep repositioning it in the vise so I don’t get “juddering” as I saw.

View swirt's profile


3447 posts in 3176 days

#4 posted 05-05-2011 05:06 AM

Knife the line first such that the vertical wall of the cut is along your mark and the angled wall of the cut is in the waste. This helps not only with starting the cut, but also keeping the cut on track.

-- Galootish log blog,

View grego's profile


73 posts in 2785 days

#5 posted 06-09-2011 05:08 PM

Turns out for me the answer was cutting approximately to size on the waste side of the line, then using a shooting board to get the final clean edge.

I made the combination bench hook / shooting board shown in this video:
including the slot in the fence to do the initial 90 degree approximate cuts. Works great!

Thanks for the suggestions!

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